Tag Archive: science fiction


Haphead

Maxine (Elysia White), Haphead Production Still, photo by Brandon Adam-Zwelling. Copyright 2015, Postopian Pictures

In 1982, a little film called Blade Runner had a such a strong visual design concept, by Syd Mead, that it’s been difficult for science fiction to shake the dark, dreary aesthetic look for the future. No, not every sci-fi movie or TV series copied it, but its influence is still felt in what the genre considers dystopia of the not-too-distant future. It’s difficult to shake such a defined look and attempts to do so result in varying degree of success. Back To The Future – Part II (picking up the original story from 1985) went in the other direction and gave us a bright-looking, pop culture-saturated, colourful then-future of 2015. As I write this, it’s January of 2015 and there are no flying cars, self-lacing Nikes or commercially available hoverboards. Blade Runner is set in the still-future 2019 and thankfully it looks like Mead’s vision won’t come to fruition either.

And that brings us to Haphead, a new science fiction webseries set in 2025. The series comes from creator and writer Jim Munroe, who launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowd fund the production. You can find out more about the production history here, but it’s important to note that the budget was a mere $4,000.

And it shows…

In the best possible way! A massive budget or blistering special effects do not a great work make. This is proven time and again, and not just in science fiction, though sci-fi may fall victim to it more because visual effects are a staple of the genre. What Haphead shows us is a world not far removed from our own. The skyline of Toronto is enhanced, but is still recognizable. It’s also worth noting that this is a proudly Canadian production, where the action takes place in both Toronto and Hamilton and both are noted as such in dialogue. An Ontario government sign appears prominently in an establishing shot of the gaming factory in the first episode. Being Canadian and living in Toronto, it’s refreshing to see my city as my city, not doubling as New York, Chicago or just a generic metropolis.

The visual effects support the story, which is always the best approach (and often where the aforementioned failures come from, the mistake of putting spectacle above all else). The story is of Maxine and her father, both living and working in this different kind of dystopian future. Times are hard, but not so bleak as to feel hopeless. The sun shines, kids skateboard and chat in lush green parks. The economic rift has grown between the upper and lower class. There are Special Economic Zones where employees work for below minimum wage. Maxine takes a job in one of these Zones at the gaming factory of Aster*sk, who develop the software and hardware of totally immersive video games. The players plug in via the back of the neck and experience what the avatar experiences, moving as they do and fighting as they must. The players are the titular Hapheads and Maxine cannot resist this new approach to gaming, which is still in the beta testing stage as she starts her factory job. A side effect of this gaming is that Hapheads retain the muscle memory of the combat skills acquired in the game, which means they can learn hand-to-hand combat and use it outside the game world.

I was fortunate to see the entire series start to finish, with the episodes edited together, at the January 22nd premier at The Royal in Toronto. During the introduction to the viewing, a phrase was said of the production company’s motto, “blurring the line between dystopia and utopia,” which partly sums up the world we see in Haphead. Then as now, it’s not a perfect world, but it’s not all bad. We see real people, ones we can relate to and identify with, living their lives and doing what most of us do day in, day out, like argue about money and hang out with friends. It’s the characters that drive the story, which kicks in when Maxine is forced to grow up in a hurry in the face of her new-found gaming skills and the harsh realities of her father’s job.

The relationship between Maxine and her father is the core of the story, both their motivations stem from this, and the story grows from it organically. The series avoids painting their relationship in simple terms or stereotypes. The performances of Elysia White (Maxine) and David Straus (her father, Simon) are spot on in all their scenes together and gives the series the essential emotional anchor, so we care about what they’re doing and why.

The series delivers what it promises, a dynamic, engaging story with believable characters, is well-produced and beautifully acted.

You can watch the trailer here.

I love Halloween!

HALLOWEEN!

I grew up in a quiet neighbourhood in a small town and though the end of summer meant a return to school, it also meant Halloween was coming. Decorations and costumes would appear on store shelves and I’d start thinking about what I was going to be when I went trick or treating. The leaves would go red, yellow and orange, the nights became that perfect touch cooler and the more imaginative neighbours would dress up their property as graveyards, mad science labs and haunted houses. Perhaps there’s a bit of nostalgia filter going on as I look back, but who cares? It’s a season of atmosphere, mood and things that go bump in the night. It’s the season of the witch!

