First things first, I want to start with some positivity. I think that the characters are likeable and relatable, and I think that the stories are very entertaining. I’m able to enjoy every single episode, even the more childish episodes from the first season. Everything about this show is just so likeable, and I absolutely love watching it. It makes me smile every time. The show will always have a special place in my heart, because it was the first Star Wars show I have watched after watching the main films. It will always bring back very good memories. However, even though I like the show very much, and even though I think that the show is good in itself, I don’t think it fits very well with the Star Wars universe as a whole, and I really can’t manage to see it as part of the actual Star Wars universe. Let me explain why.
First of all, I don’t think that Anakin’s portrayal in the show can be reconciled with his portrayal in the Prequel Trilogy. It’s not that I don’t like the character per se, it’s just that he is not Anakin Skywalker. I can’t reconcile his portrayal in the Prequels with his portrayal in TCW, they feel like very different characters to me. In order to stay more in line with what’s depicted in the films, TCW’s portrayal of Anakin should have been a mixture between Anakin from Attack of the Clones and Anakin from Revenge of the Sith. Then, they should have made him mature and become more and more like Anakin from the beginning of Revenge of the Sith as the series progressed. Instead, they just portrayed him as Anakin from Revenge of the Sith from the very beginning. And this, in my opinion, is not very believable.
Sure, I know that Anakin was not always likable in the Prequel Trilogy. But, showing how he went from the unlikable guy we see in Attack of the Clones to the likable guy we see at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith would have been more impactful. Instead, they just showed him as a likable guy from the beginning. Which, again, is not a bad thing per se, but is not consistent with what is shown in the Prequel Trilogy. Just like Luke Skywalker from the Sequel Trilogy can be described as Jake Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker from TCW can be described as Aniken Skywoka. Not to mention, Mat Lanter’s voice doesn’t resemble Hayden Christensen’s voice at all, and this makes the character feel even more like a totally different character than the one we see in the Prequel Trilogy.
I personally think that Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series did a better job with Anakin. In the first episodes of Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, Anakin is portrayed more similarly to how he was portrayed in Attack of the Clones. But, after receiving the rank of Jedi Knight, he becomes more confident and more heroic, and in the last episodes he is depicted more similarly to how he was depicted at the beginning of Revenge of the Sith, he is more calm, more heroic and less whiny. Anakin’s evolution in the original Clone Wars series was more linear and more in line with what is shown in the Prequel Trilogy, and it worked way better, in my opinion. Again, I’m not saying that Anakin’s portrayal in TCW is bad per se, I’m just saying that he doesn’t seem like the same character that we see in the Prequels, and that we needed proper context, and a progressive character evolution.
Other than Anakin’s portrayal, another thing I don’t really like about the show is the very fact that Anakin has a padawan. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Ahsoka is a bad character, I have nothing against the character in itself. All I’m saying is, she should not have been Anakin’s padawan, because the idea of Anakin having a padawan does not fit very well with the Prequel Trilogy, in my opinion. In fact, when you watch the Prequel Trilogy, you never, ever get the impression that Anakin could have had a padawan between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Never. In Revenge of the Sith, the notion that Anakin had a padawan is not even alluded to, by anyone. And it wouldn’t make any sense not to mention it, because having an apprentice is a pretty important thing. After all, we are talking about Anakin Skywalker, The Hero With No Fear, the Chosen One of the Jedi Order, and the literal protagonist of the Prequel Trilogy itself. The fact that he had a padawan should be an important element story-wise, and you would expect it to be mentioned. So, talking from an in-universe perspective, you can reasonably assume that, by the time of Revenge of the Sith, no one had any clue of the fact that Anakin had a padawan during the Clone Wars, not even Anakin himself. Therefore, I think that trying to retroactively insert Ahsoka as Anakin’s padawan feels pretty stretched. It doesn’t work very well, in my opinion. It would have made far more sense if Ahsoka was Plo Koon’s padawan, and only appeared in the episodes where Plo Koon was involved.
