Community TF cartoon rewatch thread v1.0: The Transformers (G1)

Discussion in 'Transformers Cyberverse and Cartoon Discussion' started by Liege Nemesis, May 31, 2019.

  1. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    Rebuilding older characters into new ones is something I think they could stand to do more often. And not just in a lazy recolor way like Soundwave and Blaster into Soundblaster and Twincast. It works well to play at that metaphor of the inexperienced or eager young character growing up into a more prominent role.


    [​IMG]

    (I know it's not the same episode. I don't care :lol )


    I like the matrix as a concept the way it was at the start where it just was, as you put it, a shiny bauble that signified Optimus and Hot Rod were worthy of being leader. I like the idea that it essentially "chooses" the bot that already possess the qualities necessary to be a good leader and that as a benefit it does add some additional perks like access to the collected knowledge/wisdom of past leaders (including memories of historical events). It works that way because it helps validate that the guy in charge should be in charge because he really is that good. And it works for a situation like Rodimus where he has to struggle to balance the fact that the Matrix chose him with his belief that he can't possibly live up to Optimus' legacy.

    I just didn't like it here because having Optimus admit he had no plan is a bad look because it seems to imply that he's smart on his own, he was just propped up by the Matrix. And because taking it away from Rodimus is a slap in the face to the whole 'chosen one' narrative that had been wrapped around Hot Rod since the movie. Not that I want to put too much stock into what I think is a mediocre show in Zone, but I liked the idea there that Star Saber steps aside to allow the new guy, Dai Atlas to become the leader after he proves himself capable. It would've been interesting to almost set up Optimus in a sort of Alpha Trion like advisor or senior leader/coordinator role while Rodimus retained operational leadership of the Autobots.
     
  2. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    I've got my rewatch of Rebirth Pt 1 in the can, just need to write up the review portion. Maybe I'll have that done tonight. I'm hoping to at least also watch half of, if not all of Part 2 before I go to bed so that I can finish everything off tomorrow. At that point I'll also reveal what our plan is moving forward.
     
  3. Distant1

    Distant1 Well-Known Member

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    Just on Return of Optimus Prime. I really like the end where Galvatron shakes Optimus Prime's hand. If the series, ended at that point, IMO, it would have been a good point to go out on.
     
  4. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    I agree. His whole (decidedly non-crazy) line about how there'll be no more war that day, but the next time the two meet will not be so civil and even the scene after with the Touch playing in the background has a very "the adventure continues..." feel to it that would've been a great ending to go out on with the promise that there are more adventures happening off-screen and that it's not the end of the Transformers story.

    Still pissed that they jobbed Rodimus out so lazily (and spoiler alert: The Rebirth has Hot Rod settled into such a groove that it's like he wasn't even Rodimus at all.), but as far as endings that bring Optimus back this would've been a solid one.
     
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  5. Distant1

    Distant1 Well-Known Member

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    On Rebirth and spoilers, I really do not like the line when one Autobot says something like the Decepticons must be scattered around the galaxy, from memory because of what Optimus did. For continuity, I just wish that Transformer could of said that the Decepticons numbers have been significantly reduced because of the Hate Plague, or words to that effect.
     
  6. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't have minded it, either. It was a perfect way to end the series on. The Rebirth is... kind of a mess. To put it mildly.
     
  7. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    THE REBIRTH (ALL 3 PARTS)

    THE SHORT VERSION
    This is how G1 ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

    REVIEW
    You know that Simpsons episode with Fat Tony and Marge's pretzel business where he demands the money owed to him (if you're not familiar, rest assured this does make sense in context) and says "you have twenty-four hours to deliver the money. And to show we're serious, you have twelve hours."? You know that bit? That's the Rebirth.

    It's a probable hour and a half to two hours of story that was crammed as tightly as possible into a runtime that barely topped 60 minutes. That meant there had to be a ton of shortcuts taken and content excised or ignored. And since this was a commercial to sell toys, the parts that were getting cut weren't the superfluous bits that give names and personality-establishing one-liners to its cast of new bots on the shelf. The result is lightspeed-quick mess that spends half its time giving over two dozen new characters mini-showcases while only barely keeping a story thread running through which can tether it all together.

    Very little of this story lands securely and entertainingly. Optimus' vision drives him to get involved but for the most part doesn't actually mean anything to the action that's going on. The war on Nebulos (or Nebulon) gets a passing mention but we don't really learn much of anything about any of the characters involved before they link up with the Transformers. Even the battles themselves are confusing messes as new characters we neither know nor in many cases can even care about are thrown into the fray with such abandon that sometimes it's hard to even figure out who's doing what and with whom else unless you are intricately familiar with everything about every G1 character.

    What also doesn't help is the animation. TFWiki praises the animation for this episode as some of the smoothest in the series. But that seems to have come at the price of it having much, if any detail in many cases. Bland backgrounds, simplistic character models, washed out colors, a lack of almost any shading whatsoever and numerous coloring and modeling errors make the episode uninteresting in spite of its smoothness.

    Dispite my misgivings with The Return of Optimus Prime, it at least ended on a much more solid note than this episode did. For what turned out to be the swan song of G1 in the west, we get what ends up feeling like an incredibly watered down version of the season 1 pilot. But while that 3-parter introduced a handful of interesting characters with a fairly tight plot and exciting visuals, this one throws a bunch of nonsense at you, gives you a ton of characters you'll see once and never again to no impact on the story, and ends up feeling far more cartoony than much of what came before.

    I actually feel bad that this leg of the project ends on his note, because up until now I've been pleasantly surprised with how my "Critical eye" approach to the series worked out better than I expected. I figured I'd end up giving out a depressing number of Cs and Ds along the way to long stretches of mediocre filler episodes. But instead I've rediscovered that much of G1 carries a lot of charm and fun if you're willing to look past the inconsistent visual quality and sometimes slapdash plotting. But The Rebirth is basically what most people say is wrong with G1. It's 60 minutes of nonsensical action where it couldn't be clearer that the driving desire is to sell toys to kids. And that's a shame, because the last ride for the most iconic iteration of the series deserved better than this.

    THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS
    -Check out that new intro sequence. On the one hand look at all that shading. On the other hand, look at all that simplistic animation that I'm pretty sure they just cribbed from toy commercials that are richly detailed but short on framerate.

    -funny that the episode begins with a piece of early season 1/2 music that we haven't heard for ages. It felt like as season 3 progressed they leaned more heavily into the newer synch score and now all of a sudden it rolls back to this bit of background.

    -Goldbug suddenly has a gold mouthplate. Also I don't like how his mouthplate has "depth" at the top and his nose just sort of melts/clips into the plate as he talks. Though part of that is simply an issue of camera angle. I imagine Optimus would've had that same problem if he had been viewed from a high angle more often.

    -The master transfer for this episode is odd. I seems a bit on the dark side, especially noticeable in the scene transition insignia.

    -Scattershot reports "a hundred blips" headed right for them. Are there even 100 different Decepticons that have been shown in the series to this point?

    -Ahh, I almost missed that gimpy AKOM Optimus model with the white 'backpack' and grey mohawk on his helmet. Like I miss the sensation of slamming my hand in a car door.

    -After vaguely appearing in TROOP (the last episodes. I'm not writing that whole title out), it's our first real look at the Throttlebots, including voices and characterization (as much as they can get in 10-15 seconds). Like with Goldbug, I have a soft spot for the Throttlebots in general because I had 3 of them growing up. I might have mentioned this in the last recap or two. I can't recall. I know I talked about Goldbug, but I also had (and still have... somewhere) Rollbar and Wide Load.)

    -I love that the limited amount of time to introduce all these new characters has necessitated bots introducing each other instead of just themselves. So instead of the usual hurling of insults, Autobots refer to Decepticons by name and vice versa because it saves time. It's both a refreshing change of pace to have enemies refer to each other by name and hilariously transparent about just how little time this 3-parter had to cram in the introduction of like 2 dozen new characters (including barely seen and barely introduced ones like the Throttlebots.)

