Season One, Episode 1: Beast Wars, Part 1
Reviewed by Blackjack
This episode marks dawn of one of the most successful transformer television series. It is also the first episode to be aired after the G1 cartoon concludes (sort of) with season four. With sales of G2 toys falling, Hasbro turned to Mainframe entertainment and refurbishes the Transformer franchise with 'Beast Wars'. To those hardcore fans this might have came as a shock — new faction names, a setting in an 'alien' world, new characters, a new Megatron, a gorilla instead of a truck, et cetera. But the series was much better than G1, with superior CGI animation and voice-acting. Now this first episode had to handle much stuff. Establishing the scenario, introducing the characters, settings, introducing new technology like transwarp as well as generally get the audience to like the series.
The first season is twice as long as the second and third seasons, and it is filled mostly with filler episodes which spotlights a character or two, with generic and sometimes throwaway G1-ish plots. But once we reach the end of season one, the main story kicks off with full force. I won't delve too deep now. So. Getting to the review. The first episode's animation still needs work. Most notably are the setting. For example, the rocks being broken into bits by a charging Rhinox and the explosions on the Maximal ship look hastily done. Some of the exposition are pretty dodgy as well, such as the Maximals actually giving themselves new names. "I'm a cheetah! No, I'm Cheetor
!" This episode does a rather nice job of setting up the characters. Optimus Primal is a leader, and has the qualities of one — brave, valiant, cares for his troops and all that. Rhinox is basically the ever-calm, loyal, competent and experienced person, somewhat like Ironhide from G1, albeit less trigger-happy. Rattrap is a snide jerk. Cheetor is a brash young punk. Megatron is a mastermind of sorts. Scorponok is a loyal soldier, while Dinobot craves leadership and is big on honour. Waspinator, Tarantulas and Terrorsaur are all reduced to 'evil goons shooting at good guys' for this episode. Still, while there is a little too much name dropping and transformation calls, it is a good first episode for the Beast Wars, with stunning animation. It's not perfect, but it's damned good for a first episode.
During the space battle scene, the Maximals and Predacons are all shown in shadow, to minimise costs of coming up with Cybertronian character models. Basically, they are their Beast bodies without any animal kibble and mechanical hands, as well as slightly different faces. Megatron, meanwhile, was shown in his full pre-Beast body. Mainframe Entertainment re-uses a modified body of a robot from ReBoot, another one of their show, with Megs' head on top.
The Maximal ship is named the Axalon
, but it usually gets called as 'Maximal Base' or 'Maximal Ship in the series.
When Rhinox is fixing something outside, one of the mechanical stuff looks like the submarine seen later on in episodes of season 3.
Maximals transform from beast to robot modes by calling out their name and saying 'Maximise', while Predacons call out 'Terrorize'. They transform into beast mode by saying 'Beast Mode!' However, it has been shown numerous times in the series that they do not need to say out these Activation Codes to transform. These Activation Codes apparently indicate a transformer's faction, as Dinobot changes it when he joined the Maximals. Dinobot has the distinction of the first Beast Warrior to transform into robot mode. This episode marks the only time he transforms with the Activation Code 'Terrorize'.
The events of Beast Wars take place quite some time after the G1 cartoon. The Autobots and Decepticons' war was known as the 'Great War', and after its conclusion the Maximals and Predacons (their descendants) lived in peace. Sort of. While it's not made clear in the first few episodes, Megatron is actually disobeying the Predacon high council and acting on his own accord.
Cheetor (albeit not yet named) has the first dialogue. Coincidentally, he would have the final dialogue of Beast Wars' sequel, Beast Machines. Cheetor also fires the first shot, unprovoked, at Waspinator. The kitty also fires at Megatron unprovoked.
Throughout the "Beast Wars" two-parter episode, Scorponok's missiles have a yellow Maximal insignia on them. Originally this was supposed to indicate Maximal kills, like a bullet with your name on it. This confused some viewers into thinking that they were Maximal missiles, so the symbols were changed into Predacon symbols for all further appearances.
Waspinator fires pink optic beams during the fight with Cheetor. This was the only time he uses that power, although Dinobot would employ optic beams as a regular part in his arsenal.
Cheetor is shown alongside normal cheetahs, making him a measuring stick for other Beast Warriors. This means Rattrap, Waspinator, Tarantulas and Scorponok are giant bugs and rats, both Dinobot and Terrorsaur are a little out of scale, while Megatron is a tiny specimen of a tyrannosaur. Perhaps he scanned an infant or a smaller subspecies?
Megatron and Optimus Primal were originally intended to be the original Megatron and Optimus Prime, and the original setting was to be modern Earth. Of course, this did not come to pass.
For some reason, all the Maximals bar Optimus Primal are shown renaming themselves. What's up with that? Either they rename themselves according to their new alternate modes everytime they go to a foreign planet, or they're just loony. It makes one wonder, then, what their previous names were and why guys like Optimus Primal and Megatron don't change their names. Of course, the real-world reason is for kids to know who the characters are.
You cannot scan DNA from fossils, no matter what Jurassic Park says.
Scorponok is among the Predacons milling about outside the ship in their beast modes, yet he appears from within the Predacon ship to blast Dinobot a few scenes later.
When Waspinator fights Cheetor, the stripes on his legs are drawn vertically.
Cheetor and Waspinator spend a long time in robot modes, yet they did not suffer from energon build-up. The other Predacons transform only for a while and they do.
Rattrap's gun clips right through the boulder in front of him when Rhinox forces him to cover Optimus.
Dinobot's swords are very short this episode.