Cartoon Episode Reviews: Beast Wars [completed]
Since I've finished G1 seasons 3 and 4, I figured I'd use my spare time by writing up the Beast series. Sorry for not saying this beforehand, but I'm hoping this meets with approval.. :)
Beast Wars (Part 1)
Airdate: 16 May 1996
Written by: Bob Forward
Japanese Title: "Enter the Super Robot Lifeforms!"
In deep space, a transwarp portal opens, and out of it flies two spaceships, engaged in combat. One is a Predacon ship, being pursued by a Maximal one. The Maximal commander, Optimus Primal, explained to a rather non-plussed member of his crew that their exploration vessel were the only ship in range capable of intercepting the Predacon fugitives.
Meanwhile, on the Predacon ship, one of the Predacons urges their leader, Megatron, to finish off the Maximals while their ship's shields are down. Megatron arrogantly ignores the suggestion, preferring to toy with his opponents. The Predacons open fire on the Maximal shuttle, forcing Optimus Primal to jettison the Maximals' cargo of stasis pods into orbit of the nearby planet. The Maximals then retaliate, firing the forward plasma cannons and tearing the Predacon ship's hull apart. Both ships, damaged and without engines, plummet down to the planet's surface.
The Maximals have landed on a cliff near a waterfall while the Predacons has landed on top of a shield volcano. The Predacon ship's computer informs Megatron that the course settings were accurate but the readings were inconsistent with what was to be expected. Megatron, not really pleased, decides to make do and asks the computer for the presence of energon in the planet. The computer states that the planet has it, but there is too much energon that prolonged exposure would permanently damage them. Megatron tells Tarantulas, his science officer, to scan for the local lifeforms, and that the Predacons would take the form of the most powerful lifeforms on the planet. The Predacon ship scans fossils of dinosaurs (a T-Rex, a velociraptor and a pteranodon), as well as a spider and a wasp.
Meanwhile, the Maximals are doing the same thing, scanning several life animals (a pack of cheetah, a rat, a rhinoceros and a gorilla). The Maximals the youthful Cheetor, the snide Rattrap and the gentle Rhinox admire their new forms and rename themselves. Optimus Primal reminds them that their beast forms are to protect them from the long-term effects of the over-abundant energon. Their robot modes would short out after a few minutes' exposure. Rhinox points out that a transwarp drive allows them to journey through both space and time, so they could be stranded at any place, any time. Optimus is concerned about the stasis pods in orbit and the fact that the Predacons outnumber them.
Back at the other crash site, the Predacon troops mill around in their new beast modes. Dinobot (the Predacon whose advice Megatron ignored earlier), is studying the Golden Disk they had stolen prior to the chase. He declares that the world they landed on cannot be Earth, accusing Megatron of incompetence. Megatron laughs this off, having Scorponok blast Dinobot away. Megatron declares that they had set off looking energon to fuel their war, and it doesn't matter which planet they land on as long as it has energon. Megatron sends his troops to seek out and destroy their enemies.
The Maximals, meanwhile, are surveying the land around them and cleaning up their base. Rattrap complains about all the trouble over the Golden Disk. Optimus Primal replies to him that the Disk is Cybertron's most highly guarded relic, as well as a guide to a major source of energon. Rattrap retorts that it isn't their job to chase criminals, sarcastically remarking on Primal's readiness to handle a command position. Optimus admonishes Rattrap, reminding him of the Great War, and saying that the Predacons won't hesitate to start a new one if they had energon. However, Rattrap still isn't convinced that they have to risk their necks.
Meanwhile, Cheetor fools around and chases two cheetahs, trying to strike a conversation with them. Optimus attemps to call him and tell him to come bacck to the ship, only to find that the energon radiation limits the range of their communications.
Cheetor speeds off with his freaked-out new playmates until they met a gigantic wasp. Cheetor realises it is a Predacon, transforms and opens fire. The Predacon, Waspinator, returns fire. Back at the Maximal ship, the other Maximals head out to back Cheetor up, with Rattrap and Optimus riding on top of Rhinox. The Maximals arrive in the nick of time as Cheetor's rifle jams, allowing Waspinator to gain the upper hand.
The Predacon forces arrive soon enough, however. Optimus Primal tries to convince Megatron to not battle, as the Maximals and Predacons have been at peace for centuries. Megatron retorts that while the Maximals may have been at peace, the Predacons were merely biding their time, and have not forgotten their goal of galactic conquest.
Cheetor opens fire on Megatron and the battle begins in earnest. In the process, Cheetor is blasted by Scorponok's missiles and ends up with his leg trapped. Optimus orders Rattrap to assist Cheetor while he provides cover fire, but Rattrap refuses to risk his life for others. The angry Maximal leader flies to Cheetor's position himself, but is hit by Predacon fire. However, Optimus still manages to free Cheetor while Rhinox forces Rattrap to help provide the pair with cover fire. The Maximals make their escape while the Predacons seek cover. Megatron orders pursuit, but he and his Predacons suffer the effects of the energon build-up and are forced to revert to beast modes.
On the way back to their base, Optimus Primal berates Rattrap for disobeying a direct order, explaining that he could have given better cover fire. Rattrap accepts grudgingly accepts Primal's words. Primal notes that there were six thieves, but they encountered only five Predacons.
Just then, Dinobot appears, blocking their way on a stone bridge to the Axalon. Dinobot states that he has left the Predacons to join the Maximals, but as leader. He challenges Optimus Primal to a one on one battle, with the winner to lead the Maximals and for the loser to be destroyed.
Featured Transformers: Cheetor, Rattrap, Optimus Primal, Dinobot, Megatron, Rhinox, Tarantulas, Waspinator, Terrorsaur, Scorponok
(Seven out of ten)
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.
