Main Boards => VGMaps Social Board => Topic started by: JonLeung on December 11, 2008, 08:35:03 pm

Title: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: JonLeung on December 11, 2008, 08:35:03 pm
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For the past 100 days (Sept. 3-Dec. 11), I have been watching an episode of The Transformers a day. This includes all 98 episodes of "G1", plus the Japanese-only Scramble City and the 1986 movie. I felt that I couldn't call myself a Transformers fan without ensuring that I'd seen every episode of the original series, and watching through all of this, I was pretty sure I hadn't seen many of them before, especially several in Season 2.

I purchased the Chinese complete-series 15-DVD box set, which comes in a metal tin, and with postcards and a keychain. I chose the Chinese release because according to the forums, it has the best colour compared to all the other available versions. And at $70 for the whole series including the movie, price alone beats the official North American Rhino release (which were, last time I saw at HMV, $90 or more just for each volume). I just have to switch the spoken language to English when watching these on my computer (where Mandarin, the default language, comes up - Cantonese is also available for the movie), or to disable the Chinese subtitles that come up by default on our HD-DVD player. There is some "Engrish" when you load up the DVD ("no unauthorized hiring or ending") and it looks odd that Transformers is two words on the menu ("Trans Formers"), even if the toy boxes often had the word truncated like that. And this is nitpicking, but I would've preferred if the movie was on a separate disc or at least put here chronologically, instead of at the end with The Rebirth, though I can understand why they chose to do it this way, probably to save on the number of discs. (When watching the Scramble City episode, I watched the one on the 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD of the movie - more on that later, just wanted to point out that it was not included here.) The first disc had bonus material, including many details about the restoration and remastering process, and plenty of side-by-side and split-screen comparisons. They also had the commercial break "bumpers" (since they were removed from the episodes) and some opening sequences including some Japanese-only series' openings and also the special opening specifically for the Five Faces Of Darkness story arc (though for whatever reason the "normal" Season 3 opening was used for those episodes). All the discs fit in a "book" within each "page", but it makes it awkward to flip through the book, but it's all just Dreamwave artwork and brief bios for nearly all of the Transformers that appear in the series but are in Chinese, which I can't read. No matter, as I bought it for the DVDs. I received these on my mom's birthday on September 3...but it was a very nice present for myself, and even with some pretty bad episodes here and there, it's easily the best $70 I've recently spent, and maybe ever spent.

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Pilot - Episodes 1-3 - More Than Meets The Eye

I have this on tape somewhere, so these three episodes that make up the pilot are very familiar to me as I've seen it many times before.

The Autobots leave Cybertron in search of energy but are attacked by Decepticons and crash into a volcano on Earth. Four million years later, in the then-present day, the volcano erupts, awakening the computer Teletran-1, which repairs and awakens the Transformers, and changes their "alt-forms" into that of Earth-like vehicles and devices. Their Decepticons seek out energy sources and the Autobots choose to protect the humans, so their war continues on Earth.

The animation here is better than in most of the series. There are some noticeable colouring and editing errors (a Decepticon jet coloured yellow, who would later be the fan-inspired Sunstorm character, Optimus speaking one of Megatron's lines, Hound appearing to be underwater in one shot when he isn't, etc.), but not as bad as some of the errors that come later. Since the story serves to explain how the Transformers come to Earth, this three-parter is undeniably better than many of the one-shot episodes. Besides being a good introduction, it pretty much encapsulates what the Transformers are all about.

The Good: -More Than Meets The Eye: Part 1 - When the Transformers are reformatted into Earth vehicles and devices, because it explains the whole point of the toys.

-More Than Meets The Eye: Part 2 - Optimus and Megatron fighting on top of Sherman Dam using energy weapons (which must be classic because it was seen in a future vision in The War Within: Volume 1 graphic novel).

The Bad: -More Than Meets The Eye: Part 2 - Optimus flies up to a platform where Megatron is, before the aforementioned duel, but then Megatron knocks him down and Optimus is hanging on for his life, on the very platform he just flew up to. Apparently at this point the idea that many of the Autobots are unable to fly is suddenly implemented, much to Optimus's dismay.

The Strange: -More Than Meets The Eye: Part 1 - None of the Transformers, whether Autobot or Decepticon, seem to be amused or surprised or even notice when Megatron first transforms into a tiny gun.

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Season 1 - Episodes 4-16

After the successful pilot, thirteen more episodes were made, and along with More Than Meets The Eye, comprise Season 1. This season I remember seeing a lot of on VHS, so whenever I think of the "classics", I think of this season.

