I just started watching these (Thanks for the access) and am trying to take notes so that I can provide detailed feedback. What you have done is refreshing and makes this series much more watchable for me. Still, I think there are things that I would try to improve if I were the editor, and I’d like to provide my feedback in case you find any of it helpful.
Ohhhhh hell yeah! I love big detailed feedback like this. What a thing to wake up to. Thanks so much, buddy! Keep it coming!
Episodes 01x00 through 01x04:
01x00 - Dark Force Rising
- While you did a good job with the material, I still find the differences in art style and characterization between this and the rest of the series distracting. It’s not bad by any means, but this episode is not going to be part of my normal rewatch, especially since 01x01 does such a good job of introducing the characters etc.
I totally agree that it’s a bit too inconsistent with TCW’s tone and style. You’re welcome to skip it - and I do too. It’s mainly here so that people who enjoy that Tartakovsky flavour can do so with a slightly more TCW-appropriate plot - which mainly serves to fill in a couple of gaps, like the first Ventress meeting.
01x01 - The New Padawan
- I love the intro with finding Maul, but there is no relevance for this in the episode, or in the next few episodes. Is this really the best place for that cold open?
It’s a valid observation. This cold open doesn’t get payoff until mid season 3. The reason I first thought to include it was because it kind of acts like a promise to the audience - “Maul. Darksaber. Mandalorians. Coming soon.” - and since those elements are the ‘backbone’ of TCW:R (and I pull those plot elements forward to start a lot earlier) I thought it might be good to get them established up front. I’m trying to make this show more of a serialised drama than the anthology it began as. I could be convinced to remove it if enough people think it does more harm than good.
- Ventress talks with ObiWan as if she is an old girlfriend, but we get no context for that here. We also hear her talk about meeting them again, but outside of her mysterious fight with Anakin in episode 0, there is no known background for this ongoing interaction. She also mentions that ObiWan and the Republic were betrayed (as explanation for how the Separatists got there), but since that isn’t included in your series, is it really good to bring up? (Addendum: It becomes clear that Ventress talks with everyone as if she is an old girlfriend, but that’s not immediately clear in this encounter.)
Cutting all of the above dialogue may leave the fight too short, but is this scene even needed in this episode? You could start with ObiWan looking through the binoculars at the marching droids, or even with the battle in the street where Anakin jumps onto the turret droid. This would require rewriting the crawl to remove Ventress and dropping us directly into the action as Star Wars often does, with ObiWan and Anakin trying to help the people stationed on the planet hold off a Separatist army until reinforcements arrive.
I’m hoping you’ve seen v1.8 of this episode, which removes the Republic mole plot element, and has Ventress refer to her earlier meeting with Anakin. However you cut it, the encounter as depicted in this episode is definitely not their first - this is one of the reasons I opted to roll in the Tartakovsky episode, to depict their true first encounter. That said, I don’t mind people appearing for the first time on screen and saying “We’ve met before”. We don’t always need to see the context, for it to still be a coherent story, I believe.
Ventress is naturally sassy, as you’ve noticed, and Obi-Wan is naturally sassy too, so I think it’s OK to pick up on a bit of ambiguity in their relationship. In my mind this is THEIR first meeting, but that’s just how they both behave. I don’t think I’d want to cut any of this though, because even though it doesn’t add much to the plot, it’s fun characterisation which we’ll revisit more this season.
- It is confusing trying to figure out who is holding what position on or around the planet. There are droids everywhere and Ventress is there, but the Separatists land/invade at the end of the Ventress fight. There are Republic ships in orbit, and seemingly ObiWan and Anakin recently arrived, but then there are no Republic ships and communication has been cut off until the one Venator arrives with Asoka.
By removing the initial space scene with the bombers and the Ventress part with the Seperatists landing, the situation could be simplified. We would see a planet locked in kind of a stalemate, hear that communications have been blocked (ObiWan hasn’t been able to contact the admiral), and see that a single Venator has been ambushed trying to bring supplies and needs to get reinforcements. ObiWan says that their previous support ships (likely the ones that brought them there) were all destroyed at some prior point.
To my mind it works as follows: The Separatists have established an initial base on the planet and set up a space blockade. The Republic have a small staging area established somewhere else on the planet. The Republic can’t break the blockade, but they’ve been able to land Obi-Wan and Anakin (far from the action, hence the bikes). Anticipating Jedi involvement, Ventress has blocked Republic comms and allowed the Jedi to identify her ‘base’, deliberately to draw them to a specific location. Having the Jedi wrapped up trying to find her means they’ve been unable to investigate/mess up the Separatists’ landing of a much larger true invasion force.