Dinobot: "No, no, no! It's all wrong! This cannot be Earth! Megatron, you failed! Not only did you fail to destroy the Maximals when you had the chance, you failed to bring us to the right planet! We stole the Golden Disk for nothing! You idiot!"
Megatron: "Heh, I beg your pardon? What did you call me?"
Dinobot: "You heard. You are an idiot and an incompetent leader, and I am taking over. Dinobot, terrorize!"
Megatron: "Ahh, a treacherous, under-handed sneak attack. Ohoho, I like you, pussycat, yesss."
Rhinox: (on Dinobot) "This guy's got bearings of chrome steel."
Rather than try to bodge together episode guide pages myself (the time/updateability of which would be severely in question), I want to set up a wiki framework people can edit directly. I've got the basic requirements spec'd out, just need some blocks of time to kick off.
Beast Wars (Part 2)
Airdate: 21 April 1996
Written by: Bob Forward
Japanese title: "Beat the Destrons!"
Dinobot challenges Optimus Primal to a one-on-one combat over the leadership of the Maximals. Primal tries to negotiate to Dinobot, welcoming the Predacon to join the ranks of the Maximals, though not as leader. Dinobot refuses these conditions, and the two battle. As the Maximals watch, as Primal knocks Dinobot onto his back. Dinobot tells Primal to finish him off, but Primal, being Maximal and all, refuses. Dinobot returns the favour by taking a cheap shot at Primal. Primal stumbles and nearly falls off the rock bridge, but Dinobot saves him, saying that it would not be an honourable victory if Optimus was defeated by slipping.
Optimus Primal and Dinobot continue their duel. The Predacons arrive, and opened fire on the two combatants. Primal pulls Dinobot from harm's way, although that leaves the two of them dangling precariously on the edge of the rock bridge. Dinobot, suffering from energon build-up, tells Primal to drop him so that the gorilla could save himself. Primal refuses. As they began to fall, Rhinox arrives and pulls them up. Seeing that all four Maximals (plus Dinobot) are on the rock bridge, the Predacons attack, blowing up the rock bridge. The Maximals make it in time across the chasm, although Rattrap needed to be saved by Primal.
As Megatron takes out his frustration on Terrorsaur, Scorponok points out that some of the Predacon missiles had blown up a mountain, revealing energon crystals inside. The Predacons head for the mountain, eager to mine the energon for themselves. The Maximals notice them, and decide to follow. In the process, Dinobot is grudgingly accepted into the Maximal ranks, although Rattrap is very unhappy with their newest recruit.
En route, they spot an odd stone circle, obviously not natural. However, before they could do anything, Terrorsaur and Waspinator arrives and strafes them. Optimus Primal transforms into robot mode and flies up, driving the two Predacons away. Dinobot joins the battle, firing with his optic lasers at the Predacons. However, he accidentally blasts a rocky ledge, nearly crushing Rhinox with it. Rattrap is convinced that Dinobot was intentionally trying to kill Rhinox, but Optimus tells him to stand down.
The Predacons arrive at the mountain, although the severe energon radiation forces them to remain in their protective beast modes. The Maximals soon arrive after the Perdacons. The two sides meet each other and clashes. Megatron bites a chunk out of Primal's leg, but he was thrown aside by the Maximal leader. Megatron tries to take out Primal with a missile, but Dinobot intercepts it, saving Optimus Primal from certain death. However, the missile detonated some of the energon crystals, causing a chain reaction to occur. Both sides evacuate the area, just in time for the energon cache to blow up.
Dinobot claims that saving Primal was the payment of a debt (Primal had saved his life earlier). The Maximal leader notes this, stating that it would be good enough for the moment, then proclaims that the Beast Wars have begun.
Featured Transformers: Dinobot, Optimus Primal, Rhinox, Cheetor, Rattrap, Megatron, Scorponok, Waspinator, Tarantulas, Terrorsaur
(Seven out of ten)
This episode plays off the plot threads from the first episode nicely, developing the Maximals' characters. The main thing which happened in this episode is Dinobot's defection from the Predacons and his subsequent integration in the Maximal army. Unlike Skyfire from the G1 cartoon, who joined the Autobots with little to no dissent from the other Autobots, Dinobot was not welcome with open hands. Rhinox and Rattrap were practically ready to blow him up after the rock bridge incident, and throughout the series Rattrap would keep bickering with Dinobot. Primal and Dinobot gets some of the better dialogues in their fight scene early on in the episode. The slight friction between Optimus and Rattrap early on in the series is evident as well, although you could see that Rattrap is getting used to the idea of Primal leading the Maximals.
Animation is mediocre, but then, this is an early episode. The battle scenes were nothing spectacular, but at least it delivers an impact, as well as physical contact, which the first part did not. The energon cache thing seems to be an overdone reuse of the plot 'Decepticons head off to an energy source', only that a mine of energon crystals would make a more interesting target for alien robots compared to, say, an oil rig. All in all, this episode is rather entertaining, and a nice introduction for the main characters. It's a shame that most of the Predacons are sidelined into brutish, dimwitted thugs.
Megatron says 'yesss' several times in this episode, playing on from his vaudevillian self from the first episode. 'Yesss' would be later immortalized as the Predacon leader's catchphrase of sorts.
Again, this episode emphasizes that the Beast Warriors cannot handle energon radiation in their robot mode. Spending a long amount of time in their robot modes also shorts out their circuits, forcing them to revert back into beast modes.
This episode marks the first appearance of energon crystals.
