Saturday Animation Round-up: Young Justice, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Green Lantern: The Animated Series

Welcome to our new Saturday animation round-up! This inaugural edition covers Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, and Young Justice, and starting next week we'll add Nickelodeon's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which today received its own standalone review, in honor of its series premiere). Let us know what you think—and which other shows you might like to see reviewed here—in the comments.


Star Wars: The Clone Wars S05E01: “Revival”

The Clone Wars has, despite its lackluster start (and really dull movie), grown into an entertaining series that often has more going for it than the movies it was birthed from. But I must admit that the resurrection of Darth Maul at the end of last season made me more than a bit wary.

So I’m glad that “Revival” arranged things so that Maul won't be this season’s sole focus, and expanded his role from Obi-Wan antagonist to a potential unifier of crime families around the galaxy. It’s a clever way to keep Maul and Savage in the mix, but not necessarily at the forefront of the action. Likewise, the shift from brothers against Kenobi to a new pair of Sith against the galaxy ups the threat level (and gives Palpatine an unexpected perk in his plans to wipe out the Jedi).

The episode also managed to keep that threat level feeling real. Adi’s gruesome death (for a Saturday-morning show) showed what’s at stake for everyone, and kept Maul and Savage from being—wait for it!—phantom menaces! (Had to, sorry.) If there were no sacrifice, no sense of risk, then the various plots facing the Jedi would be largely empty.

And that’s an important thing for The Clone Wars to keep going. Asokha’s fate is up in the air as this series enters its fifth, and potentially final, season, and the idea that anyone can die, including the show’s audience surrogate, keeps The Clone Wars exciting.


Green Lantern: The Animated Series S01E14: “The New Guy”

Green Lantern proved itself a competent, if not terribly inventive, series during its first arc. After the heavy emphasis on space narratives, I was eager for this second arc to return to Earth (and for Earth to look better than it did in the first arc's finale). Thankfuily, I got exactly what I wanted. And Guy Gardner to boot!

This second arc seems primed to deal with the reactivation of decommissioned Manhunters, the robots that the Guardians used to maintain order in the galaxy before they started the Green Lantern Corp. But while that threat gets going, Hal has to deal with the fallout of being gone for months.

I really like this, that the series is giving ramifications for Hal’s life as a Green Lantern. While I still don’t think that Hal’s relationship with Carol is fleshed out enough to earn the moments the series has given them, both here and in the Star Sapphire episode in the first arc, I can appreciate the series making gestures toward Hal’s life outside of the ring.

Guy Gardner’s presence, likewise, brings a different dynamic to the series. He’s cocky, beloved by everyone (even Guardian Appa, and that guy doesn’t like anyone!), and doesn’t defer to Hal like Kilowog, Aya, and even Razer. Deidrich Balder’s performance hits all the right notes here, and I hope Guy appears a few more times.

But I’m not holding my breath. Given Hal’s promotion to the Green Lantern Honor Guard, I’m expecting more space stories. I’m hoping that these new ones will be less generic than the ones we got in the first arc, and if the writers decide to bring back the old team, that they continue to develop Razer and Aya, the only two characters with decent character arcs.

DC Nation Short: Teen Titans and a gamma ray PSA! This short was pretty well worth it for Starfire’s inability to say it and subsequent cursing in native tongue. Everyone else was amusing, and the idea of even doing a gamma ray PSA is clever (even though I don’t think anyone on the team got their powers from gamma rays...).


Young Justice S02E08: “Satisfaction”

Young Justice is one of the most frustrating series I watch. When it’s good, it’s pretty good, but when it’s bad, it tends to be really bad. I know I seem to be in the minority on this based on other reviews and comments on my Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes piece from a couple months ago, but if it seems like I'm harsher on this series, it’s because I think there’s a lot of potential that the series just doesn’t live up to.

I actually rather enjoyed this episode. Original Roy’s anger at Ollie, his sense of neglect, provided a nice way to hit Roy’s beats from the iconic heroin arc from the comics in the 1970s while still being appropriate for the timeslot and the plot so far. Original Roy’s confrontation with Luthor and Mercy felt a tad dragged out (more on that in just a second), but I ultimately liked the result of Original Roy taking up the mantle as Arsenal. I’d like to see this develop a bit more, but, at the same time, Young Justice is already feeling a bit overstuffed sometimes, and I don’t know if it can support more plots.

