Animated seems to have a pretty polarizing status in the community, it's either the WORST THING EVER because people can't get past the art style and the changes to common elements of the franchise, or, what I see more prevalently these days, it's the best thing ever or close to it. Now I've heard the former about a lot of things, like Beast Wars and Beast Machines, which I ended up liking, so I was more inclined to believe the latter. And with what's going on right now, I decided to kill some time and watch Animated all the way through. I knew about the general strokes of the story and the major spoilers, and I'd seen a few episodes out of order back when it was airing on the Hub. That was it. I don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I didn't hate it. It was enjoyable to watch and there are a LOT of good things going for the show. But I watched with a very critical eye to see if it lived up to all the praise it gets and it definitely did not. The writing throughout most of the show is competent, as in it isn't riddled with massive plot holes and continuity errors, but weak or just downright stupid most of the time to the point where it's distracting. Truly stellar episodes are few and far between. Let's get the obvious ones out of the way first: I had no problems with the art style. Compared to how stiff a lot of Transformers shows are animation-wise, this was a breath of fresh air. The stylized designs are fun. I had no problems with what the show changes up as compared to the older versions. Motorcycle ninja Prowl, not-the-supreme-leader Optimus, three-faced Blitzwing, etc. None of it gave me pause, none of it bothered me. I think those changes are some of the show's greatest strengths. With that out of the way, as I said above, the show's biggest problem is that the writing is so weak. Again, it was a very entertaining show, and that's a fine thing for a show to be, but I do not understand the claims that it is the greatest TF show ever. It's hard to explain regarding the show as a whole and more comes down to how each episode is done. Some big ones though: The Allspark key. This is an atrocious plot device. Probably the worst in the entire franchise, even worse than the Matrix. Now in general I have a pretty low bar for plot devices. You tell me what something can do, I'm willing to accept it for the most part. The Allspark can restore life and animate machines into new life? No problem, that's fine. The Matrix kills Unicron? Okay, sure. Anything past that for a single device is pushing it. And the key can do ANYTHING. It's absolutely ridiculous and incredibly lazy writing. It's the solution to every single problem for most of the first two seasons. Optimus Prime dies? Well it'll just bring him back to life. It can also work as a literal key, repeatedly upgrade Soundwave without actually giving him sentience, track Allspark fragments, repair any injury, KILL ALL ORGANIC LIFE IN DETROIT because I guess the one thing it CAN'T do is purge Blackarachnia's organic half. That's only a small sampling of the miracles this thing does. It sucks. The human villains. I know, I know, this one is done to death. But unlike most I didn't mind the villains, just the way they were written. Their motivations range from paper-thin to nonexistent. I'm not asking for tragic backstory flashbacks or highly detailed schemes. Just give me SOMETHING. One line will do it. What is Nanosec's motivation? Does he like fast sports cars, and that's why he steals money? Does he want to provide funding for independent playwrights in Detroit? I don't know, and the show doesn't care enough to tell me. The only remotely interesting one is Meltdown because he actually provides a physical threat to the Autobots and his motivations are somewhat explored. Bumblebee. My god, I hate this character. I've never been one to complain about Bumblebee's overexposure after 2007. I get it. There have to be faces to the franchise. But at least make them likable. Bumblebee goes beyond being the impulsive, overeager young character. He is arrogant, rude, frankly a total narcissist. Everything is about him and he shows no compassion or real concern for all the trouble he causes. Once in a while there's an episode where he "learns a lesson" but he never really does. If anything he gets worse from the beginning to the end of the show. At least at the start he knew the Autobots weren't cut out to fight the Decepticons. By the end of it he's so far up his own ass. I can't even call this a character flaw, because as I said he never changes. He never becomes a better person. Every second he is on screen is irritating as he nags and bitches about everything until the second he gets to show off, which works for an additional second before he fucks everything up. Over, and over, and over. Wash rinse and repeat. It's a shame, because the other four main Autobots are all great characters. Sari. The less said about her, the better. Irritating. Grating voice. So useless they had to staple the solution to every problem to her to justify her existence. Inconsistent. She's supposedly this wacky, loner shut-in because of how protective Sumdac is. But she's also an uber-worldly fountain of wisdom who guides the Autobots through every situation they face. Scared when it suits the plot, equally fierce and ready to fight when it suits the plot. She gets a little better after her upgrade but mostly because she stays out of the season, and then she comes back towards the end and makes things worse again. Why even