So, having a party this Halloween? Awesome! Sitting on your porch giving out candy? Also awesome!

We’ve got 60 days till Halloween, so here is a useful list of 60 songs you can use for your party or whatever involves music. I’m sure many of you will know of songs I don’t mention here and if they’re perfect for what you’re doing, go for it and add them!

My criteria were two-fold: a) be thematically appropriate to Halloween and its many aspects (horror, science fiction, fantasy, etc.); and b) keep the momentum going! This last one is less obvious, I find. Many dark, Halloween-sounding possible inclusions can either be too slow, too vague or too serious. You don’t want to depress the listeners, you want them to have a good time.

The List:
(And note that the position of a track doesn’t reflect its quality or popularity, it’s about having ebbs and flows in the music and spacing out the really well-known tracks.)

01) Thriller – Michael Jackson
Nothing sets the tone for evening as well as this song. It’s a classic for a reason. When you’re ready for the party to get rolling after all the guests have arrived, start here.

02) Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Picket & The Crypt-Kickers
It’s a bit cliché, but it’s also fun and everyone knows it. Good to get it in there early. Feel free to use a cover version (the Misfits do an excellent one) if the original is too cheesy for you.

03) Hot Patootie (aka Whatever Happened To Saturday Night) – Brian May
The original is from The Rocky Horror Show musical and it was made famous by Meat Loaf in The Rocky Horror PICTURE Show. Either version works, but I prefer this one for parties.

04) Halloween (Main Theme) – John Carpenter
Time to get a little dark and remind the guests that it’s not ALL fun and games.

05) Tubular X – Mike Oldfield
From the first The X-Files movie, Oldfield’s reworking of the famous X-Files theme. Mark Snow’s original is good, but for a party, it’s a touch slow and very short (about 1 minute long). At almost 4 minutes, Oldfield’s is the perfect length and has moody interludes.

06) People Are Strange – Echo And The Bunnymen
A cover of The Doors’ classic (and use The Doors’ original if you can’t find this version). It gets some additional seasonal cred by having been featured in the vampire movie The Lost Boys.

07) Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – David Bowie
Should be self-explanatory! 🙂

08) Grim Grinning Ghosts – Barenaked Ladies
The Ladies covered this for Disney and it appears on The Haunted Mansion: Haunted Hits CD. This is probably the last time I say this in the list, but the original or another cover is a perfectly acceptable alternative!

09) Horrorbeach – HorrorPops
A perfect ’50s/’60s surfer instrumental homage, in the vain of The Ventures and The Shadows. Fun and spooky!

10) Man Of Mystery – The Shadows
Speaking of The Shadows…

11) In The Hall Of The Mountain King – The Who
Found on their album The Who Sell Out (Deluxe Edition), this is a cool rock cover of Grieg’s popular incidental music from Peer Gynt.

12) Theme From Swan Lake – Ray Coniff
From his Concert In Rhythm LP, this rendition of the classic Tchaikovsky piece has a good jazzy tempo. This theme (not this version, though) was used for the famous 1931 Bela Lugosi version of Dracula.

13) He’s Back (The Man Behind The Mask) (Movie Mix) – Alice Cooper
Alice wrote this for Friday The 13th – Part VI: Jason Lives and it appears at the end of the film. The Movie Mix (my preferred mix) is on his boxed set, The Life & Crimes of Alice Cooper. The original album version is on his 1986 album Constrictor. Either work.

14) Rock And Roll (Part 2) (Small Soldiers Remix) – Gary Glitter
At first, this may seem an odd choice, but trust me, this remix is just the right touch of eerie. The track has samples from the movie (about toy soldiers with minds of their own) of actor Tommy Lee Jones asking “are you scared”? You should be, in a fun way, those toys meant business!

15) Red Right Hand – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
Used in several ’90s movies, like Scream (and Dumb & Dumber, unfortunately, which dents its Halloween credibility a bit), it’s a devilish, catchy number.

16) Werewolves Of London – Warren Zevon
The best and most fun werewolf song ever written.

17) Moribund The Burgermeister – Peter Gabriel
A weird, but great, song about a town possessed (I think…?). Perfect atmosphere.