    -It strikes me as funny in either continuity (this one or The Headmasters) that Mindwipe is basically treated as if he has legitimate magical hypnotism instead of some sort of technological answer (like Bombshell's cerebro shell tech)

    -Punch/Counterpunch's voice is given to one of the Decepticon Twins as they break into whatever they're breaking into. I probably shouldn't get hung up on it though. It's an AKOM episode, so mistakes abound.

    -That said, the shame in this orgy of character intros and show-off moments is that we are robbed of ever getting something more fun to do with a few of the neat new ideas like the pairs of "twins" or especially Punch/Counterpunch. The idea of a spy who can play on either side is fun, and even more fun if they ever went down the road of "which version is the real one and which is the disguise?" stories. One has to wonder how long they could feasibly stretch out telling that sort of story before it becomes painful that nobody figures out truth (or even why nobody would ever think from the very beginning that a race of shape-changing robots might end up with a bot or two capable of changing between multiple robot modes for just such a purpose and being instantly suspicious of anyone who has a convenient and similarly designed "counterpart" on the other faction). But it's still very much a "what might have been" moment.

    -What he hell does Wingspan or Pounce (I dunno which one it is) say when Punch attacks them? I sounds like a bad line cut. Almost as if it's "It's Punch-dealer!", making me question if the original plan was to feature Doubledealer instead of Punch and the change was made late in the game, or if the name was assigned to Punch before it was switched up. Doubledealer's Toy is listed as a 1988 release whereas Punch and this episode came out in 1987. But it was November of 1987 for this first airing, so who's to say that Doubledealer's debut wasn't just a couple months off or that it may have been pushed back a little bit. Of course, it's also just as likely that I'm mishearing the line entirely and all this supposition was for nothing.

    -Punch goes down like a chump to Pounce. Makes me wonder if he took a dive and Counterpunch is the one in the drivers' seat :lol 

    -Magnus calls the Technobots to charge, and then we see 4 bots take 2 steps forward before transforming and firing (why they couldn't fire in robot mode? Shut up. That's why.) But the most interesting thing is that our 4 TEchnobots are Nosecone, Lightspeed, Afterburner, and Wide Load. He's been on the Throttlebots for like a couple months by this point and already he wants to jump ship. Also as much as he might hope, I doubt he's able to transform into an arm or leg for Computron.

    -The Decepticons break off their attack after having secured "the key", a random macguffin that's never been alluded to before but turns out to have massive significance. Kinda like the Matrix!

    -Hey, it's Galvatron's ship from The Movie. The Revenge! Glad to see they're still getting some use out of it.

    -Interestingly the Decepticons retreat to the ship and go in what looks for all the world like a shuttle/loading bay. Except no sooner are they in that the engine powering-up nois plays and that "bay" glows brightly like a thruster. So all the Decepticons flew into one of the thruster nozzles at the back, the engines powered up, and they were all horrifically melted to death and fused into a massive blob of molten living metal. Hardcore.

    -And so on Cybertron we get what is the eventual impetus for the Headmaster and Targetmaster tech: the idea that the Transformers are better off with a co-pilot of sorts so they don't have to divide their attention. It makes sense when it's Daniel shooting targets away while Hot Rod can focus on driving, but how does it make sense to have Daniel declare he's going to work Hot Rod's pedals while Hot Rod just focuses on steering? 1) The pedals are basically an affectation since Hot Rod controls his own speed. 2) Speed control is part of turning and would have to best be worked in concert. What happens if Hot Rod goes to make a sharp turn and Daniel floors it at the same time? They're worse off dividing up the work like this and 3) Surely a millions-of-years-old bot is perfectly capable of driving himself around in vehicle mode with no issues whatsoever. Blurr wiping out is more about Blurr being anxious and jittery and getting ahead of himself than it is a lack of a co-pilot.

    -During the conversation about the potential for a human/cybertronian partnership, Kup talks about if the Decepticons return. If? Why are we acting as if they've been gone or defeated for a long time? This isn't the immediate post-movie timeframe, and the last time we saw the 'cons (which was a couple months ago in-universe based on dialogue in this episode) Galvatron basically promised that they had only achieved peace for the one day in which the hate plague was cured and that the Decepticons would be back soon enough.

    -Every Autobot leader has been charged with guarding the key to the Plasma Energy Chamber with his life. Even though Hot Rod shows absolutely zero indication that he knows what it is when Kup questions the key's importance. It's like after Optimus came back they decided to just forget Rodimus Prime ever existed.

    -Damn Aerialbots, continuing to get screentime into season 4 when the Protectobots can barely be allowed to show up more than once or twice every dozen episodes...

    -It's our most intensely obvious "demonstrate the toy" moment in this whole trilogy as Sixshot quickly flips through every one of his modes in the span of like 30 seconds, gets a pithy one-liner to top it off, and is never seen again. Rumor has it that he went back to community college to finish his Ninja Consultancy degree. (I might as well start making call-forward Headmasters jokes at this point. We're close enough)

    -Nice sorta-reuse of the shuttles from The Movie. Sort of, given bland AKOM model makeovers.

    -The Plasma Energy Chamber seems like a terrible "foundry" given what it looks like and how it behaves.

    -Why is Cerebros seemingly no affected by the raging plasma energy storm the way Scourge was?

    -Worth noting at this point that our massive set of Autobots features next to no "classic" characters from before the movies besides the Aerialbots. Bots like Perceptor, Grimlock, Blaster, and Soundwave are all done for and make no appearances in this 3-parter. But perhaps they don't even get it as harsh as a handful of post-movie characters who are gone without explanation. Most notably Trypticon and Metroplex (to make way for Scorponok and Fortress Maximus to take the reins as the new "giant city-bot" members of their factions), the Sweeps (since we no longer have need of Scourge-clone filler troops with all the new characters) and most shockingly, Springer. I didn't mention it at the time, but "The Burden Hardest to Bear" was the final appearance for Springer in G1. He doesn't fare much better in Japan either, as he'll make a couple of fleeting appearances in the first 4 episodes before being cast aside there as well. Tough break for an always criminally underused member of the post-Movie cast. One could even argue that by virtue of this episode, he comes out even worse than Arcee does, since at least this episode gives her a primary storyline, something Springer never got aside from his brief dalliance partnering with Razorclaw in Nightmare Planet.

    -New commercial bumpers featuring Headmaster characters like Scorponok and Highbrow (who has really awful faded colors, looking purple and tan instead of his proper blue and silver)

    -It's kind of funny that Brainstorm is almost being treated like the leader of what will become the Headmaster group here, knowing that in Japan that mantle is going to be taken largely by Chromedome and his wildly different personality in that version compared to his western bio.

    -I keep having to go back to TF Wiki to identify all these new characters. I can tell very few of their identities by just their cartoon models.

    -Cyclonus opening up Scourge and powering him up is a cool idea that would've been fun to use more often in the series. How much anyone remembers that they're still just giant robots that can be repaired and jumpstarted on the fly seems to vary wildly from episode to epiode. I guess you can make the case for it being dehumanizing to their characters, but it also would help play up their alien nature.

    -Is Crosshairs supposed to sound like Jack Nicholson?

    -:lol  I'm surprised it took until this episode for someone to realize they could shut Blurr up by force.

    -Not a fan of Arcee's "hang on, Daniel" line reading. It sounds motherly, but not concerned.

    -I've kind of missed Kup's rambling old Grandpa-Simpson-esque war stories. I wonder if he ever tied an onion to his belt. :lol 

    -If Nebulon is an uncharted planet with no awareness of the wider galaxy (and vice versa), how do the Nebulons know what a human is?

    -Optimus sends Fastlane and Cloudraker to search the planet, so why is Punch going with them?

    -Man, a new season and it only gets the 2 new bumpers. Their budget really is slipping.

    -Where is Daniel when the Nebulons and Spike are leaving the cave to blow up the Autobots? He's just vanished for now until it's time for him to be plot-relevant again.

