Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
September 28, 2014 2:13 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Star Wars returns to the small screen since the cancellation of Clone Wars with the first Disney produced Star Wars franchise, Rebels! Set only five years before two droids crash land on Tatooine and into the life of Luke Skywalker, Spark of Rebellion begins our story on a rural planet in the Outer Rim with Ezra Bridger, a force sensitive orphan, with a habit of stealing, conning, and causing trouble with Imperial forces. This leads to his run in with the crew of the Ghost, a nascent band of rebels, in the midst of stealing weapons from the Empire. Caught up with the crew, Ezra finds himself traveling from an Imperial star destroyer to the spice mines of Kessel and ultimately, a new adventure in life.

Spark of Rebellion is technically episodes 1 and 2, but aired as one long episode with no indication of being two separate episodes (hence why for future Fanfare posts, we will hop to Episode 3)!

The crew of the Ghost:
  • Kanan Jarrus - a Jedi who survived the Emperor's command to wipe out the Jedi Order. His lightsaber is not his weapon of choice as he strives to keep from the attention of the Galactic Empire.
  • Hera Syndulla - The twi'lek pilot and owner of the Ghost. Her compassion and intuition lead to Ezra's invitation to join the rebel band.
  • Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios - A lasat, and "muscle" of the band. His design was based on an original idea for Chewbacca/wookies.
  • Sabine Wren - A female Mandalorian warrior (Boba Fett was the same), Sabine quickly catches the eye of Ezra and the attention of the Empire with her predilection for explosives.
  • Chopper - The astromech droid of the Ghost with something of a bad attitude.
For those expecting a series set in the same style as Clone Wars they will be disappointed. While the same emphasis on light and shadow and details to world building are present, the art design is a throwback to the style of legendary Star Wars illustrator Ralph McQuarrie. Much of what came to be known and love originated from McQuarrie's vision and its use in Rebels while different, isn't unpleasing in any sense. The production of Rebels will also sound familiar with the use of music written to honor John William's score and the use of original sounds from the first trilogy. Lastly, while the show is alleged to be rated for children as young as seven, there are plenty of storm troopers who are killed with blaster shots to the death or implicitly killed by explosions.

Until October 3, Rebels can be viewed via the WatchDisneyXD website and app for those who have internet/television providers who have agreements with Disney. On Friday, the premier episode(s) will air on DisneyXD and then weekly on Monday nights starting the 14th of October.

For those unable to watch Spark of Rebellion now, Disney has made available four three minute shorts:
posted by Atreides (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
FYI, apparently Spark of Rebellion will air on Disney channel proper, not just XD! The regular series will be on XD.
posted by Atreides at 8:59 AM on October 3, 2014

I have no cable provider, and am left in the cold until Amazon or someone offers these. My kid is not happy with me. :( :( :( I wish people would just take the money I am willing to throw at them.
posted by emjaybee at 9:57 AM on October 3, 2014

Ok, that's pretty fun.
I was a bit disappointed that it had Jedi in it, I was enjoying the characters plenty without them being Jedi or force users.
It all hung together pretty well though. Nice aesthetic, annoying kid character wasn't really all that annoying, only one white guy (I mean, he's somewhat predictably the leader, but you can't have everything).

The only problem so far is the problem with all star wars. The vast universe seems to have very few design choices. Do they all have battered holo-chess tables in their clunky freighters?
Still, fun times. I'll watch more of that.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:28 PM on October 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just this guy, y'know: I was a bit disappointed that it had Jedi in it[.]
I hadn't considered that there might be Jedi in this program. On the one hand, of course there are, It's hard to tell a tale of Star Wars without them. On the other, given the stated time frame, it seems a little unlikely.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:56 PM on October 3, 2014

One of the chief antagonists who was introduced at the end of the episode, the Inquisitor, as he's been referenced by all the material, exists solely to hunt down and kill Jedi. So it's actually likely we will get to see him dispatch a Jedi or two as the show goes the show existing means less Jedi over all. Comforting?

I don't have a major problem with the presence of the Jedi, but I did find the reveal for Kannan to be a bit underwhelming. There's a big play out of him whipping out the lightsaber, music cues and script alike, but then he pretty much just stood and parried everything, while everyone else ran away.

