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Stories Behind the Battles Captivate Viewers in STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS
Jay Cochran - October 10, 2008

Writer Steve Melching adores the thrill of a space battle and the majesty of a lightsaber duel, but he knows that behind the best Star Wars tales are stories that resonate with great moments and amazing characters.

The Emmy Award-nominated writer of such animated favorites as The Batman and X-Men has penned eight episodes of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, was credited as one of the writers of the animated film of the same name, and has written more than 4,000 lines of dialogue for the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars Lightsaber Duels” game for the Wii, which will be released by LucasArts on Nov. 11.

Melching’s passion for story-telling is evident in “Shadow of Malevolence,” an all-new episode of the hit animated series premiering at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10 on Cartoon Network.

In the second of a three-episode arc, “Destroy Malevolence” finds Anakin Skywalker, his Padawan Ahsoka Tano and Jedi Master Plo Koon utilizing long-range Y-wing bombers to lead a bold strike on General Grievous’ warship, the Malevolence, and its destructive ion cannon.

“THE CLONE WARS is really an opportunity to tell those great old war stories, and ‘Shadow of Malevolence’ is very much like a World War II tale of going behind enemy lines on pretty much a suicide mission,” Melching says. “It’s the small band of heroes racing against time, and while you may think they’ll accomplish the mission, you still wonder if they’ll all make it out alive.

“These are the great stories to tell – stories of bonding and heroism and sacrifice, and this was a particularly great opportunity to have Anakin and Ahsoka working together and coming together as a team, getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses in the throws of battle.”

Melching’s Hollywood lineage dates back to his grandfather’s assistance in building the enormous King Kong hand that would eventually grasp Fay Wray in the 1933 film classic. Seeing 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope as a 9-year-old in a small Honolulu theater only reinforced his path. A self-proclaimed Air Force brat with a laundry list of “hometowns,” Melching made his way to USC School of Cinematic Arts because, as he says, “that’s where George (Lucas) went.” Though he’s an established top writer for animation, Melching gained the attention of the Star Wars universe with his work on Troops, the popular Internet parody that melds Star Wars with TV’s Cops.

“I grew up loving all Star Wars, so I was always using my imagination to come up with these various characters and universes,” Melching says. “To do it professionally, it’s good to come from a place of deep knowledge of the material, but you do have to separate yourself enough to tell a clear story that isn’t mired down in insider minutiae. The story must appeal to a broader audience, not just the hardcore fans.”

STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS airs at 9 p.m. Fridays on Cartoon Network. Dave Filoni is supervising director, George Lucas is the series’ creator and serves as executive producer, and Catherine Winder is producer.



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