Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Volume Two: Clone Commandos (2009)
Created and executive produced by George Lucas
Produced by Catherine Winder
Supervising Director: Dave Filoni
“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”
In the months before the November 2009 release of Star Wars – The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One on Blu-ray and DVD, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Lucasfilm released two four-episode “volumes” of episodes of the Cartoon Network’s animated anthology series set in the Prequels era.
The first volume, A Galaxy Divided, contained the series’ first four episodes (Ambush, Rising Malevolence, Shadow of Malevolence and Destroy Malevolence). The first of these episodes features a battle of wits between Jedi Master Yoda and Count Dooku’s trained assassin Asajj Ventress. battle of wits on a coral moon near Toydaria.
The other three episodes comprise a story arc in which Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin’s Padawan Ahsoka Tano are on a seek-and-destroy mission against a Separatist batleship commanded by General Grievous.
The follow-up set, Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Volume Two: Clone Commandos takes the series’ fifth episode, Rookies, and combines it with a trio of interconnected stories from later in the show’s first season, Storm Over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth and Liberty on Ryloth, all of which are centered on the Republic’s campaign to liberate the Twi’leks’ home world from Count Dooku and his droid armies.
Rookies, which was written by Steven Melching and Scott Murphy along with senior writer Henry Gilroy, tells the story of a small clone detachment assigned to a Republic communications post on Rishi, a planet which is located far from the front lines…a relatively safe (if rather boring) rear echelon assignment.
But as they await an inspection tour by Commander Cody and Captain Rex, the clone troopers find themselves under Separatist attack; commando battle droids enter the outpost and ovewhelm the defenses. Can the surviving “shinies” (new troopers) survive?
In Storm Over Ryloth, the focus isn’t so much on clone ground-pounders but on Anakin and Ahsoka as the two Jedi lead Republic fighter squadrons against yet another enemy battleship, this one commanded by General Mar Tuuk. As written by George Krstic, this episode highlights the relationship between Anakin and his Padawan as he teaches her how to deal with the burdens of command.
Clone action is back to the fore in Innocents of Ryloth, in which two troopers (Waxer and Boil) befriend Nala, a Twi’lek youngling in one of those stories that are reminiscent of movies about World War II GIs interacting with children in countries that they’re liberating. Written by senior writer Henry Gilroy, Innocents of Ryloth show that the forerunners of the Imperial stormtroopers aren’t just mindless drones that kill and destroy the Republic’s enemies.
The final episode, Liberty on Ryloth, was also written by Gilroy and focuses on Mace Windu’s attempts to liberate the capital city of Ryloth from the Separatists by enlisting the aid of a Twi’lek resistance leader. A more political episode than the others in this arc, it bears a strong resemblance to World War II cloak and dagger films about the underground movements that helped the Allies defeat the Axis.
My Opinion: Though the quality of the content is good, I have reservations about getting this DVD instead of the 22-episode multi-disc Complete Season One set.
Sure, for those of us who like – even love – the Cartoon Network series (now in its third season), the animation and stories are pretty good for a Star Wars series aimed at fans of all ages, and I like the fact that George Lucas doesn’t strip the Clone Wars of the ugliness of combat, yet keeps the violence quotient to a tolerable level that is age-appropriate for pre-teen kids.
And maybe these “volumes” are somewhat useful for new viewers who missed the series’ first season and want to see if the more expensive Complete Season sets are worth the hard coin they cost.
For me, though, I find that simply getting the bigger (if more expensive) set is more worthwhile. The Complete Season One collection contains a slightly longer cut of Storm Over Ryloth, and each episode has a behind-the-scenes featurette as an optional viewing experience.
This 2009 DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is out of print and no longer widely available in mint condition. However, Amazon lists it on its catalog as available through third-party sellers.