I'll need to put more of my thoughts down, but one thing that leapt out at me was when the Major kicked the storm trooper off the structure. COLD, dude, COLD. That poor guy just plummeted thousands of feet to his death because you didn't care for his comment.
posted by Atreides at 8:47 AM on October 4, 2014

It's not a big complaint, it's just that I think there are more interesting stories to tell. Star Wars doesn't need to be about the Jedi. It's not that I hate them, but Han Solo didn't even believe in Jedi, that's how rare they are / were in his lifetime (I think he's what, 15 or 20 years old at this point?) so how come every story we see has god Jedi in it.

I liked seeing Major Kallus kick the stormtrooper. It really did underline the regard in which he holds the basic troops. Also I would describe the action as "showing or having an insensitive and cruel disregard for others." but I don't know if there is a word for that.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 10:36 AM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

My only major complaint was the continuation of Clone Wars style Badguy McBadington style names. Clone Wars gave us Whorm Loathsom, Cad Bane, General Grievous, etc. And now they have Agent Kallus, who (you guessed it) is bad and callous.

Of all the little things from Clone Wars that bugged me, they kept that one...

But other than that, it hit the right notes and I liked it.
posted by sotonohito at 11:15 AM on October 4, 2014

Finally got a chance to watch it, and I loved it. The whole thing was great fun, and it looked great. All the music cues were there. If the hair on the back of your neck didn't stand up when Kanan revealed himself, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:17 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I guess they had to put the Jedi in, but unlike the prequels and Clone Wars, they made it clear that our resident Jedi needs his team, and the normal people have important roles to fill. I think that learning to not be separate from people, to be part of society, is really what the Jedi need to do. Well, all three or four surviving Jedi.

Of course a nasty little voice is saying "Hey, if they don't show up in Star Wars, that must mean they all get killed before the first movie, right?"
posted by happyroach at 2:40 PM on October 4, 2014

Not necessarily. It's a big universe. Not everyone needs to know each other.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:42 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Per the names, I'm convinced it's a style of Lucas' choice which fearfully may be considered the expected norm by now.

While I don't know about our new cast, it has been said that there will be things established in Rebels which will appear or be referenced in the Star Wars films.
posted by Atreides at 4:43 PM on October 4, 2014

I liked it, although I found the spunky kid to be entirely predictable. Of course he has the Force, and of course he chooses to Do the Right Thing. And of course the female characters are gorgeous. (Sigh.)

That said, it was fun to watch new Star Wars, because I never saw any of Clone Wars and never saw any of the Prequels (I reject the reality in which I saw the 1st prequel on opening weekend).

But why is the animation on the Wookies so incredibly terrible? Yikes, it was bad.
posted by suelac at 10:25 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

The animation overall seems to be a step back from Clone Wars - I don't know if that is because they are trying something new and falling short, or from the looks of the characters just going for something cheaper.

The Star Wars mashup soundtrack is pretty awful too.

Overall it seems like a lower quality product than Clone Wars, with a similar yet just slightly less interesting cast of characters and lower production values and a pretty simplistic script compared to what we were used to by the end of S5, though I wonder if I could get away from that comparison I might like it more.

The TV movie that preceded Clone Wars proper was pretty shakey as well though.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on October 5, 2014

Artw: The animation overall seems to be a step back from Clone Wars - I don't know if that is because they are trying something new and falling short, or from the looks of the characters just going for something cheaper.
I should clarify that when I said the "whole thing" I guess I really meant the "whole show" rather than everything on the screen.

The props, costumes, and especially the backgrounds were very reminiscent of Ralph McQuarrie to me, no doubt intentionally. The helmet Ezra puts on after escaping on the Star Destroyer, the speeder bikes, and the city in the background when Kanan confronts Ezra on the highway all look like direct descendants of McQuarrie drawings I remember from Art of Star Wars books. I liked them a lot.

The characters themselves were merely serviceable, I guess. Except for the Wookiees. Especially Lumpy. Whatever they were going for, they turned out looking like Happy Meal toys, and not in a good way.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:29 AM on October 5, 2014

They are very lazy with the hair rendering. Put in characters that are walking carpets of hair, and you get really plastic blobby looking things.

