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TFWe Issue 01 Editorial - I Am Transformed

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Old 05-19-2011, 12:17 AM   #1
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TFWe Issue 01 Editorial - I Am Transformed

"I Am Transformed: Why Beast Machines Rocked"
written by Secretcode


There are times when I personally feel that maybe, just maybe, that the majority of the fandom (or at the very least, the loudest part) is over-reacting when something new comes their way. Maybe I'm just over-reacting. I mean, it's not like there was overwelming negative reaction when Animated came around with a new art style. Or when Minicons were introduced in Armada. Or the introduction of a gorilla Optimus. OH WAIT. Whether the loud ones like to admit it or not, there is precedent for people to have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to shooting down the new, even to point of ignoring any and all positive aspects. For the proof of that, one needs to look no further than Beast Machines. How mad did people get from this series? It's been long said that Bob Skir received several death threats because of the way he treated the franchise's legacy, even to the point of cancelling a convention visit in 2000 over the whole incident.

For what it's worth, I was also very quick to jump on the Beast Machines hate when I first saw the show (granted, not to murderous levels.) I don't know if it was the art style, or the change of how characters acted... Or it could be because I was ten and didn't quite understand what was going on or what the writers were going for. A few years ago after rejoining the fandom I saw some of the embarassing reactions that still lingered on about how people felt about the show, even though it was a good six or seven years after the fact. So what did I do? I did what hopefully some of you will do after this article: Rewatched the series. And you know? I'm very glad I did.

Let me get a few things out of the way before this article continues:
  • There will be spoilers in this article. Massive ones. Don't believe me?
  • Rhinox is Tankor. Bam! Follow the rules and no one gets hurt.
  • This article is only on the TV Series. We'll get to the toys another day.
  • Screw Nightscream.

Also, I figure that the easiest way to get this article with minimal repetition is to divide the show up into sections.

Changes
When it came down to it, one of the more reasonable complaints about the show was the stark contrast between the show and it's prequel series, Beast Wars. Whereas Beast Wars was a light-hearted show, Beast Machines took a rather dark and twisted turn. The show is considered by some to a show that revels in philosophy, with underlying concepts that constantly question the ever-expanded dependence on technology that societies have.


Another change was the style of storytelling that was presented between the two shows. Following a series that was highly episodic for the most part, Beast Machines took a drastically different approach when it came down to it, resulting in a show that felt like a single script that was divided into individual parts.

And then there was the art style. Continuing to evolve from the highly emotive and (for the time) high-production values that existed in Beast Wars, Beast Machines took a different approach visually, resulting in a highly saturated, angular, and dynamic art style. The character designs were the biggest change, blending the highly organic and animalistic together with the sleek and technological into a look that is visually striking and a precusor (to an extent) to even more unconventional designs as time goes on.

Characters
One of the biggest other complaints was the characterization that the show had near the very beginning when it came to returning characters, the most of the changes of which could be explained by the harshness of the Beast Wars and the methods of which they survived. Optimus Primal who was at times considered by many to have been turned into a... well... hippie was enriched by the knowledge of the Matrix itself, Cheetor matured into someone capable of leadership (which was a natural progression after the events of Beast Wars' 3rd Season. Yay Robopuberty) and Rattrap turned into a cowardly, weaponless, tech-bot. Not to mention that this is the series that more or less cemented the Beast-era Megatron as the most successful Megatron in the franchise to date. Outside of Megatron and Cheetor, it wasn't a smooth transition, but as the series went on the characters began to shift into a natural role. Well... most of them.


That's where Silverbolt and, most notoriously, Rhinox come into play. Both characters were rapidly different from their Beast Wars counterparts by having their sparks extracted and turned into Jetstorm and Tankor, respectively, and they both would wind up redeeming themselves later on down the road (Silverbolt would return to the Maximals in this series and eventually reawaken his White Knight persona, whereas Rhinox would have to wait for the Universe comics for his own personal redemption.)