Many would argue that any episode of The Transformers animated series is a lengthy toy commercial, and I would not be able to disagree. But the introduction of new toys means new characters, and the episodes where they debut in are the better ones, in my opinion. Certainly better than the cookie-cutter episodes of Megatron seeking a new energy source and failing and having everything return to status quo by the end of it. This season sees the introduction of classic characters such as Jetfire (here named Skyfire), the Dinobots (three debut in one episode, and the remaining two in another), and the Constructicons (who can combine to form Devastator).

The Good: -S.O.S. Dinobots / War Of The Dinobots - Who doesn?t love the Dinobots?

The Bad: -Countdown To Extinction - Can one tiny reactor really threaten to blow up the entire planet? Ludicrous. Also, Dr. Arkeville?s fate was unresolved as he didn?t appear in the series again after Starscream reconstructed him as a cyborg.

The Strange: -Fire In The Sky / The Ultimate Doom - The only "other" death in the series where Skyfire is buried in ice is rendered moot as a few episodes later, he is easily dug up with no apparent damage.

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Season 2 - Episodes 17-65

Transformers were a hit, and so a whopping 49 episodes were made in Season 2 to bring the total number of episodes up to 65 for syndication purposes (5 episodes a week X 13 weeks a season). Since there are 98 episodes total, after the first two seasons The Transformers are already 2/3 of the way through their original G1 run (almost exactly), and Season 2 alone makes up exactly half of the entire series!

It's really too bad, then, that in my opinion, Season 2 was at times really bad and most of it is skippable. This is supposed to be some Great War between the Autobots and the Decepticons and it's dumbed down to Megatron's stupid-plan-of-the-day or someone's silly "adventures". There are some ridiculous storylines featuring one-shot ideas that are never revisited again. Thankfully they're not, but that just makes the episode even more pointless. A character will be spotlighted in an episode, doing their own thing, which could be fine, but sometimes you can go several episodes in a row without even seeing Optimus, Megatron, or Spike, or even a sense that this Autobot-Decepticon war is going on. I also never remembered Carly from the pre-movie episodes, and it's probably because she was only in a few. If an episode features contact with beings on another planet (or even other beings on Earth such as in Atlantis, Arise!), it's a pretty good indication that the episode is going to be a waste of time (including The God Gambit, Child's Play, Sea Change, and others). It wasn't all bad, though, as this season introduces Elita-1, Alpha Trion, Vector Sigma, and its key, which also appears in the episode that introduces the Aerialbots and the Stunticons. From the two-parter The Key To Vector Sigma until the end of the season, every episode must feature a combiner team - so you see a lot of the Aerialbots and Stunticons, not to mention the Combaticons and (suddenly-there) Protectobots. It's too bad these were all crammed right into the end of the season; if they spread out these combiner teams a bit more it would've been more balanced, and more bearable. As I said with Season 1, the Transformers episodes that actually presented the origin of particular Transformers and made that the focus of the episode are the good ones (like the Combaticons in Starscream's Brigade) - not to be confused with day-in-the-life-of stories (like Hoist Goes Hollywood). Though oddly I did find The Girl Who Loved Powerglide somewhat amusing...

The Good: -The Search For Alpha Trion - an episode that introduces the concept of gender and age in Transformers could have been a one-shot ordeal, but seeing as how Elita-1 (a female Transformer) and Alpha Trion (an old Transformer with a connection to Vector Sigma and the origin of Optimus Prime) have stuck around, this episode is an important one.

-The Key To Vector Sigma - In this two-parter we are introduced to the computer Vector Sigma, which brings to life the Aerialbots and the Stunticons, and was in fact responsible for the life of all Transformers, at least in cartoon continuity (though it causes confusion about those that are born in other episodes when Vector Sigma is not present, such as with the Dinobots earlier and the Technobots later). The Key, because of its other function, is a major plot device in the Beast Machines series many years later.

The Bad: -Child's Play - A contender for "the worst Transformers episode ever", in my opinion, is Child's Play, where a few Autobots and Decepticons are accidentally teleported to another world, so much larger in scale that the Transformers appear to be toys, as they fit easily in the hands of the beings that live there. A boy named Aaron protects the Autobots as the other inhabitants of the world seek to dissect them. As if the story wasn't ridiculous enough, it is made more memorable (in a bad way) by some of the worst animation errors ever - especially near the end. In one shot, Aaron's entire head suddenly disappears, and soon after the Autobots enter a toy rocket through a closed door which Aaron's cat melds into. Horrible.