I know rendering hair well takes computing power, but c'mon guys, don't be THAT lazy, really.
posted by hippybear at 11:56 AM on October 5, 2014

The hair is Reboot level, and doesn't help the the general action figure feel of the characters.

Visually it's certainly at it's most successful when it's at it's most Ralph McQuarrie-esque, and in distance shots of spaceships and the like. Street scenes and characters less so. That one sequence with the imperial types in a market looked like the using a placeholder enviroment for a videogame as a background.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on October 5, 2014

Anyone know what the origin of the Rebels FanFare image is?
posted by Artw at 12:27 PM on October 5, 2014

Executive Producer Dave Filoni Talks STAR WARS REBELS, the Game Plan for the Show, Easter Eggs, Advances in Animation, and More, Christina Radish, Collider, 04 October 2014

Star Wars Rebels May Not Look Like Much—But It's Got It Where It Counts, Lauren Davis, io9, 04 October 2014

Artw: Anyone know what the origin of the Rebels FanFare image is?
I poked around IMDB and Wikipedia and the "box" image on the episode pages, and the header image on the show page don't appear to be in either of those places. A search for the image doesn't turn up anything illuminating. A search for "star wars rebels cover" turns up the image, but not in a place I'd think was a canonical source.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:52 PM on October 5, 2014

I did a little search on the "poster" image on this page and it's a fake image that popped up last year. I think a Mod once said that images are generally mined from IMDB or something to that design. I hadn't even noticed! The banner image looks like it's adapted from some promotional stuff I've seen before.

I quickly had to decide whether the animation was inferior or simply different and went with the latter. I haven't seen a lot of commentary on the actual animation from the creators, but I assume it's different as to better reflect the world that McQuarrie imagined - moving art work versus the specific style of Clone Wars.

The Clone Wars movie that was released, by decision of George Lucas (because it was so "amazing" or something like that), was really awful compared to the product the show became as the seasons progressed.
posted by Atreides at 12:54 PM on October 5, 2014

Looking at the Freebase entry, I saw it was on TVDB. The show page header at least seems to come from there.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:05 PM on October 5, 2014

It's a fake image that popped up last year.

Regular readers will know why I am now saying "Booooooooo!" :-(
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really can't get past how lazy and predictable this show was.

I didn't watch the Clone Wars because I don't care for Anakin. But I do like Star Wars and I decided watch this show. I turned it on, knowing nothing about it except it was about rebels.

*First minute* So, we're going with an (orphaned, cause they are always orphaned), fast talking, wise cracking, jerky street kid as our main character. I'm not really fond of this character type but whatever.

Of course the Imperial officers are just Evil McEVil from stock character town.

Oh, and he's not that moral either. I wonder if that's forshadowing any moral growth in the future.

*Kid is looking at Tall Guy.* So, Tall Guy uses the force and Street Kid does too.

*Street kid steals boxes* So a street kid decides it would be a good idea to steal from the Empire and some thieves who are stealing from the Empire. That's not really the smart thing to do for a street kid. Talk about lazy writing.

*Woman in armor jumps on box* Instead of doing her job and kicking the street kid of the truck?, and getting their stuff back (that they risked their lives to steal from the Empire presumably in support of the Rebellion), she's mildly impressed and gives him a chance to get away and a waring. Because she's a girl, and their all compassionate and shit. Oh, guess who's going to be street kids love interest.

And I'm done.

Wiseman did much better character work than this. No wonder he got axed. He probably wanted some character depth and everyone else was all "Nah, lets just be lazy. Kids don't care."
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:28 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

They're trading him for Henry Gilroy aren't they? TBH I'd expect that to help.
posted by Artw at 4:04 PM on October 5, 2014

I saw some suggestions that Wiseman's departure had to do with him working on a new project for Disney that hasn't been announced, yet.
posted by Atreides at 4:13 PM on October 5, 2014

The bit that did really work for me - the Jedi reveal - that felt really David Filoni.

