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It's hard to believe that a whole four years have passed since Disney welcomed Lucasfilm into the House of Mouse and gave the Star Wars franchise new life. George Lucas probably doesn't go a day without thinking of the empire he created, and he was apparently thinking about doing some pretty big things with it even as he was in the planning stages of the eventual $4 billion sale. It turns out the world came pretty close to getting a TV spinoff of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Here's how Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo put it.
First, that would have been amazing, because more adventures within The Clone Wars would have obviously been welcomed with open arms, regardless of the subject matter. (Exception: a Jar-Jar musical dramedy.) Second, the way the show almost came about is almost as interesting and complicated as all other Star Wars mythology, and shines a light on how unstructured the TV biz can be.
Pablo Hidalgo shared this reveal in an informative series of Twitter posts that started out explaining the confusion behind The Clone Wars' episode ordering. Like most animated shows, there's a big distinction between an episode's production and broadcast numbers, as the episodes aired in a season are fewer than the number that go through the animation studio process. With Clone Wars, the 25-episode production schedule left small handfuls of episodes as excess that would generally get aired the next season. In the case of Season 5, it was decided that 20 episodes, rather than previous years' totals of 22, would be optimal, which led to other decisions being made, which takes us to this story.
Had everyone had chosen to go with a 19-episode order for Season 5, then the Clovis episodes from the sixth season would have been a part of the fifth, with the youngling episodes getting excised. (Fun fact:: those Clovis installments were apparently part of the Season 4 production slate.) While contemplating the fate of the youngling story arc, as well as the fate of his own company, George Lucas was inspired enough to foresee that concept expanding and getting its own standalone series.
How far did that inspiration go? Lucas reportedly had the youngling episodes edited together to make the potential "movie" pilot mentioned above, and he was present for a screening of the feature-length pilot for that year's Star Wars Celebration. For one reason or another, however, the motivation to create the Clone Wars spinoff disappeared and the pilot idea was scrapped, with the younglings obviously showing up in the middle of Season 5.
We're now at a time when there is no end to how much Star Wars we'll get in the future, and one in which Star Wars Rebels is doing quite well at holding up the animated side of the universe. Still, though, that's one hell of a "What if" scenario. Thankfully, we'll get to see a bit of Clone Wars on the big screen fairly soon, as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will bring Saw Gerrera to live-action, with Forest Whitaker in the role, on December 16, 2016.