beastwars
Maximals! Maximise!

I liked the original Transformers, but I wasn’t a huge fan. The show that really got me into Transformers was Beast Wars. Transformers Prime reminds me a lot of the Beast Wars. Beast Wars was a CG (computer generated) show based upon the Transformers universe. It was set in the future after the original series, and focused on two groups, the Maximals and the Predacons. Both sides are robotic in nature, but can change into an animal form. Hence “Transformers”. The Maximals are the descendants of the Autobots, and the Predacons are the descendants of the Decepticons. The story starts with the Maximals who are chasing down a ship that is manned by several Predacons. The Predacons manage to ambush the Maximals, and cause critical damage. The Maximals decide to eject some of their crew, who are sleeping unaware in stasis pods, into safe orbit around the planet. In one last gamble, they blind fire a salvo at the enemy Predacon ship. Luckily it hits, also causing the Predacon ship to rapidly descend towards the planet’s surface. The ships crash in different parts of the planet, but unfortunately for the Maximals, they are outnumbered and outgunned. They must try and survive this strange environment, as well as the deadly Predacons who are stuck on the planet with them.

I remember loving Beast Wars as a kid, and so, as an adult I decided to get my hands on it again and re-watch it. The first thing I thought was “Great. I should have just left my childhood memories untouched.” Not only was the animation terrible, but the story and writing was pretty bad as well. But there was a voice nagging at the back of my mind and telling me “Don’t worry, it gets better.” My childhood memories were not destroyed as the show I knew and loved found it’s stride towards the end of the first season and turned into the gripping sci-fi show I knew and loved. To this day, Beast Wars still has one of the best episodes of television I have ever seen. “Code of Hero” is an amazing episode that shows how one of the most interesting, and morally conflicted characters, finally finds peace. Dinobot, a violent warrior who followed his own kind of honor, eventually finds himself and his purpose, but only by making the ultimate sacrifice. As a 28 year old man, I am not ashamed to admit that this episode still brings me to tears. Dinobot’s struggle with his own demons, as well as his overcoming them, will remain one of my most cherished memories of television. But what’s all this about Beast Wars? I thought you were going to talk about Transformer’s Prime? I wanted to briefly discuss Beast Wars, because, apart from the fact that they are from the same franchise, the shows share a lot of other similarities. But I’m going to ask you to bear with me a tiny bit longer, while I give you a bit of background on Transformers Prime.

The_Hub_-_Transformers_Prime_Poster2
Autobots! Roll out!

Transformers Prime is loosely based on the movies. The character designs, and some of the characters themselves, are lifted almost entirely from the Michael Bay movies. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing. The story is a bit different in that Transformers Prime picks up with a group of Autobots, who are led by Optimus Prime, hiding out on earth while battling a group of Decepticons, led by Megatron. Three children, Jack, Miko, and Rafael are drawn into the world of the Transformers when they accidentally discover their identities.

I started off this piece by introducing Beast Wars, because, like Beast Wars, I didn’t really enjoy Transformers Prime when I first started watching it. Firstly, the animation, while not being terrible, wasn’t as mind blowing as I was hoping it to be. It went for a pretty simple style, but it’s a style that eventually grew on me. Secondly, it seemed to be aimed more at kids than teenagers. While a character does die right near the beginning of the show, it just seemed that the show was dealing with things that might be relevant to the three human characters, who are basically still kids. This ties into my next problem with the show. Thirdly, a lot of the stories in the first season focus on the human characters. How do you make Jack, a 16 year old boy with no special abilities or skills, relevant in a war between gigantic robotic titans? I will give the writers credit that some of the early episodes, despite being obviously written to include the human characters, were (in context) pretty good. Unfortunately, there was one point when I almost gave up on Transformers Prime, and that was because of one character: Miko.

Wipe that smirk off your face you annoying little shit.
Wipe that smirk off your face you annoying little shit.

Miko is meant to be this little “strong-willed” Asian girl who, while searching for adventure, usually ends up in trouble. I think at some point the writers must have realised, “Oh crap, we might have gone to far.” There were so many episodes where I literally wanted to slap Miko and scream at her! If there was ever a character that was a liability, it was her! She would never listen, almost got people and Autobots killed on several occasions, and worst of all, she never learnt from her mistakes! What kind of an idiot are you? Good grief! Ok, she did manage to make the best of a couple of really bad situations, but this was usually the exception rather than the rule. Thankfully, the writers managed to dial her back a lot and actually made me feel sorry for her at one point, but it didn’t really matter because the writers for Transformers Prime, like the writers for Beast Wars, started to figure a whole lot of stuff out that put the show on a much better path. They began by reducing the screen time for the human characters (thank God). I still stand by the fact that if a character is written well, and a writer is able to create a strong emotional connection with the audience, it doesn’t matter if ┬áthat character is a giant robot, a demon, or a 10 year old boy! An audience can and will empathise with them! In Transformers Prime we already had an entire group of well rounded characters in the form of the Autobots, and even some of the Decepticons, so by the time season one started building up to it’s climax, the human characters were barely featured. This continued with the second season, which saw much more of a focus on the Autobot characters and their history. The writers also realised that their target market was not in fact children, but, like with Beast Wars, it was actually teenage and adult males. So while the show still kept things PG, it definitely began to include themes, stories, and action that would appeal to an older male audience.

Autobots, roll out!
Autobots, roll out!

So, the reason I wrote this piece was this: if you’re a fan of great cartoons, or just a fan of Transformers, you should definitely take a look at this show. Even if you aren’t a fan of either, but you just want something that’s a fun watch, you should definitely take a look at Transformers Prime. You’ll start off watching it once in a while, maybe when you’re bored and have nothing better to do, but after a while you’ll realise that you’re hooked and can’t wait to get to the next episode! While Transformers Prime has yet to have an episode as great as “Code of Hero” from Beast Wars, the first two seasons have been great and you should definitely check it out.

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