This episode is also the first debut of Optimus Primal's 'Prime Jets', which makes him the only Maximal who could fly in Season One until Airazor comes along.
At several points during the episode, some animation, like transformation scenes or Tarantulas firing his machine-guns, are re-used from the first episode, albeit with different backgrounds and whatnot stapled in.
Again, as in the first episode, Waspinator's black stripes are at times mapped vertically instead of horizontally, although in this episode it's not so noticeable.
Scorponok tells Megatron to look at the missiles before they impacted (and revealed the energon cache). Unless Scorponok is a psychic, there was no way he could know that the mountain would have energon inside it.
Megatron bites quite a chunk out of Optimus Primal's leg in the last battle. However, this damage disappears when the Maximals retreat, as well as all subsequent scenes after that.
During close-ups of Primal and Dinobot during the end of the episode, the other Maximals disappear from the background. This is made worse by other shots showing Rhinox and Rattrap standing behind the two during long shots (as well as during their respective dialogues). The rubble from the destroyed energon cache are visible on the scene featuring Rhinox and Rattrap, but said rubble all disappears when Primal and Dinobot talks.
Airdate: 18 September 1996
Written by: Larry DiTillio
Japanese title: "Cheetas' Crisis"
An energetic Cheetor volunteers to test a new comm-link device which Rhinox has developed. Primal and Rhinox instructs Cheetor not to break the valuable device and to steer clear from the Predacons. The youthful Maximal speeds out of the Maximal base, eager to test the device.
After running for a while, Cheetor hears an explosion. That explosion was caused by Scorponok, who is trying to unearth a mega-cannon which fell out during the space battle. Cheetor radios Optimus and heads off to investigate, despite his orders not to. A disappointed Optimus Primal sets out of the base to find Cheetor before athe youthful Maximal does anything stupid. Cheetor, meanwhile, sneaks behind Scorponok and holds him at gunpoint. Tarantulas, however, surprises the cheetah, allowing Scorponok to fire off a salvo of missiles at Cheetor. Scorponok orders Tarantulas to assist him in moving the cannon, but the spider had disappeared from sight, telling Scorponok to move the cannon himself before other Maximals arrive.
A short while later, Optimus Primal arrives to find a heavily damaged Cheetor. The Maximal was dreaming. In his dream, Cheetor was on Cybertron, easily taking out Megatron, Terrorsaur and Waspinator. However, dream-Cheetor was faced with the nine eyes of Tarantulas mocking him from the shadows inside a tower, causing Cheetor to be afraid. In his dream, Scorponok attacks him and an image of Rattrap appears for a split second. Dream Cheetor was soon taken out by Scorponok.
The real Cheetor awakens from the dream on the Axalon, having been repaired by Rhinox. Cheetor tries to defend himself, but both Optimus Primal and Rhinox are both disappointed and angry at the cheetah for disobeying orders, breaking the commlink device, and on top of it losing the cannon to the Predacons. Primal leaves the room, and Rattrap adds to Cheetor's load by insulting the young Maximal further. Cheetor bolts out of the room in anger. Rhinox tells Rattrap that they both know what Cheetor would do, and Rattrap grudgingly agrees to go after the cheetah.
Cheetor arrives at the Predacon base, seeing Terrorsaur and Scorponok installing the mega-cannon. Cheetor tries to sneak past them. However, Tarantulas sneaks up from the ground behind him, capturing the Maximal and dragging him down into his lair. Cheetor wakes up in Tarantulas' underground lair, stuck to a spiderweb which disables his movement. Tarantulas explains that the stasis web would drain Cheetor's energy, leaving the body for Tarantulas to consume. The spider cackles at the thought of the meal.
In the Maximal war room, Optimus Primal decides to send Rattrap on a scouting mission into Predacon territory. Rhinox, however, covers up Rattrap's absence by saying that Rattrap is talking to Cheetor. Meanwhile, Rattrap has followed Cheetor's scent into Tarantulas' lair, and enters. Rattrap battles Tarantulas. Rattrap tricks Tarantulas into attacking a heat signal and gets the jump on the spider. Rattrap destroys Tarantulas' web, grabs Cheetor and gets ready to leave. Tarantulas recovers and opens fire, causing an cave-in which buries the spider alive, while the Maximals escape.
Back at the Axalon, Rattrap claims that Cheetor and him were just hanging together, saving both of them from any trouble Primal would've surely given Cheetor. When the two of them are alone, Rattrap tells Cheetor that the lie is for his own benefit. Cheetor, however, is still grateful.
Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rhinox, Scorponok, Tarantulas, Starscream (dream), Terrorsaur (dream and present), Megatron (dream), Waspinator (dream and present), Rattrap, Dinobot
(Four out of ten)
Overall, there's not much in this episode which interests me. The plot jumps around on itself, while Cheetor's dream sequence is dull and banal. Basically the episode just defines that Cheetor is a brash youngster, Tarantulas is a scientist with a few bolts loose in his brain, and Rattrap is a jerk who cares for his friends. This episode also gives Scorponok's role as a loyal and dim-witted sub-commander who gets no respect from the other Predacons. This episode would be the beginning of the slew of character-centric episodes throughout the first season with generic plots. Although they're rather boring, they are a good way for the kids watching the show on Saturday mornings to identify with the characters.
Tarantulas' cannibalistic tendencies aside, the episode is rather predictable. The mega cannon which they made so much of a fuss on didn't get a disclosure. We even get a line from Dinobot saying it's essential for them to attack, but it never happens. You won't miss much if you skip this episode.
The Beast Warriors have been stranded on the planet for at least a month, as it is the time Rhinox had to make the commlink device.
