Is it fair to say that Beast Machines is a good TF show, but a bad Beast Wars sequel?

Discussion in 'Transformers Earthspark and Cartoon Discussion' started by Proud Nintendo, Apr 16, 2020.

  1. Proud Nintendo

    Proud Nintendo Well-Known Member

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    My biggest problem with Beast Machines... it throws all the interesting world building of Beast Wars out and does its own thing. (That's what happens when you have new writers) No Tripedicous Council, no Maximal Elders hiding records of the Great War, what happened to Earth, the Vok, nothing.

    Beast Machines does stand on its own as a good TF show, but.... it is is a bad Beast Wars sequel.
     
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  2. Nope

    Nope yscohb

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    Probably. I used to hate it because I felt like I was supposed to as a good BW fan, but after having given it a chance a few years ago, I feel that it's incredible despite its issues. I can personally accept some of the show's changes and failures in regards to BW, but I can understand why many people can't.
     
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  3. Galvatron1998

    Galvatron1998 Maximal

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    I'm a big fan of both Beast Wars and Beast Machines and although I can see why people don't like Beast Machines as a direct sequel, I think it does an excellent job of continuing the story. It's less "Beast Wars, But More!" and more "These are the same characters in a different time, place, and situation".
     
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  4. Liege Nemesis

    Liege Nemesis Snarks about old cartoons

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    IIRC the new writers were specifically instructed not to go back and watch Beast Wars or port in any of its continuity and history. So yeah, by that right it's going to make for a bad sequel when the show's producers pretty much say "Here's a show that follows the last one we did, but we pretty much don't ever want you to reference it, talk about it, or tie into it any farther than the fact that the characters we're using are mostly already established."

    It also explains why so many characters suddenly take on starkly different personalities, because they were probably written entirely from pitch treatments that boiled down complex personalities that were multiple years in the making to very specific takes that were spelled out in a paragraph or less and entirely with the intent of crafting the new dynamic of this series.

    I think it's fair to call it a "bad" sequel regardless of personal feelings about the show on its own merits because of that. Kind of like how I'm watching Masterforce right now and after hating it the first time I watched any of it a decade ago, I'm starting to find that it's a decent show in its own right, but that doesn't mean it can't also be kind of a poor transformers show given how badly it wants to be a more generic mecha/sentai/tokusatsu type series instead of leaning into the things that make Transformers shows actually about the brand
     
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  5. TheUltimateBum

    TheUltimateBum Nautica Lover

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    Personally, I feel it works decently as a sequel.

    However, I always felt Beast Machines was better than Beast Wars. I like Beast Wars, but again, despite the impressive storytelling, you could sometimes tell that the writers were constantly winging it and pulling stuff out of thin air (even Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio have said that they were just constantly scrambling for ideas and connections during the whole course of the series), which is why the stuff like the Tripredacus Council, the Vok and Tarantulas was just... forgotten, to put it mildly.

    Beast Machines' storyline is a lot more consistent and does feel like it's going somewhere and building up to something that will determine the fate of Cybertron. Plus, despite the small cast of characters, the stakes felt a lot more higher than they ever were in Beast Wars, and I felt that added an extra edge of suspense and made you understand why characters were arguing constantly, because they were stressed out of their minds over the situation.

    I liked the characters more in Beast Machines, too. I felt the differences were much more understandable considering the nature of the show (plus, I never liked Silverbolt in BW, so I honestly felt that his BM incarnation was a welcome surprise).

    But anyway, I'm just rambling now, so I guess the simple answer would be yes. It works as a sequel, but it also works as its own thing.
     
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  6. Novaburnhilde

    Novaburnhilde 狡猾の死神

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    I'd be willing to concede that, even if I think it works fine as a sequel.
     
  7. Verno

    Verno Beast Wars Collector

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    As a show, in and of itself, it's fine.

    As a sequel to Beast Wars, it's bad.
     
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  8. Cliffjumper

    Cliffjumper Least insane TF fan

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    Yes
     
  9. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    Which, IMO, is what makes a great sequel.

    I argue against the "world building" of Beast Wars because, and I love Beast Wars, the Tripredacus Council etc never went anywhere in the show. But, they weren't really meant to. They were mere contextual assets that enhanced the core story of the show, but weren't the story of the show.

    BM did the best thing a sequel with an all-new team could do: go so far back to basics it allowed for a whole new direction. I consider it a good sequel because it did something ambitious: it did not play it safe, and IMO won out more than it lost. Even more than in BW the Maximals were real characters, people, with crippling flaws, anxieties, and inspiring strength. It changed the entire world, literally, and dumped these characters into a situation meant to break them, and like the trait their species is known for, changed. They transformed, growing and moulding to survive against, almost literally, all odds.