    -Given all the blink-and-you'll-miss-it debuts and departures, it's a little refreshing to see Apeface again after he already did his thing at the start of the episode.

    -I like Slugslinger. He should've gotten more screentime based on that voice/personality alone.

    -Daniel deserved that. Seriously, what did he think he was going to do jumping onto a giant Transformer like that?

    -So Hot Rod went from being the leader of the Autobots to getting knocked out and kidnapped by some random mooks.

    -#1) No, Arcee, Daniel didn't save your life. He barely did anything. #2) It's kind of bad to call him her "dearest friend in all the world" given how rarely they interacted after the movie. It certainly couldn't have been too difficult to give them a bit more lead-up to this story.

    -Wait, now the planet is called Nebulos? What happened to Nebulon? I always thought it was Nebulos, but when the episode said Nebulon earlier I figured I just must've been mistaken. Now I don't know what to think?

    -That Nebulon totally didn't sound like Marissa Faireborn :lol 

    -The Nebulon background that is provided is actually pretty cool.

    -How silly the Nebulons' names sound when applied to organic beings stand out when they're being introduced.

    -When the Autobots pull off their heads for the end of the episode, I'm always reminded of that one cover from the US comics series thath as Fort Max tearing off his head and leaving a bunch of exposed wires and parts. This is so clean and nonchelant that it really draws attention to how odd it is that they can so easily remove their heads.

    -The fact that Arcee was put into the Headmaster group in spite of never having a proper G1 toy is kind of surprising. In fact, it's a shame that in the 30+ years since this episode they've failed to give us a proper, original Arcee headmaster toy at all (the only one being a minor rejiggering of a Blurr figure as a convention/online exclusive a couple years ago)

    -In going to look up if there ever was a headmaster Arcee, I did learn that apparently Hasbro was highly resistant to including Arcee in the series at all. Ron Friedman actually had to fight with Hasbro reps to get her character included in the movie because they didn't see the value in a female character for the series. He had to explain to them that his daughter loved The Transformers and that there were girls who liked the franchise and that having a girl bot would be something useful for them to connect to. It's really cool to know that Arcee was a hard-fought bit of progressiveness and tip of the cap to the idea of there being a fanbase beyond the narrow range of 6-12 year old kids they would be selling toys to. It's also worth noting from that same interview that Friedman apparently had to fight for the inclusion of Spike and Sparkplug as humans for the characters to interact with. It's kind of funny how over the years the view of humans in Transformers fiction has morphed to hte point that the detractors act like it's an annoying edict of Hasbro to include "viewpoint" characters when all fans want are robots fighting each other, and yet here's the original human viewpoint characters who were alleged to be hard sells to get Hasbro to allow their inclusion.

    -As an aside to reading that interview, it's refreshing to see that Friedman took writing it very seriously. He talks about symbolism and allusions and story and character structure in a way that shows he cared about what he was doing, contrary to someone like Don Glut who has basically said he crapped out first drafts riddled with "who gives a damn" levels of attention to detail, fired them off to the Sunbow offices, and cashed his paycheques without a care in the world. One could argue that Friedman sounds at times like he's taking it too seriously, but I'll live with that over frivolous indifference.

    -You know, I feel like somehow this review is a little emblematic of how I started the project off being snarky at the beginning and now it's very straightforward. I don't know if it's a symptom of covering 98 episodes in just under half a year, but somewhere along the way I feel like I lost my edge a bit.

    -I forgot to mention this at the end of the last episode, but it's disappointing that the entire season 4 credit sequence is just scenes from these episodes with no other info and nothing from earlier parts of the series.

    -It also wasn't really worth mentioning that this 3-parter was written by David Wise, who I've already covered a couple of times before when his other episodes have come up. The only thing of interest is the bit of common knowledge that this was supposed to be a 5-part episode before it was cut to 3 episodes (presumably for budget reasons) and then became the only remnants of the aborted 4th season when it was decided the brand was no longer profitable enough to carry a cartoon to advertise with.

    -The look of the separated heads of the headmasters is a little odd, mostly because Brainstorm seems to separate part of his shoulders along with his head and neck (something no other Headmaster appears to do)
    [​IMG]

    -On further review, it appears his "shoulder" segment is actually just a really badly modeled version of the sides of his usual "helmet" assembly. Whoever drew the separated head didn't seem to have a good grasp of perspective without his body in place.

    -How the hell quickly did everyone do this work? We see the heads set down, then Spike tinkers with them externally, then all of a sudden we see the back of Hardhead's head and he's got an organic-being-specific command center inside.

    -:lol  ouch. Take that, Highbrow. It's funny though that here Gort is treated as something of a leader for the Nebulons whereas his toy bio plays off Gort's displeasure with his option of Autobot partner by framing him as a sort of heroic down-home everyman type, which clashes with Highbrow being a stuck-up elitist jerk. So the bit of humor here works if you understand the characters' toy bio origins, but falls a bit flat if your only background is their brief cartoon introductions.

    -There's something distinctly "off" about this Spike. I'm not sure if it's the long, slender head, the square jaw, or the distractingly bushy eyebrows, but something about it haunts me.
    [​IMG]

    -This whole process makes no sense. all they did was stick the Nebulons and Daniel into the heads and stick the heads back on. There's absolutely no description or depiction of any sort of process to making all of this work. And specifically for Daniel there's on indication on why he's able to function within Arcee's head without any medical equipment when he needed all sorts of devices just to stay alive outside of her structure.

    -This battle doesn't really do a good job of convincing us as the audience of the value and benefit of the bonding process. Nothing the Autobots do with their bonded partners is particularly amazing or necessitated the Nebulons needing to be inside their heads. Except maybe for Arcana taking the controls from Brainstorm to make the killshot.

    -Ha, one of the Hive members says "exterminate! exterminate!", thus tipping off everyone that David Wise is a Doctor Who nerd.

    -Great leader, Optimus. Just abandon the battle and run off into the bowels of Cybertron with no explanation. That's something Rodimus would do, but at least he has the excuse of impetuousness.

    -Man, Blurr's got some full lips. Is there Cybertronian botox?
    [​IMG]

    -Even though he's no longer the leader, it's cool that Hot Rod still shows some leader-like tendencies such as baiting Scourge to torture him instead of Kup or Blurr. Seems like he's a better leader right now than Optimus.

    -Wow, is the transformation of Arcee's head into Daniel in an exosuit (an extremely oversized exosuit) ever bad. It's nothing bit a giant cheat.

    -AKOM's Vector Sigma is a lot less impressive than Toei's

    -The shell of the Matrix (which somehow is still glowing blue internally as if it has its materials inside) can activate Vector Sigma? Since when? And why didn't they do that in The Key to Vector Sigma instead of necessitating Alpha Trion sacrificing himself? I know the meta answer is that the Matrix didn't exist yet, but come on, this just makes for a giant, eye-rolling plot hold.

    -However, the worse crime is the casual way that Optimus just shoves the Matrix into the side of Vector Sigma and it vanishes.
    [​IMG]

    -The way we keep jumping back and forth between the 2 or 3 major plot lines is kind of distracting. Just pick a story and stick with it for a bit.

    -Galvatron's ship sure changed is appearance between last episode and this one. And then it blew up.

    -The Nebulons said that the Hive members' bodies became useless as a result of them relying on their mental powers. So why does Zarak look like he lives at the gym?
    [​IMG]

    -Also note when the Cons fall onto the conveyor belt that the pieces that will eventually become Scorponok are in the background, already sporting a big Decepticon logo on them.

    -I really am disappointed that there's only one set of commercial bumpers for this season. It would've been nice if they could've let us see a few of the new characters.

    -One of the background Hive members looks suspiciously like a Lithone. I though they were wiped out once Kranix died in the movie? First Nancy and now this guy. This is like all those times Superman was billed as "the last son of Krypton" even though there were like dozens of other Kryptonians left.
    [​IMG]

    -AKOM's into-the-past acid trips are a lot less fun than Toei's.

