They must've spent a _long_ time brainstorming over that episode title. Anyway, since it's the first episode of the season, I'll link the intro:
I've always like that the intro sets up the show's premise non-verbally. No clunky narrations. No text. Just by a series of images, we are told what the show is about. I don't mean Beast Wars was the only show to do that. Or even the first. But I like it when a show does that. The music is good, though not nearly as catchy as the theme for The Transformers.
Oh, an in case you want to know, yes, there is another version of the theme song with the chorus saying "Beasties" instead of "Beast Wars". It's the only change (Beside the title banner). And no, this episode wasn't called "Beasties Part 1". And outside the show title, the characters do use the word "War" or "Beast Wars" appropriately.
Our episode - and series - opens in space with a glowy wormhole thing opening, a ship with large swooping wings comes out, followed by another, more rounded ship, in pursuit, firing at it. Both ships fly towards an Insignificant Little Blue Planet with two moons, trading gunfire. On the second ship, a character with a youthful voice reports they are taking damage. Another, whinier sounding character explains they are not a warship, but an exploration ship, and this is way out of their league. We get a few glimpses of our characters prior to gaining alt-modes. But it seems the ship (which we later learned is called Axalon) is very dark, seems it operates like the USS Voyager that during a battle they turn the lights off to make the controls harder to see. Their commander says they had no choice, their ship was the only one capable of locking on to Megatron's Warp Signature. The Axalon's shields begin to fail.
On the predacon ship (the ship is never named during the series. A misinterpreted line by fans led it to being called the Darkside. The name eventually became Canon Immigrant as Darksyde), a guy with a sinister hissing voice detects the Axalon's shields closing, and suggests they finish them now. Megatron opts to have some fun with his pursuers first, and decides to fall back and broadside the Axalon, crippling it. A green fellow onboard announces "We're going down...". The Axalon's commander orders all "pods" launched into safe orbit and we see the spinning Axalon launching said pods from its cargo. As the Axalon falls, its commander orders all Plasma cannons to fire, crippling the Darksyde.
Both ships crash on the planet below, not too far from one another. The Axalon is precariously lodged across a canyon, its back on one side, its cockpit laying on the other. Still whole, but barely. The commander asks for a damage report, but is told he doesn't want to know. The Darksyde on the other hand has crashed on a volcanic area, atop thin rocks covering a lava lake. the force of the crash has caused the rock cover to break in several areas, exposing the lava.
Megatron asks his computer if this is "the right planet". The computer tells him it does not know. The course settings were accurate, but the planet does not match the description on record. He asks if the planet has energon. The computer confirms, but tells him there's too much. Continued exposure would cause irreparable damage of their bodies. Megatron decides to create new forms, based on the most powerful local lifeforms. The Darksyde launches a probe, scanning fossils, as well as local insects.
We see the Axalon do the same thing (sans probes), scanning local mammals. The Axalons occupants, the Maximals, emerge. Selecting new names for themselves based on their forms. We have Cheetor the Cheetah (the young one), Rattrap the rat (The whiny voice from earlier), Rhinox the Rhino (the green dude) and Optimus Primal, the gorilla (the commander). Optimus is the only one to keep his old name. This is something of a Voodoo Shark: Why do they need new names? Well, it's to justify everyone having names matching their alt-modes. But what's the in-universe reason? Why not use their old names? After all, they are all with old crew mates, so it's not like no one knows everyone else's real name. Why does no one ever call someone else by their old names? In trying to avert the Fridge Logic present in the first Transformers series (Where Bumblebee had that name despite his people having never seen a bee), they've raised all sorts of new Fridge Logic.
There's ALOT of comics and other Expanded Universe material taking place before the series, and it goes REALLY FAR in avoiding having anyone named before they crash on earth, except for Megatron and Optimus Primal.
The scene does give us glimpses on each character. Optimus is reserved and pensive. Rattrap is snarky, witty and a joker. Cheetor is confident, hot headed but clearly the youngest. Rhinox is a big Gentle Giant, smart but not unwilling to have fun with the guys. We get some exposition about how Transformers use Energon for power, but too much of it, and their robot forms will short out from the ambient field. The Maximals do not know where they were. Or when, as Rhinox points out the Transwarp drive can travel through time too. They were just following Megatron's trail. The pods they ejected contain most of the Axalon's crew. Optimus notes that without them, Megatron has them outnumbered.
Back at the Darksyde, we see the Predacons, A velociraptor, a scorpion, a wasp, a spider, and a pterodactyl. The raptor holds a golden disk, complaining that this is not earth (what with the second moon), and that Megatron has failed to get them to the right planet (on top of getting their asses crashed by ignoring the raptor's advice). He also says they stole this Golden Disk. Megatron has taken the form of a purple T-Rex, and I gotta say... I am not a fan. I mean, the T-Rex looks positively fierce... But one has to wonder who picked that color scheme. I mean, yes, Hasbro did, but why oh why would anyone go for that? Dinobot, the raptor, challenges Megatron for leadership, and transforms (to an epic guitar riff). Megatron shows his tendency to play with his prey.
Megatron: Ah you are so impulsive Dinobot. Brave, but misguided.
Dinobot: Do you accept my challenge?
Megatron:(laughs) There is more to being a leader than simple courage. Why there's cleverness and cunning as well. Isn't that right... Scorponok? (Scorponok (the scorpion) transforms and fires missiles at Dinobot, blasting him out of the crater). Loser...
