‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’
By: Colin Carney, SSW
Originally debuting in 2008 on Cartoon Network, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” has become one of the most beloved properties in the Star Wars universe. Set between the events of episode two and three, the show chronicles the story of the galaxy spanning conflict that was only briefly shown in the films; during which, the show manages to deliver on all the action and intrigue of a classic wartime epic.
As mentioned previously, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” depicts the epic battles and military campaigns of the Clone Wars as well as the political maneuverings of the conflict that the films largely failed to make interesting. Organized as more of an anthology rather than a single narrative, each episode or arc of the series follows different characters across countless planets and conflicts. Practically every extra that graced the screen throughout the prequel trilogy manages to pop up in this show and become an important player. Entire episodes are dedicated to Jedi like Mace Windu, Plo Koon and Kit Fisto, and of course Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Yoda. Beyond the Jedi, several episodes dive deeper into the political arena as they follow Chancellor Palpatine, Padme Amidala and others explore the treacherous world of organized crime with gangsters like Jabba the Hutt and bounty hunters like Cad Bane. This show manages to cover the breadth of its fictional galactic conflict as if it were a real war here on Earth.
Perhaps most impressive is how this show manages to create complex and endearing characters despite often being considered a kid’s show on Cartoon Network. For evidence of this you need look no further than the clones. Originally relegated to CGI background extras in the films, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” places them upfront and center stage. Even with so many recognizable characters from both the Sith and Jedi, the series stars are undoubtedly the clones as several of them are given names and distinct personalities. Viewers witness them struggle with their role in a conflict that they were bred specifically for and as they fight to distinguish themselves and develop unique personalities. Despite all sharing the same voice and face, the clones each became their own unique character and their arcs throughout the series are both epic and emotional.
Years after its initial release in 2008, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” has seen seven seasons, two cancellations and two returns. During its lifespan the show has provided Star Wars fans with plenty of action, intrigue and complex worldbuilding. Even casual fans and newcomers alike can find plenty to love in this series as it manages to mature with its audiences and deliver on compelling storylines. Even now, as it wraps up its seventh and final season, the show still delivers on the rich and epic storytelling it’s been known for. For those of you searching for a great series to binge during the quarantine, simply log on to Disney Plus and stream the Clone Wars.
By: Samuel Harrison, SSW
NBC’s “Community” didn’t have the smoothest run when it first aired. Faced with poor viewership due to being scheduled against CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” and the spotty work ethic of series creator Dan Harmon, the sitcom spent most of its years on the brink of cancellation. The show eventually tipped over that precipice in 2014 before being picked up by “Yahoo!” for its sixth and final season.
In hindsight, this tumultuous run feels brazenly underserved because “Community” is one of the most hilarious and inventive sitcoms to ever be put to screen.
In an era of TV when most sitcoms were trying to capture the charm that made “The Office” so successful, “Community” stuck out like a sore thumb. The show focused on a tight-knit Spanish study group attending Greendale community college, a fictional school in Colorado, and if that sounds boring don’t worry — the group spends less time studying for language tests and more time waging paintball warfare in the halls, surviving zombie outbreaks and playing “Dungeons and Dragons.”
“Community” is beholden to no rules, and though these unbelievable antics would likely come across as childish and amateur if performed by a less-skilled group of actors, the cast’s undeniable chemistry makes it impossible to look away. The aforementioned study group is comprised of stars like Donald Glover, better known today by his stage name Childish Gambino, and other big names like Chevy Chase and Ken Jeong, and they all bring their A-game. Whether the characters are building pillow forts or playing an extreme game of “The Floor is Lava,” you can tell that these characters truly care about one another, and it’s easy to forget that they started out as a Spanish study group.
The result is a show with a heart of gold beating steadily amidst the chaos. During a time when the real world has been plunged into a similar chaos, it helps to sit down and turn on a show that insists that in spite of all the madness happiness can be found in one’s own community. Of course, in our case, that sense of community should be experienced at least six feet apart.
Previously only available on Hulu, “Community” was recently added to Netflix so if you have a little bit of free time — and I have a sneaking suspicion you might — and are looking for something new to binge then consider giving the show a try.
‘My Hero Academia’ Season 4
By: Adam Alvernaz, SSW
If you’re looking for some high paced action to keep you out of the quarantine rut, “My Hero Academia” has just finished airing its newest season. In the past four years of its original anime debut, the show has received lots of praise for being a next generation Shonen anime for all to enjoy. During the show’s third season, we discussed its promising role in the anime space and its transformative form of delivering a deep story with exceptional action. Season four is no different with the series finally ramping up the stakes with more heroes and villains on the rise again! The audience follows Izuku Midoriya (Deku) once again as he works alongside All Might’s previous sidekick, Nighteye, to tackle the latest villain threat. Alongside them are the legion of heroes, both young and old, that continue to outfit the show’s lore and personality of characters fans have been following for years. While fans are eager to see the next big step in Deku’s journey, people like his rival, close friends and leaders are finally getting their chance to shine brighter than ever.
Aside from the plot, Studio Bones is constantly producing some of the best visuals for the show in quite some time. While much of the production has been given a touch up in the form of colorization and detail; this season retains the style in season three that rides a nice balance of being too comical or too serious. Along with the tone of the season, it delivers on great visuals that showcases the best of Kohei Horikoshi’s manga art. The animation is fluid and has the right amount of flow that captures audiences in its enriching and involved fight scenes. While most shonens are very exaggerated and bouncy, “My Hero Academia” choreographs its action very beautifully and in an excellent way. From the manga pages to the animation cels, season four showcases Studio Bone’s fantastic animation style that adds so much weight and intensity to every scene. For those who wish to bear witness to some exhilarating action you can find the entirety of the series on Crunchyroll or VRV.
