Shout! Factory // 1985 // 660 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // October 5th, 2009
"Another Autobot? Even if it works, who needs it?" -- Ratchet
Shout! Factory continues its march to re-release the entire run of the original Transformers series. The Transformers: Season Two, Volume One collects the first 28 episodes of the robots' sophomore year on Earth.
After the smashing success of The Transformers's first season, Hasbro pushed to get the show into syndication. This meant having more than 65 episodes. No problem! Hasbro just pumped out a 49-episode season, half of which has been collected on this four disc set.
Episodes include: "Autobot Spike," "The Immobilizer," "Dinobot Island, Part 1 & 2," "Traitor," "Enter the Nightbird," "Changing Gears," "A Prime Problem," "Atlantis, Arise!," "Attack of the Autobots," "Microbots," "The Master Builders," "The Insecticon Syndrome," "Day of the Machines," "Megatron's Master Plan, Part 1 & 2," "Auto Berserk," "City of Steel," "Desertion of the Dinobots, Part 1 & 2," "Blaster Blues," "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court," "The God Gambit," "The Core," "Make Tracks," "The Autobot Run," "The Golden Lagoon," and "Quest for Survival."
The second season of The Transformers is what separates the true fans from the nostalgic hitchhikers. After the manageable dose of fun found within the previous Shout! Factory release of the first season, are you still clamoring for more Autobot action? Do you crave more variety in your robot characters? Are you tired of being caught up in serialized storytelling? Well, the second season has an answer for you: more!
By the start of the second season, the Autobots and Decepticons have been at this a while; humanity has learned to live with these giant, fighting robots (although everyone is still easily duped into thinking Decepticons are suddenly good guys). The Autobots are still living out of their crashed space ship, and the Decepticons are still trying to suck energy from the Earth. The big difference this season, however, is that everything is more routine. Every episode is self-contained and pre-packaged for syndication. This is generally fine, and the stories are still more entertaining and plot-driven than most Saturday morning toons from the '80s, but it also means that things can get pretty tiring for the average fan.
It's also apparent that Hasbro was in a rush to get more toys out there, because new Autobots and Decepticons show up all the time this season. Where did they come from? It doesn't matter! They have cool names like Warpath, Beachcomber, and Huffer (?), and transform into things like tanks and microscopes! The cast of robots is constantly rotating, but thankfully they all call each by name every chance they get. Of course, the old standbys are still around, like Optimus, Megatron, Starscream, and Jazz. The Witwickys and Chip are back as well, and this time Spike picks up a girlfriend named Carlee.
While the episodes may have become pretty formulaic by this point, that doesn't mean that this show isn't still a heck of a good time. Last season may have largely taken place in the barren desert of "Whateversville," but this time locales are varied. Autobots are fighting in cities, under water, on different planets, and even in different time periods. The more I think about it, the more these episodes felt like later seasons of MacGyver (there's even an episode about Transformers visiting King Arthur). The set contains some standout episodes, including "Autobot Spike," "Traitor," and "The God Gambit." My favorite installment was the two-parter "Megatron's Master Plan," in which the Decepticons convince a mayor and his political opponent to put the Autobots on trial and banish them from Earth. How quickly humans forget...
Whether or not to pick up this set, and I presume future releases, boils down to how passionate you are about The Transformers. Further testing your loyalty is the iffy audio/visual presentation. Shout! Factory is doing their best to restore lost footage to the show, but overall every episode is grainy and filled with scratches. This is probably the best the material is going to look, but it certainly isn't looking too good. The sound fairs a tad better, but it doesn't sound as crisp as it could either -- especially the muffled bumper announcements by series narrater Victor Caroli. The technical presentation may not be that great, but what's really disappointing is the complete lack of special features. All you get is a booklet with episode descriptions, and the ability to play two-part episodes seamlessly in "Play All" mode. That's it. Shout! Factory usually does a good job with this stuff, so maybe the next volume will make up for it.
For fans of the show who didn't already pick up Shout! Factory's massive Matrix of Leadership complete box set, you'll be satisfied with this latest incremental release. There are some fun episodes in the set, and a whole lot of new Transformers running around. Sadly, you won't find much more than that as the set is completely devoid of any bonus features.
Casual observers clamoring for more of Optimus Prime's diplomatic leadership and Megatron's angry fist shaking will find plenty of that here. It's just up to you whether you want 11 more hours of it.
Guilty of making that Transformer that turns into a microscope actually seem kinda cool...
Review content copyright © 2009 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 660 Minutes
Release Year: 1985
MPAA Rating: Not Rated