    Beast Machines is, ultimately, a show about the indomitable spirit. Literally even as Sparks, the soul and essence of a Transformer, are the main focus. The show is so much more than the standard "good verses evil" fare of two factions warring over some resource. The battle in Beast Machines is for the future of their planet and the lives of its people, and the characters are tested in ways these types of shows rarely test them.

    Beast Machines also gives the best depiction of the afterlife and its purpose in all of Transformers, to the point where the ridiculousness of the 13 and modern depiction of the Allspark are insufferably lowbrow. Ultimately, the Matrix and the Transformer race are one big machine, constantly growing and evolving by the individuals who learn, grow, and gain life experience only to bring it back with them when they pass. The show somehow grounds the afterlife in science fiction and makes it even more fantastic, and perfectly personifies Transformers: much as the characters are living robots who think and feel, their God-like afterlife is itself a living computer that thinks, feels, and evolves. The imagery conjured at times is also brilliant, like Primal walking through a grass field that, illuminated by lighting, is patterned like a circuit board. The fact that the Oracle can be hacked and given false information at all, even if the Allspark itself is incorruptible, is brilliant and yet kind of horrible. (and of course, this lack of understanding of the delicate balance between what's physical and what's not nearly costs Optimus a lot)

    Literally it could only be better if the animation wasn't so dated and limited by budget. Especially the depiction of "techno-organic" matter as a messy, uneven mix of organic and technomatter, a stark contrast to the Maximals' own bodies that blend the two aesthetics virtually seamlessly. (and FWIW, the show even states that the Maximals themselves are a vision of Cybertron's true form, which is a lot more sensible than a re-textured Cybertron in green) The other main criticism is Rhinox, and his turn to evil. However, this is probably Beast Machines' highest concept. It asks the question of just how formidable the soul really is, and how despite their emotions and ambitions, are the characters merely machines? Think of it like this: Optimus Primal has been coming to grips with his newfound spirituality. He sees the Sparks as something that is infallible, and believes that Transformers are not physical beings so much as spiritual ones in physical bodies. Yet Megatron is able to reprogram one of his closest friends, and torture and break his spirit so badly he is quite literally nothing like himself. The soul, something Primal sees as incorruptible, is corrupted before his very eyes, and he's forced to admit for himself that Rhinox has chosen evil lest he face the possibility that for all their sapience, they are still just machines. This is just one of many things that feeds Optimus' growing fanaticism. In rejecting that they are fallible machines, he believes with absolute certainty that Transformers are wholly living and completely spiritual. He ejects the technological properties of the soul in favour of purely organic ones, until he sees Rhinox freed from the evil that corrupted him, and understands (after almost dying and taking Cybertron with him) that they are not physical machines nor metaphysical souls. Rhinox represented the scourge of pure technology, not just in his motivations or ambitions, but in his very being. He was a robot, reprogrammed and reconstructed, and how fitting that it was the one character who was possibly the most typically robotic in Beast wars. Rhinox was logical, pragmatic, not overly emotional and a technical genius. Megatron took this and warped it (must like he did back in Dark Designs) into sociopathy, cruelty, and blind hatred. Much like how Silverbolt's cartoonish chivalry turned to harsh guilt and moral self-deprecation, Rhinox had his strengths stretched and warped into weaknesses which he tragically could not overcome in his life, but found peace in the afterlife. His is a genuinely tragic story, but not a "character-assassination" some would claim, because the character was not truly in control of himself.

    I could go on about how, for all its technical flaws and issues with pacing/dialogue, there's secret brilliance to Beast Machines. Despite being bleak, near-humourless, and almost a nightmare for the heroes, it's an uplifting story about the strength of the spirit and how absolutism to a goal is folly, and how compromise is not defeat, but a fact of life. It really is a show about balance, and it's a lesson that holds true to real life just as much as it does in the story. Is it perfect? God no, but neither was Beast Wars, but whereas Beast wars was a show about heart, Beast Machines is a show about soul, and they compliment each other better than most fans realize. That's why I can't agree it's a bad sequel.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2020
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  10. KFGatri

    KFGatri Madman with a Blue Box

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    Except in terms of their behavior, they really aren't the same characters. The only way the leads make sense as Optimus, Cheetor, Rattrap and Blackarachnia is if you assume that the Oracle rewrote their personalities as well as reformatting their bodies. In that case, why bother retaining the characters in the first place?

    BM would have been better if it hadn't been the Axalon crew, hadn't had Pred Megatron as the villain, and hadn't been Cybertron. If it had been new characters, on a colony world, but the story had been otherwise basically the same, I'd call it a good TF series. But as broadcast, no.
     
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  11. Mako Crab

    Mako Crab Well-Known Member

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    @SPLIT LIP
    I know it’s only April, but that was a strong contender for post of the year.
     
  12. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    But their personalities aren't changed. They act the same at the start of Beast Machines as they did at the end of BW, and grow and change as the events of the show test them.

