Star Wars: The Clone Wars

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Airdate: 9-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 (Cartoon Network)

You can't keep a good Jedi down, or so it would seem from the latest incarnation of "Star Wars," a weekly half-hour series with animation that gets as close to 3-D as you can without wearing those dorky glasses.

Although no half-hour TV series is going to capture the visual splendor and sophisticated sound of the big-screen experience, it's surprising how well this series reflects the style, attitude, ideals and spirit of the six "Star Wars" films. The heroes are as brave as ever, in their mythological ways, and the villains are as ruthless as they come.

As the name implies, the series at its core is about intergalactic warfare between the good guys, the Republic, as well as the bad guys, everyone or everything else. Space aliens are again depicted as fanciful characters, wonderfully designed and perfectly suited to be action figures in a marketing galaxy not so far away. Meanwhile, viewers can distinguish between good and bad aliens by following this rule of thumb: The evil ones speak with deep, often gravely voices.

The series is bound to attract a legion of young viewers but is intended for and likely to appeal to a much broader audience. As evidence, Cartoon Network scheduled the series at 9 p.m. Fridays. (On premiere night only, Cartoon will run two new episodes back-to-back. After that, a new show will be followed by a repeat.)

In the premiere, young Anakin Skywalker and his even-younger protege, Ahsoka Tano, ignore orders long enough to conduct a risky search for survivors of a spacecraft decimated by a secret weapon. In the second episode, Yoda, maybe having seen too many martial arts films, uses moves that haven't been seen since "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to nearly single-handedly defeat a brigade of attacking space creeps.

Chances are if you liked "Star Wars," you'll enjoy the TV series. When it comes to extending the franchise and attracting a new generation of "Star Wars" fans, the force is definitely with George Lucas.

Production: Lucasfilm Animation.
Voices: Matt Lanter, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Ian Abercrombie, Matthew Wood, Nika Futterman, Corey Burton, Anthony Daniels.
Executive producer: George Lucas.
Producer: Catherine Winder.
Director: Justin Ridge.
Writer: Steven Melching.
Supervising director: Dave Filoni.
Story editor: Henry Gilroy.
Editor: Jason W.A. Tucker.
Score: Kevin Kiner.

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