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Old 2012-04-12, 05:19 PM   #1
Knightdramon
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Default [Prime] Actual plot progress in the series so far?

Obviously spoilers for everything up to "Nemesis Prime"

It just occured to me that Prime got a proper first season by US standards [24 or something episodes versus the 16 Animated got] and with around 1/3rd of the second season done, I was actually compiling thoughts and comparisons in my head for Prime and Animated\Beast Wars\Beast Machines.

Not that I have anything against RID or AEC, but they weren't filmed with US television standards and had different storytelling elements.

Do we have an actual ongoing plot for TF:Prime so far? Or actual character progression?

BW had the entirety of the first season with them trying to figure out where they were, finding any stray protoform pods and all the while engaging Megatron in a battle for energon. During that period, we came to terms with Primal's grip on the group as a war leader, Dinobot's doubts, Rattrap having to learn to work as a team unit, Cheetor learning something and Tigatron coming to terms with his own self and pacifistic attitudes.

In Prime, in the first season at least, there were no actual character arcs bar that of Arcee and Starscream, possibly Megatron as well. The setting is on Earth; for no reason. The Decepticons are mining for energon deposits and discovering cybertronian artifacts, while the autobots are *trying* to stop them, being low on energon.

Megatron returns from a completely unexplained absence with a shard of dark energon, Starscream plots to be the leader, actually gets to be a leader for ten episodes and doesn't really do much.

When Megatron returns, nothing happens besides the out of blue appearance of the prophecy and Unicron.

The only ongoing actual plot is the discovery of cybertronian artifacts, which again Megatron only thought of going after when he had Optimus under his wing to break the code. MECH has a much clearer and completed task so far; they wanted a man-made transformer, they got one.

Any thoughts and discussion on this matter? Am I the only one that thinks things are going on slow in the series? By this landmark in Animated, with fewer episodes to boot, Optimus had repelled a claim on the allspark, shattered it, the Decepticons rose from nothing to a rebel unit, there was much more interaction with the human world, Megatron had a plan to take cybertron back, and high command had already attempted to reach the earth-based autobots and get briefed on the allspark situation. With numerous smaller plots going on, like Lockdown's saga, Wasp and Longarm's saga, Ratchet's past and so on.

So far Prime is full of small arcs- Starscream's quest, Airrachnid's accidental inclusion in the Decepticon ranks, the cybertronian artifacts, MECH...and no big picture at all.
 

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Old 2012-04-12, 05:37 PM   #2
Cliffjumper
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I don't think grand over-arching plots are particularly necessary as long as there is forward progress and no reset buttons. Only BW/BM with its' 13 part seasons have even partway been able to sustain them for Transformers.

I'm not sure big arcs are necessary as long as the basics are good enough. Things are unfolding nicely, and Transformers generally has a bad record with self-conscious epics (hello Unicron Trilogy! hello IDW!).
 
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Old 2012-04-15, 08:43 AM   #3
Skyquake87
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I don't know, I can see where Knightdramon is coming from. With the 'narrative' of a largely post-war setting (or so it seems, the Autobots are defeated and The Decepticons seem to be lording it over them) it does feel like we the viewer just have to take the set up as it is. It just doesn't feel quite as fully formed as it should. Now, whilst Beast Wars wasn't crystalised in its first season, both it and Animated did go to some lengths to flesh out the circumstances of the main protangonists and their worlds.

Whilst the lack of 'spoon feeding' in Prime makes a change, it does seem like its because its not been terribly well thought out. There's no real drive to the show. Its set up seems to exist only for its own sake. What, for instance is the Autobots relationship with Earth's government..what are they actually hoping to achieve on Earth? Likewise, Megatron and The Decepticons motivations seem a bit woolly. They want the artifacts..but for what? and why? Having subjugated their Autobot enemies, what do they possibly need these things for? There's certainly no indication that The Decepticons are low on energon...are they working to restore Cybertron?

The plodding along and smelling the roses approach of Prime is fine, but seems a bit safe on occasion. It needs to step up some more and show us what its made of, which I feel it still lacks at the moment. it's still just the sum of its parts - a jumble of ideas cribbed from across previous incarnations with just an impressive production and visuals to carry it along, and its not enough.
 
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Old 2012-04-15, 09:00 AM   #4
relak
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I think the "jumble of ideas" is precisely what it is.

My theory

1) Hasbro wants their say in the creative control since its their production and on their network. Definitely, they just want to sell toys. Having epic over-arching plots makes it difficult for new viewers to "jump in", hence i can see why they are not pursueing that format of show.