bother playing up that Ratchet is an expert medic and Bulkhead is an space bridge whiz if you're just going to show them up right at the end of the show because Sari "just knows" things now and can do their jobs better than them? Like Bumblebee she makes so many stupid decisions that aren't even entertaining to watch, let alone dramatic. Her stabbing Bumblebee accidentally during "TransWarped" is supposed to be a massive dramatic moment an an emotional gut punch. For me it was just satisfying to see two characters who can't think any one thought for more than a second finally get some comeuppance for being such assholes all the time. It's a shame because on paper this show has so many great things going for it. The Elite Guard is awesome. The Autobots controlling Cybertron is a pretty fresh take on things. I'm personally not a fan of the Starscream clones but it's a cool, new idea. Nearly any given thing this show has to offer is great. The writing just wastes all of it. I think I can best explain by bringing up a few episodes in particular, starting with the worst in the series by far, "Sari, No One's Home". "Left alone in the Autobots' home base, Sari must defend it against an intrusion by the Constructicons," says TFWiki. Sounds good to me. And then you watch the episode, and really think about it in comparison to the rest. -This episode only happens because the Autobots, who have been getting better and better at tackling all sorts of threats, from Decepticon, to human, to space barnacles, cannot take down Blitzwing FIVE ON ONE. -Okay, we'll ignore that one. That doesn't change the fact that the episode revolves around Sari's fending off of the Constructicons, which is played for laughs. Funny until you realize the Constructicons had their memories wiped in their last appearance and get violently abused by Sari for walking into the Autobot's base, with no idea what they're doing. Sari, who has shown no fear at the idea of facing actual Decepticons and other threats before, suddenly freaks out at the robots who don't immediately show her any harm. This makes her look like a gigantic asshole of course, so the writers tried to compensate by making the memory-wiped Constructicons, particularly Mixmaster, much more malicious than they were when they first came online. That doesn't fix things. There are a million other more entertaining and satisfying ways to move the Constructicons into Megatron's hands, which is pretty much what this episode does. It's not even a Sari development episode because she already handled things on her own in the space barnacle one. "Predacons Rising" is another good example. There's a brief moment where this episode shines, when Blackarachnia tells Wasp the two of them have a lot in common. Even if she is playing him, it's still a scene that gives you pause and lets you think about what the Autobots have done, in both situations, and where Wasp is headed. Then that's all thrown out the window. Are things deescalated by Bumblebee having to actually take some fucking responsibility, and saying sorry beyond "hey what happened to you sucks but really it was Longarm's fault"? Nope, it's just "hey guys remember Beast Wars???? We have Waspinator now isn't that cool??? Look, the Dinobots and Blackarachnia are still in this show even though they've never done anything really!!! Continuity!!!" So many episodes are like this, just meaninglessly shuffling parts around while never actually progressing characters or the story in a meaningful way. The Meltdown/Blackarachnia one is another great example of that. "Where Is Thy Sting?" is a colossally stupid episode. The fact that NO ONE present immediately realizes how shifty "Bumblebee" is after the switch, along with the mask being down and the purple eyes, is ridiculous. As is the jet twins assuming Bulkhead is a traitor for holding "Wasp" and not just him... holding a prisoner he's caught. The "misunderstanding" that causes eats up a not insignificant portion of the episode. Then again, this is the same Elite Guard that never caught Longarm, the guy who gets panicky and shifty and asks oddly specific questions the moment anything about a traitor or spy is mentioned to him. Again, those are just examples of the many episodes where the writing isn't directly contradictory or anything, but just full of good storylines ruined with stupid, tone-deaf writing and little things that don't make sense. I could make a whole thread just about "TransWarped" but I'll hold off for now. This thread is already getting pretty long I'm guessing, but know this is only a fraction of what I have to say about the weaknesses in this show's writing. And again, I enjoyed this show. There are some really great episodes and a lot of entertaining episodes I would watch again. But it is NOT what everyone makes it out to be, at least to me. I think what perfectly encapsulates for me what's wrong with this show is in "Decepticon Air". We've been hit over the head up to this point with the fact that the Starscream clones come in all colors of the rainbow and have a single personality trait each. Swindle comes face to face with two of the most distinct of the bunch, and decides he can't tell them apart just so we can get a cheap, lame G1 reference. So I ask again, what's the big deal? Are my standards just too high, did I get burned by the fan hype, or did I just miss out on something that prevented me from enjoying it more? I liked the show, so I don't want to say it's me not enjoying it enough. I just can't overlook the writing.