‘Clone Wars’ Set for Sept. 17 Return

Cartoon Network will kick off season 3 of its biggest series with a one-hour special

If you're a boy aged 6-11, this is like AMC setting a return date for "Mad Men."

The Cartoon Network on Tuesday set a Sept. 17 premiere for season three of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," kicking off the George Lucas-produced animated series' new campaign with an hourlong block of back-to-back episodes.

And just like their parents, who have flocked in droves in recent years to cable anti-heroes including Tony Soprano, Vic Mackey and Don Draper, "Clone Wars'" youthful audience seems to appreciate a nuanced central character, Anakin Skywalker, who ain't your typical kiddie-show good guy.

(Parent advisory: the future Darth Vader subscribes to the Jack Bauer school of prisoner interrogation … and that "dark side" will only be getting worse in season three.) 

Over two seasons, "Clone Wars" has been the Turner network's strongest performer, averaging well over 2 million viewers an episode and becoming the No. 1 draw on cable TV for some of the channel's key demos, including kids 2-11 and boys 6-11.

Last year's one-hour season-two premiere averaged over 2.5 million viewers.