New character wise we've recieved a new "Kid" character in the form of Nightscream, the Beast-to-Beast Transformer (Which was technically Megatron) Savage/Noble, the controversal plantbot Botanica (which still strikes a nerve in the fandom. Ask Derrick J. Wyatt about the reactions from his Animated Botanica design.) and the Vehicon Generals: Strika and Obsidian. The additions may have been controversial, but when you get to actually watch the show you'll possibly learn to enjoy most of the cast. I still think Savage/Noble/Megatron is one of the best plot-twists in the franchise history.Still not all that keen on Nightscream though.

Seriously. Screw Nightscream.

Story
No matter what complaints I have about the show, the story-telling redeemed it and was the true back-bone of the show. Like I mentioned earlier in this article, the way that Beast Machines was created was very different than that of other cartoon (Or other shows, period) in that it was written as a single solid story divided up into 26 episodes rather than "Okay so here's the start of the show, here's the end of the show and at some point we need to get to these plots points that I charted out here, here and here." There's actually solidity in this show, and while I appreciate that, it's not always a good thing. Why is that? Let's just say the US airing of the show was handled very poorly.


This show aired weekly on Saturdays on the (now long dead) Fox Kids programming block, with a really wacked out schedule. Only the first five episodes aired in a solid weekly format, followed by reruns of Beast Wars for two months. And then it went even more ridiculous. After 2 episodes, the entire show (all 7 aired episodes) went into constant rerun status for ten months until the rest of the season was slammed out weekly and then put on another two month hiatus, followed up by all of Season 2 being rushed out weekly again for three months. What's my whole point to this airing rant?

Think about it for a second. On shows that are highly episodic, it doesn't really matter what order you watch things, and this style of airing the show could work. But with this show? No. That just will not work, which I guess is one of the many advantages that we have in this time. We can just watch the series without having to guess what episode is coming up next, whether or not you know if you missed anything and whatnot. It becomes a solid piece of storytelling, and (I really hate using this word. It's too overused) an epic one at that.

Also there was this revelation about Cybertron being an organic planet at it's core or something. Nothing major.

The Long-Term
Whether one wants to admit it or not, Beast Machines had a lasting effect on the franchise. So many core concepts from the series have critically enhanced the franchise's mythology, as well as expanding on previous concepts and locations such as Sparks, Vector Sigma, The Plasma Energy Generator and even the Cybertronian origins themselves.

And then the numerous contributions to the franchise that have continue to be in full force even to this very day with mass produced drones (Vehicons/Eradicons, TF: Prime), Techno-Organics (Blackarachnia/Waspinator, Animated) as well as the returns of characters from this show as well in other series (Cheetor/Strika/Jetstorm, also Animated) leaving behind a legacy that truly has impacted the show, despite all the initial hatred.

Final Word
I will say this: Beast Machines never deserved all the hate it recieved initially, and neither did the writers. They were breathing new life into the series and they did a hell of a job. So what if the show changed so much about the franchise? Change and new ideas breathe new life into the old, and wasn't that the whole point of the show's story in the long run? That no matter how drastic, sometimes change could be for the greater good. There's really no point on getting so worked up about something that many didn't want to give a single chance.

Luckily, times have changed. We've had Animated, The Movieverse and now Transformers Prime prove that no matter how out there the designs are or how different the story is, that everything deserves a chance.


But not Nightscream. Screw Nightscream.

Where can you watch this series? A few years back a brand new DVD set of the complete series was released and can still be found quite easily. There are other methods of course, but I will ask to not discuss them in this thread. You know who would discuss them anyway? Nightscream.

Screw Nightscream.
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Last edited by Secretcode; 05-19-2011 at 12:25 AM..
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:28 PM   #2
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It doesnt deserve the hate but it definitely has mine!!!
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:36 PM   #3
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That, sir, was brilliant. BMac was one of my favorite shows, particularly because of its dark, serious, and non-episodic nature. I saw it online back when transformers.com had full episodes of old shows up for viewing during the Unicron Trilogy days. I loved it. I'm still trying to convince my mom to let me buy the DVD box set on Amazon (she's very anti-Transformers and anti-technology and anti-things-I-want; it's a mom thing). I have never understood why people disliked it as if it were the brother of Kiss Players or something! Your essay (oh, sorry, "editorial") has further solidified this as one of the best shows in my opinion. And of course, TFW's own Shane Anderson has helped the cause greatly. (Heck, until Prime's Knock Out, Obsidian was my favorite character!)