-Sea Change - Seaspray's spotlight episode features him using a magical pool of water to transform into a humanlike alien being capable of morphing into a merman, because he's in love with a mermaid. Dumb.

The Strange: -The Girl Who Loved Powerglide - More than once, Powerglide swats away or even throws the aforementioned girl he's supposed to be protecting. It just seems wrong.

-B.O.T. - The last episode prior to the movie features some kids using Brawl's brain in a science project. There was essentially no real "season finale".

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Special Episode - Scramble City

According to the commentary, this episode-of-sorts was for the Japanese audience, reminding them who the Transformers are since the movie came out in 1987 there. It was not aired outside of Japan, and it was not included in this box set of the series, but rather as a special feature on the 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD of the movie. Because of soundtrack licensing issues, there was no original audio, but rather a commentary recorded by two fans who shed light on the significance of the episode...which is basically a commercial for the combiner teams (as if their persistent presence in the last part of Season 2 wasn't enough) and the city Transformers.

The first seven minutes or so are a straight-up recap, showing scenes from the pilot, More Than Meets The Eye, and a little bit from a later episode featuring the Constructicons. Then the story begins with Ultra Magnus (a little odd seeing him with pre-movie characters), apparently overseeing the construction of Metroplex, the Autobot city/base. Then it essentially becomes a huge brawl with all the combiner teams at the time - after a brief appearance of the Constructicons/Devestator, we then see the Aerialbots/Superion, Stunticons/Menasor, Protectobots/Defensor, and Combaticons/Bruticus engaging in fisticuffs. At one point, one of the Stunticons takes the place of Superion's leg, apparently hurting him (while demonstrating the interchangeability of many of the combiners). When Metroplex is completed, he rolls onto the scene and transforms, but rather than retreat, the Decepticons reveal that they too have been building a city Transformer, and Trypticon emerges from the ocean. After a close-up of Metroplex eyeing his opponent, the episode ends abruptly. This episode isn't really counted as part of continuity, for the city Transformers would be more properly introduced in Five Faces Of Darkness just after the movie. It would have been nice if this could've been worked in better, but even as it is, it's still better than the "real" final episode before the movie, B.O.T.

The Good: -The interchangeability of the Stunticons and Aerialbots, as well as Menasor's shuffling of his limbs, is a interesting nod to the actual toys.

The Bad: -Not much point to this episode when you watch every episode in order like this; the recap was unnecessary, the combiner teams were already saturating the previous eleven episodes, and Metroplex's and Trypticon's proper introduction later essentially renders this episode pointless in terms of continuity. (Though I guess it was never meant to be a true episode, otherwise it would've come with the whole DVD set.)

The Strange: -There's no resolution to the cliffhanger, and apparently there is also a stop-motion version using the toys themselves. And in Japan, this episode was significant enough to have the Scramble City logo put on the boxes for the combiner teams and the city Transformers.

The Transformers: The Movie (1986)

I wasn't sure if I was going to watch Scramble City again (since I saw it fairly recently before all this), though I figured it would be a good idea to include it to make all of this fit in an even 100-day schedule. But the reason I had made at the time was to push the movie onto a Saturday since I'd have more time to be able to watch it, along with the G.I. Joe movie I finally decided to see as well.

Now I've seen the movie a dozen times before, and a few times recently on the 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD. So to make things interesting I decided to watch the one included in this whole-series DVD set (oddly on the last disc after The Rebirth), with the Cantonese language option as I watched it with my mom, and then I also watched the G.I. Joe movie to make this a Hasbro double feature. No, I did not seek out the My Little Pony movie.

It is the year 2005. The planet-gobbling Unicron makes short work of the planet Lithone before the opening credits. The Decepticons attack an Autobot shuttle (and actually kill some Autobots) and use it to fly undetected to Earth, where they attack Autobot City. In the ensuing battle Optimus Prime and Megatron are fatally wounded. The Matrix of Leadership is passed on to Ultra Magnus before Optimus's death, frustrating Unicron, as The Matrix is the only thing that can stop him. Unicron reformats the wounded Decepticons, giving them new bodies, including remaking Megatron into Galvatron. The Autobots flee Earth when the new Decepticons attack them, separating them on the planets Junk and Quintessa. Eventually the Autobots reunite and arrive at Cybertron as Unicron transforms and attempts to destroy it. During the battle Hot Rod and Galvatron duel within Unicron's body, where Hot Rod manages to unleash the power of The Matrix, reformatting himself into the new leader, Rodimus Prime, and throws Galvatron into deep space as Unicron is destroyed from within. The Autobots prepare for an age of peace and prosperity, as we see that Unicron's head now orbits Cybertron.

