Starring (voices): David Kaye, Corey Burton, Jeff Bennett, Bumper Robinson, Bill Fagerbakke, Tom Kenny, Tara Strong
The Show: Released on Cartoon Network in the aftermath of the live action TRANSFORMERS film, Transformers Animated was released for what would be a 3 season run. Whilst the series may only be remebered by those who watched it at the time and hardcore Transformers fans, Animated was far superior to any TRANSFORMERS series that had been released since 1999 following the series finale of Beast Wars. It had stronger character dynamics than Armada and a better story structure to that of Robots in Disguise. It was fun and was able to appeal to both older and younger audiences, much like the current series, Robots in Disguise (2015) has done successfully.
Set almost two hundred years after the Great Cybertronian War that was fought between the noble AUTOBOTS and brutal DECEPTICONS, Elite guard drop out OPTIMUS PRIME (David Kaye) leds a ragtag group of AUTOBOTS who serve as a repair crew for the Space Bridges that are scattered across the galaxy. After discovering the long lost CYBERTRONIAN artifact, THE ALLSPARK which also attracts the attention of a DECEPTICON battleship helmed by the legendary tyrant, MEGATRON (Corey Burton) himself. The resulting battle for possession of the ALLSPARK causes PRIME’S crew and MEGATRON to crashland on earth just outside of Detroit. Fifty years later the AUTOBOTS awake to find themselves on a strange new planet that they must protect from the remaining DECEPTICON forces who are still searching for their leader and the ALLSPARK.
Animated approached the TRANSFORMERS univerese with a unique and very creative outline. The OPTIMUS of this series was not the supreme AUTOBOT leader of previous series but a younger Bot whose still finding his way. OPTIMUS’ character and appearance is a combination of the G1 PRIME and OPTIMUS PRIMAL from Beast Wars, and this is the only appearance of PRIME that has his famous mouthguard used when in combat rather than a perminant feature. The rest of the AUTOBOT crew also has a very strong individual character dynamic that again is similar to the characterisation of the MAXIMALS from Beast Wars. The crew is made up of old favourites RATCHETT (Corey Burton), BUMBLEBEE (Bumper Robinson), PROWL (Jeff Bennett) an new character BULKHEAD (Bill Fagerbakke). Those familiar with the more recent Transformers Prime will recognise these Bots as they were the same characters used for that series, however PROWL was replaced with ARCEE.
Apart from the three part season opener and the two part finale, many of the epsiodes are one off stories that always end with a cliffhanger suggesting something that could appear in a future epsiode. There are no weak epsiodes as they are all entertaining but the better ones are “Blast from the Past”, “Along Came a Spider” and “The Thrill of the Hunt”, which introduced old fan favourites such as the DINOBOTS, BLACKARACHNIA (Cree Summer) and LOCKDOWN (Lance Henrikson) the later of which introduced into the TRANSFORMERS univeres via this series.
The voice cast is one of the best in any TRANSFORMERS series, with David Kaye perfectly cast as PRIME, he is also the only voice actor so far to have voiced both OPTIMUS PRIME and MEGATRON (Beast Wars), a role which remains his greatest performance. Everyone else performs brilliantly in their roles, espcially Tara Strong as the main human ally, Sari Sumdac. But the real star of this series is Tom Kenny who plays STARSCREAM, and his portrayel of the always schemeing DECEPTICON is just delightful.
The show is not without its flaws, which include some silly human villains but they are far less annoying that the human villains from any other TRANSFORMERS series, with Prometheus Black/Meltdown (Peter Stormare) being the best of the lot.
Transformers Animated Season 1 is just a joy to watch and is a series that will be enjoyed by all TRANSFORMERS fans.
The Australian DVD
The sound and picture quality are excillent for a DVD and unlike most TRANSFORMERS DVD releases includes some intresting special features which includes a handfull of trailers, a sneak peak at season 2 and two short animations.
* Two animated shorts
* Season Two Sneak Peek preview gallery
Review written by Christopher Innis
Purchase Season 1 from MadMan – http://www.madman.com.au/catalogue/view/21431/transformers-animated-season-one-collection
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.