Disney/Lucasfilm's animated series, Star Wars Rebels is half-way through its debut season; and thus far, the show has proven successful at paying its respect to the franchise's history, while also incorporating new elements to move it forward and closer to next year's Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens. That looks to continue when Rebels returns to the airwaves next year, with an episode that will include a special guest appearance by Frank Oz, back as the voice of Yoda.
Oz has spoken about his readiness to reprise as the small, green, Jedi Master in an upcoming live-action Star Wars project, though as of right now we don't know whether that will happen or not. However, on Rebels, Oz as Yoda will be heard, but not seen, as he reaches over to the series' protagonist, Ezra Bridger (Taylor Gray), and his mentor, the Jedi-in-hiding Kanan Jarrus (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) via The Force on the planet Lothal, from his hut far away on Dagobah.
Rebels co-creator Dave Filoni explained to TV Guide that he didn't want to confuse the show's viewers - in particular its young target demographic - by having Yoda appear in the flesh; lest kids watching the show think that "Yoda could be teleporting from planet to planet." Tom Kane voiced Yoda on Filoni's Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, but the show-runner said that Oz's voice nicely fit the demands for the character's Rebels "appearance."
"What's great about Frank, by keeping the voice very present and active, you do feel that it's a watchfulness and that he's speaking to you from afar. And I didn't want anyone to think that he had left Dagobah [the planet where Yoda first trains Luke Skywalker]. It was on the outer rim of what we do, but I think we were able to pull it off."
Filoni also emphasized that "We do a lot of work to make sure there's continuity between things now," mentioning that Rebels will continue to fit with the continuity not only established by the previous live-action Star Wars films and the Clone Wars series, but also the upcoming waves of films and spinoffs. So far, though, Rebels has done an excellent job of managing that, even including appearances by old friends without it coming off as too on the nose and/or pandering to longtime Star Wars fans.
The first half of Rebels season one effectively set up a handful of story threads and character-based subplots that are unique to the series, for additional exploration and development down the line. Next year's episodes are thus in a good position to keep on fleshing out the show's self-contained mythos and yet, still exist firmly without the established Star Wars universe (without creating plot contradictions or continuity issues).
That nice blend of old and new components - also evident in Rebels' visual design and animation style - means that the show ought to continue on setting a fine precedent for the many impending Star Wars projects visible on the horizon, as the larger inter-connected story of the Disney/Lucasfilm Star Wars universe unfolds...
Star Wars Rebels season one continues on Disney XD with "Path of the Jedi" on January 5th, 2015 at 9/8c. You can also watch the episode a few days earlier on the Disney XD app, starting December 29th.
Source: TV Guide