“Star Wars Rebels” is something that “The Clone Wars” wasn’t. It’s fun. It’s also simple, and about regular people for once. After so many years of writers focusing on military junk, “Rebels” is about regular outlaws and thieves, all with a hint of “Firefly.” Set after “Revenge of the Sith,” the writers focus on the after effects of the Imperial take over where the galaxy is disbanded and everyone are pretty much in it for themselves. “Rebels” is set before an important milestone in the “Star Wars” timeline. It’s when the seeds of rebellion were planted, and seems to be a show intent on focusing on how the famous rebellion was built and became a force against the Empire that would set the stage for folks like Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo to become heroes.
There’s a lot here to love, from the original characters, and the many call backs to the original trilogy that are clever, but never gratuitous. There’s mention of wookies, and Jabba the Hutt, but the lip service and inclusion feels like fluid explorations of a massive universe instead of just the writers shoe horning in these plot elements. The latter half of the extended pilot involves the group of aspiring rebels saving Wookie slaves from an empire planet, but there’s no real mention of Chewbacca at any point. Character Ezra mentions Jabba the Hutt in an almost tongue in cheek insult, and there’s brief mention of smugglers. There’s also a much appreciated cameo from Obi-Wan Kenobi, but there’s no guarantee we’ll see him until later on in the series. Which is likely a good thing. The pilot builds a group of very entertaining characters that we can root for, and I had a hard time nitpicking at the premise.
It skids between the prequels and original trilogy so well that I was pleased, and the heroes are given interesting shades of grey to where they’re always faced with tough decisions that challenge their own personal laws of survival. There’s “Zeb” Orrelios, a Lasat creature (based on the original Chewbacca design) who is rivals with Ezra and is forced to make a tough decision mid-way to keep the crew safe. Ezra is also constantly at war with his own personal credo of thinking of himself first. He’s spent much of his life witnessing selfishness and now has to help when there’s a crew of heroes that help one another, and other races of the galaxy hit hard by the Empire’s takeover. I’d love to see how he progresses as a potential Jedi, and who his parents were.
Zeb is just one of the great characters in the bunch. I also really am invested in the back story of former Jedi Kanan Jarrus (as played by Freddi Prinze Jr.), and how he lost his arm during the war. Plus, droid Chopper is competing with R2-D2 for cutest “Star Wars” side character. Disney taking over the George Lucas built universe has been met with mixed reactions, but if “Rebels” is any indication, we’re definitely on the right track. “Rebels” is a fun, exciting, and simple animated adventure, and hearkens back to the time when Star Wars was a simplistic space opera and not self-important junk about military strategy, and trade federations. I hope “Rebels” helps revive the spirit of the original trilogy; I had a damn good time with it and I intend to continue the series when it officially premieres.