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While it is a very good start, it is just that, a start, and has much room for needed growth and improvement......
So here we are at Star Wars Rebels, the first video entry into the new Star Wars EU. So let's see where to begin. It has been 6 years since we left Kanan and Hera at the end of A New Dawn(the first novel in the New EU), and apparently they have been busy. But that is jumping ahead a little.
We really start this through the eyes of a brand new young character named Ezra Bridger. Right now I can tell you that this is going to be the 'Luke Skywalker' of the series. I really don't like this character. He's a modern twist on a Luke/Anakin-mold that is supposed to be the element to connect to its target audience, namely kids, but I find him to be a very unlikeable character, and wish they just would have gone with Kanan, Hera and their crew and been done with it. Especially since Kanan was set up as an ex-padawan in A New Dawn so we already had the force element covered. So, anyways, Ezra is this street-kid type character that apparently is good at tricking Stormtroopers but is also only out for himself and will take from the people he is helping just as much as from the Troopers, and he has all the charm of an unruly little smart-ass that needs a swift kick in the ass. But again, I digress For those that pay attention to these things, Ezra is voiced by Taylor Gray, who I have never heard of but seem to do a believable job.
Now, Ezra happens to be at the right place at the right time (which of course he takes advantage of), and we get to see Kanan and his crew, in action, for the first time from an outsider viewpoint looking in. I really liked how they were introduced, and the new additions that were not introduced in the book worked really well in this first action sequence. We have 3 main additions.
Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios who is a species called Lasat. He is basically the muscle of the team with a slightly rougher attitude then the rest but also has the "once you get to know him" type feel. He is being voiced by Steve Blum who is also doing other voices on the show like that of a Stormtrooper, for instance.
Sabine Wren who is a very cute Mandalorian, and wears a pink version of the warrior armor. Since I have a soft spot for anything Mandalorian, she already scored a win from me, even if her armor was pink. Sabine is being voiced by Tiya Sircar. Finally we have Chopper, the astromech droid of the series. This one defiantly has a personality on the level with Artoo, and he seems like he is gonna fit in nicely. As to Kanan and Hera, well, I really like what they did with them for the most part. Kanan is being voiced by Freddie Prince, Jr. and Hera is by Vanessa Marshall, who seems to be the one voice actress with the most experience in this department of the group. Although I'm not sure but Hera seems to be coming off with a bit of a British flare, using words like "luv" at the end of her sentences.
So there was definitely some great Star Wars action, but for the most part this was a setup pilot. There were some things they did great, like the speeder bike scenes, or the wookie rescue, and then there was stuff that seemed too contrived trying to grasp at the greatness of the OT like the fact that in 5 years since we left Kanan, where he was afraid and cautious of showing his powers, that now he is willing to take on a padawan, and in some sense considers himself a suedo-jedi. Similar to the Clone Wars animated series this was a decent start but has a lot of ground it needs to improve on. Oh, they did throw in an Obi-Wan "appearance" and of course it was voiced by James Arnold Taylor, who has been the voice of Kenobi for the past 6 years on the Clone Wars series, so this was a very cool nod to that as well.
Also I would suggest watching the ABC released version on their official website if you want to see the Special Guest appearance (totally awesome) that is well worth the nostalgia alone, and adds heavily to the tiny introduction of the new villain of the series, the Inquisitor (voice by Jason Isaacs, known most recently as Malfoy Senior in the Harry Potter movies). This is Disney showing how dedicated they are to making this work.
Star Wars: Rebels: Fighter Flight (2014)
Not every episode has to be about the fate of the universe to still be a great episode.
This was a great episode, and it did not have to do with the overall idea of stopping the empire. This was an episode about a simple supplies run or, to make it sound even simpler, grocery shopping. And the two stars of the episode are Ezra and Zeb. It would seem the crew of the Ghost are in need of food and supplies, and having been cooped up together for a little while now, Ezra and Zeb's constant bickering (usually with Chopper somehow instigating them) is getting on Hera's nerves. So when they set down, planet side, the two idiots get stuck with the job of grocery/supply shopping. And, to punish them a little, Hera decides to give them the impossible task of bringing back a certain fruit she craves, a "meiloorun", which just happens to not grow on this particular planet.