I think that’s the original intention anyway, and I don’t think it’s contradicted. You could possibly streamline some of this, and while this episode certainly is one of the least good ones in TCW:R, I think it’s at least fairly well balanced and well paced. That said, I’d absolutely be open to suggestions here using the collateral available in the original episodes.
- The initial scene with the admiral, Yoda, and Windu is unecessary. The same information is communicated by ObiWan, the crew of the Venator, and Yoda when Asoka arrives.
Sure, it is kind of redundant. But it serves to allow the two scenes around it to breathe - otherwise you’d be cutting right from the prep for the attack directly into it, which would be a bit jarring. But it is harmless. And it reminds us that the Jedi are operating as part of the military, and that there’s an orbital component to what’s currently happening.
- Bail Organa only appears in two small scenes (one at the beginning and one at the end). Neither communicates much other than the easter egg of his presence. Should he really be there at all, or does it all flow better without him?
Again, valid, and if there’s enough arguments against Bail in this episode I’d cut him out entirely. He’s here for a few reasons, none of which are major: (1) Bail’s good! It’s nice to see him. (2) It gives us a BIT of jeopardy early on. (3) It gives the Anakin/Ahsoka relationship a BIT of reward later. But I agree, there’s not much to him there.
- I’ve watched several edits of the Prequel Trilogy and one of my favorite “improvements” is the removal of dialogue by the battle droids. The idea is that they are all networked and therefore only need to speak when communicating to other characters. It makes them less goofy and more threatening. I don’t know if you’d want to do a similar thing in your edits, but it may be worth considering. (Addendum: This could be much trickier in later episodes like The 501st.)
Nice, but having the battle droids speak is something that I think now needs to remain as part of the fabric of Star Wars canon, since it appears in many media now. So I don’t think we can dam this particular flow. They do also have some important lines later which give context to what they’re doing. What I have done throughout is try to minimise their annoying lines as much as possible.
- Not knowing the original version very well, I don’t know if anything worthy can be added. If all of the above is cut, it will likely take the current 28-minute episode down below 20 minutes. Is that too short, especially for what is essentially the opening of the series? I’m not sure. The episode does an excellent job of introducing Asoka, ObiWan, and Anakin, along with a lot of the Separatist droid models. It’s a much stronger opening than episode 0 or the vanilla episodes 1 and 2.
I’d certainly rather remove than add, since really ideally we just whip through this episode as quickly as possible. Episodes can run to any length, really, so long as they work, though once I get lower than 20 or higher than 50 is where I’d think about potential alternative presentations. I am open to changes to this episode which focus it more tightly, but I’d need particularly compelling arguments for the trims, I think.
01x02 - The Death Watch
- The number of quick shots in the opening strikes me as a bit overdone. We don’t need to see ObiWan in the cockpit, because we know it’s him from the crawl and from when he climbs out. I’m not sure we even need to see him undock from the hyperspace ring. The approach to the city is a nice introduction and reminds me of the opening to Attack of the Clones, but I could also imagine the episode starting with him landing and climbing out.
Interestingly, it did originally begin with him just climbing out, but I was convinced by others here to add more establishing shots. I will look into trimming them down though, to find more of a middle ground.
- There’s probably nothing that you could do about it (the available footage is the available footage), but it seems very foolish for ObiWan to call the duchess to help him check out what he knows is a Death Watch hideout when he knows that they are after her.
So! This is my most complex single scene edit, and I think it’s ended up about as good as it can now. Originally, Obi-Wan got caught in the facility by Death Watch and put on a Bond villain’s CONVEYOR BELT OF DEATH, which he called Satine (again knowingly into danger) to rescue him from. It was extremely goofy and I felt it really cheapened the Mandalorians in their very first appearance in this show. No good. She needs to end up there because that’s where the plot continues from, but with this restructure I made it so that at least he’s drawing her to what he believes is an empty facility. Best I can do here, I think. If it helps, bear in mind they spent a year together on the run so he likely trusts her ability to handle herself to a degree.
- Again, there’s probably not much you can do, but it would be nice if Anakin said something about where Asoka is when he shows up for escort duty. Maybe the crawl could be edited to reflect not only that he is taking her somewhere else, but specifically that he is dropping her off somewhere (maybe to visit family or something, if that makes sense in the context of the larger series).