18) Moon Over Bourbon Steet – Sting
A jazzy bit directly inspired by the novel Interview With The Vampire, years before the Tom Cruise movie came out.

19) (Don’t Fear) The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
You should know this one, everyone else does!

20) The Storm – Jim Steinman
Steinman will appear on this list a few times, and rightly so, as no one does Wagnerian Rock with delightfully over-the-top production like him. This classical instrumental from his Bad For Good album is just as the title describes, a thunderous, scene-setting symphonic masterpiece.

21) Bad Moon Rising – Creedance Clearwater Revival
CCR’s timeless track.

22) Ghouls – HorrorPops
A driving little ditty about dating monsters who only want to see horror movies and try to get lucky with the girl. Yup.

23) The Enemy Within (Part 1 Of “Fear”) – Rush
Rush did a trilogy (in four parts…don’t ask) on the subject of Fear. All are great (except maybe Part 4…don’t ask), but this is the most party-music-friendly track in the set.

24) Ghostbusters – Ray Parker, Jr.
Obviously!

25) Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
Featuring Michael Jackson singing the famous chorus, this ’80s classic came from a time when popular music embraced the spooky and weird with gleeful abandon.

26) His Eyes – Psuedo Echo
Like Somebody’s Watching Me, this Psuedo Echo track is all atmosphere and pop, this time wrapped up in New Wave synthy goodnesss. This song also appeared in Friday The 13th – Part V: A New Beginning.

27) Twilight Zone – Golden Earring
The Twilight Zone (both the TV series and this song) and Halloween go together like chocolate and peanut butter!

28) Enter Sandman – Metallica
Dreams and nightmares set to classic rock!

29) Hands Of Death (Burn Baby Burn) (Spookshow 2000 Mix) – Rob Zombie & Alice Cooper
From the collection Songs In The Key of X: Music From And Inspired By The X-Files, this meeting of the two reigning rock icons of the macabre is a must.

30) Release The Bats – The Birthday Party
Nick Cave’s previous band gave us this quirky song about vampire bats. It doesn’t get much more Halloween than vampire bats!

31) Bat Out Of Hell – Meat Loaf
Another Jim Steinman composition, who worked with Meat Loaf through much of their respective careers, this track was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, his film Psycho and ’50s teen tragedy songs, and was written for Steinman’s Neverland rock musical.

32) Tubular Bells 2003: Introduction (Single Remix) – Mike Oldfield
The original version is a beautifully delicate piece that is probably a bit too subtle for the purpose of a party, despite being known by most as the music used in The Exorcist, but this is a remix of Oldfield’s own 2003 re-record of the entire album (yes, he re-recorded all 50 minutes of it, but don’t fear, the original is still available, too). For me, it’s perfect for a Halloween party.

33) Science Fiction Double Feature – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The opening track of the movie (and the stage musical) pays tribute to the classic science fiction and horror films of writer (and singer of this version) Richard O’Brien’s childhood.

34) I’m Flash
And
35) Space Pirates – Flash Fearless Versus The Zorg Women, Pts 5 & 6
Alice Cooper sings these two tracks off the concept album Flash Fearless, which itself is a homage to old Saturday morning serial adventures like Flash Gordon and Commando Cody, the kind you’d see at a science fiction double feature! You can find these two tracks on Alice’s Life & Crimes boxed set, as well.

36) Carmina Burana: O Fortuna – Carl Orff
The thunderous vocal track of countless film ads. You and everyone in the room will hum along!

37) No Exit – Blondie
Opening with a piece of Bach’s famous Toccata in D Minor, this rock/rap fusion about gangsta vampires (…yes, indeed) also features clever uses of other classical themes (like In The Hall Of The Mountain King).

38) I’m Going Slightly Mad – Queen
A tongue-in-cheek song about being “one card short of a full deck.”

39) Frankenstein – Edgar Winter Group
The rock instrumental ode to the most famous mad scientist of literature and film, Dr. Frankenstein.

40) Doctorin’ The Tardis (12″ Version) – The Time Lords
The Time Lords (aka The KLF) created the first real hit mash-up (before mash-ups were a thing, really) by backing the famous Doctor Who theme with samples from Gary Glitter’s Rock And Roll Part 2 and Sweet’s Blockbuster!