    -Optimus is right, Vector Sigma being the instigator of this whole plot to pay off the lead-up to a golden age of Cybertron is ridiculous. Vector Sigma was never portrayed as godlike or self-determining before. It was like a programming hub. Now it's like its own little god-being.

    -Zarak's hair weirds me out because I keep thinking it's a whole helmet instead of a band thing over the center and the rest is long hair

    -Oof, I feel like the animation is getting worse as this story progresses.
    [​IMG]

    -Now a bunch of Hive members look like Lithones? Alrighty then.

    -The targetmasters are poorly done. Half of them don't turn into guns. They turn into little blocks with barrels coming off them. So instead of holding them like a gun, their Transformer has to keep them in their palms like a remote control.

    -"Call me Caliburst because I never miss." Because? How? Caliburst isn't a real word. You can't use "because" in that fashion.

    -Oh my god, Slugslinger is Peter Cullen.

    -It's easy to hear that Krunk is Chris Latta. He's practically about 85% Starscream.

    -An underrated bit of personality/characterization is Mindwipe brainwashing his Headmaster partner. It's a shame they couldn't pay that off more.

    -The downside to Headmasters? Having the head unit talk while we watch the full robot mode bot, making it jarring and causing a brief bit of "is this the wrong voice? no, it's just the headmaster"

    -Is it just me or is Jack Angel's Cyclonus getting worse as time goes on?

    -When you think about it, the targetmasters are kind of a bad idea. The Decepticons fire one shot and then throw their guns away so they can transform into tiny bots. What are they going to accomplish at that point? Kick the Autobots in the shins?

    -The Autobot Targetmasters do a better job of turning into their bots' normal guns than the Decepticons' big boxy whatever-they-ares

    -The reveal of Scorponok is a lot less impressive than it should be. Think back to how awesome the transformation of Autobot City was in the movie. Now look at how Scorponok has some weird random pieces moving and pulley things spinning and then it floats up and blobs through its transformation into scorpion mode. This I guess is the ultimate downside to AKOM's work on what would otherwise be a big and significant event. Especially one that ends this part of the trilogy.

    dun Dun DUNNN!!!!

    -What the heck? Did Scorponok always have 4 modes? It turns from Scorpion mode to what looks like a terrible ship (it's not the same as the base/city mode) to flee with Arcee and the key.

    -Optimus Prime once again has no idea what to do. BEST LEADER EVER!!! :lol 

    -Hot Spot sighting!

    -Huh, I guess Scorponok's "ship" just was his city mode. I guess I overestimated AKOM.

    -Ultra Magnus is pretty quick to throw in the towel. One quick Decepticon attack and it's "Well, we're all screwed."

    -Huh. So Crazy Galvatron is crazy racist Galvatron. Not really that surprising.

    -Watching the Targetmasters float in the air to threaten Galvatron kind of undermines how dangerous they are.

    -Oh AKOM. Zarak takes the "helmet" off his Headmaster suit and then after a cut the image is him in his regular clothing in its entirety.

    -Somehow, Arcee being bound up is less distressing when she's missing her head.

    -Zarak notics some "feeling" between Arcee and Daniel. I know they just mean the maternal sort of affection Arcee has for Daniel, but it could easily be misinterpreted as the kind of feeling that launches some deeply unsettling fanfiction.

    -Good job, guys. You misplaced a planet.

    -There's only one place Galvatron would take Cybertron... Chaar! What? He went to Earth? How many episodes did Galvatron even spend on Earth?

    -Cybertron suddenly has giant engine stacks? Did I stumble into an episode of Shadow Raiders/War Planets (side note, that is a really good show that deserved a DVD release. Too bad the toyline tanked and we only got the short 26 episode run. It was the 3rd entry of the trinity of Mainframe shows with Beast Wars and ReBoot.)

    -Jesus, cannibalizing the Autobots for power packs to run cybertron? That's crazy and ice cold.

    -Wait a sec. Ultra Magnus is hiding and watching what's going on? But didn't the 'cons just take Ultra Magnus' power pack out?

    -My bad, they just did a bad job of keeping the pile of robot corpses consistent. It wasn't a plot hole, it was just AKOM.

    -Kind of a nice twist for the Nebulons to be jerks and bail on the Autobots as soon as they decide that the fight no longer concerns them.

    -It looks like in all the chaos that Blades decided to defect to the Decepticon cause.
    [​IMG]

    Honestly, he's probably the least surprising possibility. We all know Blades is a bit of a psychopath at heart. Or we would if the protectobots got more actual screentime. Nope. Still not bitter. :lol 

    -Galvatron gives himself 10 minutes to get clear of a blast that will destroy the entire solar system. I guess I said he was crazy, not that he was smart.

    -"The indestructable Optimus Prime." You know, except for that part where he was very destructable in the movie and stayed destructed for 95% of the last season.

    -As bad as AKOM's animation is, the flyby of Fortress Maximus with the spotlight that washes over Scorponok in the process is actually pretty cool. There, I managed to give AKOM one bit of props before they end the series.

    -What is Cerebros' alt mode? He looks like a photocopier.

    -I love the transforming sound. It's one of hte most iconic things about the franchise. But hearing it 20 times over in almost no variation of tone or pace as Fort Max ransforms to battle station mode (or "Spaceship Bruce" if you're a fan of the Headmasters dub. That's another call-forward) is a little much

    -It's kind of concerning tha as soon as Cerebros is a headmaster, you almost never hear him talk again. It's just Spike running the show.

    -It's also odd that Scorponok and Fort Max have individual voices that are unique to them. They aren't like the other headmasters where there's a bot that's joined with the head. They are basically what the Japanese Headmasters canon is: big lifeless robot body shells piloted by the bot that is the head. So shouldn't they just sound like Zarak and Cerebros/Spike instead?

    -For double fun, Scorponok and Fort Max are being voiced by he same guy: Stephen Keener. (Troy McLure voice) You might remember Keener for voicing such other characters as Hardhead, Scattershot, sometimes Hun-Grr, and Mindwipe.

    -"how can we get past that thing?" *act break* that was a weird, abrupt ending.

    -Even Optimus ignores the presence of Cerebros. It's clearly Cerebros that shows up in the room to free the other Autobots, but Optimus right away says "Spike? Are you in there?". Given his hatred of fighting, now I feel bad for Cerebros that he's been reduced to little more than just being a tool for Spike to wield.

    -Optimus is now reduced to begging Spike to fix things. This continues to be a bad look for the most venerated Autobot leader in history.

    -It's shocking how easily all the Nebulons and Spike shed their exosuits. They just shake their arms and all the parts fall off!

    -Meanwhile, Spike has commanded everyone to get out of their suits so that they aren't killed by the plasma energy. But what about Daniel? He can't leave his suit apparently because of the life support machienes that were, at least check, keeping him alive. Shouldn't he be disabled and threatened with death by the energy?

    -The bright wash of white light for the plasma energy makes it really hard to tell what's going on.

    -I don't have the heart to tell Spike that reversing a rocket engine wouldn't do what he wanted. It would just cause its energy to be forced into its own mechanism to the point where it'd probably just explode.

    -Wait, now Cerebros' alt mode is a miniature Fort Max? Trippy.

    -Less trippy is him basically begging Spike for assisted suicide. That's almost comedically dark.

    -Uhhhhh... check out this shot of the celebration on Cybertron
    [​IMG]

    How is Bumblebee present with what I'm assuming is Goldbug just off to the right? I know the real answer is AKOM, but damn. That's almost worse than dead Autobots showing back up.

    -Cybertron's "golden age" is being taken a bit literally by having the planet shown in a golden hue.

    -Interesting that The Rebirth has Fort Max fly to Nebulos and not the battle station mode that the Japanese series uses as a ship.

    -Man they're really pushing that Daniel/Arcee forbidden fruit subtext :lol 

    -One thing they weren't clear about was that apparently Spike and Daniel would just be staying on Nebulos with the Nebulon headmasters to free the place from the Hive? What would Carly have to say about all this? Did she just return home one day to find a note on the fridge that said "gone to save another planet. Back whenever" ?