2) Orci and Kurtzman are most likely reusing ideas for the live action TV movies that they never got to use thanks to Michael Bay's creative interference (and Ehren Kreuger for the 2nd and 3rd movie). So they got tons of those ideas and just want to plonk them out.
 
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Old 2012-04-16, 03:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by relak View Post
1) Hasbro wants their say in the creative control since its their production and on their network. Definitely, they just want to sell toys.
If they really wanted to sell a lot of toys...wouldn't they mandate more characters than...what...10?
 

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Old 2012-04-16, 04:15 PM   #6
Cliffjumper
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Mmm, while obvious Hasbro like selling toys it's worth remembering that a) for a while it didn't look like there was going to be a bonafide Prime toyline and b) they've let them kill characters off before toys were even in store. While the CGI models aren't cheap, Hasbro could easily lean on them to get recolours in the show and, as yet, haven't. For all our fears, Season 2 is - what - eight episodes out of 22 (IIRC) in and there's been one new character added to the cast.

I mean, after all, they left BW & BM to it for the most part.
 
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Old 2012-04-16, 04:54 PM   #7
Jaynz
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Originally Posted by Skyquake87 View Post
Having subjugated their Autobot enemies, what do they possibly need these things for? There's certainly no indication that The Decepticons are low on energon...are they working to restore Cybertron?
The Decepticons haven't subjigated much of anyone. They destroyed their own and are now wandering, much like the Autobots are. Megatron's command is down to the equivalent of a single air-craft carrier. The Autobots don't even have that much.

Megatron, here, is looking to 'jump start' his ambition again, reubilding his poewr base rather than looking for direct conflict with Prime, or reviving Cybertron, etc. He's basically playing "Evil Genius" on hard mode and is just wrapping up the first level after crashing his game the first time out.
 
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Old 2012-04-18, 06:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
In Prime, in the first season at least, there were no actual character arcs bar that of Arcee and Starscream, possibly Megatron as well.
I have to disagree with that. Optimus goes from "Everyone deserves a chance at redemption, even Decepticons" to "Autobots and Decepticons will never be at peace, so I'm going to go kill Megatron in cold blood so that it can finally stop" after seeing the damage the war has caused to Earth on a personal level (when Raf is hurt). It's like watching the heroic G1 cartoon Prime developing into the psycho Movie Prime, and getting to understand why. Then we got to see his brief stint as Orion Pax, getting insight into who he was even before that, and it seems like for much of season two he'll be dealing with guilt over unwittingly leading Megatron to ancient Cybertronian treasures.

Arcee gets the most development of the rest of the crew...coming to terms with Cliffjumper's death, forming a bond with Jack and trying to move past her need for vengeance against Airachnid. And of course there's Jack himself, who grows and matures a lot over the course of the first season and shows just how much at the start of season two. Bulkhead outgrows some of his childishness and petulance over the course of the series, mainly because Miko is so ****ing stupid that he's got to be the adult in their team by default (rescuing Breakdown was a step in that direction too, even if he did it for all the wrong reasons). And while Ratchet gets the least screen time of all the main characters, but the Ratchet who's beating himself up for not knowing how to save Raf is a far cry from the indifferent curmudgeon who couldn't bear to be in the same room as them at the start of the show -- we'd seen him slowly warm up to the humans over the course of the season.

Starscream is admittedly the only Decepticon who's really had an arc so far. The poor SOB came so, so close to getting everything he ever wanted, only to lose absolutely everything that he had because of his...well, his Starscreamness. Megatron's got a lot of implied character development in his back-story, but since we've met him he's been the same half-mad, half-brilliant tyrant pretty much non-stop. And the rest of the 'Cons are all pretty one-dimensional, it's true, but they're supporting cast so that's to be expected.