41) Weird Science – Oingo Boingo
There are two versions of this, the soundtrack version to the movie of the same name (for which it was written) and the later album re-record. Either works! If you need Halloween credentials past being a mad scientist song, later-composer Danny Elfman was in the band (you know, the guy who wrote the music for many Tim Burton films!)

42) Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper
The Monster this time, not the doctor (I know, I know, Frankenstein’s not The Monster’s name, tell that to Alice…).

43) The Invisible Man – Queen
A rarely considered song for Halloween, but it’s the only song I know of about the character of the Invisible Man, one of Universal Picture’s classic movie “monsters.” It’s got a pop-rock riff similar to Ghostbusters and practically begs to be on a Halloween playlist! Time to give it its due.

44) The Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
‘Nuff said.

45) Clones (We’re All) – Alice Cooper
Science out of control with a catchy synth riff.

46) Cyborg – Brian May
A video game character forever destined to battle evil in a computer.

47) Who Made Who – AC/DC
The machine revolution has begun with this song from the soundtrack album of Stephen King’s film Maximum Overdrive.

48) The Headless Horseman – Joe Satriani
Riding through the Halloween night, Washington Irving’s famous spectre of books and film may still be out there…somewhere…

49) Night On Bald Mountain – Modest Mussorgsky
The epic orchestral account of witches casting spells atop the mountain!

50) Welcome To My Nightmare – Alice Cooper
You shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a lot of Alice Cooper on this list, he’s made a career out of all the things that make Halloween great.

51) This Is Halloween – Marilyn Manson
A cover of the famous track from the film A Nightmare Before Christmas.

52) This Corrosion – The Sisters Of Mercy
Jim Steinman teaming with Andrew Eldrich for a gothic rock opus.

53) Theme From Friday The 13th – Part 3 (3D) (12″ Version) – Hot Ice
An extended version of Harry Manfredini’s disco-styled Theme From Friday The 13th – Part 3 (3D).

54) I Put A Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Seriously, listen to this song. They just don’t make’em like this anymore!

55) Fire – The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
…or like this!

56) Race With The Devil – The Gun
As cool and insane as a race with the Devil probably would be!

57) Sympathy For The Devil – The Rolling Stones
A classic.

58) Monster Friend – Tea For The Voyage
A fun ska number about the difficulty of a man faces dating a woman whose friend is an indescribable hell beast. Literally.

59) The Curse Of Millhaven – Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds
A jaunty number about about a killing spree, much more fun than it you’d think and good luck not singing along with the chorus.

60) Nature Trail To Hell – “Weird Al” Yankovic
Not a parody of any one song, but of the style of ’80s horror pop songs like “Thriller,” sending up that decade’s slasher movies and killer icons like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers.

Honourable Mentions:
(Really, they’re on the list, but 60 tracks for 60 days left to Halloween made for a better looking list. Screw it, it’s my blog!)

61) Horrorteria – Twisted Sister
A two-part track, from their album Stay Hungry, this was dedicated to Stephen King himself!

62) A Nightmare On My Street – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Will Smith & Jazzy Jeff’s tribute to A Nightmare On Elm Street, wisely employing Elmer Bernstein’s theme from the original film. A bit ’90s cheese, but come on, these two liked the movies as much as we did!

63) Maniac House – Katrina & The Waves
The neighbours nobody wants.

64) La Villa Strangiato – Rush
Supposedly based on a dream of guitarist Alex Lifeson’s, this 9:33 long instrumental has him in Wonderland, chased by monsters, and other bizarre things!

65) A Kind Of Magic – Queen
A remix of one of the songs Queen wrote for the fantasy film Highlander, this ode to the mysteries of the movie’s immortals is fun and danceable.

66) Teenage Frankenstein – Alice Cooper
Also featured in Friday The 13th, Part VI: Jason Lives, comes a rocker in the vein of B-movies like “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” and (literally) “I Was A Teenage Frankenstein.” I guess some some kids’ growing pains were worse than others.

67) Bad Things – Jace Everett
Fans of the HBO series True Blood will instantly recognize this, since it’s used as the theme. That context and the eerie undertone qualify it for inclusion on this list.