    -I'm happy that we end on Crazy Galvatron, but it's a bit disappointing that the fairly sage bit of conversation with Optimus and Cerebros is undercut by the comedy duo act of Zarak and Galvatron instead.

    -and now that we reach the end, I have to revise one of my earlier statements: Did Fort Max actually speak on his own? I don't think I heard it. So then how is Stephen Keener listed as his VA? Both Cerebros and Spike have different actors.

    FAVORITE LINES

    "I suppose it's the only meritorious way out of our meretricious situation."
    -Highbrow shows off the thesaurus someone got him for Christmas. (as someone who often lapses into over-the-top fake intellectual snobbery and "SAT" words for comedy purposes, I love that a kids toy commercial cartoon show did just that here. And did it well)

    (I didn't have a favorite line from Part 2)

    "I will rule the galaxy!!!!"
    "Who will rule?"
    "MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! IT IS MY DESTINY!!"
    "We shall see, Galvatron. We shall see."

    -Galvatron and Zarak close out the series.

    Final Grade: C
    Just a final note about the grade: I probably would've given Part 1 a B-, Part 2 a C, and Part 3 a C-. So in the interest of keeping things concise I averaged that out to a straight C.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  8. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    And there we have it. All 98 episodes of G1 plus the movie watched over the course of like 6 months.

    Though the show is over, I'm not ready to pull the plug on the thread yet. I figured we could take a week or two to serve as a wrap-up for the project, for people to look back at whatever parts of the series they want to with no restrictions on what or when we're discussing. I'm going to bust out some minor facts and figures from my review series in the near future as well. And as a special sort of "bonus episode" I might also see if I can spare an hour or two this week to watch and review Scramble City: Mobilization, the Japanese mini filler episode that was meant to bridge some of the gap between seasons 2 and 3. I think it's on Youtube via the fine folks at Karyuudo Fansubs (headed up by regular TFW poster Kary).

    Beyond that, what's next? As discussed a bit earlier, the small participation circle and audience we have here gave differing suggestions of going on to Headmasters or Beast Wars, but I think that the scales tipped a bit in favor of straight-up chronological progression and I feel like perhaps there's more to be gained by watching and reviewing a series that not everyone is as familiar with. Maybe it'll get more interest from first-time watchers or people like me who only have seen the series once all the way through in its entirety.

    The hitch, as I've said multiple times, is that Headmasters is not freely available to stream anywhere and Youtube appears to have taken down all of the most visible episode repositories for the Omni dub that used to exist. I would say that the best thing for everyone would be to spring for the DVDs. At less than $20 per Japanese trilogy series (or just over $40 for the 3-part collected edition, so it's like getting one series for almost free) it's not that painful of an investment, you get a piece of Transformers history permanently, and it helps to show Hasbro that there continues to be a market out there for classic Transformers media, perhaps helping to spur on future releases of old stuff like, say, RiD 2001 or even collected physical media versions of the newer series.

    If that's not your cup of tea, I might have a workaround ready for launch time which I will touch on when we get to the new thread launch if that's the case.

    And that brings me to the next item: I think it'll be best to start the next phase of the rewatch in a new thread. This one has spanned 27 pages and if we keep going it'll be easy to get lost in the middle of you're new or returning. This thread will, of course, stay up as a monument to everything we've been through though.

    Finally, what's the timeline for the next part: It's the beginning of December right now. I know the Holidays are a busy time for most people and I wouldn't want to bog down prospective watchers with too much to do at the start of the series right around Christmas and New Years. But I also feel like maybe we need a little bit of time to recharge and rest after the brisk pace of getting through G1. And at the same time I don't want to sit and wait entirely until the new year to start the watch because Headmasters will take us just over 2 months to finish if we go at a 4-episode-per-week pace through the 35 translated non-clip-show episodes.

    So what I think makes the most sense is this:

    Community TF Cartoon Rewatch v2.0: The Headmasters will launch officially on December 15th, two weeks from now. However, to keep people from feeling crushed by the holiday time frame, the first four episodes will be run over a two-week period from Dec 15 through Dec 29. That way there's plenty of time to get started well before or after Christmas/Hanukkah and also not necessarily bleed over the new year as well. Done this way week 2 (as it were) will be Dec 30 into January and then we should be able to hopefully finish out this series by the end of February, making it a little less daunting to move onto Super God Masterforce (if interest continues)

    So for the next two weeks we'll relax and enjoy the winding down of this thread, and I hope to see as many of you who want to keep on following along for the next series.

    Special shoutouts to @Scoff, @Distant1, @RKStrikerJK5, and @TheUltimateBum for being around for the bulk of the series, if not the whole thing. When we started out I was betting that most of the thread would just be me ranting to myself, so it was fun to have some actual conversation and discussion going on in the middle of this silly passion project that I'd though about trying for the better part of the year prior to launching it. Hopefully in spite of the niche nature of Headmasters, it'll continue to be at least somewhat popular and not become a ghost town.

    Thanks again everyone!
     
  9. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    I'd say more a massively rushed, confusing mess, but tomato, tohmato. ;) 

    Isn't it interesting that the three-episode pilot manages to introduce the entire concept of the series and characters and setting, yet not feel half as rushed, and have some rather good character moments?

    I got into this late, but you did a great job, Liege. :) 

    Well... I didn't watch G1 along with you folks. I just read the reviews and reacted. ;) 

    I wish I had registered/joined this sooner.

    So... a topic I've always found fascinating, in a morbid sense. :p  Over the course of the series, the Decepticons did a number of schemes that did damage, ranging from 'relatively' minor stuff like holding a baseball stadium hostage, to shit like bringing Cybertron into Earth's orbit. How many people do you reckon died/how much damage was incurred during some of them? And for the record, 'zero' is NOT an acceptable answer.
     
  10. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum COWABUNGA DUDE!!!!

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    No probs. I hope I managed to deliver a different perspective to some of the latter episodes, since season three and Rebirth are my favorite part of the original cartoon.

    As I said before, I especially have a soft spot for the Rebirth, since there is quite a bit of great action despite the rushed feeling due to being trimmed from five-parts to three (I still feel they should have kept it as five). I really think it must have been stressful for David Wise to write the five-parter, and even more to trim it down to three parts, because with five-parts, I feel we could have gotten a bit more characterization for the minor characters (not much, but at least a bit more).

    Honestly, I would watch Rebirth over the Japanese Headmasters any day. At least in Rebirth, I could relate to some of the characters like Cerebros and Brainstorm, whereas in Headmasters, a lot of characters ended up being rather unlikable.
     
  11. Distant1

    Distant1 Well-Known Member

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    In essence, I am glad that the American show finished here, I know this must be an unpopular view but with so many new characters with little to no introduction, it was hard for me to get an affinity for the new characters.

    I assume that the new Decepticon jets were alive for millions of years and so was Punch/CounterPunch but the other new Decepticons were maybe gifts from the Quintessons. I just think that if they were alive pre 1984AD Megatron would have called them to Earth to help defeat the Autobots before 2005.

    On the new Decepticon jets I wish they used the unknown ones from Five Faces of Darkness, I am a real sucker for Continuity.

    I really would like to know more about Punch/CounterPunch. In my headcanon, I think he helped the Autobots on Cybertron survive for 4M years while Optimus Prime was offline on Earth.

    I can see the potential marketing appeal for new giant robots like Fortress Maximus but I do not really see a need for the Throttlebots, as I said on earlier post I wish they could have brought back some of the season 1 and 2 casts who you who were not clearly shown to be dead, maybe that could have stirred more interest in the show to keep it going for a bit longer.

    In this episode, I like that Vector Sigma is featured as I really like the Key to Vector Sigma episodes in Season 2.

    When thinking about how the series, I wish they tied about more loose ends I would have loved to have seen Omega fight Devastator and Soundwave and Blaster go at it hammer and tongs.

