Well this was a slice of nostalgia pie and a half. I was into this as a kid but I remember that it didn’t get broadcast and rerun on regular channels as much as other cartoons at the time did. So there was a very large chunk of it I never saw with a handful of episodes on video, the movie and the marvel comics providing most of my knowledge on them. I decided to get on the wagon and watch the entire series of Generation 1 continuity. That is, the original transformer cartoon that was first on air.
The first episodes of Transformers are quite entertaining, the mini series in particular does a good job of establishing the characters and what they’re all about before it becoming a full series. The rest of season 1 wasn’t so bad and with season 2 animation quality increased. But as the series runs on the plot of the episodes become pretty dire. We all like to criticize Michael Bay for the senselessness of his Transformer movies but if you look back on a large portion of the animated series it’s not far off from ridiculous. Lots of episodes are filled with Mcguffin’s of the week and other episodes deal with a Transformer making a new friend of the week. Forget continuity too. Take the Constructicons that were created by Megatron but it later episodes were supposed to be the ones who built Megatron. Why bother trying to make sense of that? The animation errors are beyond obvious, you’ll spot quite a few in each episode. What i’m saying is that re-watching Transformers fully for the first time was almost as painful as my run through of ‘Blake’s 7‘.
Season 3 of the series is a bit of a step up since it tries to keep more continuity between episodes and delves into the Transformer origin story. We also get to see where Unicron came from, which is gobsmackingly awful when you think about his comic origin story in comparison. Despite Optimus Prime being missing for most of season 3 my attention was kept far more often than the bland story of the week shows from season 2. I think leading off the movie gave Transformers a bit of a kick up the arse and shook things up. Between the movie and season 3 Ultra Magnus has grown a new pair, Galvatron has become an insane mustache twirling villain that even his comrades dislike and Rodimus has gone into therapy.
As I watched this series I just thought about how much I prefer the way Marvel comics did G1. At least they introduced character’s properly into the comic series. The animation dropped in new Transformers from out of friggin nowhere while the comics had a mandate to include the characters and try explain their inclusion. The stories in the comics are far more serious and later are rather epic in scale. Hey Paramount, If you’re gonna make more live action Transformer movies the real meat is on these marvel comics.
It was interesting to step back in time and complete a desire from childhood to watch all these episodes from beginning to end. While I frown heavily on the plot the character’s are at least true to their nature unlike the Bay films which are highly distasteful. I always found Peter Cullen’s take on Optimus Prime interesting, he plays it as a character who as he says is “strong enough to be gentle.” But we’ve gone from an Optimus Prime, heroic like John Wayne, in the animation to an Optimus Prime in the live action movies that is more of a Dirty Harry.
The best of this series are the first handful of episodes, the movie and the last 2 seasons, everything else is moot.
Favorite Quote: “There’s a thin line between being a hero and being a memory.” – Optimus Prime