68) Song From The Bottom Of A Well – Kevin Ayers
Finally! Somebody uploaded this song to YouTube. I’ve had this list up for two years and at least can share this song with you! I guess this makes up for “Maniac House” being taken down.

By no means is this list definitive. Some sites list songs I didn’t mention here, either because I don’t know them or they don’t fit the parties I throw. Or I forgot about them. So let me know in the comments section what you like here or what I missed, or what you love to listen to at Halloween!

I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions!

Have a fun, safe Halloween, folks.

Trick or treat, smell my feet…

Previously, I extolled the work of Ms. Lindsay Ellis, The Nostalgia Chick. You can find that blog post here.

Lindsay Ellis, The Nostalgia Chick (Copyright Lindsay Ellis, 2012)

Recently, she tackled a science fiction classic and, by extension, its author. Respectively, they are the novel “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. Published in 1985 and having spawned into several series of books by him and adaptations into such media as comics and a forthcoming film (set for release in 2013),  this book and its sequels have a devoted following, which also comes into play in her recent review. Which you can see here:

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/team-nchick/nostalgia-chick/36063-enders-game#content

I was going to post the following in the comments, but my reply grew as I wrote and I decided to post it here. The comments section, in case you didn’t read any of it, has become a pitched battleground, with arguments ranging from defenders of Card and anti-gay sentiments to defenders of the books who condemn Card nonetheless and support gay rights and freedoms. I have this blog, so responding here means my thoughts won’t get lost in the mire there.

Here’s what  I had to say:

“Lindsay, this could be your best piece yet.

You handled a sensitive topic, one bound to incite passionate discussion, and cut through the waves of personal, political, religious and social indignation like a blade. You addressed the opposing viewpoints clearly and concisely, expressing your opinion without the heavy-handed self-righteousness of many bloggers and pundants. And as always, you educate on the issue, combating ignorance not by raising a weapon or your voice to simply drown out discussion, but by raising the quality of your argument and your viewer’s awareness.

Sadly, much of that will go over some people’s heads, as they wallow in (to quote Isaac Asimov) “the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”

I read Ender’s Game, but none of the others. I read it without knowing Card’s beliefs and even if I had remained unaware of them, I had no plan to read the rest of his books. I like to think I’m a thinking man, but I placed no allegory or historical parallel to the book. Every piece of fiction I read I do so first and foremost with the belief that story comes first. Allegory, metaphor, symbolism and all the intellectual idea-trapping English Lit teachers love so much, in my opinion, should always take a back seat to the story. The story in Ender’s Game was interesting for the most part and I did recognize the seemingly prophetic elements like bloggers, but I also think he seriously over-estimates the influence or impact one or two bloggers, no matter how profound, can have. The internet of today, unlike his speculation, is a sea of competing opinions. And whether they’re intelligently expressed or the ramblings of the dimwitted or crazy, all these opinions are more or less delivered onto a level playing field. I don’t think it’s possible, now or ever, for a political or sociological messiah to rise up from the blog-osphere to change the world. Yes, ideas are transmitted faster and wider, but now everyone’s opinions travel at the same speed, allowing no single viewpoint to really exceed anyone else’s.

The reason I didn’t plan to read the rest was partly the ending, which I felt was rushed (I know he was setting up the next book, I just don’t think he did it well) and partly because I felt the book was only alright. I read it only a few years ago. It took a while to draw me in and when it it did, it was compelling, but the end sort of spat me out and I felt no desire to know what happened next. I still don’t. Maybe it’s my loss.

In light of what I now know of the author, thanks to your review and the writings of others, I’m not sure I could read the sequels and separate what I know of Card and simply try to enjoy the book the way I did with “Ender’s Game.”

I’m glad I read it under the circumstances of not seeing the man behind the curtain. It’s unfortunate that a good book was written by a man who, in real life, believes what he does. Perhaps, in years to come, after he is gone, the book can step out of that shadow permanently and stand on its own, seen as a significant work by a flawed man.”

