I was barely five years old when the show debuted, so seeing it again, twenty three years later, was wonderful. I can't wait to get my little boy/girl hooked on the series. Peter Cullen and Frank Welker are the reason I've loved the TFs for so long; their characterizations of OP and M are masterful. Hearing Soundwave, in all his pitch-deficient glory , is always a good thing.
As far as pilot episodes go, this was by far the best one out of the crop of new cartoons that debuted around this time (The Thundercats pilot which aired 4 months after this ripped off several elements from it). Right off the bat the show featured great plot elements, excellent music, strong character development for several of the Transformers on each side, and great animation (with plenty of noticeable flubs but we can overlook that). The plot was unique and imaginative with a planet controlled by sentient robots, dying of energy starvation, forcing the warring factions of the planet to seek new energy sources or risk losing everything. 10 years after the energy crisis in America, dare I say that the writers may be trying to send a message? As most of the episodes are morality plays in some way, shape or form, I would have to say that this is their message and becomes a running theme, especially throughout the first season of the show.
With some bad dialogue especially during the fight scenes, having good music is key to counteracting some of that stupidity, and Transformers has some of the best cartoon music of the era, if not the best. Especially good is the music usually associated with Cybertron, and also the crescendo-filled battle music that fills each of their missions with urgency. It is definitely ridiculous to give an oration before blowing your enemies away, giving them time to protect themselves, but hey, it's a cartoon.
Character development isn't always a strong point for cartoons, but they managed to squeeze quite a bit into the first 30 minutes. As my name suggests, my favorite character is Soundwave for being the evil Intelligence Officer. He is truly Megatron's right-hand man unlike the traitorous Starscream whose true colors we get to see early on as well. The powerful leadership styles of Prime and Megatron are showcased early-on and lay a great base for things to come. Bumblebee is developed as well which is incredibly important as his relationship with Spike Witwicky is a key element in the series.
The animation from Toei Studios was inventive in its design, but flawed in its execution. The change from Cybertronian to Earth technology as a basis for their transformations was well done and all of the designs were fantastic (they had to sell toys, right?). Many mistakes can be seen, however, especially in the Rhino DVD release of the series. Still this is a minor point when compared with the reasons people love Transformers in the first place.
This was a pilot episode, so you can see the Autobots flying (but they can´t go as fast as the Decepticons). The episodes stars on Cibertron, the homeworld of the Transformers that has lost his energy in the war of the Autobots against the Decepticons, with the Autobots preparing an space travel to find energon in other worlds. Durin the travel, the Decepticons boards the Autobots ship,and during the battle, they lost the control of the ship and it crashes in the prehistoric earth. 4 millions years later, an eruption of a volcano starts up the Telatraan-1 (the ship ¨brain¨), who starts to fix up the transformers, first the Decepticons and later the Autobots. The Decepticons attack an oil reffinery, but the Autobots arrives to stop them. In the battle, the reffinery blows up and Optimus Prime has to save Spike and Sparkplug.
This being the pilot episode, a lot of time is spent on learning who the characters are and of their battle with each other. It is a classic episode of good versus evil as we see the Autobots (good)and Decepticons (evil)revived and "rebuilt" with parts of equipment from earth machines. We also see Cybertron, the origin planet of the Transformers. Many of the voices in the episode are familiar to TV buffs as we hear some of the same actors from other animated classics.
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