The Star Wars universe has been hit or miss since Disney took over the galaxy far, far away. The highs have been high (See: “The Last Jedi,” “The Mandalorian”) and the lows have been, well, low. Looking at you, “The Rise of Skywalker.”
Between big screen blockbusters and beloved new series on Disney+, who would have expected a series of animated shorts released with little to no fanfare on the streamer would be one of the best creative decisions to date.
“Tales of the Jedi” is exactly what Star Wars needs. Fans have long asked to see more of the galaxy – new planets, species, and characters – and they’re getting a heavy dose of that in “Andor” right now. But when the franchise does tread familiar territory like the Clone Wars, it must bring something meaningful and insightful to the story, like a whole new perspective.
The series of six animated shorts do just that. By honing in on two characters with plenty of story left to tell, “Tales of the Jedi” fills in the gaps of familiar stories, while still bringing bold new ideas and character development to the table.
The season tells two opposing stories, with half the episodes focusing on Jedi-turned-Sith Lord Count Dooku (voiced by Corey Burton) as he loses faith in the Jedi and turns to the Dark Side, while the other half follows Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein) on her journey to embrace the Force.
While the short format may initially feel disappointing to fans wanting more, the episodes, ranging from 10 to 17 minutes in length, never feel too short. The stories being told are tight and meaningful, meant to enhance and inform other information we already know. With complaints of Star Wars rehashing the same stories over and over again, the length here feels like the perfect runtime to prevent “Tales of the Jedi” from overstaying its welcome.
When it comes to the actual stories being told, it’s Dooku’s descent that makes for a more compelling watch. While it’s still an animated series that could easily be seen as juvenile, “Tales of the Jedi” raises valid concerns about corruption, responsibility and blindly following orders, all elements that we see lead to Dooku’s disillusionment. The three episodes focused on the Jedi-turned-Sith Lord cater more towards a broader audience familiar with the films, while Ahsoka’s episodes are more connected to “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”
As the Star Wars franchise continues to balance the new and the old, a series like “Tales of the Jedi” is the perfect way for Lucasfilm to have its cake and eat it too. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a second installment return with stories focused on the likes of Mace Windu and other fan favorites.
“Star Wars Tales of the Jedi” is now streaming on Disney+
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.