*Warning: the following article contains spoilers on Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi*
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi won’t do much for passive fans of Star Wars. Dave Filoni’s latest animated project consists of six shorts centering around Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and Count Dooku (Corey Burton) on different parts of their lives when they were Jedis. The show tackles Ahsoka’s birth and training with Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) as a Padawan while briefly showing her after the events of Revenge of the Sith, not knowing that Skywalker became Darth Vader (that arc is brilliantly explored in Star Wars: Rebels). Count Dooku, we see him on the verge of becoming a Sith Lord, with Qui Gon-Jinn (Liam Neeson and Micheál Richardson), Mace Windu (TC Carson), and Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid).
To fully appreciate the shorts, you should be well-versed in Star Wars: The Clone Wars lore, as the show requires your past knowledge of the characters and the relationships they hold together for them to be more effective. Those who haven’t seen The Clone Wars may end up enjoying the show but could feel distanced from how Filoni treats Ahsoka, especially in its first episode, in which we know the character’s birth and the first step she took in confirming she was one with the Force. The anthology series presents six isolated shorts that are only connected by an overarching theme.
Ahsoka’s shorts center on hope and balance (her birth literally and figuratively signals A New Hope, in the case of The Clone Wars and Rebels), while Dooku’s shorts center on greed and power. We don’t see the complete picture of how Dooku became a puppet for Palpatine, but the dark side slowly corrupts him, and he even kills one of his Jedi peers in a chilling duel. These fragments of Dooku’s past are far more investing than Ahsoka’s story, which unfortunately repeat the same things we know about the character since The Clone Wars. It may be new information for those who aren’t familiar with the protagonist, but it could feel redundant for those who have grown up with her and seen everything involving Ahsoka. I certainly thought it was redundant when I watched the last short, where Ahsoka confronts an Inquisitor after she is forced to leave the Jedi order and become, hey, like Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), a farmer.
It’s redundant that we saw that path not too long ago in another Disney+ Star Wars show but also in how Filoni and director Saul Ruiz paint Ahsoka’s way of redemption. We’ve seen it before in The Clone Wars and Rebels. Sure, there are about a thousand variations we can exploit the same theme, but it doesn’t feel as fresh and new as it should, especially when you have about 15 minutes per episode to focus on an aspect of the character.
It was great to hear Eckstein and Lanter again in the Star Wars animated universe. Still, I particularly enjoyed Corey Burton as Dooku, who brought an Alan Rickman as Severus Snape-like menace to the character that felt like a wholly different take from what Christopher Lee had brought to the surface in the Prequel trilogy. It was also great to hear Liam Neeson and Ian McDiarmid as Qui Gon and Palpatine again, who always bring their A-game in the Star Wars universe, and Micheál Richardson (who is Neeson’s son) also did an excellent job voicing a younger version of the Jedi master.
The animation is, as expected, vivid and detailed, especially during action sequences. The confrontation between Dooku and Yaddle (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a particular highlight. At the same time, Ahsoka’s duel with the Inquisitor (Clancy Brown) contains a staggering use of fire that accentuates the menacing features of the antagonist. There is a scene where the animation isn’t as polished as the rest of the series, but it is a minor nitpick and not something to complain about.
The score from Kevin Kiner is also excellent. It’s much less bombastic than The Clone Wars and far more intimate and engaging, where a character’s evolution can be perceived with how the score changes throughout the episodes. It’s Kiner’s best work as a composer who has been involved in Star Wars for a long time.
For those who want something akin to Andor in the world of animation, Tales of the Jedi might not do much for you. However, the shorts are admirably executed, especially those centered around Dooku, so I didn’t mind watching it. It’s not the best thing to have come out of Star Wars in a long time, but there have been so many terrible films and television series that something extremely passable is good enough for me. Andor is far superior, but I wouldn’t mind another season of this that focuses on other Jedis. It’s a suitable format for Filoni to expand The Clone Wars without calling it The Clone Wars. But I’m still waiting for Disney+ to greenlight the Rebels sequel series.
All Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi episodes are now available to stream on Disney+.