    On the Constructicons, (my favorite combiner sub-group) it was weird how the Combaticons were doing construction at the end when the Constructicons were seen in part 1. If they died on Cybertron in the battle so be it.

    Also, on the ending, I feel good that Cybertron has a new golden age but I feel it is like the war criminals are just heading to South America (not literally) and are not just going to lie low.

    Finally big thanks @Liege Nemesis for this thread (and everyone else who posted on this thread), massive effort and really interesting to follow an episode by episode account of by far my favorite cartoon in the 80s.
     
  12. Triangulon

    Triangulon Member

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    Just wanted to say thanks to @Liege Nemesis and everyone else who contributed their thoughts. I've been following since the start and have enjoyed it immensely. I've never made it past episode 1 of headmasters so looking forwards to the next step!
     
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  13. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    Since the thread is (not unreasonably) dying on account of there being no more episodes to review, I have something planned for this weekend that is going to serve as my personal finale for G1. Today and tomorrow I've go some broader thoughts and analysis of the series looking back, and on Sunday or Monday I'm planning on watching and recapping Scramble City: Mobilization as a capper to the G1 material.

    This is an easy thing for others to follow because the always-fantastic Karyuudo Fansubs has uploaded a fully subtitled version to Youtube for people to watch:

     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  14. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum COWABUNGA DUDE!!!!

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    Hooboi... now we're gonna get miscolored Stunticon limbs and the same close-up of Megatron's ugly mug over and over again. :p 
     
  15. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, but it also has about 3 seconds of Carly and Chip in the same room at the same time so it's all totally worth it! :lol 
     
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  16. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    As promised earlier on Friday, I'm back with something to wrap up my retrospective of G1. It's the one thing that makes everything better: Graphed statistics! :lol 

    Seriously, I kept a file that tracked the grads I handed out and wanted to present the results here for the sake of any interest there might be and to help me figure out some talking points relating to each season and the series as I wind down.

    First off, I figured it might be useful to post the tier list for episodes based on my final rankings. Note that order within each tier is by production (watched) order, so don't put any stock into Episode X being listed above Episode Y. Spaces within each grade separate seasons (except seasons 3 and 4. Those are left together

    A Tier
    A+ Episodes
    S.O.S. Dinobots
    The Ultimate Doom (all 3 parts)

    The Key to Vector Sigma (both parts)
    War Dawn

    The Killing Jar
    The Dweller in the Depths

    A Episodes
    More than Meets the Eye (Pilot), Part 3
    War of the Dinobots

    Megatron's Master Plan (both parts)
    Desertion of the Dinobots (both parts)
    Starscream's Brigade

    Dark Awakening
    Money is Everything

    A- Episodes
    More than Meets the Eye (Pilot), Part 1
    Divide and Conquer
    Fire in the Sky
    Heavy Metal War

    Dinobot Island (both parts)
    Microbots
    The Gambler
    The Search for Alpha Trion

    Transformers: The Movie

    Five Faces of Darkness, Part 5
    Webworld
    The Burden Hardest to Bear

    B Tier
    B+ Episodes
    More than Meets the Eye (Pilot), Part 2

    Atlantis, Arise!
    The Secret of Omega Supreme
    Auto-Bop
    The Revenge of Bruticus

    Five Faces of Darkness, Part 4
    Starscream's Ghost
    The Ultimate Weapon
    Call of the Primitives
    The Return of Optimus Prime, Part 2

    B Episodes
    Countdown to Extinction
    A Plague of Insecticons

    The Immobilizer
    Day of the Machines
    The Master Builders
    The God Gambit
    Make Tracks
    Triple Takeover
    Trans-Europe Express

    Five Faces of Darkness, Part 3
    Forever is a Long Time Coming
    The Return of Optimus Prime, Part 1

    B- Episodes
    Roll For It

    Autobot Spike
    Traitor
    A Prime Problem
    The Insecticon Syndrome
    Blaster Blues
    Quest for Survival
    Cosmic Rust
    Five Faces of Darkness, Part 2
    Chaos
    Only Human
    The Face of the Nijika


    C Tier
    C+ Episodes
    Transport to Oblivion
    Fire on the Mountain

    Changing Gears
    Enter the Nightbird
    The Core
    The Golden Lagoon
    Prime Target
    The Girl Who Loved Powerglide

    Five Faces of Darkness, Part 1
    Thief in the Night
    Ghost in the Machine
    The Quintesson Journal
    The Big Broadcast of 2006
    Fight or Flee

    C Episodes
    (NOTE: There were no season 1 episodes rated at C or lower. the first batch from here on out always starts with season 2)

    Child's Play
    Hoist Goes Hollywood
    Aerial Assault
    Masquerade

    Madman's Paradise
    Nightmare PLanet
    Grimlock's New Brain
    The Rebirth (all 3 parts)

    C- Episodes
    City of Steel
    Attack of the Autobots
    Auto Berserk

    Surprise Party


    D Tier
    Episodes
    The Autobot Run
    A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court
    Kremzeek!
    Sea Change

    (no season 3 episodes received a "D" grade)


    F Tier
    Episodes
    B.O.T.

    Carnage in C-Minor


    Now, let's look at each season. For every season I have a pair of graphs for you.

    The first is a basic line, tracking the grade of each episode through the season (the blue line) and a trendline to show the overall grading trend of the season from start to finish (the red line). The grid behind the graph line up to each full letter grade horizontally and each episode vertically. Because of their wide size, click each one to get it at full size.

    The second is a "donut" graph that shows the distribution of each grading tier within the season. The graph itself is two-tiered. The inner circle tracks just the overall tier for each letter (ie A+, A, and A- are all collected under "A", B+/B/B- as "B", etc.) and the outer circle breaks that down into the +, -, and straight grades (the clockwise progression means that + grades are on the bottom of the slice on the left side of the graph, so to easily know what you're looking at, all + grades have lighter shading and all - grades have darker shading in their piece). It'll make sense when you see it. It also includes the # of episodes that received a given grade and the % of the whole for the season(s)/series that total represents.

    So let's begin:

    SEASON 1
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It's easy to see that the first season was the strongest in my personal estimation. It received no grades lower than a C+ and almost 2/3rds of the 16-episode run received some form of A-grade. Perhaps there's a little skewing due to the fact that I graded The Ultimate Doom as a singular entity instead of each individual part (the one thing that might impact the ratings overall is that from The Ultimate Doom through the two-parters of season 2 and then again for The Rebirth I only gave combined grades for multi-part episodes. For the Pilot and the season 3 multi-parters I gave individual grades to each episode), but honestly that set wasn't receiving less than A-grades for each piece anyway.

    After the strong pilot, the next couple of episodes were a mild swoon that gradually picked back up into the strong run the rest of the season, hurt only by the almost-mediocre Fire on the Mountain, which I felt suffered from being kind of a slapdash knockoff of Fire in the Sky where magic green crystals from the Earth were some sort of ultimate power source. This episode also unfortunately undid the tragic but dramatically interesting sacrifice of Skyfire in Fire in the Sky, and chose to do so in such a blase way that it really undermined the impact of that plot point.

    I think that the reason Season 1 gets to look so good in my eyes is a combination of several factors:

    1) It was the beginning of the series. Every idea was new and every concept being explored was fresh ground. While I can't say that too much of the series ever felt like it was the same plot on repeat, the simple fact that there was nothing to compare those early episodes to made them feel more unique and stronger.

    2) It seems reasonable that there was extra lead time. With any franchise the first few parts are often more carefully crafted. Sure, a lot of series take a bit of time for characters to settle into grooves and roles and for the story to find its voice, but it also benefits from the fact that a lot of story concepts probably had to be in the pipe back when the basics of the series was being pitched and before anything even went into production, just to prove that they had a concept worth building the show around. Later on in other seasons they would've had to deal with the time crunch of getting episodes done on schedule for quick turnaround to air, and/or the division of attention and labor of working on the movie and season 3 at the same time. This isn't an absolute given of a factor, but it feels like one that could've been in play. Especially when you consider that season 2 was such a massive step up in scope with the series switching to 5-weekdays airings instead of once per week.

