Due to some form of clerical error, technical glitch, or unannounced surprise gift from Lucasfilm, next weeks episode of Clone Wars appeared in the iTunes store this morning for all to purchase and download. (More info on that here.) It didn't really matter why the episode was available, what matters is that I've been dying for new Clone Wars during this extended break and this episode scratched that itch considerably.
This episode is a bit of a mixed bag in influences, characters, and animation, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. Hell, after a month of not having any Clone Wars at all, even a mediocre episode is a breath of fresh air.
This episode follows a murder in the senate and is equal parts Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, and Clue. The new characters in the episode play like a long suspect list for the Closeau-like Detective Divo (voiced by Tom Kenney), but he has to deal with the fact that Padme and Bail Organa take the investigation into their own hands and are almost killed in a shadowy dock-yard.
The macguffin in the episode is an amendment to a war spending authorization bill and Padme and her cadre of Senators are leading the opposition to funding the war, they're called unpatriotic for not supporting the troops, but believe cutting funding off from the Kaminoans for more troops is the only way to allow diplomacy to resume. It's thin, but it's just a macguffin, so it didn't bother me at all. Though I do very much like the back and forth between Padme and Senator Mee Deechi, where he calls into question her patriotism for wanting to cut off funding. She rightly tells him that the only thing she sees that's unpatriotic is his constant war-mongering. If nothing else from this episode sinks in with kids, I hope it's that one exchange.
Detective Divo bumbles passively through the episode like a mix between Inspector Closeau and Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express, but he looks decidedly like Peter Lorre. He brings new exposition to light, but his voice was just too...normal? I wanted to see some actual character in there, if they were going for Peter Lorre or Hercule Poirot, I would have liked to see them go in that direction with the character. But we have what we have and this character isn't going to go down as being incredibly memorable.
My other question mark about the episode was the Kaminoan Senator. She was an aging wretch of a Kaminoan and my first question was, "Why do the Kaminoans, whom no one in the galaxy knew about before the war, have a full representative standing in the Senate now?" But that question was quickly answered by a throwaway line of dialogue. Apparently, they leveraged for a seat because of their status as the makers of the clone army. Having a planet in Republic space didn't seem to be justification enough. But what was odd is that she seemed out of character for what we've seen of the Kaminoans. Taun We and Lama Su were incredibly gracious and polite and Senator Bertoni was anything but. I shouldn't profile an entire race of people based on their representation in the films, but it was a good lead to follow.
And then I had to roll my eyes a little bit when Padme and Bail Organa decided they wanted to play Fred and Daphne and investigate things on their own. Jinkies! They were getting shot at!
But that brings me to the last thing I wanted to bring up. The animation in this episode was a little uneven, particularly when it came to Bail Organa. He was very stiff and looked almost...rubbery. And having Phil Lamarr voice him was fine, but he didn't sound much like Bail Organa. Though Detective Divo and Senator Deechi, I thought, were very well animated. And I really like how they've decided to do the eyes of the Rodians. So, as far as the animation in this episode, like everything else, was a bit of a mixed bag.
There were a lot of good things in this episode, and a lot of things I think needed a little bit more time in the oven.
Having said that, though, any episode of Clone Wars after this long break is a welcome respite and I'm glad for it. Be sure not to miss it on TV (if nothing else for the preview of the next episode) when it airs on March 19, 2010 on Cartoon Network.