The only one of the leads who hasn't grown as a character is Bumblebee, and in that case I think it's a matter of simply not being able to show character development very easily when the character can't talk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
Megatron returns from a completely unexplained absence with a shard of dark energon
Not quite unexplained -- as Starscream said in the second episode, Megatron had left to find a Decepticon army (presumably his inexhaustible legions of disposable Vehicons weren't enough?). Though it's a pretty weak explanation, I admit, and I'm not entirely sure how he left to begin with since both factions were stuck on/around Earth until the Decepticons built their space bridge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
Starscream plots to be the leader, actually gets to be a leader for ten episodes and doesn't really do much.
He actually did a fair bit. It's just that his sights were set on solidifying his own power base rather than killing the Autobots, so he wasn't as spectacular as Megatron's brand of supervillainy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
When Megatron returns, nothing happens besides the out of blue appearance of the prophecy and Unicron.
Was it really out of the blue? From the second Megatron started ranting about the Blood of Unicron we all knew that the big guy would show up sooner or later. It was a foregone conclusion, and the only surprise for me was that they trotted him out so soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Knightdramon View Post
The only ongoing actual plot is the discovery of cybertronian artifacts, which again Megatron only thought of going after when he had Optimus under his wing to break the code.
Something like a third of the first-season episodes had to do with Cybertronian artifacts that had mysteriously found their way to Earth, so I don't think it's fair to say that Megatron wasn't looking before then. It's just that before Orion he didn't know where to look. Also, and the artifacts were eclipsed by Dark Energon as his #1 priority until the emergence of Unicron turned that scheme sour. Before that the Dark Energon itself was the main ongoing plot thread, playing a big part in the multi-part episodes at the beginning, middle and end of the season and showing up a few times in between. On top of those two things we have MECH, like you said, as well as Arcee, Bulkhead, Starscream and Jack's personal drama frequently driving the story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cliffjumper View Post
I don't think grand over-arching plots are particularly necessary as long as there is forward progress and no reset buttons. Only BW/BM with its' 13 part seasons have even partway been able to sustain them for Transformers.
Prime seems to be leaning in a different direction than Beast Wars, too. Rather than having one big, overwhelming seasonal plot there are three or four or five different things going on at once with different plots taking priority at different times. It's a dangerous approach for Transformers fiction, which has a depressing tendency to get canned at a moment's notice, but since Hasbro strongly support the show and own the network it's airing on I think it might work out this time around.

Prime is also a lot more character-driven than your typical Transformers show. One of my biggest complaints about Beast Wars was how such an interesting cast was frequently drowned out by the need to drive the plot forward over 13 episode seasons, so I'm happy that Prime has some breathing space. If the show didn't take time out from the A-plot to give Arcee time to deal with her grief, or have Jack learn about responsibility, or force Starscream to deal with the blowback from all his scheming, I wouldn't be enjoying it as much as I am.
 
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Old 2012-04-18, 06:44 AM   #9
relak
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Originally Posted by Brimstone View Post
If they really wanted to sell a lot of toys...wouldn't they mandate more characters than...what...10?
No.

See, one can sell differeny variety of toys
or
one can sell a lot of a few toys.

They seem to be going for the latter. And for that to happen, the show has to be easy for a newcomer to "jump in". Having a season long overarching plot does not make it easy to jump in.
 
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Old 2012-04-18, 01:38 PM   #10
Cliffjumper
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Yeh, I think the thing you have to keep hold of is that this is aimed at a young demographic and needs to be broadly accessible (the Beast series largely were too) - not just to keep new kids coming in but so as not to alienate any who miss a couple of episodes - a lot of the people this is aimed at will not be religiously watching the shows in order. There are big gains for those who don't

I think it's a good approach overall. The problem with big 'plot' arcs as opposed to Prime's broad development arcs is that if they suck, the show sucks. Personally I found the Vok stuff in BW to be pretty dull (thankfully there was plenty else going on) and whenever episodes became heavy with Vokness I found myself tuning out.
 
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Old 2012-04-18, 03:48 PM   #11
Skyquake87
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I'd agree about plot arcs. I don't think this should be like 24 or whatever, but something with the chops of the old X-Men or Spiderman cartoons would be good, you know good strong individual episodes that build into a cohesive whole. Rather than a load of forgetable filler with just a few episodes to add some depth and flesh out the universe of Prime.
 
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Old 2012-04-19, 12:28 PM   #12
Knightdramon
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Originally Posted by Warcry View Post
I have to disagree with that. Optimus goes from "Everyone deserves a chance at redemption, even Decepticons" to "Autobots and Decepticons will never be at peace, so I'm going to go kill Megatron in cold blood so that it can finally stop" after seeing the damage the war has caused to Earth on a personal level (when Raf is hurt).

Arcee gets the most development of the rest of the crew...coming to terms with Cliffjumper's death, forming a bond with Jack and trying to move past her need for vengeance against Airachnid. And of course there's Jack himself, who grows and matures a lot over the course of the first season and shows just how much at the start of season two. Bulkhead outgrows some of his childishness and petulance over the course of the series, mainly because Miko is so ****ing stupid that he's got to be the adult in their team by default (rescuing Breakdown was a step in that direction too, even if he did it for all the wrong reasons). And while Ratchet gets the least screen time of all the main characters, but the Ratchet who's beating himself up for not knowing how to save Raf is a far cry from the indifferent curmudgeon who couldn't bear to be in the same room as them at the start of the show -- we'd seen him slowly warm up to the humans over the course of the season.