By: Mark Bertumen, SSW
In 1986 Konami released the first installation of the acclaimed series “Castlevania,” a side-scroller where Simon of the Belmont family must slay the accursed Dracula with whip and faith. It was a simple premise that never aimed to accomplish much in the way of plot.
The Netflix anime adaptation by Warren Ellis, simply titled “Castlevania” follows the third game’s protagonist, Trevor Belmont, Sypha the mage and Alucard the son of Dracula. They’re thrown into a world where Dracula the scientist burns the world for his burned-at-the-stake human wife. Some doubtful followers of the senile King of Vampires start to scheme for the sake of saving some blood before it’s all burnt away.
Belmont is the last of his family line of monster hunters. He is beaten to the dirt and shunned by anyone who believed that it was the Belmonts’ actions, not the heretical and imperious actions of the clergy that brought about relentless hellish ruin throughout the land of Wallachia.
After convincing the town that his family and the innocent nomadic historians named Speakers are not the reason for an imminent demonic onslaught, Belmont’s desire to fight is bolstered. Alongside Speaker mage Sypha and swordsman Alucard, the three team up to take down the vampiric King.
Interestingly the show is not entirely devoted to the hacking and slashing of demons and their lackeys. At some points the show is a psychological deep-dive into why humanity is hated by even humans, to the point that they would turn to Dracula instead. Other times it showcases first-hand the decimation, depravity, deception and downright disgusting acts a man or vampire will commit out of revenge — or simply just because.
But when righteousness gets doled out, let me tell you: you’re going to get more than whiplash as creatures of the night are emphatically returned to their graves.
The show is divided into three seasons, though the first season of four episodes is largely introductive. The second season focuses on the trio’s journey to the Belmont archives to figure out how to find Dracula, as well as an original cast of characters’ experiences and motives for working on Dracula’s war effort. The show has actually been renewed for a fourth season, and the hype isn’t dying anytime soon. Though I have to warn you, not all endings are happy ones in the world of “Castlevania.” But I promise you’ll still enjoy the ride; the ability to draw you in is one of the show’s strongpoints.
By: Jonathan Fernandez
This sitcom series is a great choice to pick up during quarantine. The show is currently in its seventh season, meaning there is a lot of content available to binge through on Hulu. The show follows the immature, yet very perceptive detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) and his squad as a new captain, Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher), steps in to run the precinct and immediately starts cracking down on Peralta’s antics. Although the two initially butt heads, one of the best parts of the series is watching their relationship develop; Holt eventually becomes the father figure Peralta never had in his life.
The show chronicles the various cases detectives take on while providing many laughable moments and life lessons along the way. Although the majority of episodes can be seen as stand alone installments, near the end of every season a plot takes place that has a lasting impact on the main characters and adds stakes to the series as a whole. For example, at the start of season four, Peralta and Holt are away from the 99 in Florida after being placed in witness protection; we also see Peralta and detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) get framed for a robbery and sent to prison at the end of season four.
Of course the biggest draw of the series is its comedy. The on-screen chemistry between Samberg and the rest of the cast is evident throughout. Samberg and Braugher specifically play off of each other well as their characters often banter back and forth over a variety of things; including Holt’s general lack of emotion or Peralta’s child-like humor.
The show also has a touch of romance that doesn’t come off as overbearing as we see Peralta and the awkward perfectionist detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) go from being ultra competitive coworkers in season one to becoming a couple in season three. While the series touches on more important social issues, such as racial profiling and sexuality within workspaces and traditional family values, it never comes off as forced.
Ultimately “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has something for everyone. It’s one of the funnier, more lighthearted shows currently on streaming services, and is a perfect binge watch during a not so lighthearted time.
‘Boy Meets World’
By: Christine Tran, SSW
On September 23, 1993, the world was introduced to the adorable and mischievous duo of Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) in ABC’s hit show, “Boy Meets World.” The series ran for a total of seven seasons and viewers were able to follow Matthews and Hunter as they progressed from sixth grade all the way to college. The show chronicles the everyday life of the two as they go to school, fall in love, fight with friends and family and grow up.
The show does an amazing job at connecting to its audience through its ability to address serious life issues and create compelling character dynamics. For example, there’s an episode that focuses on Hunter’s mom and father walking out on him. Hunter is devastated but Matthews is the first to be by his side and reassure him he isn’t alone.
In that episode and throughout the series, the showmakers often play with the interesting friendship that Hunter and Matthews have. They have extremely different backgrounds and outlooks on life, but it doesn’t make them any less of friends. Oftentimes, Hunter crosses the line and strays onto the wrong path, but Matthews is always there to balance him out and pull him back.
While “Boy Meets World” has moments that portray harsh realities, it also displays the joys of life. Throughout the series, viewers are amused by the neverending antics the duo gets up to. Even in college, where the two claim to be retired from pranking, their silliness still continues to shine through and entertain the audience.
One of the best parts of the show is the relationship Matthews and Hunter have with their history teacher, eventual high school principal and neighbor, Mr. Feeny (Williams Daniels). He often plays an antagonistic role because he is an old man trying to teach the boys the rules of the world while they’re occupied with trying to make their own rules. The boys often retaliate against Feeny, even going as far as printing a headline in their school paper that read Mr. Weeny instead of Mr. Feeny.
Yet, despite constantly being at odds, Mr. Feeny’s life lessons always resonated with the boys and the audience one way or the other. In return, they never forgot to eventually voice their appreciation for their favorite teacher.
“Boy Meets World” to this day remains relatable and engaging for viewers of all ages. Currently, it is available to stream on Disney Plus and truly there is no better series to be introduced to the world through than “Boy Meets World.”