    I think people just forget what these characters were like at the end of the previous show. Even Optimus' budding spirituality was established as far back as Feral Scream when he, quite literally, reached out to Cheetor's Spark with his own. (plus, y'know, he literally communicated with God. That's gonna re-shift priorities)

    Rattrap acts the same as he did in BW whenever he was powerless. He'd fret, complain, and cower before whipping out his gun and shooting his problems away. In Beast Machines he has no gun, and for a while no robot mode at all, until he tries to cheat away his problems. (a very in-character thing for him to do) He was tested, as they all were, and had to adapt and change to fit the new situation he was forced into. The change was not arbitrary, it was gradual and reflective of his character and the world around him.

    Blackarachnia also acts arguably the most 1:1 to how she was in BW season 3, the only difference is instead of being obsessed with power she's obsessed with saving the one 'bot who ever loved and trusted her. The only thing that really altered was she wasn't really the tech-head she was in BW, but considering that was part of Rattrap's growth it's not surprising. (and given she was one of only three capable fighters, it made more sense for her to be in a more combat-focused role)

    Cheetor needs no explanation, his character growth is clear, and honestly I don't see many people even complain about him.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2020
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  13. Sparky Prime

    Sparky Prime Well-Known Member

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    While I enjoyed Beast Machines in its own right... Yeah, I'd have to say it was a poor sequel to Beast Wars. It just had too many disconnects.
     
  14. Wheeljack84

    Wheeljack84 Well-Known Member

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    Here's what confuses me about Beast Machines. Who attacked the Maximals when they were flying back to Cybertron?
     
  15. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    Megatron did. After he fell off the hull of their shuttle during their time travel into the future he conquered Cybertron, and thus was in power for a while before they returned and able to turn Cybertron's defenses against them.

    If you're talking about what caused their problems during Transwarp, that was just the way Transwarp was. Depth Charge's ship suffered similar "turbulence" on it's way to prehistoric Earth. Traveling through space and time isn't without its risks.
     
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  16. Sparky Prime

    Sparky Prime Well-Known Member

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    The "turbulence" the Maximal's experienced on their return to Cybertron was the result of Megatron breaking free and falling out of transwarp. Depthcharge's starhopper was caught by an anomaly that suddenly appeared in front of him after he'd tracked Protoform X's signal to the modern day Earth, which subsequently transmetalized him and sent him to prehistoric Earth. These were not normal circumstances for transwarp flight.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
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  17. SPLIT LIP

    SPLIT LIP Be strong enough to be gentle

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    The way it was shown made it seem like Megatron broke free because of the turbulence, but that does make sense.

    This is true, and while it's not stated outright, the anomaly is very obviously the leftovers of the quantum surge, which had affected the same Transwarp "portal" everything in the show had been using since that point. Depth Charge's ship is heavily damaged just like the Maximal and Predacon ships and, obviously, it turned him Transmetal.
     
  18. Wheeljack84

    Wheeljack84 Well-Known Member

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    Confusing.
     
  19. Verno

    Verno Beast Wars Collector

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    Getting from Point A (the end of Beast Wars) to Point B (the start of Beast Machines) takes a lot of... creative liberties.

    Some are continuity errors:
    • Optimus Primal is in his Season One body, but that body was destroyed. No amount of devolving virus could return him to something that his current body (which came out of a Stasis Pod) never had.
    Some are technicalities:
    • Silverbolt is taken out by the virus despite being part-Transmetal, which is shown to protect others from the virus.
    Some are downright stupid:
    • Waspinator flew back to Cybertron.
    It all adds up to an unenjoyable experience when viewed as a direct sequel to Beast Wars, because you have to ignore so much in order to even get started.

    In the context of the overall Transformers franchise, a story like Beast Machines will hopefully never happen again -- and should never have happened in the first place. Beast Wars spent three seasons building up characters, putting them through trials and endearing them to the audience. Then, the characters were changed. Not only is that a betrayal of the characters, it's a betrayal of the fans.

    Could you imagine doing that to Bumblebee? The plucky, yellow eternal optimist is now fundamentally and ideologically different because of... reasons. Kids would be sitting there, watching the show, waiting for their Bumblebee to come back, but he never does. The end. Adding insult to injury, you're told that if you don't like it, it's obviously because you don't understand it. That is fan poison.
     
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  20. Sparky Prime

    Sparky Prime Well-Known Member

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    As I recall, when the turbulence began, Rattrap asks if Optimus was having trouble flying and Optimus responded by saying "It's Megatron, he's trying to break free", indicating Megatron as the cause.

    I'd agree the anomaly Depthcharge encountered was likely some leftover result of the quantum surge. But, except for the Axalon being "locked on" to the Predacon ship's transwarp signature in the first episode, nothing else in the series used the same transwarp window. They generally closed as soon as whatever went through. Even the one we saw open for the longest, created by the transwarp explosion to destroy the Planet Buster, Rhinox said wouldn't stay open for long.