Judge Dylan Charles keeps looking for "robots in da skies." Did he hear something wrong?
Transform and roll out!
Optimus Prime (David Kaye) and his band of heroic Autobots are out in the galaxy making a difference repairing space bridges. Prime, Prowl (Jeff Bennett), Bumblebee (Bumper Robinson), Ratchet (Corey Burton), and Bulkhead (Bill Fagerbakke) are nothing more than an intergalactic construction crew, bored out of their minds and wishing something would happen. And then they find the Allspark. And then the Decepticons, lead by Megatron, find them. It's up to this scrappy band of robots to try and keep the Allspark from falling into Decepticon hands at all costs. Transformers Animated: Transform and Roll Out is just the first three episodes, a little over an hour's worth of Transforming mayhem.
I'm warning you now that I'm a fan of the original show. I'm going to do my very best to try and keep the comparisons down ("That's not how Optimus Prime is supposed to talk!" "Where's Casey Kasem?!"), but no promises.
This series has taken a few leads from the movie by Mr. Bay, such as the inclusion of the Allspark and a plot point involving Megatron crash-landing to Earth and being used to jumpstart our technological advancement. Personally, I like the Allspark more than Megatron running around filling up energon cubes, a story idea that never made a whole lot of sense to me.
Transform and Roll Out is a good introduction to the show's good guys. There are five Autobots, each with the archetypal personalities that seem to crop up all the time in kids' cartoons: Prowl is the stoic warrior who likes to be alone, Bulkhead is not very smart but very strong, Ratchet is old, etc. The designs are simple, clean, and colorful. Unlike in my day when it was hard to tell who was on screen ("It's a blue jet! It must be Thundercracker! Oh wait, the animators just used the wrong color, it's really Ramjet."), here it's very easy to tell who's who, and thus it's easy to get involved in the action onscreen without becoming confused. The Decepticons don't have a huge presence in these episodes, but they follow the same pattern as the Autobots, with clean and colorful design—except the Decepticons are a lot more interesting to look at. Blitzwing has three faces, for God's sake, each one spouting a different, comical German-accented voice. There's also Starscream (Tom Kenny), who's not as shrill as I remember. This is a good thing.
However, for the most part, the Decepticons are upstaged by a giant, mutated cockroach. But this actually works from a story standpoint. The Decepticons are treated like bogeymen in this series, legends from a forgotten war that ended centuries ago. Their appearance in these early episodes makes them scarier. You know, for kids, maybe. I wasn't scared or anythin'.
The Decepticons are also a lot tougher than they were in the old days. Starscream is almost more than enough to handle five Autobots on his own. But this just hammers home the central message of the show: Together, we are far stronger than we are apart. Also, we need to get used to our robot masters now. All hail the robots!
There is, of course, the human liaison character. In series past this role was filled by characters like Spike and Daniel and whoever the hell was in Transformers Armada. This time, we get Sari, who is completely insane. Imagine a talking spider monkey that has just injected pure sugar into its veins and you've got Sari. She's funny and precocious, and she explains how babies are made to Optimus Prime (the look of sheer horror on his face was a beautiful thing). Plus she has a robot dog named Sparkplug, which I'll just assume was a nod to Spike's dad on the original show. So she gets to stay. For now.
The disc has two humorous shorts. One involves Optimus Prime talking to an elementary school class (favorite moment: one of the kids asks him where his trailer goes when he transforms. The answer : not subspace!). The shorts are nice and I'm sure the kids will love them.
Transformers: Animated is cleanly animated, funny, has interesting characters, and has a message we can all get behind ("There's no 'I' in 'team'").
But it completely goes against everything in the Transformers canon, so it sucks.
That was a joke. The show's awesome.
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Scales of Justice
• 2 Transformers Animated Shorts
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