Which is why the small asides in this episode—first to Dakota City for Rocket’s bridal show and Captain Cold’s bank heist (“I’m completely doomed, aren’t I?”) and then to Ivy Town to start, I guess, a romance between Conner and Wendy—made the episode feel a little busy and all over the place. The only departure from the Original Roy’s plot that even felt necessary was the visit to Artemis’s empty grave to learn about Cheshire and Sportmaster’s plans to go after Aqualad and Black Manta.

DC Nation Short: The Super Best Friends Forever fought Solomon Grundy, who “no fights girls.” I’ve missed the SBFFs (I haven’t been watching the DC Nation block since the hiatus), so having this particular segment back for the opening week was much appreciated. It was filled with bits, like their mocking of Grundy as a zombie, and I really enjoyed Supergirl’s assertion of “We are equal-opportunity butt-kickers!” Grundy may have gender equality issues, but the girls don’t!


What'd you think of this week's episodes?


Note: As I mentioned above, Nickelodeon's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series will appear in the animation round-up starting next week. This week it received its own standalone review.


Are there any other series you’d like to see in the round-up? All suggestions are welcome, but to have a good chance at inclusion they need to be shows that: 1) lend themselves to this capsule review format, 2) do not air opposite the shows reviewed above, 3) I can catch up on easily if I need to, and 4) aren't on Hub or Disney XD (which aren’t a part of my cable package).

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Also, I loved Lex! He was so great!
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I loved angry Roy!!1 He was the best! I def. understand. The kid just LOST 5+ years of his entire life. Good thing he doesn't have parents to explain it all too.
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I'm in complete agreement that Young Justice has become too overstuffed. It's the same issue I had with Justice League when it became Justice League Unlimited. I was perfectly happy with just the original characters. We got one season of deelopment out of them and then BAM season two starts pretty much all over with a motley crew of EVERYBODY. I'd have been much happier if we'd continued to watch the original team continue to develop and grow as a team and we were able to see more interaction between them and their mentors.
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I'll have to disagree about JLU since, well, I think JLU's better than JL. Those character shifts helped change up a dynamics (and helped the writers stop doing ridiculous things to put Superman and J'onn out of commission in episodes since they're so powerful). Plus that Cadmus arc in JLU season 1 is simply terrific.

The overstuffed issue on YJ is that the character work hasn't been as strong as the show was displaying toward the end of s1, which was just starting to become really good.

But since I've tried to meet YJ on its own terms, I've decided that my opinion on the show's character work will just be a standing objection, and I'll monitor for improvement.
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Right on! Glad to see cartoons with adult interest are getting attention on TV.com finally.

I've been with Clone Wars since the beginning, but that episode really was not much to crow about. Maul's plan is a tad short-sighted and direct, he's not there to trick anybody, just force them to become his army the way he forces his brother to become his apprentice. It's flat and silly. Savage goring Adi Galia was interesting, hadn't seen that before, but it would have meant more if we had gotten to know her at all on the show - she's always been a rather dull Jedi in my book in the various media (at least they got her Clone Wars mark 1 voice actor for this role). Obi-Wan dispatches the brothers Opress pretty handily too, so with a Jedi dying and him flipping out a little and grabbing a fallen's saber and hacking off body parts, this episode's culmination felt like a repeat of The Phantom Menace where Maul first died. And why exactly does Maul's robot leg bleed green gassy goo the same way Savage's arm does? Neither rung true to how Star Wars deals with limb-vs-saber action. Hondo was fun to revisit, but his pirates really didn't have much thought here and it felt like a cheap side.

I don't watch Green Lantern, it doesn't look like my sort of thing, the animation looks cheap and the writing I've seen looks flat. The DC Nation short was cute (it was on the DVR just before Young Justice) but felt like it needed a hook at the end, like it was missing something.

Young Justice was very good, although I wouldn't agree that when it's bad it's very bad, I'd say it usually can hold its head up high even on weak episodes. Anyway, good writeup on both the positive and negative aspects. I found the Ollie / Roy / Royclone story very strong and watchable, and Roy against Lex & Mercy was good too, it also felt like Roy was building to becoming Arsenal anyway what with the clever uses of grenades and such. I can't believe they're taking a joke character - Wendy from Superfriends - and making her a love interest for a main character, that's really left field.

