Premiering this Friday on Cartoon Network, the first episode of Lucasfilm Animation’s television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars focuses on Jedi Master Yoda as he faces down Count Dooku’s massive droid army. Episode director David Bullock (Justice League: The New Frontier) and writer Steve Melching (The Batman) say they drew inspiration from Yoda’s first appearance in Star Wars: Episode V’The Empire Strikes Back for ‘Ambush,’ which kicks off at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).
‘I wanted to bring back some of the impish fun of Yoda from Episode V and instill it into the Clone Wars era as he is leading these three clones in a desperate situation,’ says Melching. ‘Yoda became a very serious character in Episodes I, II and III, and I thought this was a great opportunity to show his clever, fun side as well as his inspirational and warrior side.’
Rob Coleman, who worked as animation director on the last three Star Wars movies, gave Bullock some pointers on keeping Yoda consistent with his legacy while staging big action scenes around the diminutive sage. Coleman was responsible for Yoda’s famous lightsaber duel with Count Dooku, which gave fans their first look at the green Jedi in action.
‘When I was storyboarding Yoda’s big fight scene in ‘Ambush” Rob told me that George (Lucas) liked to flip a switch so that Yoda would go from very reserved to ‘springy,’ Bullock says. ‘Overall, the episode is a good mix of the impish Yoda of The Empire Strikes Back, some serious, reflective moments and Rob’s ‘ninja Yoda” for the action bits. And Yoda kicks some serious butt in this episode.’
Bullock notes that the premiere episode was referred to as ‘The Yoda Episode’ for months, and says he’s proud that he was chosen to helm the story. He remarks, ‘Any chance to work with the main Star Wars characters is a thrill because we knew we were adding to their history, but it was also a bit unnerving because we knew that it had to be handled properly or the fans would not buy it.’
Lucasfilm Animation in Singapore has produced 30 episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars for Cartoon Network. The property was introduced theatrically over the summer. A few episodes were strung together as a feature film that has grossed more than $62 million worldwide. The series will anchor Cartoon Network’s new fantasy, action and adventure night, which will also feature the new animated series The Secret Saturdays and returning hit Ben 10: Alien Force.