Cheetor wakes up being repaired by Rhinox instead of in the CR Chamber. This doesn't go in goofs, as presumably the chambers haven't been fixed up yet.
This episode gives the first glimpse of Beast era Cybertron through Cheetor's dream. This would be the first of Cheetor's dreams throughout the series. It seemed as if he would've had some sort of precognitive powers (the dream showed Rattrap, who would later rescue him). However, this idea was never explained and would later be dropped.
Said dream also showed a close up on a Decepticon insignia on a jet's tail wing. The Decepticon jet is obviously based on G1 Starscream, albeit in CGI. Starscream's appearance here might be foreshadowing on the air commander's appearance later in the series. Either that or the animators just liked to sneak a cameo in.
The Mega-cannon, which is the plot device at the first half of the episode, gets forgotten after the Predacons capture it. It's never seen again in the series.
Tarantulas' character model has nine eyes, when spiders generally have eight eyes or less. This is a small error which happens throughout the series. He could have scanned a different species of spider, but where's the fun in that?
Scorponok's robot mode eyes change between his (correct) yellow colour and a shade of red at random intervals.
After the close up on Tarantulas' monitor showing Cheetor's vital energy levels dropping, the next shots show it back to full again.
Cheetor: "I don't have any real blood, just mech fluid!"
Tarantulas: "Oh, my filters will adjust. See, it is the act I enjoy more than the nourishment."
Tarantulas: "I hate that rat."
Would you like a hand?
I've watched BW so many times it's coming out of my pores.
Why not? The more the merrier, I say.
Airdate: 23 September 1996
Written by: Greg Johnson
Japanese title: "Operation Time Bomb Transfer!"
Optimus Primal watches as a bolt of lightning reveals a cache of energon crystals hidden inside a mountain. He attempts to contact the Maximal base, but the storm outside causes prevents the Maximal leader from sending the transmission clearly.
The other Maximals, meanwhile, are installing energon monitoring devices designed by Rhinox. Cheetor, bored, playes around with a time bomb. Dinobot don't like it and was about to snatch the bomb from the youngster when it was dropped towards the hatch. Fortunately, Optimus Primal was on his way up, and he caught the bomb before it could detonate. The Maximal leader orders the mission to be aborted until the storm fades. The other Maximals are unhappy with this development.
Dinobot enters Cheetor's quarters and suggests that the speedy youngster continue the mission despite the danger posed by the storm as well as the energon. Dinobot tells Cheetor to prove that he's no longer a child, and that Cheetor is the only one who could outrun the storm. Pride takes the better of Cheetor, and he goes off to do the mission.
Outside, Cheetor plants the energon monitoring mechanisms in quick succession. However, a stray bolt of lightning causes Cheetor to accidentally plant one of the devices too close to an energon vein. He tries to remove the device, but a second lightning bolt strikes, and Cheetor finds himself teleported inside the Predacon ship, much to the surprise of an on-duty Terrorsaur.
Terrorsaur welcomes Cheetor to the Darksyde and attacks the Maximal. In the resulting scuffle, Cheetor knocks Terrorsaur into the console that the Predacon had been manning, causing the pteranodon to disappear. Scorponok and Waspinator, attracted by the commotion, arrive and attack, pursuing Cheetor around the Predacon base until the cat hides in the ventilation shafts.
Terrorsaur, meanwhile, finds himself in the Axalon, where Dinobot gives him a friendly reception. The Predacon traitor questions Terrorsaur how he arrived, and the two figure out that a combination of the survey devices, the energon veins and the stormy weather caused a teleporter link between the two bases. Terrorsaur seems to convince DInobot that the two of them could take out the Maximals and Megatron, and rule together. Dinobot seems to go along, until he suddenly drops the charade and boots Terrorsaur into a waste disposal unit, which shoots him out of the Axalon.
Meanwhile, Cheetor continues to flee from Scorponok and Terrorsaur, and manages to elude the two long enough to hack the Predacons' data files, and figures that both bases sit alongside an Energon vein, so an explosion at one base would obliterate the other one. However, as soon as he downloads the data, the Predacons corner him.
At the Axalon, Optimus confronts Dinobot, and causes the former Predacon to tell him about the link between the two bases. Dinobot convinces Optimus Primal that Cheetor would've been destroyed by now, and tells Primal to send the time bomb through the link. Primal agrees, but he insists that the timer must be set with enough time to allow the Predacons to evacuate. Neither of them know that the destruction of the Predacon base would also blow the Axalon up.
Meanwhile, Cheetor throws the data storage device through the link, which transports it into the Axalon. However, before he or the Predacons could do anything, the time bomb appears in the console, forcing Megatron to allow Cheetor time to defuse the bomb. However, there wasn't enough time, so Cheetor throws it to Terrorsaur, who flies the bomb out of the base (and gets blown up for his trouble). Cheetor jumps into the console, disappearing through the link. The Predacons try to fire at Cheetor, but their attacks destroy the console. Furthermore, Cheetor's transport through the posts shatter them, destroying the link between the two bases.
Afterwards, Rhinox and Rattrap congratulate Cheetor's efforts at preventing the Axalon from being blown up. Apparently, Cheetor didn't tell anyone that Dinobot talked him into it, but it doesn't stop the velociraptor from stalking off. Primal tells Cheetor to obey orders, and Cheetor says that he will. Until next time, anyway.
