RELEASED: May 4th 2021 – August 13th 2021
DISTRIBUTED BY: Disney+
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Dave Filoni, Athena Yvette Portillo, Jennifer Corbet & Bran Rau
WRITTEN BY: Dave Filoni, Jennifer Corbett, Gurismran Sandhu, Matt Michnovetz, Christian Taylor, Tamara Becher-Wilkinson, Amanda Rose Muñoz & Damani Johnson
DIRECTED BY: Brad Rau, Steward Lee, Saul Ruiz & Nathaniel Villanueva
MUSIC BY: Kevin Kiner
STARRING: Dee Bradley Baker, Michelle Ang, Noshir Dalal, Rhea Perlman, Andrew Kishino, Stephen Stanton, Ming-Na Wen, Brigitte Kali, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Corey Burton, Vanessa Marshall & Freddie Prinze Jr.
REVIEW: After Order 66 and the fall of the Republic, the Bad Batch – five clones with unique, desirable, genetic abnormalities – must find their way in a galaxy that’s losing the need for clone soldiers. Betrayed by one of their own, and on the run from the Empire, the Bad Batch must not only find a new purpose, but also safeguard their new ‘little sister’, a valuable young clone named Omega.
When The Bad Batch was first announced, I can’t say it was something I was particularly looking forward to beyond it being more Star Wars.
The titular characters, first introduced in the final season of The Clone Wars, came across as basic caricatures, who were just about bearable in small doses, but seemed like they would be grating if you were exposed to them for a longer period of time.
But hey, if they’re the stars of their own show, at least they might be developed into interesting characters with more than one facet to their personality, right?
Wrong, apparently. Because despite hanging around for 16 episodes, the majority of the Bad Batch are in much the same place we found them last year. One note and rather bland, with any inkling of character development only given predominantly to their new kid sidekick Omega, occassionally to their leader Hunter, and Crosshair, who barely even shows up. Wrecker and Tech are still the big dumb brute and the awkward genius, respectively, while poor redundant Echo barely even gets any lines in some episodes. This is unfortunate, because it meant that while overall I found the show to be watchable, the first storyline I truly enjoyed was the first one where the Batch was mostly absent.
This would all be more forgiveable if the story they found themselves in was interesting. But while the writers do sometimes touch on the transition from the Republic to the Empire (to good effect), for the majority of the first half of the season, they instead just squander the show’s potential.
Luckily, things pick up slightly in the second half. The contrived dialogue and lacking characters still remain, but at least they’re met with slightly more interesting situations and supporting cast members.
The aforementioned transition from Republic to Empire is fascinating, and seeing how the Imperials wipe away all their ties to the Republic and begin integrating new things (like Stormtroopers!) makes for some interesting dilemmas for the crew to face. It’s just a shame it takes as long as it does for the writing team to realise that.
Fortunately, the other parts of the production are giving it their all. Kevin Kiner returns with a great score that both feels new, but unafraid of playing with old themes to really hammer a point down.
Similarly, Dee Bradley Baker is firing on all cylinders as he portrays the entire Bad Batch, and several other clones besides, giving them more character than the writers seem to. His co- and guest stars also give some solid performances, with one notable exception (Freddie Prinze Jr. can not voice a convincing ten-year-old, but thats more of a production issue than it is his fault).
Also returning from The Clone Wars is the animation style, which seemingly peaked at the end of that show, and carries on strong into this one. There are some absolutely phenomenal shots on display in this series, which really capture grandeur and drama of that galaxy far, far away…
I personally just wish they took even more from The Clone Wars, like the series’ anthology approach to stories, but alas, we’ll just have to hope the writers knuckle down in season two and actually give the characters some… character.
All-in-all, The Bad Batch has yet to reach the highs of the better Clone Wars and Rebels episodes, but its made a decent enough foundation to build upon. It’s watchable, at least, and for that, I give it…
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