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Old 2011-03-22, 02:16 PM   #1
Blackjack
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Default Cartoon Episode Reviews: Robots in Disguise [completed]

Battle Protocol!
Airdate: 8 September 2001
Written By: Junki Takegami
Adapted By: Tom Wyner
Japanese Title: First Deployment! Fire Convoy

Synopsis:
Koji wakes up, and falls out of bed in haste to catch his father on TV. Archaeologist and the world's foremost expert on energy, Dr Onishi, is on New York, speaking in the first International Scientific Symposium and is giving a speech. The speech is interrupted when a building explodes, heralding the arrival of a giant hand that transforms into Megatron. The Predacons want energy, and thinks Dr Onishi will be able to help them to reach this goal. On Japan Koji tries to call his father, but is unable to do so. Instead a mysterious robot asks Koji to meet him at Metro Park to rescue his father. Optimus Prime, after helping to put out a fire, drives to Metro Park to pick up Koji. Optimus explains to Koji that he's from the planet Cybertron and takes him through the Global Space Bridge which allows them to span the Earth's distance in minutes. Optimus Prime arrives in New York, and begins to battle with Megatron. Megatron summons the Predacon trio Slapper, Gas Skunk and Dark Scream to handle Optimus while he goes after Dr Onishi.

Optimus activates T-AI, who initiates Batte Protocol to summon the Autobot Brothers. X-Brawn ejects his driver, Kelly, out of him to enter the Space Bridge. Prowl chews Side Burn out for chasing a red sports car again, and the three fly out of the Global Space Bridge. The Autobot trio and the Predacon trio battle, while Megatron and Optimus Prime duke it out. Megatron offers to share Earth's resources with Optimus, but the Autobot predictably refuses. Megatron transforms into jet mode, grabs Dr Onishi with a tractor beam and escapes. The Predacon trio hightail it. Optimus tells a disheartened Koji that they will get his father back.

Featured Transformers: Optimus Prime, Megatron, Slapper, Gas Skunk, Dark Scream, X-Brawn, Side Burn, Prowl
Notable Others: Koji Onishi, Koji's Mom, Professor Onishi, T-AI, Kelly

Review:
Banal and boring, even admitted so by the dub team. Robots in Disguise is a mainly silly show, kind of an attempt to be like more slapstick anime shows like Pokemon or Power Rangers or stuff. It's got a bunch of villains who aren't the least bit threatening, a bunch of characters with their own crazy faults, more concern about telling bad jokes than whether stuff like, say, the Global Space Bridge makes sense... also, unlike Pokemon or even later Japanese-dubbed show, RID suffers from a terrible, lifeless dubbing team. The Predacons have identikit whiny-growly voices while all the Autobot troops have rather generic flanged voices. Koji has the personality of a rock, and there's absolutely no justification for Optimus simply dragging him into battle.

The introduction of everybody and dropping all their characters (Brawn loves off roading, Side Burn loves red sports cars, Prowl is a stuck-up by the book cop) is handled terribly. Pacing is rubbish, since the second half of the episode is basically waiting for Megatron to walk towards the doctor. And you get tired of hearing them call out their attacks every single time. The animation is hand-drawn, like G1, and obviously the models are barely more complex, but it won't do much to save the show. There are ways to introduce your cast and the plot, and this is one of the worst. Thankfully it'll improve, but not much.

(One out of Ten)

General Differences with Car Robots:
Robots in Disguise is a dubbed and edited version of the Japanese show Car Robots, which aired when USA got Beast Machines. (Beast Machines was only released in DVD form in Japan) The toyline consisted of only several original toys, while the rest are repainted Beast Wars, Machine Wars and G2 toys that never made it out in Japan. Plus the repainted Combaticons.

Car Robots is supposed to be set in 2000 of the Generation One continuity with all new characters (Fire Convoy of Car Robots isn't the same with Convoy of G1, for instance) according to Takara's 'Official Transformers Timeline', but the show is created with the mind of being standalone. It's like one of those things Hasbro says about Primus and Unicron being universal singularities that you ignore because it doesn't make sense. Robots in Disguise is set in its own continuity, although when it first appeared people assumed it's set still in the farflung future of G1 between Season Three and Beast Wars when 'reboots' aren't the norm like they are now.

Robots in Disguise retcons Tokyo into the fictional Metro City for some reason. Also, when landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower or anything else gets mentioned, they never get called by name.

Robots in Disguise edits out and rearranges some part, cutting jokes specific to a Japanese culture (such as, say, Kappas or sushi jokes) and replacing them with talky sequences made from looped dialogue.

RID adds some 'robot POV' CG at some points to represent Predacons or Autobots locking on something. It clashes very badly with the standard animation.

Since 9/11 happens a short while after RID was released, a lot of destroying building sequences were cut, while some (such as 'Attack from Outer Space', 'Landfill' and 'Sky-Byte Saves the Day') were not aired at all due to ludricious demolitions of buildings. This episode has hand-mode Megatron crashing through a skyscraper, and such shots were edited out when it was re-aired after 9/11. The next episode, which aired a day before 9/11, was also never re-aired again.

Also, during battle protocol procedures, instead of showing their toy IDs (C-002, C-003 etc) the computer only shows the names of the Autobots, but only those that will be selected while Car Robots shows toy IDs of everybody.

Last but not least, RID renames everybody. Fire Convoy becomes Optimus Prime, Mach Alert becomes Prowl, Wildride becomes X-Brawn, Speedbreaker becomes the silly-named Side Burn, Ai-chan becomes T-AI, Gigatron becomes Megatron, Guildo becomes Dark Scream, Gushar becomes Slapper.

Notes:
Koji's alarm is based on the time-manipulating Maximal Heinrad from Beast Wars Neo. The real Heinrad toy is a clock in its own right.

The Autobots in RID all have little monitors that show their robot mode faces when talking in their alternate mode.

X-Brawn's head is visible on the driver's side of his vehicle mode. Kelly apparently owns him.

Both Optimus and Prowl function as part of Metro City's fire department and police department respectively.

Slapper, Gas Skunk and Dark Scream are repainted versions of Beast Wars toys, specifically TM2 Spittor, Stinkbomb and Night Glider. The BW toys' spark crystals are repurposed to become the Predacons' Right Laser! Left Laser! Centre Laser!

Note that Megatron is a six-changer, although we only see his dragon, jet and giant hand mode here. Yes, giant hand. Don't ask.

Slapper's tongue is 42 feet, 3 inches.

Dark Scream's Centre Laser can freeze you.

First appearances of everybody.

Goofs:
Why the hell would Optimus take Koji anywhere near a battle? Or spend like ten minutes talking to the kid?

Koji claims that to get from Metro City to New York, Optimus would have to drive across the Atlantic Ocean, when it should have been the Pacific.

The whole 'battle protocol' idea is rubbish, surely? Member select and everything to find those closest, when the Global Space Bridge's whole point is to teleport stuff around.

The Global Space Bridge itself is never explained beyond 'magic'. At times it's a shiny tunnel that can teleport you anywhere from a sewer to desert, at times it's a long track in an equivalent to hyperspace that the Autobots drive through, at times it's a physical series of tunnels and racetracks that the Autobots can dig through... and its limitations are well and truly varied via the plot.

A dub-induced error. Kelly is Japanese in Car Robots, so it's night during her scene as it should be. But she says she wants to go to New York by breakfast, even though it's day in New York.

Slapper's head is undersized when he transforms. Since it is stock footage that is often repeated with different backgrounds (a la Beast Machines), this goof is repeated in numerous other episodes.
 

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-11-23 at 04:38 AM. Reason: revision
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