Compared to the 20th Anniversary version, some scenes appeared darker (notably the opening scene where Unicron flies by), but the colour was usually pretty vivid, and maybe even better in some places. Hot Rod actually appears redder instead of pink. Though for some strange reason, the picture quality drops visibly right before the Junkion attack sequence featuring "Weird Al" Yankovic's song Dare To Be Stupid, and partway into the next scene, returns to normal.

I'm not sure how much of the movie my mom actually "got", but as we had toys of several characters featured in the film she at least recognized many of the characters.

The Good: -Considerably more epic than anything that has happened in any episode.

The Bad: -At eighty minutes, it feels short and a little bit rushed in places, especially considering how it has to introduce so many new characters, as well as the Junkions and Quintessons.

The Strange: -According to Wikipedia, some critics didn?t like the animation style at the time. Seriously, what? Also, the backlash against the apparent trauma caused by Optimus Prime?s death allows Duke?s death in the G.I. Joe movie to be rewritten so he?s just in a coma, except in the Japanese version.

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Season 3 - Episodes 66-95

The episodes set after the movie are generally of a darker tone. There are still some ?silly? episodes (Surprise Party, Only Human, Grimlock?s New Brain) but more often than not the Quintessons cause some serious trouble (Five Faces Of Darkness, The Quintesson Journal, The Dweller In The Dept. I'm contemplating picking up Beast Wars and Beast Machines now...

Why is getting them from about $100 cheaper per season than from  It's like $26 in American dollars compared to $124 in Canadian dollars.  Even accounting for the exchange rate and shipping/handling, it's still ridiculously cheaper to buy them from the US.  >_<  If that's about the case for every season, I could save nearly half a grand.

I don't see much point or incentive for Canadians to shop from Canadian web sites if corresponding American web sites have better selection and much better prices...
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: JonLeung on December 11, 2008, 08:37:34 pm
I know, I know.  Wall of text.  Bad formatting.  This was originally going to be a Facebook Note but for some reason I'm temporarily blocked from making Notes.

I'll edit it and fix the formatting soon, but I can't believe I spent as much time on this as I have so I'm kind of tired of this tonight.
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: TerraEsperZ on December 11, 2008, 10:43:07 pm
You have more patience than me. After rediscovering Transformers through Beast Wars, me and a friend rented the pilot "More Than Meet The Eyes".


As 4channers like to say, "Ze Goggles! Zey Do Nothing!" We literally couldn't believe our eyes, and that's when we both realized that nostalgia had really *really* colored our memories of the show. As far as 80s cartoons are concerned, it was definitely above average, but after the overall quality of BW, we found it impossible to go back and take it seriously.

We did enjoy the movie though, if only because for the most part they went a bit more serious and, well, a bit more "professional". It's not the right term, but it didn't have groan-inducing moments like "let's bring this cassette player I just found lying around in the desert into the secret base of my friends!". And the animation mostly kicked ass. And it had Unicron. Enough said.

Anyway, glad you got such a go deal and that you enjoyed it so much!


Current projects: Bucky O'Hare (NES), Metal Storm (NES), Clock Tower (SNES), Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES)
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: JonLeung on December 12, 2008, 07:09:05 am
It's a shame that you didn't like More Than Meets The Eye since it's much better than most episodes.  I also very much like The Rebirth.  Though I guess as the very beginning and the very end of the series they put in more effort into telling a story (though they both also put in more effort into selling the toys for much the same reason).

Now $70 for 98 episodes and the movie is a sweet deal, even if I'll never revisit the majority of the episodes again.  (While I still love the series, I will agree with you that as a cartoon I saw as a kid, some episodes I might have tolerated then are almost unbearable to watch now.)

So why am I so cheap that I won't pay $180 for the 78 episodes of Beast Wars and Beast Machines?  (Or $120 for just the 52 episodes of Beast Wars?)  The higher cost-per-episode ratio is obvious, but you'd think it would be offset by the much better stories.  I think that it's more recent (sad that I now think just over ten years ago is considered "recent") so it's more "fresh" in my mind, plus I caught every episode back then so there's no "new" episodes to see, and I don't have as much nostalgia for the toys (I never owned any Beast Wars toys, other than a brief stint when my friend had me hold on to most of his Transformers collection temporarily, and then I accidentally broke his Tarantulas).  Nostalgia was a big factor in the purchase of G1, I'm sure.

