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The war wears on, and the Republic is pushed to its breaking point. Support for the Jedi Knights and their noble cause comes in the form of valiant clone troopers — steadfast defenders of peace and justice, even as the Jedi falter and the might Republic begins to crumble. Joined by familiar faces and confronted with deadly new threats, these everyman heroes lead the charge into a transformative new season of Clone Wars adventures — where alliances will be tested, truths will be questioned and galaxy-changing secrets will be uncovered to shake the very foundations of the STAR WARS universe. The next chapter of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS begins with a must-see two-part premiere, airing at 9:00pm ET/PT Friday, September 17th on Cartoon Network.

Season Three moves THE CLONE WARS forward by briefly stepping back in time to follow five Clone Cadets who struggle with their military training, chronologically set before the Season One. The untested cadets — Hevy, Cutup, Droidbait, Fives and Echo — are failing to learn the required teamwork and cooperation to effective serve in the Clone Army and risk failing their Academy training as drop-outs. As the busy actor voicing the entire clone population in the series, Dee Bradley Baker offers the conflict this group faces under tremendous pressure to perform as efficient, trustworthy soldiers as the war rages on:

"It's a band-of-brothers story that takes you back before most of the episodes we've seen so far; it's one of the earliest episodes chronologically in the series," says Dee Bradley Baker, voice of the clones. "We're going to see how the 'shinies' [new recruits featured in the first season episode, Rookies] learn to work together. Starting off, they're not a team at all. They're just everymen; they're human. And now they've got to pull it together. There's something really cool about how the show brings out the heroism from characters like that not just the superpowered ones."

Yet harkening back (or forward, chronologically) to the trilogy of Boba Fett episodes concluding Season Two, the new character Clone Number 99 also stands apart from his fellow clone brothers by design, if in an opposite manner to Boba. A genetically imperfect clone replica, 99 lacks the physical attributes to fight on the front lines, but nonetheless he identifies strongly with the other clones and earns his way among them with his own brand of service to the Republic.

"He's a great example of the show's creative risks," says Baker. "I was nervous going into this episode. Does he sound real? Is he believable? I agonized over it; he's a very special character, and a very unique challenge. Kinda high stakes for me, because I wanted so badly to get it right. He's a little bit slower…quieter…softer than your basic clone voice. I skewed his dialect toward cockney to give him a blue collar, salt-of-the-earth flavor. I've got a lot of favorites, but 99's definitely one of them. His story is very affecting – really beautiful on a lot of different levels."

'Clone Cadets'
Episode clip

'ARC Troopers'
Episode clip

As with Boba Fett's appearance at the end of last season, THE CLONE WARS continues delving deeper into the characters and dramatic nature of the Republic's clone army. Their development from disorganized cadets to a heroic, loyal and cohesive fighting units plays out the series' themes of adventure and noble sacrifice, dating back to the very first episode aired in 2008, Ambush. Yet as mounting evidence of the show's constant maturation and evolution, these clone-centered stories revealing that these genetic copies of Jango Fett aren't all truly identical and such subtle differences in temperament, psychology and even physiology introduce hints of individuality which make the clones' loyalty and behavior in battle less and less certain as a group. Naturally this foreshadows the deadly and treasonous betrayal of the clones in EPISODE III when they receive Order 66 from Palpatine to exterminate the Jedi Knights. As the ever-deepening series proceeds toward the eventuality of these dark events, THE CLONE WARS unfurls the dramatic complexity which supports and heightens its amazing animation and exciting action.

A group of clones prepares for their rigorous training in 'Clone Cadets,' an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, September 17 on Cartoon Network.

THE CLONE WARS' Season Three debut continues immediately with a second episode, ARC Troopers, which bookends the storyline of Clone Cadets by jumping ahead in time to follow the group's survivors as they defend Kamino from an intense Separatist attack. Repelling the initial assault, the troops suddenly face a greater threat arising from Kamino's turbulent oceans as General Grievous and his assassin Asajj Ventress lead an army of droids to the surface in a surprise attack on the clone production facilities. This leaves the tougher, battle-hardened clones defending the only home they know as well as the future of their own kind in the galaxy. Dee Bradley Baker addresses the clones' increasingly desperate plight and how they face this crucial battle reveals their true inner nature:

"This episode raises the stakes in a really spectacular way. This is big space opera; this is why you want to own an HD TV. It's basically the scale of a Star Wars movie – on TV," says Baker. "It's awesome. I'm so very proud of this show; it's exciting to make this kind of episode work. And it's such a team effort. There's an army of artists working to make this compelling and moving.
This is extraordinary storytelling."

The fun is just beginning as exciting all-new STAR WARS adventures continue in the two-part Season Three premiere of THE CLONE WARS airs at 9:00pm ET/PT Friday, September 17th on Cartoon Network. Keep an open comlink as FilmEdge publishes our review of the Season Three premiere later this week!

Jedi Master Shaak Ti surveys the troops in 'Clone Cadets,' an all-new episode of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS premiering at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Friday, September 17 on Cartoon Network. TM & © 2010 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved.

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