Here's our take on ''Samurai Jack'' creator Genndy Tartakovsky's action-packed new ''Star Wars: Clone Wars'' animated shorts: pretty nifty. The 20 three-minute vignettes, which fill in the story between ''Star Wars'' episodes 2 and 3, debut Nov. 7 on the Cartoon Network. But who cares what we think? The point is, GEORGE LUCAS thinks they're nifty. ''It was like getting a phone call from God,'' says Tartakovsky, recalling the transmission from Skywalker Ranch he received recently. Apparently, the Emperor and his son had just watched the series and gave it the thumbs-up.
Of course, ol' George also gave Jar Jar Binks the nod. The difference is, Lucas had no direct role in ''Clone Wars.'' He gave the Cartoon Network team use of the films' trademark sound effects, the John Williams score -- and few strictures. ''We were given two new villains [the dual-light-saber-wielding Asajj Ventress and the armored bounty hunter Durge] they wanted to see featured,'' art director Paul Rudish recalls of Lucas' directives. Tartakovsky put that wide latitude to work in the mini-epic, storyboarding underwater Jedi battles and ''interpretations of how a lightsaber gets built, and things like that.'' He also plans to elaborate on the Jedi's vaguely defined ''Force powers'': ''As fans, that's what WE wanted to see.'' Yeah, that and Princess Leia's buns.