Animated TelevisionEICThe Bad Batch

Some thoughts on the Disney+ May the 4th offerings: Bad Batch, Biomes, and Vehicle Flythroughs!

I just finished watching the new Disney+ content for Star Wars on May the 4th. I have to admit, my enthusiasm was not super high about any of the lead up. The Bad Batch trailer left me cold. I wanted to like it, it just didn’t really move me at all. That said, I’m very happy with the May 4th offerings. I suggest watching it all before reading my thoughts.

Star Wars Biomes is a trip. It reminds me of something I watched on the HD channel in 2005 as an undergrad in college or something. It’s like the coffee table book of Star Wars television. George Lucas famously said in From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga that “a special effect without a story is pretty boring thing.” While true, this is the exception. This just lets us admire the beauty of the environments or biomes.

It was pretty neat to see new footage of Hoth. There’s a moment or two when we visit Crait where it is almost like looking at a Rothko painting. I liked how to inspired my imagination as I watched it and it never felt pretentious.

Vehicle Flythroughs consists of two episodes. The first gives us a good look at the Millennium Falcon and the second is of a First Order Star Destroyer. While this one is neat, it really lacked the fluidity of Biomes. Visiting Galaxy’s Edge kind of knocks the wind out this one’s sails but I’m glad they released it.

Maggie Simpson in The Force Awakens From Its Nap is cool for what it is. I don’t have a lot to say about it. I’m glad it exists. It was funny to see Mr. Burns as Snoke in the credits. I want that poster.

The Bad Batch: Aftermath kicked ass. It was a good opening to the series. My fear was it would not be at the same intensity and cinematic quality of the best of The Clone Wars. However, it totally was. The very corny but apt opening which has the logo from The Clone Wars burn away into the Bad Batch logo made me laugh but it worked, point taken.

The post George Lucas era of Star Wars animation often balanced classic Star Wars vibes with cringe inducing moments from the younger heroes. It was almost as if they thought they had to be funny for the Disney audience (while failing) or the creators think fans are awkward incels who will relate to Screech Powers level Saved by the Bell slapstick that kills the mood. Thankfully the new child avatar for the audience was nothing like the bullshit Rebels and Resistance often deflated itself over.

The opening with Caleb Dume aka Kanan Jarus as a young Padawan was neat. I both liked that  Freddie Prinze Jr. reprised the role and also found it weird at the same time. I guess Kanan skipped the part of puberty where his voice got all squeaky and went right to the Barry White in space, Hera Syndulla seducing voice we pretty much head in Rebels. But I’ll take that over a nasally Bart Simpson sounding boy voice for the role any day.

It was neat to see the story from the Marvel comic expanded and yet it interfaced perfectly with it as far as I can recall. The planet Kaller looked great on screen. We had a prequel to Rebels and a sequel to The Clone Wars in one episode with situations from the comics. It was living Star Wars and the dream we hoped for back in 2014.

That’s not to say the show is completely without some cringe. I both love and dislike Wrecker. One moment he makes me laugh and at other moments the dumb oaf motif is too much. His jokes don’t always land. Hitting the wall at the exact spot was kind of stupid and I kept thinking they were going to riff on The Last Crusade stamp guy moment but never did.

I feel like on paper I hate the Clone food fight brawl but in execution it was fun and it worked. They mostly land the balance of comedy in this opening film. Not much really felt like it was breaking the series.

I will say, I’m mixed on aspects of Saw Gerrera still. I loved him in The Clone Wars and in Rogue One. It seemed like there was very little effort to merge his design from the cartoon character to Forest Whitaker here. The eyes changed in the movie, fine. The Rebels version looks like the Rogue One actor Forest Whitaker. In Bad Batch  Saw still has his 1950’s looking haircut and the designed wasn’t moved more towards the afro he has later in life. I get it is only a few years later from his introduction but I just didn’t get the sense they were merging The Clone Wars with Rogue One here. Maybe we’ll see it happen on screen and I’m jumping the gun? I hope so.

Moments I did enjoy were the clones we saw in The Clone Wars behaving like programed Battle Droids which was chilling. The shot where Palaptine declares himself Emperor and they cheer while our heroes watch in stunned silence was fantastic. I also loved the inclusion of Ian McDiarmid as Papatine. It really set the vibe to fun with a slight sense of paranoia as Papatine’s evil rule looms over the galaxy now.

Back when The Clone Wars first aired, we wanted to see Revenge of the Sith from a different perspective and here we get that and I loved every moment of it. Stephen Stanton’s Tarkin is so spot on. I believe that’s the Peter Cushing character without any cognitive dissonance induced by slight inconsistencies or the uncanny valley of a CGI human. Seeing Tarkin sit in the spoon chairs from Attack of the Clones was so cool. I love it when the far out designs from the prequels prove these films take place in the same universe.

Omega seems to have the qualities of the Bad Batch men in small doses. Everyone of their personalities is an extreme one note and it seems she has bits of their traits. I never expected to see a female Daniel Logan but it works. At first I didn’t like that she had the jewel on her forehead. But after you see her relationship with the Kaminoans it makes sense and I dig it. Will Boba Fett one day view her as a sister?

It’s easy to take Dee Bradley Baker for granted. He’s been the clones for so long you just kind of get used to him being there. But when I saw the credits and he’s literally THE BAD BATCH it’s impressive even more so than The Clone Wars which had a lot of Jedi characters at times to take the spotlight. While each personality is a bit of a trope, you never feel like you’re listening to one person play all these roles and that’s impressive.

The series opening is a worthy successor to The Clone Wars. What more can we ask for? Consistency, I suppose. At this moment, I’m very happy with series. Will Crosshair be the bad guy forever? Will he overcome his programming and return to the crew? I hope the relationship between Tech and Wrecker is used how it was in this first episode going forward. It was maybe strongest character dynamic we saw from the ensemble. I want to see more of that.

As a Star Wars fan who deeply appreciated The Clone Wars but had mixed responses to the totality of the other animation offerings, I feel like they’re getting it right here. I can’t wait to see more. Disney+ did a good job of making this “Star Wars Day” pretty fun for the hardcore fans.



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Jason Ward (EIC)

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