P.S. Be nice to Nightscream. He only needs a haircut, really.
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:43 PM   #4
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Your essay (oh, sorry, "editorial") has further solidified this as one of the best shows in my opinion. And of course, TFW's own Shane Anderson has helped the cause greatly. (Heck, until Prime's Knock Out, Obsidian was my favorite character!)
I fully admit it was basically an essay...

And yeah. Reading Shane's comic and seeing the Megabolt toy in it resparked my interest in the show before I registered here. I just never got the chance to give it a proper.... chance...
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:38 PM   #5
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Really nice read. It makes me wanna watch through all of BM to form my own opinions on the show, as I lost interest after the first couple episodes when it originally aired (and considering the screwed up airing schedule, I'm not surprised I lost interest).

You mentioned that you weren't gonna bring up the toys for this editorial, but I really think that half of the ill-will toward the series was how messed up the line was, maybe not entirely in engineering (though its definitely a partial reason), but also because many of the toys (especially the first half of the line) were not even remotely show-accurate, and the ones that were, were drastically out of scale to the point of bothering even those who usually don't care all that much about scale.
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:39 PM   #6
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Beast Machines deinitley rocked. Before I found this forum it's what got me digging around on the internet for Transformer stuff to begin with.

This show actually had quite a few twists that through me for a loop. "The Catalyst" blew my head open when I learned the identities of Thrust and Jetstorm.

And cmon, Nightscream wasn't THAT bad.

Ok... He didn't need that hair hanging in front of his face!
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:51 PM   #7
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Nice article..well done Secretcode..and I'm one of those who back in the day couldn't or didn't have the time to keep up with this series and lost interest. Then again, I didn't care for BW at the time either.. I know..gasp!!... thankfully we grow up and some of us mature enough to really appreciate this entire Beast series now..and take the time to show it to the next generation, who should know the beastly part of TF history too!!

Ahhhh..Nightscream...was tolerable.
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Old 05-24-2011, 01:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Secretcode View Post
Reading Shane's comic and seeing the Megabolt toy in it resparked my interest in the show before I registered here.
Actually, I was talking about Obsidian's Lament, not Shane's Comics. But Megabolt is great, too! XD
Quote:
Originally Posted by edgs2099 View Post
Transformers: MTMTE #89: Shortage
Inconvenience! It's ULTRA MAGNUS'S turn to host CYBERTRONIAN HIGH TEA, and SWERVE is nowhere to be found! Who will brew the tea? Did CYCLONUS and TAILGATE remember to bring the ENERGON Scones? Why wasn't RAVAGE invited?
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Old 05-24-2011, 01:47 AM   #9
I give you: RoboCop 2!


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Actually, I was talking about Obsidian's Lament, not Shane's Comics. But Megabolt is great, too! XD
Speaking of that comic, Shane and I recently resourced it here: Obsidian's Lament - Transformers Fan Art - TFW2005.COM

I'm pretty thrilled to have it resourced now
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Old 06-01-2011, 04:37 PM   #10
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Great article. I'm with you almost 100%. Only differences in my experiences were

-My initial reaction of disappointment/hatred was at Beast Wars.. (What.. this isn't G1?? )
-After watching Beast Wars again around 2003 on DVD (Burned through S1 and S2) I couldn't wait for S3 to come out.

Beast Machines was a smooth transition for me and just as interesting. Like you, I initially loathed Nightscream, but he's not so bad now. I even bought his MISB Ultra figure just last week. I also liked Botanica. The kiss with Ratrap still turns my stomach, though

The only issue I have with Beast Machines is the ending. I'll admit I don't read the comics, so pehaps there's more to it afterwards. It's a small quibble, though. The entire series was great with nary a 'slow' episode.
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