    3) The (relative) economy of cast. Though still a relatively large cast with over 20 different Autobots at varying points and at least 15 Decepticons, it somewhat pales in comparison to the way that the peak of season 2 seemed to be introducing a new character every week or how season 3 dumped a whole load of new characters on us right out of the gate thanks to all the turnover in the movie. This meant that many characters got multiple episodes with at least some amount of focus and weren't pushed out the door for a new guy with a similar personality but brand new toy to shill. It's no accident that if you ask fans to name the most iconic characters in the franchise, I'd bet that at least 75% of them are going to be season 1 debuts

    4) Focus and cohesion. While there were only the pilot and Ultimate Doom as multi-part episodes (plus Countdown to Extinction if you consider it the unofficial 4th part of The Ultimate Doom), and yes I'm aware that actually constitutes nearly half of the season, all the other episodes largely felt somewhat connect. Not by plot elements or character introductions or story beats, but by the fact that it seemed like care was taken to be consistent with characters and their interactions. When the situation called for a certain personality type or role, there was a guy who filled it. When things went down, characters responded the same way consistently. And we got to see developed relationships like the Dinobots' resentment of Optimus and the other Autobots. We got similar Megatron plans, but it wasn't repetitive enough to be bothersome nor outrageous enough to make you scoff and roll your eyes. The episodes all, for the most part, feel like they belonged together. Nothing was too crazy, nor too banal.

    All of these things combine to make this season possibly the most emblematic of what people think of when you mention G1.

    Season "GPA" 3.54 (High B+)
    *note: to do averaged grades and whatnot I converted the grades into a GPA-style scale. Starting with a 0 for F, each whole letter grade is worth 1 additional point (D=1, C=2, B=3, A=4). + and - grades modify the grade by 1/3rd of a point (a B+ is 3.33, an A- is 3.67, etc)

    Best Episode: The Ultimate Doom - All 3 parts deserve mention for a big, grand scope plan by Megatron, good and useful involvement by the humans, and a great moral quandary for Optimus to wrestle with at the climax. This is among the very best that the series has to offer.

    Worst Episode: Fire on the Mountain - As I said earlier, this takes the high dramatic stakes of the conclusion of Fire in the Sky and undoes it with such casual indifference that it feels like a slap in the face. Then what follows is a paint-by-numbers plan that also apes Fire in the Sky by focusing on Megatron's newfound love of glowing lime green crystals that apparently come from and involve the power of the Earth's core. This time he uses them to power a tiny laser cannon that he built at the top of a south american temple/pyramid structure and somehow from that spot he'll be able to achieve his global victory condition I guess. There's just nothing outstanding in this episode to make it highly recommendable. Except for the fact that as the worst season 1 episode it's still better than at least 20 other episodes from elsewhere in the series.


    SEASON 2
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    The longest running season in the series, totaling almost half of the series' length has its ups and downs. The trendline shows it starting in the C+ range with inconsistent efforts before a spate of late-season solid episodes drag it up to the B-/B range. But at the same time, every time things look good and there's a run of decent and enjoyable shows, the season throws out a dud as it has all 4 of the D grades I awarded and 1 of the 2 outright Fs.

    Tonally I think the season did a good job of expanding on what we got in season 1, giving us some broader looks at the conflict beyond just the fairly intimate stories on Earth. It was our first foray into space and onto Cybertron outside of the pilot and the handful of scenes in The Ultimate Doom. We also got to meet a ton of new characters, including some memorable and fun ones (Tracks, the new Combiner teams, Perceptor to name a few).

    The problem with it appears to be the pressure that must've existed to get episodes out. Nearly 50 episodes in like 13-14 months is a tough task when you consider that most shows have to press to get 20-24 episodes out in a yearlong span. Factor in that they would've had a crew splitting time to work on The Movie as well and you can tell that there were scripts that were, in the words of Donald Glut, 1st drafts that were hammered out in a day and sent off to the story editors with no real attention to detail. This is how we got junk like The Autobot Run, A Decepticon Raider..., Sea Change, and (guh) B.O.T.

    The other major downgrade this season was the fact that Toei had to pawn off some of its work on the series onto AKOM, leading to some truly horrendously animated episodes. AKOM's shoddy work makes you wonder how they even got the deal in the first place. Until you remember that series lead director Nelson Shin was the head of AKOM.

    Season GPA: 2.76 (low B-)

    Best Episode: The Key to Vector Sigma (both parts) - Between this and War Dawn (the other A+ episode) I give the edge to the two-parter for being a fun introductory episode with a long-running importance to the series by giving us a pair of the most used combiner teams in teh franchise. Plus it's a fun look at the background of Cybertron and how Cybertronians come into being. War Dawn's look into the past and the origin of Optimus prime is fun, but the bigger scope and stakes of The Key to Vector Sigma and the introduction of 10 characters trumps that one

    Worst Episode:
    B.O.T. - It's arguably the worst episode in the series. That's all I really need to say. Annoying characters, a nonsense plot, and utter overall pointlessness mean that there's basically nothing redeeming about this one. It's 22 minutes of your life that you won't get back.

    THE MOVIE

    I didn't include the movie in either surrounding season, but I might as well cover it briefly here.

    It is what you expect it to be. It looks gorgeous, has great action and setpieces, has a lot of cool concepts, but also just sort of lurches from one big moment to the next with little going on in between, the plot at time makes no sense, and then it all abruptly ends with no real sense of a wind-down after the climax. It's still an iconic piece of TF media and worthy of the A- I gave it, but it's also by no means perfect.


    SEASONS 3 & 4
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    We wind down the series in the post-movie timeskip with new characters, new plots, new focuses, and new animation studios. Toei cedes more of the work than ever to outside studios, and not just AKOM. And because of all this newness, the series' wrap-up season(s) are a mix of good and bad.

    First up, the bad. This season is by far the worst looking of the 3. So many AKOM episodes hurt its quality, and even the non-AKOM episodes seem to be getting the B and C-team effort from Toei and the mystery studios. There are still some great Toei works (like The Return of Optimus Prime) and there's the very stylized and anime-esque Call of the Primitives, but on the whole we get long-run episodes like Five Faces of Darkness that have their watchability undercut by the fact that they look so awful.

    But under that unflattering coat of paint are some surprisingly great stories. An array of unexpected notable name authors contribute stories that really take advantage of the cosmic nature of the season, freed from the restriction of being stuck on Earth and having introduced us to the wider universe through the Movie. And the characters that are introduced are mostly interesting. Galvatron is a crazy, crazy counterpoint to the rage-filled but mostly sane Megatron, and Rodimus Prime gives us an interesting leader who has to wrestle with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy and unpreparedness. Even if at times the writers struggle to do anything consistent with him, instead giving us the same sort of "Rodimus learns that he can handle the burdens of leadership and finds his confidence" plot several times over (right up to the point where he learns his lesson immediately before he loses the gig for good).

    A lot of this season comes down to how much the bad parts take away from the good for you. Can you watch an ugly looking episode with an interesting plot (Dark Awakening)? Can you enjoy a beautifully animated episode that's a storytelling mess (Call of the Primitives)? That's up to each viewer.

    The other thing that hampered this last stretch of episodes (or not, depending on your view) is what several of us pointed out about this season: the fact that it often feels like it promises big things and then can't quite deliver on them. I'd taken to calling it "the season that could've been better" and really it is. A lot of plots feel crammed into their 22 minute runtime, unable to break free and get themselves multi-episode arcs that would've allowed the story time to breathe. It's definitely a bad thing that the season often feels like it never lives up to is potential. But at the same time, I can see the case for suggesting that daring to go big at so many points is an act that plays in the season's favor.