It’s an option. Ultimately Ahsoka appears in about 70% of our episodes, but there are certainly still some where she doesn’t. The audience needs to get used to that, though I have attempted to keep her in at least every other episode, so that she remains the main character of this show. This being the first episode where she doesn’t appear, I wanted the crawl to explain that she wasn’t appearing whilst also not making too much of a point of it, so the audience wouldn’t expect to follow her.
That said, there’s a later episode I’m not using where Ahsoka’s in the Jedi temple studying and moaning to Anakin about wanting to join him on a mission. So I’ll look into including that, so we at least get her in the one scene and it explains visually to the audience what she’s up to where we don’t see her. Thanks for the nudge!
- The “stand by for lightspeed” mini-scene seems almost unnecessary and distracting from the scenes around it. I get that it shows why the view outside the windows changes, but I’m not sure it needs to be spelled out like that. You could replace it with the slightly-later establishing shot of the ship in hyperspace and remove that, making the Anakin ObiWan conversation a longer less-broken sequence.
This one’s actually necessary deliberately to break the Anakin-Obi-Wan conversation, because it has a really awkward break in it which this scene needed to mask. The lightspeed scene was used here just because it was, if I remember right, the only viable option.
- This is a great episode. I have the impression that there was a lot more stuff with the assassin spiders in the lower decks - the way you handled them seemed just right to me. Everything in this episode blended well together. It had a steady pace and made me care about the characters and world.
Excellent! Yeah, there were about ten minutes of the spiders in the lower decks, being investigated, killing people, then coming up to the higher decks etc, but ultimately none of it served our core plot.
01x03 - Malevolence
- The crawl tells us about the big bad battleship Malevolence, but what if it was a mystery to the audience? It seems to be a mystery to the characters. They could know that Grievous is behind the mysterious attacks that are leaving behind no survivors.
In the original presentation Malevolence was a mystery for the first episode. However, in my presentation I merged the first two episodes so that there’s the time pressure of the Malevolence specifically hunting down medical stations - because it’s both a good tactical move for Grievous and extremely sinister, so it gave him a lot more menace than his usual goofiness. That required the change so that the ship was now known.
- I’m not sure about Grievous’ line about concern for troops being a weakness to exploit, because I’m not seeing how that’s being exploited at all in this episode, particularly in relation to the opening battle.
I can’t quite remember the justification here, but I think it was something along the lines of the fact that they were targeting medical stations was forcing the Republic to need to react to defend them (even though they’re noncombatants), drawing them away from other military priorities.
- I’m not sure that the initial scene on the medical station is necessary. It confirms that the threat is a warship (reduces the mystery and suggests that they know for a fact that it is coming - how?). The danger to the station is logically deduced later by Anakin, so this scene might be able to be skipped without losing anything.
I’ll take a look at this, thanks! It may be that it was just to put a human face on the threat, perhaps.
- It seems to me that there are too many short scenes in the escape pod. Maybe the first one could be joined into the end of the opening battle to increase plot cohesion. Maybe this could happen right after Grievous says to destroy the escape pods.
I’ll look at this one too.
- The first scene with the Malevolent in hyperspace is probably not necessary. It also contributes to the idea that Grievous doesn’t know exactly what he and his ship are doing.
Likewise I’ll check this one. If I remember right, the battle droid gives a bit of context for their intentions here.
- It’s strange that ObiWan contacts Anakin via holo after telling Yoda and Windu that he’s been in contact with Anakin. Is the ObiWan Anakin scene really needed? If cut, you would still have searching and the scene with Yoda and Windu, but the next time you cut to the shuttle, R2 would find the signal.
I’ll take a look at this too!
- When Anakin is talking near the Y-Wings he surmises the next target of the Malevolent. That would then make sense as the setup for the evacuations. If you cut the initial scene on the station and move the second one, where they discuss evacuation progress to sometime soon after this scene, the plot will make more sense. Note that the transition from the Y-Wing conversation directly to the Malevolent in hyperspace is excellent - don’t change that. It will be even better if we lose that earlier shot of the ship in hyperspace.
I think because I wanted to imply that Grievous is targeting multiple medical stations in that sector, and it’s just his path/next target which Anakin works out. This way, I can set up the threat much earlier, which I wanted to do to have it hanging over the plot and add a time pressure element to Ahsoka’s hunt for Plo.