This is the cover of the edition I own. Yes, I own it, despite Card’s painfully ignorant views. It’s not the book’s fault its author is…him. (Copyright Tor Books, 1985)

Ventress, Dooku, Rex, Grievous, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Clone Trooper, Ahsoka and Cody (copyright Lucasfilm Ltd)

As promised, here is Part 1 of my walkthrough of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Chronology (9th Edition), which explains the connections between the episode and addresses why I placed them in this order [click the Star Wars link above the find the Chronology itself if you haven’t read it already]. In advance, I’ll say that not every argument is 100% airtight. Some of it is subjective, based on my observations and what I feel works best. It’s certainly up for debate and I encourage other theories. It’s been said that Leland Chee will address the proper order of the series when the series is finished, so when that happens, I may be proven wrong, but based on current viewings of the aired episodes to this point (little past halfway through Season 4), here’s my take. I hope it proves useful.

I’ll actually begin before The Clone Wars proper, with the original micro-series title Clone Wars, the traditionally animated series which was launched between the films “Attack Of The Clones” and “Revenge Of The Sith.” I won’t breakdown each installment, but it’s important to address here since this series introduced us to many of the characters we’d see in the later CG series.

In Clone Wars, we pick up just after the war has begun. The battle lines are being drawn and the droid armies of the Separatists are combating the Grand Army of the Republic, which is mostly comprised of clone troopers led by the Jedi. Count Dooku (aka Darth Tyrannus) recruits a young Force adept named Assaj Ventress, whom he sends to assassinate Anakin Skywalker. They battle on Yavin IV, the moon which much later houses a secret Rebel base in “A New Hope.” Ventress is defeated and Anakin returns to his master’s side just as Obi-Wan Kenobi receives a distress call from fellow Jedi trapped and surrounded by droid armies. What makes this battle different is the introduction of a new droid general, Grievous, who slaughters nearly all of the Jedi before they are rescued by clone commandos. The survivors are Ki-adi Mundi, Aayla Secura and Shaak Ti. After the rescue, Anakin discovers that his wife, Senator Padme Amidala, has fitted C-3PO with gold plating. The Jedi officially Knight Anakin Skywalker and as a gift, he’s given Padme’s droid, R2-D2. He then leaves Curuscant to continue as a General in the Clone Wars.

This is where we pick up, seemingly not long after, in The Clone Wars.

ROOKIES TRILOGY
Shaak Ti, having recovered from her battle with General Grievous, is now leading the training of clone cadets on Kamino. Here we meet Domino Squad, a group of five misfit clones who are doomed to scrub freighters if they flunk out. Eventually, through perseverance and self-discovery, they learn to work together and graduate with Shaak Ti’s blessing, demonstrating a high degree of independent thinking and problem-solving.

In the Web Comic “Mouse Hunt,” we see clones Commander Cody and Captain Rex inspecting a facility where a mouse droid has been secretly spying for the Separatists. The droid is destroyed and Rex and Cody go off to their next inspection site: a Republic Listening Post which serves as an early warning beacon for Kamino.

Domino Squad is stationed there on their first assignment when it is attacked by droids. Three of the original five members (Echo, Fives and Hevy) meet up with Rex and Cody as they arrive to inspect the station and Hevy sacrifices himself to destroy the station, alerting the Republic that Kamino is about to be attacked by Grievous and Ventress. Echo and Fives join Rex and Cody’s 501st Legion and the Republic fleet travels to Kamino to mount a defence.

The Battle of Kamino commences, with Anakin and Ventress crossing blades again and Obi-Wan duels Grievous. The Separatists are eventually pushed back and flee, and Echo and Fives are promoted to ARC Trooper trainees.

At Kamino we see several then-experimental ARC fighters, as the Republic begins creating new weaponry with which to fight the war. Ventress and Grievous meet for the first time here as well. We meet Admiral Yularen for the first time, seemingly having recently joined Anakin as his fleet commander.

ZILLO BEAST 2 PARTER
On Malastare, Anakin and Mace Windu attempt to persuade the Duggs to sign a treaty with the Republic so the Republic can gain the planet’s fuel supply. We meet clones Hawkeye, Trapper and Ponds, but Hawkeye is killed when a giant Zillo Beast is unleashed by the test of an experimental droid-neutralizing bomb. The bomb is delivered by equally experimental Y-Wing and ARC fighters. The Zillo Beast is subdued and brought to Coruscant, where it escapes and wreaks havoc, before being put down by poisonous gas. Aayla Secura and Yoda combat the beast, and R2-D2 and C-3PO are briefly reunited.