    Looking at the graphs, you can see that it was maybe not quite as inconsistent as season 2. But it does so by heading in the direction of mediocrity. Seasons 3 and 4 have no D episodes and the same percentage of B episodes, but trade off their Ds and the reduction in A-ranked episodes and stick that change right into the C tier. With that said, the season also manages to reduce the number of C- and B- grades, trading up for a greater cut being on the + side. The end result is a less varied season, but one that dodges the lowest lows (aside from Carnage in C-Minor) by no as consistently hitting the higher (A and A-) highs. This also reflects in the fact that this is the only season where the trend line edges down. Though in fairness that has to do a lot with the fact that the Rebirth is aggressively mediocre.

    Season GPA: 2.86 (mid B-)

    Best Episode: The Dweller in the Depths - I was this close to giving it to the other A+ episode, The Killing Jar, but I liked Dweller's radical genre/tone departure and horror-esque atmosphere and strong use of its focused cast.

    Worst Episode: Carnage in C-Minor - Everything that was wrong with BOT with worse animation and the most annoying gimmick possible in the sing-song way that a lot of lines are spoken. There's honestly nothing redeeming about this episode at all, and its badness is such that it is not just a terrible episode, but also the worst crap that AKOM put out for the series.

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    So that now brings us to our last set of graphs, this time collecting my grades for the entire series as a whole:
    [​IMG]

    In a shocking display of balance, the entire series ends up being split very evenly, with about 1/3rd of the episodes grading out as As, 1/3rd as Bs, and 1/3rd as Cs or lower (with a respectably low 6% being utter crap). Each tier within each grade is also balanced at the A and B range, with Cs trending up towards C+ and leaving us with only 4 C-s.

    So how does that balance look across the span of the series?

    [​IMG]

    More or less how you'd expect: Consistent in a fairly inconsistent manner. There are not long stretches of high or low grading. Instead we get bursts of quality and short lulls of disappointment. Overall things start high with the positive performance of the first season and gradually drop down through season 2 before a late surge, the movie, and finally the down-up-down-up-down nature of season 3 and 4.

    But perhaps it's easier to visualize the trends if we smooth the line out a little bit by using a "rolling average". Each episode's point on the graph is no longer just its score, but is the score of the 5 episodes centered around it (itself and the two episodes before and after, except where there aren't 2 episodes in one direction or the other.)

    [​IMG]

    Of course, the trendline doesn't change, but you can see the less dramatic swings in the episodes themselves. There are also some changes where the rolling average drags some episodes up or down. The movie, for example, suffers for being around the disappointing beginning of Five Faces of Darkness and the unrepentant terribleness of BOT. But it does show that season 1 grows into its elite run, dips in season 2 until it begins to find its form, dips thanks to the bad end of season 2 and poor start to season 3 (the movie notwithstanding) and then rides a slightly less extreme rollercoaster through the final season before petering out at the end thanks to the Rebirth.


    All in all I think what surprised me is that while I expected the series to be inconsistent, I was pleasantly taken by the fact that there were more good parts than I remember there being and fewer bad parts. That plays out to include a lot more uninspired middle, but I'll take that if it means getting what was overall a very enjoayble show on the whole even when it's not being tinted hard by G1 nostalgia. Sure the writing isn't top notch and the animation is wildly inconsistent. But for a 30-minute toy commercial born from the dark ages of animation, it rises above its station to turn out pretty damn entertaining.

    OVERALL SERIES GRADE: B*
    *by my "GPA" calculations, it comes out at 2.90, which technically is just the tiniest smidgen into B- territory, but it's so close that I feel validated rounding up into a straight B.

    [​IMG]
    (I have no idea why I'm signing off on this post with happy Cliffjumper. I just like this image)​
     
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  17. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Well-Known Member

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    I'm gonna try and watch Scramble City tomorrow night (Sunday) and have the review up on Monday. Then by Tuesday/Wednesday I hope to have the Headmasters thread started. That still doesn't mean this thread is done for. It'll still be open for business on G1 for as long as anyone wants to use it, and I will still always poke my head in and chat when the opportunity arises.
     
  18. Distant1

    Distant1 Well-Known Member

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    I still like season one the best, the episodes often follow on from the previous episode and some of my characters like Skyfire, Hound, Shockwave, Thundercracker, and Skywarp feature relatively prominently.

    That being said I do like season 2 concepts like Vector Sigma, the introduction of Alpha Trion, the backstory of Omega Supreme (and the Constructicons having a Cybertronic origin) and the wider Decepticon empire.

    In season 2, my main wish would be that they could have properly given the likes of Dirge, Tracks, Perceptor, etc a proper introduction. I also wish there were no legal issues with Skyfire. I would also have really liked if the generic Decepticon jets from the Ultimate Doom and Divide and Conquer could have made cameo appearances in the Key to Vector Sigma, and the Revenge of Bruticus. Furthermore, I would have liked if the season 3 characters like Blaster's tapes, Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, Octane, etc. had a proper introduction (hopefully a series 2.5 could be made one day).

    I really enjoyed the movie, but I wish the animation could be cleaned up so that in Coronation Starscream Thundercracker, Skywarp, and the Insecticons are not in that scene (likewise Shrapnel and Scavenger being seen together in the movie do not seem to make much sense).

    I like the new direction of season 3 but I think the animation really let it down. In Dark Awakening, I would have liked if more Autobots were called out to be Dead (for closure and to explain why we have watch so much of Blur and Wheelie).

    All in all, for entertainment I really like the original show, and as a kid, I think the show really delivered.
     
  19. RKStrikerJK5

    RKStrikerJK5 Well-Known Member

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    Damn, @Liege Nemesis ! That's some impressive work, there. I gotta admit, season one's my favorite. It's the most consistently good overall, with some good continuity. Season two had ups and downs, but overall was positive. the movie... not a fan. Also, the Pacific Ocean is slightly damp. :p  Season three just felt... eh, although it ended well. Season four was a wet fart.
     
  20. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum COWABUNGA DUDE!!!!

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    Season one may have been the most consistent story arc, but I always felt it was a bit on the bland side. I dunno if it was the fact that the stories themselves felt a bit too meh, or if it was just the roster, but I always felt it wasn't as action-packed as the later seasons.

    Season two may have not the greatest continuity, but I do think it improved some stuff. Characters became a bit more interesting and the stories had a bit more bite to them than season one had.

    The movie... I feel it would have been better if they hadn't tried to focus too much on spectacle instead of the characters themselves. In fact, and this is an unpopular opinion, I actually liked the G.I. Joe movie more than the TF one because at least that one had character growth (Falcon was just a bratty punk who learned how to be a Joe over the course of the movie). Plus, I always felt Golobulus made for a much more interesting villain than Unicron.

    Seasons three and four, I've said it before and I'll say it again: those two seasons are my favorites. The weakest episodes really are disappointing (The Return of Optimus Prime, Fight or Flee, Only Human and Starscream's Ghost are my least favorite episodes of this season, but I give Return a bit less of a hard time due to at least having intensity), but all the others were exciting and rather fun (I even like the more widely reviled episodes like Nightmare Planet and Carnage in C-Minor are fun rides for me). Plus, the development given to Hot Rod/Rodimus is the thing that made it all so special for me. Rodimus is someone who gets stressed, frustrated and easily angered due to his own inadequacies and that's what made him such a great character for me. Personally, I would have played a bit more as to why he has so much insecurities (a bad past, PTSD due to traumatic events like death of loved ones, torture and abuse, or total loneliness due to never having someone to truly consider family), but I think they did do a great job fleshing him out despite Return of Optimus happening.

    And the Rebirth, I personally liked it better than most. I think it's better than all the other multi-parters because it simply doesn't let up. It has great action all over the spectrum and some really great moments.

    Again, I agree with the rest that AKOM's animation is... less than stellar. It improved when it came to the Rebirth, but yeah, during season three, their work was meh. It's so disappointing that the movie was such a failure that most of the animation had to go to AKOM.

    But yeah, overall, the whole series does hold up rather nicely (especially the last two seasons), but it is quite flawed. Nevertheless, the good outweighs the bad, and even in the weakest episodes, the voice actors always brought their A-game.

    My favorite episode: Ghost in the Machine
    My least favorite episode: B.O.T.