Featured Transformers: Optimus Primal, Rhinox, Rattrap, Dinobot, Cheetor, Terrorsaur, Waspinator, Scorponok, Megatron
(Four cubes out of ten)
Well, how to put it? There are several good points this episode. Cheetor and Terrorsaur are no doubt the stars, with Cheetor's brashness and naiviety, as well as Terrorsaur's luckless ambitions to betray Megatron, being put up front. Dinobot's manipulation of his fellow Maximals is wonderfully done as well, and the moment where he makes it clear that he won't betray them (by booting Terrorsaur out) are wonderful moments of character. The Scorponok/Waspinator duo deserve a mention too, being very hilarious in their dialogue.
However, the plot itself is rather dodgy and pretty weird, even in Transformer standards. The energon vein is never mentioned again in any other episode, and some of the action scenes are dull, such as Cheetor's emo posturing in beast mode when Scorponok and Waspinator blast him. Still, not a bad episode, but another one which you could skip without missing anything.
Terrorsaur greets Cheetor by welcoming him to the 'Dark Side'. While the episode script was intending for Terrorsaur to be dramatic, but some transformer fans thought that the Predacon was being literal and that the Predacon ship was named the 'Darkside'. This bit of fandom term would be canonized by Japanese game 'Beast Wars: Transmetals', as well as BotCon story 'Dawn of Future's Past'. However, to avoid trademark issues, it was parsed as 'Darksyde'. Seriously.
Scorponok's missile again has the 'Maximal kill' insignia stamped on it, although it has Predacon ones in 'the Web'.
After Cheetor escapes from the vents, the forehead crown on his head falls out on a spring. In the immediate next scene, it's back on his head. This doesn't go in goofs as it's more of a 'Looney Tunes'-esque cartoony damage, which appear occassionally in the Beast Wars.
Dinobot calls Terrorsaur 'Needlenose' before he flushes the Predacon out of the base. While this is mainly a reference to the pteranodon's long beak, it might be a veiled reference at the G1 Decepticon with the same name.
When Optimus Primal tosses the time bomb in his hand, it moves in an odd way, as if he was throwing it at the other direction.
The energon vein disappears after this episode. According to Cheetor, the destruction of one of the two bases would destroy the other. Explosions would happen frequently between the two bases. Even though the Quantum Explosion at the end of Season One would've neutralized said energon vein, it still doesn't explain how giant explosions which happen in both Predacon and Maximal bases (in episodes such as 'Victory' or 'Possession') doesn't destroy the other.
Terrorsaur: "Welcome to the Dark Side!" (replace with Darksyde if desired)
Cheetor: -in robot mode- "Cheetor, maximi.. did that already."
Scorponok: "He's gone into the vents! You better report this to Megatron."
Waspinator: "Me? You're second-in-command!"
Scorponok: "So make it an order!"
Terrorsaur: "Hey, what are you doing? We're partners!"
Dinobot: "In case you had not realized, Needlenose... I am not a team player."
Cheetor: "Okay, okay. I'll never do that again! Until the next time."
I'll have to have a dig for VHS or DVDs- I'll probably have a go at the second season.
@ Denyer - so the cartoon section'll get a new look sometime down the line? Awesome... :up:
@ Sades - The second season? Okay then. After all, second reviews are welcome in the site, is it not? In any case, my boxed DVD set for the second season have vanished into thin air (literally), so it'll save me the download time in YouTube.
I have no idea- Not sure what you mean by second reviews, but if you're wanting to do them by yourself and are just too polite to say so, that's no problem really. I won't take offense.
We have multiple reviews on toys and comics. The 'info' bits (synopsis, notes, etc) would be more collaborative under a content management system anyway.
Main thing I need to research now is how to quickly transfer file ownership between PHP/FTP processes, ideally without a shell account being involved.
Don't worry, just do the reviews if you want to. :D
Chain of Command
Airdate: 24 September 1996
Written by: Jesse Winfield
Japanese title: Convoy Disappeared
The Maximals are investigating energon readings under the Standing Stones, an unnatural formation of stones. Rattrap thinks it is bait, while Rhinox comments that the energon on the planet isn't natural. The Predacons attack, but in the battle, the energon crystals was hit by a laser beam, destabilising them. Megatron and Optimus both order their troops to retreat in fear of an explosion. However, instead of exploding, the crystals sent a beam into space., before running out of juice. The Maximals return to base.
Soon, an alien probe comes out of a transwarp portal and streaks towards the planet. Both sides arrive on the Standing Stones again to claim the probe. The Predacons mistake it as a stasis pod, while Rhinox recognises that this is something else. Both sides head to intercept it at the Standing Stones. However, as they face off the probe emits a beam of light which causes Optimus Primal to vanish into thin air.
Soon afterwards, Dinobot awakens in the Axalon's CR chamber. Rhinox and the others inform him that the probe has somehow dumped Dinobot, Megatron and Waspinator (those closest to the probe at that time) near their respective bases. Dinobot seizes the opportunity by saying he should take command. Rattrap, naturally, disagrees. Rhinox insists that they each take a vote. However, the vote results in a stalemate, and Dinobot tries to break the tie by force. However, before the fight could begin, they are contacted by Optimus Primal.
Apparently, Primal's body has been shunted elsewhere, but his consciousness remains active within the probe. To the dismay of Dinobot, Primal puts Rattrap in charge.
Megatron, also thinking that Optimus Primal is dead, divides his force into two Scorponok and Waspinator head to the Standing Stones to investigate, while Tarantulas, Terrorsaur and himself head to the Maximal Base. Dinobot battles Megatron one-on-one, ignoring Rattrap's order to reset the Axalon's damaged shield circuitry. Rattrap heads out on his own and is able to restore the shields at the last moment. Dinobot manages to beat Megatron, and the Predacons retreat. Dinobot apologises to Rattrap for not following the rodent's orders, claiming that he has 'dishonoured'.