SBFF was cute in general, a good smirk, and I liked Grundy's response every time.
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I was wondering about the green gases, too. I didn't know what, exactly, was going on there. I see your point about the notion of a TPM redux, which isn't something that cross my mind at all (shows how much I've repressed it, I guess).



GL: TAS is something that is simply okay. I think it's interesting to see Bruce Timm's design in 3D, but beyond that, the show is generally pretty flat. Last season was kind of a rollcall of sci-fi plots (ship falling into a black whole, planet ruled by women), and while I see some value in putting these characters in those generic stories, very rarely did the material elevate it beyond that generic-ness.



You'll find I'm pretty mood whip-lashy on YJ, I'm afraid. I generally haven't liked it, but keep watching (and writing about) it anyway. At least I wasn't writing here when they did the time skip to start this season. And then the reveal at the end of "Depths." So much anger/eye-rolling/dissatisfaction.



And they can do whatever they want to Wendy here so long as they don't do the Wonder Dog/hell hound thing they did in the Teen Titans comics some years back. Eugh. Horrible.
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I think maybe the green gas goo might be due to the Nightsister powers being used to make them who they are, but if so, it's not well communicated. Most fans repress TPM, to me it's the best prequel simply because it does the best job finding that Star Wars magic - still awful though. I enjoyed the recent LEGO Star Wars special more than I did TPM.

GL:TAS generally gets an eyeroll out of me when the tail end is on the DVR, so thanks for the confirm.

Everybody has the right to their own opinion on YJ, sorry to hear it hasn't done it for you. I thought the timeline jump was jarring, but they did such a good job rolling with the story and personalities that I got over it - they didn't linger on the soap opera stuff but they didn't ignore it either, and now there's more history to unfold as the show goes. Anger and eye-rolling over "Depths"? I'm surprised, I thought the big twist was well-telegraphed, explained and even justified - reminded me of DC comics if nothing else, except here the audience isn't jerked around for a year's worth of issues before the reveal. ;-)

Holy crap, I didn't know about Wonder Dog, just read the summary - yikes, no.
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Anger and eye-rolling may have been a bit strong.

A lot of my problems with "Depth" stemmed from the time skip, Kaldur's face-heel-turn, and then the rug-pulling about that turn. Basically: Is it worse to feel sucker punched by Kaldur's "betrayal" (and annoyed by its lack of narrative progression) or just feel suckered into thinking the show was willing to be kind of bold, albeit in a sloppy sort of way?
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I only watch 3 of these saturday morning type of cartoons right now what with Thundercats getting canned, and you've covered 2 of them (Clone Wars, Young Justice), the third is Transformers Prime (you could watch eps on the Hub's website, but they're a week out of date and not really good enough to bother). I also watch a lot of Adult Swim lineup, but until Venture Bros. and Metalocalypse come back, I don't think there's anything airing worthy of a writeup since the rest are more self-contained episodes (Superjail, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Childrens Hospital, Black Dynamite, etc.).
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Yeah, timeliness is the issue with some of those shows. I can get access to Hub and Disney XD, but typically only the day after at the earliest (I watch Avengers on Amazon).



I've made a brief pitch about Venture Bros, so it'll be revisited when the show starts back up. Whenever that is.
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Venture Bros would be awesome here, it's the one people are really passionate about. Date is now Feb '13, but I'll wait... I'll wait until time stops if I have to. It's already been 2 friggin' years. I just realized I waited less time between the pilot and the series, that was only a year and a half.
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needs more kid flash!



that out the way, so glad YG and GL are back!! any word on when avengers and legend of korra come back?
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Avengers is still running on Disney XD, will finish up this season, and then will be replaced by a new Avengers series.



Korra's likely coming back sometime in 2013. I don't think a date has been announced.
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SO HAPPY that Young Justice is back on. The show just keeps getting better! My son and I tuned in to TMNT and loved it. Very funny and I enjoy the new animation.
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Is it wrong i got a bit teary during YJ?

oh and clone wars didnt that jedi lady die on a speeder in revenge of the sith???????

