In the “Star Wars” universe, it’s almost impossible for a character to quietly, slowly emerge as a fan favorite. Most characters on this list arrived with a lot of hype behind them (Ahsoka) or they were already a popular character from the movies (Tarkin, Boba Fett).
I’ve tried to keep this blog positive over the last couple years, and although the title of my 300th post sounds like a mean jab at a failed TV show, I’m actually going to celebrate this milestone blog entry by saying something that never gets said by TV-geek bloggers when talking about a network: “The Cape’s” short run was handled with perfect fairness by NBC.
Because Jar Jar Binks was unpopular among fans and took on a lesser role after Episode I, the next two movies lacked a protagonist whose fate was unknown. With Padme and Mace Windu, and especially Anakin, Obi-Wan and Yoda, we weren’t watching so much for “what happens” to the characters but rather for “how it happens.”
Aurra Sing makes her first “Star Wars” appearance in “The Phantom Menace”; she’s simply observing the podrace through macrobinoculars from a distant plateau. Yet it’s obvious that a fair amount of time went into her character design: the pasty white skin, the topknot emerging from an otherwise bald head, and what’s that — an antenna?
On “The Clone Wars,” voice actor James Arnold Taylor has created the definitive Obi-Wan Kenobi. Before you react harshly to that statement, let me explain: It’s like the “standing on the shoulders of giants” theory of science. Alec Guinness created Obi-Wan. Ewan McGregor based his performance on Guinness’. And now Taylor is basing his performance on McGregor’s.
I have an “Episode II” poster that says “A Jedi shall not know anger. Nor hatred. Nor love.” To that, a cynical fan might add “Nor personality.” Because while that arena duel of insects vs. lightsaber-wielding Jedi in “Attack of the Clones” certainly looked cool, we didn’t really get to know many of those warriors in the prequels.
Count Dooku is arguably the most “Star Warsy” among the pantheon of new prequel characters. In casting Christopher Lee, George Lucas wisely tapped into the well of British monster-movie veterans that gave him Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. And thanks to Lee’s performance, Dooku seemed like he had been a part of “Star Wars” all along, even though he wasn’t introduced until 2002.
Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Boba Fett was one of the most popular “Star Wars” characters. I remember “Star Wars” Galaxy Magazine conducted a poll shortly before the prequels came out, and Fett ranked No. 2 among all characters — movies, books, comics or otherwise — behind only Han Solo.
Philip K. Dick is widely remembered for his unparalleled sci-fi imagination, and the latest adaptation of one of his short stories, “The Adjustment Bureau,” is rife with that. Less widely acknowledged — but certainly known by the late author’s fans — is that PKD was a decent character writer, too.
Beginning the countdown of my top 10 characters from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (7:30 p.m. Central Fridays on Cartoon Network), let’s start with No. 10, the recently introduced Captain Wilhuff Tarkin, who will eventually become the Grand Moff whose “foul stench” Leia recognizes when she is brought onboard the first Death Star.