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Review: ‘Star Wars: The Bad Batch’ A Solid, If Unspectacular, Start To New Animated Series

Andy Farnsworth reviews movies & TV shows for KSL TV and hosts the “Fan Effect” pop culture podcast for KSL NewsRadio.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One of the great things, to me, about “Star Wars Day” is not the sales on Star Wars items or the ability to wear Star Wars clothing to work — which make no mistake, I do enjoy — but the new content.

New stories to be told and new shows to watch. It’s been almost six months since Season 2 of “The Mandalorian” ended, and many Star Wars fans like me … well, we want more. And that’s what we get on May the Fourth with “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” a new animated series from Lucasfilm on Disney+, the first two episodes of which I was able to preview.

This new show follows the exploits of five specific clone troopers who were introduced in a previous Star Wars animated series, “The Clone Wars.” In the “Star Wars” universe, clone soldiers were bred to be almost exactly the same (hence the term, “clones.”) However, the five troopers we follow in “The Bad Batch” came out defective when they were made, thus they ended up with one particular skill or physical trait that was extremely enhanced.

Hunter is essentially the team leader and he can track stuff really well (you can tell because he wears a headband); Wrecker is kind of like the Incredible Hulk of the team: Huge & strong, but not too bright; Tech — no surprise, an expert in technology and strategy; Crosshair is an expert marksman; and Echo used to be a regular clone, but events from the “The Clone Wars” TV series left him as a type of cyborg who has the ability to actually interface with machines.

All the clones are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who does amazing work creating similar, yet at the same time distinctive speaking styles for each of the clone characters — and there are MANY had to create. That might be the most impressive and laudable feat of all in the whole Star Wars galaxy.

With a conscious effort to avoid spoilers for those who want to be surprised, I can say the series begins during the events of the movie “Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith,” specifically the final moments of the Clone War, where the Jedi order led by Yoda, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi were betrayed and destroyed by the clone troopers they once led.

“The Bad Batch” will apparently take place during the time period right after the events of that movie, specifically examining what does the government do with all the clone soldiers who were specifically created to fight in a war that is now over? They’re still living beings and not just robots they can turn off, though they were in a sense created to be disposable. Also, what’s it like for all the regular citizens of the galaxy who have watched their government change from a republic to an empire pretty much overnight?

If these questions interest you, then you are someone who will probably like “The Bad Batch.” If you are more of a casual fan of “Star Wars” and the Jedi, or Darth Vader or any of the main movie characters like Luke, Han Solo, or Rey are what you love most about Star Wars, unfortunately, none of them are in the first two episodes of “The Bad Batch,” and even if they do show up at some point, it will be a short cameo because this will not be a story is not about them.

This series feels more like it was created for those fans who want to add layers to the overall “Star Wars” story tapestry. There are references to events from the movies, references to both previous animated series “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” and it has already been announced that a character from “The Mandalorian” will show up in this series (and no, it’s not the Mandalorian or Baby Yoda.) The character Fennec Shand, played by Ming-Na Wen on “The Mandalorian” and who will lend her voice to the role in “The Bad Batch,” is scheduled to appear at some point during this first season.

But that very contrast, one of the big guest appearances on this show being a secondary character of another series, summarizes what I mean as far as to whom this series will appeal most. Fans of “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels” — those who want to know all the different parts of the Star Wars universe and who love making those connections between the shows, the books, the movies and the comics — should definitely tune in.

For those who are more casual fans, “The Bad Batch” is a solid, if unspectacular start to a Star Wars animated series, at least through two episodes. But it is worth pointing out that Dave Filoni is producing this series, just as he did with the previous “Star Wars” animated series. Both “The Clone Wars” & “Rebels” took several episodes to really get going. But when they finally did, they were amazing.

So the best advice I can give to all who are considering watching the series is to be patient and keep expectations in check. The first two episodes were surprisingly and seemed to be intentionally more kid-friendly, so I might also suggest watching it with younger kids. They’ll probably like it regardless, and it’s also more likely to grow on you that way.

“The Bad Batch” is streaming exclusively on Disney+. The first of 16 episodes dropped on May 4, and it’s over an hour, clocking in at 71 minutes. Future episodes will drop every Friday, starting on May 7, and those episodes will clock in at a shorter, 22-25 minute range.

Hopefully, you & your family found this review helpful! I invite you to check out some of my other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV shows on KSLTV.com.

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