Star Wars Rebels, on Disney XD
This premiered as a one-hour movie, "Spark of Rebellion," on Disney Channel in October 2014, ten days before launching as a regular series on Disney XD. Prior to this, there was a series of four prequel webisodes. (When the TV series eventually launched, a series of behind-the-scenes webisodes called "Rebels Recon" also began.) Because I don't currently get Disney XD, I didn't get a chance to see any of the series (or the webisodes) until I got season one on DVD in 2019. (And at the time this premiered, I rather thought I wouldn't even want to watch it until I'd finished all of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which I still haven't done. But I finally decided not to worry about it, since I'm not sure this series even exists within the same continuity as the earlier series.) But I did want to mention that several months before the series premiered, I saw some images of an astromech droid called "Chopper" that would be a main character in the series, and he kind of reminded me of another "Chopper," a character in the anime One Piece. (You can compare them for yourself, and tell me I'm crazy.)
I should also mention that the pilot movie "Spark of Rebellion" was released on DVD not too long after it aired, but I didn't want to get that, because I assumed it would likely be included once the season set came out on DVD, and I was right. However, there are some differences. Like, I believe the pilot DVD included the prequel shorts, which the season one DVD does not. Also, I guess the pilot aired on ABC sometime after it premiered on Disney Channel, and included a brief new prologue scene with a conversation between Darth Vader and the Inquisitor, which wasn't in the original premiere of the movie. (I'm not sure if it's on the "Spark of Rebellion" DVD, but it is on the season one DVD I watched.)
The show is set five years before Star Wars episode IV: A New Hope. It's set on a planet called Lothal, in the Outer Rim territories. There's a group of rebels based out of a starship (light freighter) called the Ghost, which has a detachable shuttle called the Phantom. The owner and captain of the Ghost is a Twi'lek named Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall), code named Spectre-2. But the leader of the rebel cell is a human named Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze Jr.), aka Spectre-1. The Ghost's mechanic is the aforementioned droid, Chopper (voiced in typical astromech squeaks by series co-creator/writer/director Dave Filoni); aka Spectre-3. The muscle of the group is a Lasat named Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios (Steve Blum), aka Spectre-4. And there's a badass weapons expert, a Mandalorian named Sabine Wren (Tiya Sircar), aka Spectre-5. At the start of the series, the crew is joined by a teenage human orphan from Lothal named Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), aka Spectre-6. It's not long before we learn that Kanan is a Jedi, though one whose training was never quite completed, because he barely escaped the extermination of the Jedi in Star Wars episode III: Revenge of the Sith. And when he discovers that Ezra has a strong connection to the Force, he begins training him to become a Jedi. And um... I want to mention that it seems as if Kanan and Hera are in a romantic relationship, but that's not entirely clear, at least in season one. Also, Ezra develops an immediate crush on Sabine, though she doesn't take it seriously.
Throughout the season, the rebels (though they don't really call themselves that) do whatever they can to thwart the Empire on Lothal, and to help people who are suffering under the Empire's rule. The Imperial officer who causes them the most trouble is Agent Alexsandr Kallus (David Oyelowo), whose job it is to try to capture or kill the rebels. But partway through the season, an even more powerful enemy comes to Lothal: a Pau'an known as "the Grand Inquisitor" (Jason Isaacs). While he uses the Dark Side of the Force, he is not technically a Sith, but a "dark side adept" (like Asajj Ventress in The Clone Wars). His own mission is to kill any surviving Jedi (like Kanan) and try to turn Force-sensitive individuals like Ezra to the Dark Side (or kill them, if he can't turn them). Of course, the Inquisitor is a major badass and very cool nemesis. Also, Hera has a secret contact called "Fulcrum," whom her crewmates (especially Sabine) become curious about. And Ezra eventually constructs for himself a lightsaber that is also a blaster. And Grand Moff Tarkin eventually comes to Lothal to personally oversee the efforts to put a stop to the rebels' actions. Meanwhile, the rebels manage to use an Imperial communications tower to broadcast a signal off Lothal, to give hope to people on other worlds that they're not alone in the struggle against the Empire. But Kanan ends up being captured, so his friends devise a plan to rescue him, in the season finale. There are some more surprises in the finale that I won't spoil just yet, including the identity of Fulcrum. (Though that reveal is such a "squee!" moment.) But I will say that the rebels on Lothal learn that there are already plenty of other cells like theirs throughout the galaxy, even if most of them apparently don't know about each other's existence, at least not yet. But the series is obviously laying the groundwork for the formation of what will become the Rebel Alliance we all know and love.
Well, I've only mentioned a few of the things that happen throughout the season. There are plenty of other adventures, and recurring characters who as far as I know originated on this series. But there are also some surprise guests who are familiar from earlier movies and stuff. Some of the characters and events I haven't mentioned may turn out to be more important in future seasons, so whenever I get around to seeing more seasons, I'll have to decide whether to edit mentions of them into my season one review, or not mention them until later. Anyway... it's definitely a good show so far, with some decent humor, drama, action, intrigue, etc. And I look forward to seeing where the story goes from here....
I haven't gotten any more DVDs, but I started watching season 2 on Disney+ in December of 2020. And I need to spoil a couple of things from the end of season 1. First of all, it turns out that "Fulcrum" is actually Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein, who previously voiced the character in "The Clone Wars"). Of course, the Clone Wars were a long time ago, so she's more mature now. (But I really really wish I could have seen all of that series before watching this.) Another thing that happened in the season 1 finale was that Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) arrived on Lothal to oversee the hunt for the rebels. But now in season 2, the Ghost crew are part of a small rebel fleet called Phonex Squadron, along with Ahsoka, and under the command of Jun Sato (Keone Young). Kanan isn't exactly happy to be part of this larger group, but it seems he has no choice, because Vader has made it impossible for them to stay on Lothal. Eventually, former clone trooper Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker), who was previously seen in "The Clone Wars" and is an old friend of Ahsoka, is recruited to join Phoenix Squadron, though at first Kanan doesn't trust him, because of the betrayal by most of the clones in Revenge of the Sith. I should also mention the fleet has a squadron of A-wing starfighters, and they eventually obtain a prototype B-wing, piloted by Hera. She becomes the leader of the fighter group (normally piloting the Ghost). And two more Inquisitors, called Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister (Sarah Michelle Gellar), are sent by the Empire to track down and kill the Ghost crew and Ahsoka. In the 2-part season finale, Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka travel to a planet called Malachor, where they find an ancient Sith temple, and Ezra obtains a holocron. He also meets Maul (formerly Darth Maul), who wants Ezra to become his apprentice. Some other big stuff happens which I won't spoil just yet, but there's a pretty epic battle between Ahsoka and Darth Vader. (And that's after some battles between our heroes and three Inquisitors.) So... I'll say more when I start watching season 3.