Rhinox manages to invent a device which should, in theory, extract Optimus Primal from the alien probe. The Predacons have been waiting in an ambush and attack. Rhinox's device fails, and the normally mild-mannered scientist unleashes his anger on Waspinator with his chaingun, blasting him apart. Waspinator shorts out and comes in contact with one of the stones in the formation, causing the all of the Standing Stones to glow. The alien probe opens, and Optimus Primal materialises. The battle turns in the Maximal's favour, but before the Maximals could do anything about the alien probe it disappears.
Optimus Primal praises Rattrap on his temporary performance as commander, but Rattrap is more than happy to hand the title back to Primal. The Maximals wonder what the probe's purpose was, and Rhinox ominously says that the aliens have learned their ability to reason... as well as their destructive capabilities.
Featured Transformers: Dinobot, Rattrap, Rhinox, Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Megatron, Waspinator, Terrorsaur, Tarantulas, Scorponok
(Eight out of ten)
Well, there's very little to find fault with in this episode. It nicely introduces the Aliens, but it's self-contained in itself, what with the bickering between Rattrap and Dinobot being the main plot after Primal's disappearance. The friction between Dinobot and Rattrap, and the former's deference later after discovering his errors, are just nice character moments. Even second-stringers like Rhinox and Scorponok get their own little moments: Rhinox expresses his pent-up frustration of having to invent the device and acting as the peacemaker by unleashing his 'Chaingun of Doom' on Waspinator, while Scorponok loses his cool near Tarantulas and Terrorsaur.
Well, the heroic leader disappearing and the troops having to manage on their own is probably reused cartoon plot #25298, but it is delivered well anyway. The fight scenes are well done, even if some stock animation is reused. Little moments like Primal reading something and Dinobot mistaking the CR chamber for a torture chamber is precious. One of the better episodes of the season.
This is the first hint given to the Aliens, and their name would later be given in the series as the Vok. The Beast Wars is partly due to their... ah, well. Nevermind. We'll come into this later. Well, just notice that the episode which debuts the aliens has the second moon in the opening shot. Foreshadowing, perhaps?
The Standing Stones has previously been glimpsed in 'Beast Wars (Part 2)'. The Standing Stones might have been inspired by real-life rock formations like the Stonehenge, which, according to some people, were built by aliens.
This episode also features the debut of Rhinox's 'Chaingun of Doom'.
This episode is also the first time Waspinator gets blown up. This would be a running gag throughout the series after this point, with Waspinator litterally being blown up at nearly every episode afterwards.
Rhinox voted for Rattrap, while Cheetor voted for Dinobot. This could be seen when Rhinox gave Cheetor a glare when he reads a second vote for Dinobot. This voting might seem odd, since Rattrap helped Cheetor in the previous episode ('Equal Measures') while Dinobot got him into trouble. Perhaps Cheetor just wants to go into battle that much?
Rattrap references 'B Movies'.
Terrorsaur's upper body is distorted during the initial fight when Waspinator and him swoop to attack Optimus.
Scorponok wears a Maximal insignia on several scenes.
Dinobot's foot cuts through Megatron's head when the former delivers his flying kick thing.
Rattrap: -to Dinobot- "Maximals don't have torture chambers! Though, you know, I could get behind that idea."
Scorponok: -panics when Megatron's under repairs- "Megatron back! Megatron back! Scorponok alone with Tarantulas and Terrorsaur. Very bad!"
Dinobot: "Haha, great system, your democracy. No mechanism to break a tie!"
Rhinox: "Make a device to extract physical molecular structure from an alien probe? Man, I've gotta be a miracle worker!"
Dinobot: "You were selfless in putting that shield back online. I ought to have followed your command I... am dishonoured."
Rattrap: -uncomfortable- "Eeeh.... next time."
Airdate: 25 September 1996
Written by: Larry DiTillio
Japanese Title: The Aerial Mountain Explodes
A falcon flies through the skies, over all the general area. However, it was eaten by a passing Terrorsaur. The Predacon discovers a mountain which was floating in the sky, defying gravity. Terrorsaur inspects the bizarre phenomenon, and discovers that it contains massive amount of energon crystals. Terrorsaur transforms into robot mode to take a sample, and a surge of energon flows through him, empowering his systems. Terrorsaur flies back to the Predacon base to overthrow Megatron. From a nearby cliff, Cheetor observes the Predacon.
Outside their base, Megatron shows the rest of the Predacons some newly installed autoguns. Terrorsaur chooses this moment to arrive, and announces his attempt at leadership. Megatron and Terrorsaur come to blows, but the over-energized Predacon easily defeats Megatron, sending the purple saurian tumbling down a cliff and falling apart. Terrorsaur announces to the Predacons stooges that the Maximals are the next target. However, Terrorsaur discovers that his power boost has a short fuse, and hurriedly flies back to the floating mountain to recharge.
Tarantulas, eager to steal Terrorsaur's newfound power, follows Terrorsaur. Scorponok, meanwhile, left alone, without anyone to supervise, convinces Waspinator to help him rebuild Megatron. Meanwhile, Cheetor observes all these, having followed Terrorsaur from the floating mountain. He rushes back to the Axalon and informs his comrades of the situation. Rhinox concludes that a scientific explanation for the floating mountain might be the sheer amount of energon, while Primal and Rattrap head out to destroy the island.
Terrorsaur, meanwhile, having his power-up drained, lands on the floating island, and recharge his powers. This was seen by Tarantulas, who was climbing up a strand of web to reach the island, as well as a Rattrap-carrying Optimus. To give Rattrap time to plant some explosives, Primal engages Terrorsaur in an airborne battle. Although Optimus dodges most of the blasts from Terrorsaur, a well-aimed optic beam hits him, forcing him into beast mode. However, as Terrorsaur was about to deliver the final blow, Terrorsaur's enhancements run out again, and he is forced to go for another recharge.