Let's talk about Ezra and Zeb at this point. These two were just great in this episode. Their relationship has grown into one of those where Zeb, being the veteran, is always hard on the new guy, but Ezra's cockiness, and the fact that he saved Zeb's life at the beginning, makes him feel like he has gotten one-up on Zeb. Which, of course, he annoyingly feels the need to remind Zeb of, pretty much every chance he gets. Basically, these guys are acting like any two guys that really want to be best friends but don't want to admit it. Chopper pulling stunts on both of them to get them PO'd at each other definitely is not helping the matter.
Now of course, these two are also the type that when you send them out to do the simplest things, it always seems to turn into the end of the world. They might get the job done, but of course, it is in the worst way possible and usually involves levels of danger that shouldn't have even enter the picture, much less even been considered. And usually, they swear it's not their fault, but yet they are the only ones that tend to get into these sorts of messes for such simple tasks time and again. In the case of Ezra, Zeb and the unobtainable fruit, they end up stealing a TIE fighter! And that's just the tip of the iceberg for these two.
What I really loved about this episode, was because it was a smaller story, you really got to notice the detail of all the Original Trilogy elements going on in the show. I felt really nostalgic watching this episode, and it wasn't because of guest voices, or major characters from the movies. It was because it really felt like Star Wars again. Zeb and Ezra, flying around in a TIE fighter, Stormtrooper acting like foul able stormtroopers, the oppressive Imperial Officers, all on some backwater planet just felt right. They even used the prisoner/troop transporter vehicle I had as a kid, but barely got to see in the movies, in a great action sequence. It took a little warming up, like most shows, but at this point, I think they are on the right path. They are doing some great character development at this point, and this episode is really good proof of that. Since they are using a brand new cast of character, episodes like this can really make or break the show at times. It is a good sign that they seem to have a handle on making these characters feel like they fit in an era of Star Wars that fans have a lot of expectations for.
Familiar faces help the series settle in and build a place in the Star Wars Universe
Now that all the introductions are out of the way, we are going to settle into this series and start to get some character development and just start to get a good feel for the crew. First thing you need to know about this one, pertains to the name of the episode and the two big Guest Stars that play a significant role in the story. At this point, I don't think you can release anything Star Wars related to the screen, without these two showing up somehow. Yup, you guessed it. R2-D2 and C-3PO. And they even got Anthony Daniels to do the voice of Threepio. How cool is that! Threepio even has the silver leg, already. But, Artoo and Threepio are not alone, we get a couple more familiar faces. Bail Organa makes a very interesting cameo that should not be missed.
And the most unexpected cameo comes from RX-24. Now this is a rather clever cameo that I must explain, since I'm sure that name doesn't ring any bells for most (If it does, score big points for you and your Star Wars knowledge). RX-24 is actually the droid pilot of the transport ship you fly on when you go on Star Tours at Disneyland. He is the voice of the ride, and is an actual live action animatronic character in the passenger area, at the front, "piloting" the ship, and talking to the group as he takes them on a crazy ride through Star Wars space battles and such. Growing up in Los Angeles beach areas, I have taken passage on his flight many, many times and he was a very memorable character. What really makes this noteworthy is that RX is voiced by Paul Reubens on the ride, and of course he also voiced him on the show. All these guest voices by the original actors make me think of that line from Jurassic Park, "We spared no expense!"
This episode picks up with the Ghost crew getting used to their new member. Also, they are low on supplies and need to take on some shady work they would normally have avoided, but times are tough all around these days. This of course brings them in contact with the droids, which leads to the type of messes Artoo and Threepio always seem to be involved in, with Threepio acting as ignorant to everything as ever. The Ghost crew works rather well in this episode, and Zeb gets a lot of character and race- background development. And of course, Ezra gets a "moment." About my only real disappointment, is the lack of any strong individual characters on the antagonist side of things other than Stormtroopers and forgettable officers. I know they are going to build to The Inquisitor, but where are some of the Grand Moff's like Tarkin, who was featured in quite a few of the latter episodes of Clone Wars. But, overall, I'm enjoying what I'm seeing.