Even though part of me does want to purchase Beast Wars, I think I have better things to do with 22 minutes of my time each day in the next little while (those of you who have heard how busy I am lately would understand), so if I do end up buying it I probably won't watch it all until much later.

I guess I'll buy Beast Wars one day if I ever have a kid (or kids) and if they show an inkling of interest in Transformers.  I'd probably set them up with the "best of G1" and leave most of the bad filler episodes out...which is most of Seasons 2 and 3, like I said...

If I could tolerate the bad episodes, I could do this...

22 minutes x 65 pre-movie episodes = 1430 minutes

Time to swap out the 9-10 discs = 10 minutes

1430 minutes + 10 minutes = 1440 minutes = 24 hours = 1 day

Sounds like a marathon of Transformers would be a day of torture for you, Terra...and if we cut out the redundant opening and credits sequences, you could fit in the movie as well.
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: TerraEsperZ on December 12, 2008, 10:17:17 am
Not exactly torture, but I would probably be doing an MST3K impression all the way through, which would definitely be more interesting. Like you said, there were some very bad episodes, and more importantly, I can't *stand* animation mistakes.

Heck, Reboot is one of my most beloved show, and even it managed to annoy me when they would do a scene where the scenery was put up against a stationary sky background instead of a real dome that would move as the camera moved. G1 is like that to me but to the 10th power.

I could put up with a Beast Wars/Machines and Animated Marathon easily, since those are the recent series I loved the most. An Armada/Energon/Cybertron marathon though? I'd take a cyanide pill before the end of the first opening :)

As to why I haven't bought a single Transformers DVD except for the (animated) movie? It's just harder to put up the cash for those since although they were good and I was fond of them, I don't think I would want to watch them more than once.


Current projects: Bucky O'Hare (NES), Metal Storm (NES), Clock Tower (SNES), Ristar-The Shooting Star (Gen), Sonic The Hedgehog (Gen), Sonic CD (Sega CD), Mega Man Zero (GBA), Battletoads (NES)
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: JonLeung on December 12, 2008, 07:59:12 pm
Updated the first post with better formatting and pictures.
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: Maxim on December 13, 2008, 03:40:15 am
It's a shame they couldn't try a bit harder with the "remastering". Here's the result of a single filter:

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Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: RT 55J on December 13, 2008, 04:30:23 pm
I can't tell the difference.


"its a good day to do what has to be done by me and help my brother to defeat the enemys" - John Freeman
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: Revned on December 13, 2008, 04:50:23 pm
It looks quite a bit less grainy. Cartoons shouldn't be grainy in this day and age.
Title: RE: 100 Days Of Transformers
Post by: StarFighters76 on December 25, 2008, 09:12:21 am
I actually went through and watched all the Transformers series a few months back, including Scramble City and the movie. There's something I never understood about Scramble City though. I understand it was mostly to focus on the combiner sets, as well as Ultra Magnus and the battle cities. But for the combiners, what was the point of switching around the parts? With Bruticus I can understand, as shown in Robots In Disguise with Ruination. But for Menasor, Defensor and Superion?

Season 1 of TF was great, had a pretty continous storyline that spread throughout the 16 episodes. Season 2 was your generic stuff with new Transformers intro's although I must say from "Key To Vector Sigma" onwards, Season 2 got a little better. Too bad they didn't show much more of the Protectobots though, would love to know a backstory with them (since the other combiners got a backstory). Enjoyed Season 3 with the new characters but brought in some older characters. I know Rodimus wasn't no Optimus, but he was okay for a leader. I mean yeah, Magnus should have been leader, but think about it, if he was, who would be the second in command? Sure most would say Kup, but honestly I don't think Kup would do as great a job as Magnus has been doing being second in command. So maybe it was really meant to be like this?

Season 4 was good, but dragged out too long. It felt more like a movie than a 3-parter. And speaking of the movie, well how can anyone go wrong with it. Pure awesome.

Now in regards to "Dark Awakening", I think I got an explanation. I mentioned this on Youtube, and it seems to make sense. At the end we see Optimus ship go ka-boom, but at the beginning of "Return Of Optimus Prime", we see he was saved. My guess is the humans was able to rescue him before his ship went ka-boom in "Dark Awakening". All the Autobots were probably too busy watching the ship drift away to even noticed the human's ship out there. That's my guess on that.


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