It's possible that because they're just starting out on a new series and they're under new management their under some kind of mandate to give us these rather generic characters with the scrappy kid and so on... Fingers crossed it broadens out to a more interesting cast later on.
posted by Artw at 4:19 PM on October 5, 2014

I can't believe Filoni and Gang won't resist the opportunity to flesh out our current cast with the passage of time. They even managed to give Kenobi a romantic past, after all.
posted by Atreides at 5:57 PM on October 5, 2014

Hmm... Satine... Sabine..

posted by Artw at 6:15 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

ok huh this sounds significantly different than the 3-minute video i downloaded. I'll have to try again when i get home!
posted by rebent at 7:58 AM on October 7, 2014

I was reading "The Secret History of Star Wars," at the part where it's explained why Lucas added the Qui-Gon character in Episode I. One of the more practical reasons was so Obi-Wan would have someone to talk to for exposition purposes. And it made me realize how unnatural it was for Ezra to constantly talk to himself in the beginning here.

And it seems like everything has to be played for kids' amusement, like the hefty imperial officer eating the fruit. The live-action movies and the Clone Wars series were more drama with some humor, but here it seems the opposite. And the recycling of musical cues from the original trilogy was more distracting than evocative.

I wasn't big on the EU comics/novels, but I think I might've preferred an animated take on the minor Rebel soldiers, pilots, and leaders from the movies, but I can see how the lack of diversity we ended up with could be a problem.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:43 PM on October 7, 2014

I mostly liked this. But I definitely think it's got issues. The character design on Aladdin is really kind of irritating, but the other characters don't bother me at all. I'm not sure why. (Though the wookies were a visual disaster. Best choice going forward: avoid any storyline featuring wookies. You don't know how to draw them.)

But the big problem I see - and keep in mind I say this not having seen the Clone Wars series - is that they're trying to cram Star Wars into a 20-minute TV episode and it just doesn't seem to fit. This was basically two episodes strung together and throughout the storytelling was just so rushed. They were trying to pack a hell of a lot into a very short time, and I suspect that's why everything had to be so on the nose and they had to stick to very familiar ideas and story beats that we've all seen a thousand times before. Basically because they needed to rely on shorthand cues to let the audience fill in all the stuff they didn't have the time to show us.

I'm a little worried about whether they can overcome this problem, but there was enough that I liked about it anyway that I'll keep watching. For now at least.
posted by Naberius at 6:53 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The wookies were aggrivating, especially as they did a much better animating them in the Clone Wars series that just ended. I think the advances they had made in that show were sacrificed for aesthetic or style. One thing I do hope that happens in Rebels is the creation of story arcs that generally run from four to six episodes long, which Clone Wars did routinely. It allowed for longer and more interesting stories.
posted by Atreides at 6:59 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The props, costumes, and especially the backgrounds were very reminiscent of Ralph McQuarrie to me, no doubt intentionally. The helmet Ezra puts on after escaping on the Star Destroyer, the speeder bikes, and the city in the background when Kanan confronts Ezra on the highway all look like direct descendants of McQuarrie drawings I remember from Art of Star Wars books. I liked them a lot.

Garazeb was a direct copy of an early McQuarrie concept for Chewbacca.

The AT-DP was also based on a Classic Triology concept. I really like they're using the old concepts, they feel like much more part of CT-era Star Wars than the prequel designs. From Wookiepedia: "To aid in animating the show, Lucasfilm developed a special tool for Adobe Photoshop that emulates Ralph McQuarrie's artistic style"

Something I loved about this show was the sound design. It also felt very CT-era for some reason.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:38 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

That Photoshop tool sounds kinda creepy, like a digital replication of a dead actor.

And it took me a while to realize that Zeb sounds like Monterey Jack from Rescue Rangers, but less Australian.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:20 AM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Interesting look arty the AT-DP and the prototype. I recall a guy in the 80s suing Lucasfilm for lifting his wallet designs. These designs do look more like his then the AT-ST.

Oh yeah, here's a discussion of the case./
posted by happyroach at 10:53 AM on October 14, 2014

This episode re-aired on ABC last night with a new scene added, Darth Vader instructing the Inquisitor. Did anyone see it? I haven't had a chance to do so, but here's the clip for those who haven't.
posted by Atreides at 7:42 AM on October 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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