At the end of the second part, Chancellor Palpatine orders the beast be cloned.

CHRISTOPHSIS + MOVIE
The planet Christophsis is under siege and Obi-Wan, Anakin and Yularen have to find a way through. They do so with the help of a stealth ship and Yularen’s experience against the Separatist commander. They are able to deliver aid to Senator Bail Organa on the planet before the Separatists remount an offensive there. The Web Comic “Shadowed” hints that there is something amiss in the ranks of the clones troopers on the planet and this is verified after an ambush overtakes the clones and Jedi, who barely escape. As Rex and Cody hunt for the spy, Obi-Wan and Anakin attempt to track the signals the spy sent, which leads them to Ventress. The duel is cut short and Ventress leaves the planet to execute the next part of Dooku’s plan as the clones and Jedi prepare for a major assault.

The Movie begins after Ventress kidnaps Jabba The Hutt’s son, part of the plan to get the Hutts on the Separatist’s side. On Christophsis, a break in the fighting allows Anakin’s new Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, to join her master (and to join the series). Christophsis is liberated and Anakin and Ahsoka hunt down Jabba’s son. Obi-Wan tries to negotiate with Jabba and Padme reveals that Jabba’s uncle Ziro The Hutt is working with Dooku in the kidnapping plot. Jabba’s son is saved and Ziro is arrested.

Ahsoka and Ventress battle for the first time and Anakin and Dooku meet again in a lightsaber battle. Originally, the movie was four regular episodes, but George Lucas decided to have the producers edit them together to release as a movie.

THE FALL OF RYLOTH TETRALOGY
This was the most interesting part of the series to fit together, because it was told over three seasons and several Web Comics. Each new segment required a re-examining of the sequence of events, until it could be clearly aligned. The order of release of the individual parts had to be virtually ignored in favour of the pure chronological order.

Furthermore, this arc begins a massive mega-arc, which interconnects numerous episodes after the events of the Fall Of Ryloth itself, but we’ll get to that.

Beginning with the Web Comic “The Fall Of Falleen,” we see the Separatists overtake the world of Falleen. This is mentioned by the characters at the beginning of “Downfall of a Droid,” where R2 is lost after an attack by General Grievous is repelled. R2 is picked up by a salvager who plans to sell him to Grievous. In the next Web Comic, “Discount,” Separatist Gha Nachkt is sold a droid by the same salvager, who still possesses R2, and it turns out the droid Nachkt buys is a spy for rival Separatist Watt Tambor. In the Web Comic “Covetous,” the spy droid sends its information to Tambor, that of the doings of Nachkt on Ryloth. Tambor launches his invasion of Ryloth, which is seen in the next Web Comic “Curfew,” where we also meet the now-orphaned Twilek girl, Numa, on Ryloth.

In “Supply Lines,” following the invasion of Ryloth, the Republic tries to send relief aid by way of the Toydaria. We meet King Katuunko, who makes a deal with Bail Organa and Jar Jar Binks to allow their ships through against the trade agreements the planet hold with the Trade Federation. The ships get through as the last Jedi and clones on Ryloth are killed defending the Twileks and a small group of Twilek resistance fighters. The King tells Organa he’ll meet with Yoda to discuss a treaty with the Republic. In the Web Comic “Prelude,” we see the King on his way to the meet Yoda. We also see some of Yoda’s clone troopers waiting to depart for their next assignment. As they wait, they see the Republic Star Destroyer Ares leave in search of a new Separatist threat: something that’s destroying whole Republic fleets without leaving survivors. We also see Dooku and Ventress on a Separatist Listening Post called Skytop station. Dooku orders Ventress to stop the meeting between Yoda and King Katuunko.

“Ambush” sees Yoda and his clones, well, ambushed by Ventress. She meets the King and attempts to negotiate a deal between Toydaria and the Separatists, but Yoda eventually pushes through the traps and terrain. Ventress is sent back to Dooku empty-handed and Toydaria agrees to let the Republic use its planet to launch a campaign to retake Ryloth.

