Tales of the Jedi TV Review

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Plot: Each episode of Tales of the Jedi tells a short story featuring Jedi from the Star Wars prequel trilogy era. The six episodes are split into two “paths”: the first following Ahsoka Tano across various points in her life, and the other depicting a young Count Dooku before his fall to the dark side of the Force.

Review: While the Star Wars universe has been focused on live-action projects this year with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor, the acclaimed animated world of Dave Filoni’s The Clone Wars expands with a new anthology series focused on the diverging sides of the Force. Balancing the Dark Side with the Light, Tales of the Jedi chronicles two characters with backstories never before explored on screen. Both Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano are given center stage in this short series that combines the rich animation of modern Star Wars with a spiritual look at the balance of the Force and how a Jedi and a Sith reached their maturity in a galaxy far, far away.

The first season of Tales of the Jedi consists of six episodes, each running approximately fifteen minutes. Three episodes are centered on Ahsoka Tano, voiced again by the great Ashley Eckstein, and the other three on Count Dooku, voiced by Corey Burton. The episodes are presented in chronological order, which may catch some viewers off-guard. The first entry, “Life and Death”, follows the birth and earliest look at the infant Ahsoka on her home planet. The next three episodes then follow Count Dooku before the final two return to center on Ahsoka once again. The layout may seem a bit disjointed at first, but the quick pace of the episodes never allows you to linger on minute details for very long. Thankfully, the lush animation here is the best that the Clone Wars style has ever looked on screen and amplifies the quieter and emotionally driven scenes as much as it does the action-heavy sequences.

In the Ahsoka-centric episodes, there are a lot of new details that enhance the origin of the fan-favorite Clone Wars character. With her appearances in Star Wars: Rebels as well as portrayed by Rosario Dawson in The Mandalorian and her upcoming solo series, Ahsoka has a very extensive presence in Star Wars lore, but there are still gaps in her tale. Here, we see how her Jedi powers first manifested before her mother, Pav-ti (Janina Gavankar). We also see her being trained by Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) in “Practice Makes Perfect” before the action-packed finale “Resolve” which gives us a new look at her journey between Revenge of the Sith and her appearance on The Mandalorian. All three episodes focus more on the growth of Ahsoka from apprentice to outcast and serve as an insightful prelude for her live-action series.

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On the other side of this story, the Count Dooku stories presented give us a lot of insight not only as to how the Jedi warrior fell from the Light to the sway of the Sith but a look at the early days of Qui-Gon Jinn. In “Justice”, we meet Qui-Gon as a Padawan on a mission that goes awry and hints at the darkness inside his master, Dooku. It is a powerful episode that paves the way for “Choices” which pairs Dooku with Mace Windu as they investigate the death of a Jedi master and uncover a plot. The arc concludes with “The Sith Lord” which features the return of Liam Neeson to play Qui-Gon during The Phantom Menace. It is bittersweet to once again hear Neeson voice such a great character who didn’t get nearly the screen presence he deserved. The episode also gives Bryce Dallas Howard voicing Yaddle, the female of Yoda’s species, who does not sound anything like the legendary master. The entire story informs and enhances Christopher Lee’s performance in the prequel films while also deepening our understanding of what draws these characters to their sides of the Force.

With five of the six episodes written by Dave Filoni (“Choices” is written by Charles and Elan Murray), there is a consistency between this anthology and the various animated Star Wars series that he has created. The most noticeable shift between all of the other shows and Tales of the Jedi is the focus on the emotional and philosophical side of Star Wars. Yes, there is action here but these stories are more about what inside of Ahsoka and Dooku allowed them to walk the path of the Force and choose one direction over the other. Good or bad, Jedi or Sith, none of these decisions come lightly and these short stories serve as glimpses into three moments in each of their lives that led them down a particular road. It never feels repetitive or redundant and even features some of the best work these animators have produced to date and the best Star Wars music Kevin Kiner has composed yet.

Tales of the Jedi is a short watch with the entire series bingeable in two hours. These could easily have been standalone short films but by breaking them into episodes and releasing them with an intentional episode flow, these stories take on an overall theme that I hope carries through to future seasons following other established and less-familiar members of the Jedi and the Sith. There is so much potential that can be explored in Star Wars canon thanks to animation and Tales from the Jedi only scratches the surface. The prequel era of the mythology is but a single fragment worth exploring and this anthology could be a way to bring back characters from the original trilogy and beyond. Fans of Star Wars animation will enjoy this series and all fans of the saga will find intriguing and shocking moments here that add to George Lucas’ original creation.

Tales of the Jedi is now streaming on Disney+.

Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.