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You Should Be Watching: ‘Star Wars Rebels’

Gone are the years of waiting between “Star Wars” films; this December’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” drops barely a year after “The Force Awakens.” Even so, Darth-heads still crave new content, and one of the finest additions to the “Wars” universe is the animated TV series “Star War Rebels.” Set after the events of “Revenge of the Sith” but before “A New Hope,” it’s a wildly entertaining, satisfyingly fast-moving program full of cool cameos (Lando!) and solid new characters.

Title: “Star Wars Rebels”

Year it began: 2014

Where it can be seen: Series airs on Disney XD and streams on the Disney XD website and app; episodes are available for purchase on Amazon Video, iTunes, and Google Play.

Who’s in it: Voices of Taylor Gray, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Vanessa Marshall, Tiya Sircar, and Steven Blum; “Star Wars” acting veterans who have appeared include James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams, and Frank Oz

Typical episode length: About 22 minutes

Number of episodes to date: 41 (episode 41 airs on Oct. 8)

Brief plot description: Fourteen years after the events of “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” and five years before the time of “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” the animated television series “Star Wars Rebels” focuses on a plucky group of freedom fighters taking on the Galactic Empire led by Emperor Palpatine and Sith Lord Darth Vader.

Why it’s worth watching: While “Star Wars Rebels” is appropriate for kids, what makes the show unusual is its ability to simultaneously entertain younger viewers and adult “Star Wars” fanatics. Protagonist Ezra Bridger is probably the least interesting figure on the show but his fellow rebels are strong creations. Chief among these is Kanan (voiced with surprising authority by Freddie Prinze Jr.), one of the few remaining Jedi. Joining him is the hulking Zeb, pilot Hera, sassy astromech droid Chopper, and the series’ coolest character, explosives expert Sabine. During the course of the show’s previous two seasons (season three started in September), the team has run into various “Star Wars” fan favorites, among them Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), Darth Maul, C3-P0, R2-D2, Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), Lando Calrissian (voiced by Billy Dee Williams), and even a young Princess Leia Organa (not voiced by Carrie Fisher). As the series progresses, viewers can expect deeper connections to develop between “Rebels” and the “Star Wars” films. Does that mean we’ll soon meet the likes of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker? It might be hard to wedge in the latter, but if there’s a way, the marketing geniuses at Lucasfilm will find it.

 

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