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Bye, Bye, This Here Anakin Guy

August 13th, 2008

Two hundred eighty-nine figures. Nineteen vehicles. Grand total: $1,040.84. Packages going to Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Germany, Australia, and Urbana, Illinois.

While I certainly didn’t make back what I initially spent on all these toys, neither did I merely make pennies on the dollar, as I’d feared. I believe that all the homework and sorting helped goose the sales.

The new Clone Wars “movie” opens Friday, and I believe that its impending release and the associated hype provided the tipping point that led to my personal Order 66. In large part, that’s because I see it as a cynical cash-grab: it’s literally three episodes of the upcoming TV show strung together. That sort of thing is nothing new; it used to happen all the time back in the ’50s and ’60s. But I find it a bit more galling in that we’re getting all the usual pre-release parties and Happy Meal toys that would’ve accompanied a “real” Star Wars feature, only this time without the actual film. Heck, with the exceptions of Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and the omnipresent Anthony Daniels, they didn’t even bother to hire back the original actors to provide the voice-overs. What, Hayden Christensen was too busy?

In the end, though, I think that my lack of enthusiasm about all things Clone (which I’ve previously discussed here) comes down to this: while a tragedy of a fall from grace that ends in betrayal and murder is a perfectly legitimate story, it’s a hell of a thing to base a franchise around.

“This fall, on Cartoon Network: Titus Andronicus, the animated series!”

Outside of the visceral, visual thrill of droids and starships in combat (which I’ll admit is considerable), I’ve got no real stake in the Clone Wars. Who am I rooting for? The clones who eventually turn on their masters and bring about the Empire? The corrupt Republic and its puppeteering Sith Lord? The hapless Jedi, who foolishly fall into the elaborate, and at times obvious, trap?

Besides, we know how it turns out. All those nifty Jedi? Dead. That cute, little female padawan who features so prominently in the trailers? Dead. (And probably killed by her own master, Anakin Skywalker.)

Would you like apple fries with your Happy Meal?

Updated: Time magazine TV critic James Poniewozik blogs about this very issue.

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