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I don't think Adi appears in Revenge of the Sith.
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Adi Gallia appears in Ep 2 only in unused footage from Ep 1, she was replaced between Ep 2 and 3 with another Jedi that looks like her, Stass Allie. Stass is the one who gets blasted on the BARC Speeder in ROTS.
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I never watched Clone Wars so I feel like I have to wait til the series is over to watch it. Anyway, so glad GL and YJ are back. Liked the new Turtles show and, not sure if it's your style but I also watch Ben 10: Omniverse.
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Clone Wars is worth catching up on (just don't watch the movie, whatever you do; just read a summary of it).



I debated including Ben 10 in this, but since I've never watched it regularly I rarely have any idea what's going on in the show. When I have watched it, I've enjoyed it.
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Funny enough, I actually saw the Clone Wars flick in the theatres. Maybe that's why I never watched the series? I don't know. As for Ben 10, I've watched since episode one cos my brother is a devotee, but Omniverse actually resets the script a bit (new design, new characters), so you could, if you wanted, just watch the new series.
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I liked the CW movie, it should never have been released in theaters as it's not THAT good, but I felt like it had good pace and Ahsoka was more tolerable there than the majority of season 1 where she was bratty with no cause.

Anyway, CW is good and worth checking out now, it's episodic but they catch you up on pertinent stuff at the beginning. Star Wars was always meant to be jumped into from the middle (that's a signfiicant point of the first Star Wars film) and Clone Wars would be no different.
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I was also happy about the return of CW with its fifth season and I also think it was really suspenseful. I just hope there are going to be more seasons. I agree with the writer of this review. This series often surpasses the feeling of the movies and the notion towards "Phantom Meance" was brilliant. It brought a smile on my face. Congratulations. Awesome notion.
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Am just glad Green Lantern and Young Justice are back. My Saturday mornings have been boring without them. Green Lantern was good. Like the addition of Guy Gardner. Young Justice was also good. One armed Speedy(now Arsenal) was insane. You know Lex Luthor is up to something when he gave him that robotic arm.
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I don't like the whole time jump piece. I felt I could connect better with the characters in season one. Season two has too many characters and story arcs for my liking.
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I've just like the time skip go. I was angry about it for a while, but I've just moved on and tried to accept it. It's not easy because it's killed all the good character momentum they had at the end of season 1, but I'm trying (this is why I didn't mention it. It's part of a 12-step program).
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my faves are baaack! whooo
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I think the DC animation shorts have been in hiatus/repeats since YJ and GL went into hiatus. Also, you can always catch repeats of Justice League on CW on Saturday mornings.
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I wasn't sure about the shorts. I had a sense that new shorts were running during the main shows' hiatuses. Like, I don't think the serialized Atom short was over by the time they went on hiatus, so I imagine it kept going.
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Just put the justice league should be handling this out of your mind and you will always love young justice episodes. They actually add the justice league a lot in their episodes, so at least they dont act like they dont exist. But of course I would love a justice league show too, love the art and style of the show
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This new design of the Turtles sucks so much I cannot find a proper word for it ;/



And I love Young Justice, it's great. I hope ThunderCats will be renewed for 2nd season.
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Didn't ThunderCats get the axed?
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It's still technically listed as "on hiatus" per the creators of the show while Catroon Network makes a decision. There is still a sliver of hope, in that case. They're going to rerun the original episodes as part of Toonami so I wonder if they're waiting on the ratings for the reruns. I rather liked the show so I do hope the at least give it another season of development before they make major decisions. Most of the first season episodes were all development and reworking the original plot so we crave more!
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ThunderCats hasn't been renewed for second season, so it's likely it's been "unofficially" cancelled.
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Clone Wars Season 5 premiere was riveting, the fight between Kenobi and the 2 brothers was savage and brilliant . All too often we forget Kenobi is a great Jedi fighter one of their best..this reminded us he is still fearsome and fierce.

Not sure why they sent that rookie Jedi with him to face those 2. Didn't end well for the Jedi too bad. But the stories of the series are way more interesting than the Star Wars prequels.
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Oddly, Adi's a full-blown Jedi Master. She just didn't seem like it!
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Yeah I like the series, my only problem is that we already know how they all end up, but if I think of it as a parallel universe in my head it makes it easier to enjoy. Maybe that makes me crazy, I don't know.
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I like CW's season premiere. Lots of actions, but I hate its new day and time. :(
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