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Old 2010-01-24, 02:22 PM   #1
Blackjack
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Smile 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..

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Beast Wars (Part 1)
Airdate: 16 May 1996
Written by: Bob Forward
Japanese Title: "Enter the Super Robot Lifeforms!"

SYNOPSIS
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

REVIEW
(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.

NOTES
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.

GOOFS
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.

GOOFS

Quote, Unquote
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."
 


Last edited by Blackjack; 2010-02-02 at 07:33 AM.
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