Meanwhile, Rattrap was ambushed by Tarantulas, and the two battle in their beast modes. Rattrap manages to blind Tarantulas with mud, and the disoriented spider falls off the edge of the island into the ground below. Terrorsaur, arriving, discovers the timed explosives Rattrap had planted and flees in panic without recharging.
The explosives detonate the energon crystal, blowing up the whole mountain. Optimus Primal flies up to carry Rattrap to safety and the duo lands on a tree. Meanwhile, a beaten-up Terrorsaur returns home to meet a Megatron, who is far from pleased to see him.
Featured Transformers: Terrorsaur, Cheetor, Megatron, Scorponok, Tarantulas, Waspinator, Rhinox, Rattrap, Optimus Primal
(Seven cubes out of ten)
Give it a seven. While you never believe for once while watching the episode that Terrorsaur would succeed past this episode, it is rather hilarious to see some of the scenes in the episode. While it's a quick recycling of the numerous Starscream plots from G1, Terrorsaur is at least better played compared to Starscream. At the very least, he tries to find a proper advantage before attempting to overthrow Megatron. Come to think of it, Screamer and Terrorsaur are very similar, aren't they? Both have red in their bodies, both have flying alternate modes, both have whiney voices, both have back-mounted wings in robot mode, both are treacherous...
This early in the series, again I must mention, each episode is standalone, with their own little G1-ish plots. But it works to net children and introduce them to transformers, before going to delve deeper into the plot of why Megatron came to the planet in the first place. But at least they learnt from their mistakes in G1 — Terrorsaur doesn't try to piss off Megatron every single episode, unlike Starscream. In fact, other than this episode and I think 'Double Jeopardy', I don't think Terrorsaur had attempted other coups. Which is a good thing... it gets old after some time. Overall, this is not a stellar episode, but it's good and funny.
Terrorsaur eating the bird in the intro of the episode is a reference to his bio, where it states that he "ingests entire flocks of birds by flying opened mouthed through their flight pattern." The bird, it seems, uses Airazor's beast mode character model.
Cheetor points at a location in a place similarly shaped North America to indicate where the floating mountain is, giving a little foreshadowing that the planet really is Earth.
When Optimus and Rattrap flies towards the mountain, Rattrap makes a reference to the bat Optimus Primal toy, by suggesting that he choose a bat as his alt mode.
This episode marks the first appearance of the Predacons' autoguns.
Terrorsaur quotes Megatron's trademark "Yeesssss" right after he declares "Megatron is scrap!" Ah, the irony.
Optimus Primal seems to quote G1 Whirl's motto when he says "Sometimes crazy works." However, it might be a simple coincidence.
At one point, the 'energy surge' effect on Terrorsaur changes colour from red to blue randomly.
When Terrorsaur recharges for the second time, his body begans to flicker together with the energon.
The floating island is rotating, but Tarantulas, who's scurrying up a webline, doesn't revolve with it. In fact, the webline should've turned along with the island.
Dinobot is absent for the entire episode.
Terrorsaur: "Megatron is scrap, yessss."
Scorponok: "I am second in command!"
Scorponok: "Well what?"
Waspinator: "If you're second in command, what is your command?"
Scorponok: -stops to think-
Optimus Primal: "Sometimes crazy works."
Terrorsaur: "Blast those Maximals! They destroyed my power source! But at least I got rid of Megatron."
Megatron: -steps out of base- "Well, well, look who's back."
Terrorsaur: "Help." -screen fades to grayscale-
Dinobot shows his ambition and temper. I knew I like him the first time I saw him.
Airdate: 30 September 1996
Written by: Bob Forward
Japanese title: Solitary Warrior Tigatron
A stasis pod falls from orbit around the planet, plummeting down and finally crash landing on an icy, deserted sector in the North. Instead of going immediately to obtain the stasis pod, Megatron decides to ambush the Maximals' sole flier, Optimus Primal.
Somewhere outside the Maximal base, Dinobot warns Primal against heading out alone. However, Primal is insistent on heading off to retrieve the stasis pod containing a fellow Maximal. Waspinator and Terrorsaur ambushes Primal, and damage him. However, Dinobot manages to drive them off before they could finish off Primal. In the Predacon base, Megatron continues with his plans. Realising that the Maximals would send a ground party to retrieve the stasis pod, the Maximal base would be undermanned and vulnerable to attack. Megatron sends the airborne Predacons to fetch the pod, while he leads the remaining troops to assault the Maximal base.
Meanwhile, the Maximals run towards the crash site in their beast modes, leaving the damaged Optimus Primal and Dinobot in their base to recuperate. Rhinox urges the Maximals to hurry, as if the pod is damaged the Protoform robot inside will be expired to the unstable energon of the planet. True enough, as the pod opens, the Protoform's hand reaches out and starts to short out from the energon.
However, the Maximals come across an ice bridge above a crevasse. Waspinator and Terrorsaur arrives and after a brief battle, the Predacons blow up the bridge, hindering the Maximals from getting to the pod. Rattrap radios base and informs the status to Dinobot, who in turn accesses Optimus Primal's consciousness in the CR chamber and informs the monkey. Primal suggests that they send a transmission to the pod by bouncing the signal off of something.
A short while later, Megatron, Scorponok and Tarantulas arrive on the Maximal base to witness Dinobot setting up the transmitter on top of the base. Megatron offers Dinobot a chance to return to the Predacon fold, but Dinobot replies by blasting Megs.