Starscream is admittedly the only Decepticon who's really had an arc so far. The poor SOB came so, so close to getting everything he ever wanted, only to lose absolutely everything that he had because of his...well, his Starscreamness. Megatron's got a lot of implied character development in his back-story, but since we've met him he's been the same half-mad, half-brilliant tyrant pretty much non-stop. And the rest of the 'Cons are all pretty one-dimensional, it's true, but they're supporting cast so that's to be expected.

The only one of the leads who hasn't grown as a character is Bumblebee, and in that case I think it's a matter of simply not being able to show character development very easily when the character can't talk.


Not quite unexplained -- as Starscream said in the second episode, Megatron had left to find a Decepticon army (presumably his inexhaustible legions of disposable Vehicons weren't enough?). Though it's a pretty weak explanation, I admit, and I'm not entirely sure how he left to begin with since both factions were stuck on/around Earth until the Decepticons built their space bridge.


He actually did a fair bit. It's just that his sights were set on solidifying his own power base rather than killing the Autobots, so he wasn't as spectacular as Megatron's brand of supervillainy.

Something like a third of the first-season episodes had to do with Cybertronian artifacts that had mysteriously found their way to Earth, so I don't think it's fair to say that Megatron wasn't looking before then. It's just that before Orion he didn't know where to look. Also, and the artifacts were eclipsed by Dark Energon as his #1 priority until the emergence of Unicron turned that scheme sour. Before that the Dark Energon itself was the main ongoing plot thread, playing a big part in the multi-part episodes at the beginning, middle and end of the season and showing up a few times in between. On top of those two things we have MECH, like you said, as well as Arcee, Bulkhead, Starscream and Jack's personal drama frequently driving the story.


Prime seems to be leaning in a different direction than Beast Wars, too. Rather than having one big, overwhelming seasonal plot there are three or four or five different things going on at once with different plots taking priority at different times. It's a dangerous approach for Transformers fiction, which has a depressing tendency to get canned at a moment's notice, but since Hasbro strongly support the show and own the network it's airing on I think it might work out this time around.

Prime is also a lot more character-driven than your typical Transformers show. One of my biggest complaints about Beast Wars was how such an interesting cast was frequently drowned out by the need to drive the plot forward over 13 episode seasons, so I'm happy that Prime has some breathing space. If the show didn't take time out from the A-plot to give Arcee time to deal with her grief, or have Jack learn about responsibility, or force Starscream to deal with the blowback from all his scheming, I wouldn't be enjoying it as much as I am.
I have to disagree with some points, especially with Arcee and Optimus.

The final battle Prime had with Megatron near the end of S1 was seemingly motivated out of anger for Raf, but even after the became Prime again [after the S2 opening], he was still "soft" on Decepticons. He was reluctant and tried to talk sense to Dreadwing, he admitted that Starscream may be trying to change and should be given a chance, yet he once again drew on Megatron at the end of crossfire. Perhaps he changed his views on Megatron alone?

Arcee may have the biggest spotlight cast on her, but I refuse to see that she has changed at all when she's against Airrachnid. Each and every time after Predatory, where she was supposed to have calmed down and made peace with Tailgate [and later Cliffjumper at the last Starscream episode of S1] she runs after Airrachnid on her own, each time ignoring Prime's command to stand down. If it wasn't for Starscream in Crossfire, she'd be dead by now. She also defied all logic and went on the Nemesis at Orion Pax, pt1, to try and get back Optimus on her own. She's still as headstrong as ever. Less bitter and cold since the opening arc, yes, but not much is different besides that.

My "problem" [not an actual problem, more of a question, since I'm really enjoying Prime so far] is the lack of actual progress. We've got two opposing teams on a planet with nothing to go on besides searching for some artifacts [so far] that seemingly change nothing. Based on numbers alone, Megatron should just send wave after wave of vehicons after Prime's team. In a war of attrition, a team of five is bound to run out pretty fast when constantly under threat from such larger numbers. Even if they manage to defeat every last vehicon, they'd probably be so weak by then that Megatron could pick them off by himself.

I don't remember where I've read it, but hasbro has taken a different approach with Prime in comparison to other TF shows; this time they went for entertainment instead of just mindlessly selling toys. The overall presentation of the series so far is phenomenal, there's a lot of popular and big tv names involved in voice acting alone, watching the animation in 1080p is a BLISS, yet the only thing it's lacking is a clear direction...so far.
 

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