Other than Ahsoka being Anakin’s apprentice, I also don’t like the way they portrayed General Grievous. I’m perfectly aware that George Lucas wanted the character to be more cartoonish, and I’m perfectly aware that it would be unrealistic to expect Grievous to be portrayed in the same way he was portrayed in the original Clone Wars cartoon. But, I’m of the opinion that there is always a limit, and there is always a middle ground. A character can have cartoonish trades, and still feel intimidating. Instead, the writers just portrayed Grievous as totally incompetent and coward, without any badass quality whatsoever. In my opinion, an ideal portrayal of the character should have been a mixture between Grievous from the 2003 series and Grievous from Revenge of the Sith. This way, he could have been portrayed as competent and efficient, but also as a cartoonish villain who runs away when his plans fail.
Another thing that felt unnecessary was Darth Maul’s return. But, I don’t want you to get me wrong. Actually, I have nothing against the idea of Darth Maul coming back from the dead. What doesn’t work, in my opinion, is making him to be active during the Clone Wars era. No one mentions him in Revenge of the Sith. No one mentions the fact that he is still alive and is now ruling over Mandalore, although it should be an important thing. So, talking from an in-universe perspective, you can reasonably assume that no one had any clue of the fact that he was still alive by the time of Revenge of the Sith. Therefore, if you want to bring him back so badly, you should do that after Revenge of the Sith itself, not before.
The old Expanded Universe writers understood this, and when they brought Maul back from the dead in the Old Wounds comic, they made the comic itself to happen after Revenge of the Sith. In that comic, it is explained that Darth Maul wanted to get revenge, so he searched for Obi-Wan the entire time, but without managing to approach him (given that he was always on the move, especially during the Clone Wars). Then, he found Obi-Wan on Tatooine, had a duel with him, and was killed by Owen. That story is a self-contained story, that has no impact on anything that came before and after it, and it’s the best way they could have broth Darth Maul back from the dead. And, even though it was technically never considered Canon to begin with, it can perfectly fit with the Prequel Trilogy.
So, I’m not against the idea of bringing Darth Maul back, but they shouldn’t have made him to be active during the Clone Wars, because it feels pretty stretched, especially because no one mentions him in Revenge of the Sith, although he should be mentioned. If they wanted to have a powerful Dark Side user who controlled a criminal syndicate and took control of an entire planet, then it would have been better to use Savage Opress instead of Maul. They should have just given to Savage the role that Maul fulfilled in the show. Sure, I know that it was George Lucas who wanted Maul to be active during the Clone Wars, but this doesn’t matter. The idea of him being active during the Clone Wars era still feels stretched, and still doesn’t work with the Prequel Trilogy, in my opinion
Finally (and I know that this is a pretty hot take), I don’t like the way they portrayed the Clones. In Attack of the Clones, it is established that the Clones are genetically engineered soldiers, who obey any order without question. The Clones are not portrayed as individual, emotional creatures in the films, and in my opinion the writers of the show should have stayed faithful to the way the Clones were portrayed in the films. This way, there wouldn’t have been any need to introduce the inhibitor chips, and the majority of the Clones would have obeyed Order 66 just because they were ordered to do so by the Supreme Chancellor. It would have been more faithful to what’s depicted in the films, and in my opinion it would have been way more impactful. In fact, it would have added even more complexity to the Clones. If the Clones are portrayed as genetically engineered soldiers who obey any order, this could have allowed the audience to see how evil the Sith were, given that they were the ones who ordered the creation of the Clone Army in the first place. Moreover, it would have allowed the audience to see how much corrupt the Republic was, given that absolutely no one in the Senate was against the idea of using a slave army of biological, emotionless robots. It would have added a lot more depth to the Prequel era as a whole. Of course, I’m not saying that I hate the way they portrayed the Clones in TCW, I’m just saying that I would have preferred if they stayed fateful to what’s depicted in the films.
All in all, I think that the show is fine in itself. As I said at the beginning, I think it is very entertaining and enjoyable. But I tend to view it more as a “what if” universe that is disconnected from the main universe, because I don’t feel it fits very well with the universe that is established in the films.