However, Scorponok and Tarantulas return fire, damaging Dinobot. Despite this, he still manages to activate. The Axalon's autoguns which quickly takes care of the Predacons. Megatron, seeing that their situation is disadvantaged, orders his troops to fall back and head to the pod's crash site.
With the transmitter in place, Primal is able to bounce a transmission off one of the moons and towards the stasis pods, and the transmission triggers the stasis pod's DNA scanners. The repaired Primal then steps out of the CR chamber, puts the damaged Dinobot inside and flies off.
Waspinator and Terrorsaur struggles to open the pod, and the Maximals, having taken an alternate route, arrives. Before either side could attack, however, Megatron shows up and threatens to kill two white tigers if the Maximals do not surrender the pod. Unable to risk innocent life, the Maximals are forced to watch as Megatron gloats, claiming that he will reprogram the Protoform into a Predacon. He opens the pod... to find it empty. One of the white tiger transforms and introduces himself as the Maximal Tigatron. Tigatron opens fire on the Predacons, and the arrival of Optimus Primal forces the Predacons to retreat.
Primal thanks Tigatron and welcomes him to the team. Tigatron apologises for not acting sooner, as his identity circuits were damaged in the pod's landing and he was not sure who he was until he saw the Maximals were willing to sacrifice their lives to protect others. However, Tigatron declines the Maximals' offer to go to their base, saying that he's more tiger than transformer and feels that his home is in the wild. However, he pledges loyalty to the Maximals as a scout.
?Featured Transformers: Rhinox, Optimus Primal, Rattrap, Cheetor, Terrorsaur, Megatron, Dinobot, Waspinator, Scorponok, Tarantulas, Tigatron
Notable others: Snowstalker
(Five out of ten)
Well, the build-up of the episode is well done. Megatron's scheming and strategies, the tension of the Maximals as they race to the pod, and it has some comical moments like Waspinator getting flattened by a rock or Scorponok finding himself face-to-face with the autoguns. However, the latter half of the episode suffers from bad scripting. How Megatron got from the Axalon to the crash site in under one minute is a niggling question, and Tigatron's 'new toy' status means he gets to beat up any Predacon in his way.
Regardless, it's a nice debut for Tigatron, although his refusal to join the Maximals and his explanation is very dodgy. Perhaps he just didn't like them? Also, I don't like the Maximals giving up one of their own to save a couple of animals. Protecting humans, a la G1, is a different thing. While it might teach kiddies to love animals, it doesn't make sense in context of the story. Surely the Maximals are made up of sterner stuff? That scene is a little emo, to be honest. But still, a decent episode.
This is the first episode centering on stasis pods. Well, a little talk on them. Some sources say that stasis pods, containing protoforms, are like eggs who contain blank slates which are the protoforms inside. The protoforms would be like a newborn transformer, with little or no memory. Most of the transformers birthed from stasis pods do act this way, as newly born (albeit powerful) transformers. However, in several cases, like Rampage, or Grimlock (in the IDW comics), it seems that a pre-existing transformer could be reduced into a protoform-like state and put into sleep in a stasis pod. Sort of. It's kinda fuzzy.
The Predacons plan to reprogram Maximal protoforms with shell programs to boost their forces.
First debut of Tigatron, obviously. Also, that other white tiger with Tigatron, Snowstalker, also makes its debut in the episode.
Tigatron's quote at the end of the episode, "Let the trails lead where they mayI will follow." would serve as his quote in both his Fun Publications bio as well as his Beast Wars Sourcebook bio.
This is also the first appearance for the Maximal Autoguns. Apparently you can avoid getting shot if you stand really, really still. Considering they used to blow a hole in the Darksyde, their power seems to be depleted, since they didn't do that much damage to Scorponok and Tarantulas other than launch them away from the Maximal base.
Waspinator gets flattened (literally) by a huge rock, complete with Looney Tunes effects. However, he doesn't spend any time in the CR Pool or being repaired, and functions normally throughout the episode. Then again, he's Waspinator...
The big one: Terrorsaur, Waspinator and the Maximal trio takes the entire episode to get to the snowly wastelands and the pod, but Megatron manages it in several shots. Optimus Primal's jets excuse him from this fact, but that doesn't change that Megatron gets from the Axalon to the crash site in the same amount of time it took for Optimus to send a signal.
After Optimus is shot down by Waspinator and Terrorsaur, his right shoulder pad is upside down.
When Scorponok shoots Dinobot off the Maximal base's roof, his scorpion legs somehow clips through his chest. This is odd considering Scorpy's scorpion legs aren't supposed to be visible in robot mode.
When Cheetor lowers his gun in surrender, it clips through his leg.
In several shots near the end of the episode, Tigatron's beast-mode legs are yellow instead of white.
Terrorsaur's map of the landmasses look absolutely nothing like Earth, prehistoric or otherwise.
Waspinator: -flattened by giant rock- "Ohhhh no. Waspinator in trouble!"
Megatron: "You were a Predacon once, become one again. Turn the base over to me and the Beast Wars will be over. We Predacons will rule the galaxy and you shall be my second in command. What do you say?"
Dinobot: -pretends to consider offer- "Eat slag!"
Rattrap: "You win, you depraved wad of stinkin' slag."
Thanks for doing reviews BlackJack, it makes me want to watch the show again to see all the cheesy stuff again.
I can't remember the last time I watched the entire series, likely when it was airing, I think my DVDs are still sealed :)
Myself, I only managed to catch horribly dubbed episodes of Beast Wars (or was it BM? Can't remember...) when I was waaay young. And even then I didn't realize it was transformers. I've managed to get myself DVD sets of the two series and watched it all, though.
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