In “Duel Of The Droids,” Anakin tracks down R2 at Skytop Station and destroys it, saving R2 in the process and crippling the Separatist’s ability to use their secret weapon to sneak up on Republic fleets as effectively.

With Toydaria aligned with the Republic, the Jedi and the Republic fleet are now in a position to effectively plan an assault to retake Ryloth. It appears that the complexity of the eventual multi-stage attack requires lengthy organization of strategy, personnel and resources,  which is why the battle itself does not take place until later in the first season (see Walkthrough – Part 2).

MALEVOLENCE TRILOGY
As noted above, the Ryloth, Malevolence and Nute Gunray arcs could really be considered one giant, continuous story, since there is no break in the action and the stories flow deliberately and directly from one to the other.

After the liberation of Ryloth, the Web Comic “Shakedown,” picks up with the maiden voyage of the Star Destroyer Ares. No sooner has it begun to hunt for the secret Separatist weapon than that weapon overtakes and destroys it. Shortly after, Jedi Master Plo Koon and his troops are beset upon by the same weapon, a Separatist ship called Malevolence, which destroyers ships with a massive ion cannon. Survivors are hunted down in the debris. Plo and clones Wolffe, Sinker and Boost launch an escape pod but the droids find them and nearly kill them. They are rescued by Anakin and Ahsoka and become the first surviving witnesses to Grievous’s new weapon.

Anakin and Ahsoka then commandeer the experimental Y-Wings in the Web Comic “Procedure” in order to mount an offensive against Malevolence. They do so, crippling the Separatist ship. Meanwhile, Chancellor Palpatine and Capt. Argyus inform Padme that some Separatists want to talk peace and have sent coordinates to meet her (Web Comic “Agenda”). We also meet Onacondo Farr of Rodia, a friend of Padme, who has just signed a treaty with Nute Gunray. Padme arrives in the middle of the firefighter between the Republic and Malevolence, and she and 3PO are taken prisoner. Anakin and Obi-Wan board Malevolence and rescue the two before the vessel is destroyed. Grievous flees in his fighter.

Here, R2 and 3PO meet again, as do Grievous and Obi-Wan. Anakin cannot meet Grievous during the Clone Wars, since he states explicitly that “Revenge Of The Sith” is their first meeting.

NUTE GUNARY TRILOGY
In the Web Comic “Departure,” Jar Jar prepares the Naboo ship to head to Rodia, but it is stolen by thieves. He and Padme are forced to take a different ship, which they do, arriving on Rodia only to find out Farr has aligned with the Separatists. He’s eventually convinced to change his mind and Nute Gunray is captured. In the Web Comic “Transfer,” Capt Argyus, Ahsoka and Luminara Undulii take Gunary aboard their ship.
The episode that follows shows Ventress and Argyus breaking Gunray out of custody and escaping, after Ventress duels both Ahsoka and Luminara.

In the Web Comic “The Dreams Of General Grievous,” we see Grievous in flight from the lost battle of the Malevolence and his thoughts about how he was made into a cyborg.

Kit Fisto and his clones make their way to a secret location, on the trail of Nute Gunray. They discover it is the Lair of General Grievous and Dooku has trapped them all, hoping Grievous can prove himself after all his recent failures (failing to take Kamino and losing Skytop Station and the Malevolence). Grievous kills everyone but Fisto, including Fisto’s hot-headed former Padawan. Fisto escapes and Grievous again has proven his worth to Dooku.

As the “Ryloth,” “Malevolence” and “Nute Gunray” arcs are all interwoven and ,as I said, continue seamlessly from one to the next without any story breaks, they really do serve to create a mega-arc early in the series, with all those episodes and Web Comics fully connected to each other.

To be explored in future Walkthroughs will be plot points and characters established both in these early episodes and episodes yet-discussed, which continue to weave through the series even now.

It’s important to see that The Clone Wars is not merely a “weekly adventures of…”-type of series, but a grand, interwoven story, where characters and plots interact and actions have consequences. What happens early on affects what happens later, and what happens later is a direct and/or indirect result of what came before. That is one of the real strengths of The Clone Wars, and one of the rewards of paying close attention.

Continued in Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.