- Why does Grievous know that Skywalker is leading the fighters? Why does he care? I suggest trimming his battle lines/scenes to eliminate the Skywalker references.
Maybe because Anakin’s just that competent? Or his ship is recognisable? I’m not sure. I’ll check this though, and trim as you suggest if it doesn’t quite work.
- Grievous says “impossible” twice, almost as if he doesn’t anticipate things going wrong ever. Since he clearly has an escape plan for himself, perhaps consider cutting the number of times he reacts with surprise to the battle going badly. Instead, keep him angry but deliberate in responding to the situation as it develops.
This is a really good shout. It makes him cartoonish, which I don’t like.
01x04 - The 501st Legion
- While I really like most of your crawls, this one gives a lot of information that is later supplied contextually. It’s good to introduce the idea of the cloning facilities and Grievous being hunted, but the part about the trainees is hit pretty hard and explained thoroughly right after this. The sentence about Captain Rex supporting Anakin but also inspecting facilities is a bit strange. Maybe change it to something like “Meanwhile, CAPTAIN REX, who normally supports Anakin and the 501st Legion, has been given a special assignment to inspect the local clone outposts, in order to prepare them for possible Separatist attack.”
I’ll revisit this. I needed to hint that failiure equals shittier jobs because originally they succeed, and I’ve changed this so they fail to better give the whole arc a three-act structure. I’ll revisit the whole though. I don’t have a big problem with Rex on inspection, because you can assume that even active assignment contains some administrative duties unless directly in combat.
- I’m not sure that you need as many scenes about the trainees at the beginning. They seem a bit repetitive, especially with the one bounty hunter/trainer trash-talking 99. At the same time, I’m not sure quite what to trim without losing too much.
I’d need a particularly tangible idea here, I think. Back when I was reordering this episode to make it work as their failiure rather than their success, I mulled over each scene in isolation and ended up on this structure. We tried a few versions of this in the thread and this was where we ended up, though I don’t now remember the fine detail of this decision. Still, I’m open to suggestions!
- Though not by your choice, there remains a lot of battle droid oddness in this episode. The droids communicate a lot with each other verbally and are unable to pick up on things going on around them, like when the clones are trying to pass for a droid at the door to the facility. It may not be possible to make the battle droids fully appear an efficient and lethal force, but you may wish to make adjustments that direction. Again, I’ve seen Prequel edits where they eliminate the droid chatter and imply that they are all networked - it helps.
Yeah. The commando droids are set up as particularly tactically competent, but then immediately duped in the same episode. This plotline also depends on the “roger roger” joke I’ve never been a fan of. But unfortunately I don’t think there’s a good way around this.
- When Ventress meets Anakin in the DNA room, we again get the feeling that it isn’t the first time. Most of their interaction can go either way, but his line “without saying hello” directly implies that they know each other. If we accept episode 0 and maintain her presence in episode 1, that works. If you skip 0 and remove her scene from 1, this line also needs to be trimmed.
I personally think that this episode can serve as a good introduction for Ventress. When she first appears, Grievous calls her “assassin,” and she says that she was given orders from Dooku. This is pretty much everything that has been established in her prior appearances (besides claiming to be a Sith). If this is the first time we see her, we learn what need to know, and she gets to do something integral to what is going on.
This bears consideration. I’ll review this interaction with that in mind and see how it works.
- Why would Grievous know ObiWan by name? This again implies a prior interaction that was never shown. It wouldn’t be hard to trim that out of the scenes, making ObiWan (to Grievous) just some random Jedi that happens to be on Kamino. I like that the first time we see Grievous fight (if you don’t count episode 0) is vs ObiWan, who will eventually kill him in a rematch.
I don’t think it requires a prior interaction - Obi-Wan’s a Jedi Master (making him a fairly prominent public figure?) and also a leading general (making him the kind of person that the Separatists would have extensive intel on, which Grievous would have studied). I think we can safely have him be recognisable by the opposing general.
This was some really, really great analysis, thanks! Please continue to tear apart the future episodes. I know when I respond to analysis like this it’s usually negative responses - either me not being able to make a change, or me arguing for a thought process which I subjectively think justifies preserving the current version - but please don’t be discouraged by that. Everything that’s presented to me I promise I’ll properly consider, including going back to review episodes where necessary. And if I seem to be hanging on to a poor decision, I can often be overwhelmed by compelling arguments and community consensus.
Please keep it coming!