I was born in the Seventies and did most of my growing up in the Eighties, so I remember having Star Wars on Saturday morning TV. As Star Wars faded from the collective conscious of my friends and family I still had animated versions of R2-D2, C-3PO, Wicket the Ewok and Teebo to keep me company but everything ends and soon enough even my weekend fix went the way of the dodo.

Fast forward eighteen years and Star Wars is back on the small screen - not as a kids cartoon, but a trendy animated series whose aim is to tell an integral chapter of the saga.

The original twenty episodes, spread over two series during the Winter of 2003 and the Spring of 2004, is about to be released on DVD by Twentieth Centurey Fox Home Entertainment, who has kindly supplied us with a copy to review.

Content and Formats

But first, the technical bits: 66.5 minutes, PG rating, widescreen (16:9), English, French and Spanish soundtracks in Dolby 2.0 Surround, English subtites, chapters 1 through 20 of the animated Clone Wars series, Director’s commentary from Genndy Tartakovsky, Hyperspace commentary, Bridging the saga, Bridging the Saga: From Clone Wars to Revenge of the Sith" exclusive featurette, Revenge of the Sith teaser trailer, sketches, storyboards, posters and artwork still gallery, Episode III game trailer, Star Wars Republic Commando trailer and a Xbox Republic Commando game trailer.

Episodes

There isn't much to say about the twenty animated episodes contained on the disc, except that it is refreshing to watch them again in broadcast quality, rather than the pixellated and clunky online versions that we have had to endure for the past year. With this comes crisp graphics, vibrant colours that suffer no anti-aliasing, and a sound track that is unrestricted by bandwidth.

When it comes to watching the episodes the main menu has two options - play all or chapter select. The play all option runs twenty of the shows in a row without any credits between the programmes which creates a very watchable and flowing storyline.

It might strike you as a strange observation to make but considering the history of the various and numeorus Star Wars releases on home format, it is a surprise to find that Clone Wars mini-series has had no changes made to the storyline, nor have any scenes been digitally retouched.

Special Features

Without a doubt the icing on the cake is the Bridging the Saga documentary. This featurette, which is slightly longer that 7 minutes, opens with a wicked animatic credit sequence that segues seamlessly with an action scene from Revenge of the Sith. This alone makes it worth watching.

Bridging the Saga opens with George Lucas explaining the impact of the Clone Wars upon the Star Wars galaxy, and why it was important to create a story arc that defined the events between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith in order to keep up the impetus of the period. Genndy Tartakovsky and the Clone Wars production crew then pick up with an explanation on the processes and techniques used to create all three series, and go on to describe the differences between the first two series and the third Clone Wars series (coming out March 21st, 2005). Where the series one and two were defined by dramatic and exciting war sequences, the third will have pauses from the fast-pace action to expose the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin as they struggle to re-establish their relationship now that Anakin is no longer a Padawan.

Additional content includes the original behind-the-scenes feature, as shown on Cartoon Network and the official Star Wars website, where Genndy Tartakovsky explains the genesis of the art style, how the essence of core characters were captured and the extent to which he was allowed to leave his own mark on Star Wars.

Fans of Star Wars art, and the work of Genndy Tartakovsky in particular, will be pleased with the inclusion of the still gallery. With nearly 30 production sketches and storyboards, as well as 40 pieces of artwork there is enough varied content to please everyone. Of particular interest is the poster gallery, which contains images of some very uncommon promotional artwork that this fan hopes will reach the mass market.

Audio

Previously only available to those who watched the Clone Wars on the internet, Fox Home Entertainment has included two audio commentary tracks from Genndy Tartakovsky. The first audio track is designed to help set context and excitement of the Clone Wars events to fans less familiar with Star Wars and Clone Wars lore. While the second was previously only available to members of Starwars.com's Hyperspace, owners of the DVD can now listen to the the series creators talks about the behind-the-scenes details Star Wars fans crave... everything from techniques, motivation, hard-to-spot details, and instructions from Lucasfilm on things to avoid and things that might connect to Episode III.

Easter Eggs

Go to the "options" menu for audio, enter 1138, you'll see the Van Ling DVD menu credits.

The Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume One DVD is available in the USA and Canada on March 22nd, and in the UK, Europe and Autralasia on May 9th.

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