Coincidentally, a bit of a continuity goof. We clearly Scorponok outside the ship when Dinobot begins his spiel. Yet by the time Megatron calls him, he's back up the platform, still in the darkness inside the ship. And Dinobot is sent flying for MILES by Scorponok's missiles. Cartoonishly so. Never again have missiles, these or otherwise, this effect. Megatron said that not being on Earth doesn't matter. They were looking for Energon, and this planet has tons of the stuff. Enough to power the Predacon's entire galactic conquest. But first he wants to make sure no Maximals survived the crash, and if they did, to fix that. He sends his troops to locate them.
Back at the Axalon, the maximals are clearing debris. Rattrap complains they were supposed to be explorers, not warriors, chasing some golden disk. Optimus explains the disk was Cybertron's most guarded relic, and indicated the location of a major source of Energon (which, if you can add 1 and 1 together, was Earth). Rattrap questions if Optimus is ready to be a commander, and Optimus reminds him of The Great War and that if the Predacons get enough energon, they could make it happen again. Cheetor comes out and opts to outrace some Cheetahs, against Optimus' will. He freaks the cats out and ignores Optimus' calls to return, but soon Optimus' calls turn to static. Rhinox explains the energon fields make radio communications unreliable beyond 100m. Rattrap mocks Optimus' newbieness at command, giving us our first instance of "Shut Up Rattrap". Which Rattrap responds sarcastically with more insubordination. Cheetor and the cheetahs come up on the Wasp Predacons. Cheetor, from the cats' reaction and the wasp's size figures it must be a predacons, so he transforms and opens fire. The Wasp, mologuing to itself out loud, calls itself Waspinator and transform.
They trade fire and the maximals see the explosions. Optimus rides Rhinox, grabbing Rattrap to go rescue Cheetor. We see Waspinator use eyebeams which I believe he never uses again after this episode. We see the Maximals cross a narrow rocky bridge. Cheetor's gun has a "quasar jam" so he can't fire back, he's forced to seek cover from Waspinator, just as the Maximals arrive. But sadly, so have the Predacons and Megatron, and they all transform.
Optimus: We don't have to do this, Megatron. There has been peace between the Maximals and Predacons for centuries, why start this again?
Megatron: Peace perhaps on your side, Maximal Scum! Yes. But not on ours. Permit me to inform you that an enemy that appear to be peaceful may only be... bidding its time.
Cheetor:(unjams his gun) Finally!
Megatron: We Predacons never abandoned our rightful goal of galactic conquest. We have merely been have been waiting for the right moment... to strike!
Cheetor: You mean like this?!? (Shoots Megatron to no real effect)
Megatron: Oooh! A treacherous underhanded sneak attack. I like you, Pussy Cat. Yes... But it shall avail you not! No. From now the power gauntlet has been cast! Predacon! Terrorize!
Optimus:(To Rattrap and Rhinox) Do it! Maximize!
The two sides trade fire, and Cheetor is blasted down the gorge where they fight, some rock falling on his leg. Optimus orders Rattrap to help Cheetor, while Rhinox and him provide cover fire. But Rattrap refuses to risk it, so Optimus goes himself, get shot a few times, to Rattrap's "Told Ya". Rhinox decides to provide cover, using a gun in one hand, Rattrap in the other. Optimus rescues Cheetor and orders a retreat. The Predacons are about to pursue, when the energon build up proves too much, paralyzing several of them as they try to return to beast mode.
On the way back, Optimus deals with Rattrap's insubordination, explaining to him that he could offer better cover fire than Rattrap, and Rattrap relents. We learn that the beast forms also come with internal repair capabilities, but those are slow and limited.
Optimus notes that their report listed one more predacons than there were at the battle. Rattrap hopes that he died in the crash. As they reach the narrow rock bridge, Dinobot blocks the way, challenging Optimus for leadership of the Maximals.
To Be Continued
I'll hold off making an actual judgement on the episode till I posted part 2, since this is a two parter. But here's some trivia.
Scorponok's missiles has maximal logos. The writers said the idea is to count his kills, like the old tradition in certain westerns that cowboys would put the name of those they kill on their bullets. As it proved confusing, they changed the logos in future episodes.
Optimus is voiced by Gary Chalk, whom fans of Stargate SG-1 may know better as Colonel Chekov.
Rattrap, Dinobot and Waspinator are all voiced by Scott McNeill.
Cheetor is the first character to speak in Beast Wars. He's also the last character to speak in Beast Machines, as such, he provides a Book End to the entire Beast Era.
Cheetor refers to Waspinator as Robots In Disguise, the catchphrase of the franchise.
2nd Feb '12 3:55:32 AM flag for mods
Megatron has taken the form of a purple T-Rex, and I gotta say... I am not a fan. I mean, the T-Rex looks positively fierce... But one has to wonder who picked that color scheme. I mean, yes, Hasbro did, but why oh why would anyone go for that?
That's easy: because Purple in G1 meant "Decepticon". Especially during post-movie G1 continuity.
31st Jan 12
Well, I know that. But there's been lots of non-purple Megatrons. Before and since. Furthermore, the Decepticon purple tends to be a darker, more vibrant one generally. So there was nothing binding them to make Megatron with the most effeminate shade of purple (dare I say violet?) they could come up with. Case and point: His transmetal form was a darker shade of purple.
1st Feb 12
Purple was a common colour for Dinosaur toys in the 90's, of which there were lots because of Jurassic Park. The show followed suit, I think colour scheme wise almost everyone was toy accurate on the show.
20th Feb 12
Except Scorponok. His toy is black with blue claws. Rhinox is darker than his toy, and there's some slight differences in patterns and colors and shades (Dinobot is almost pink), but the Beast Wars show were very Show Accurate overall.
Oh, and Airazor is also very different, her toy is brown and yellow, as a robot she's mostly gold, silver and black.
20th Feb 12
(edited by: Ghilz)
Actually, Ghilz, a lot of the early Beast Wars toys were not very close to the show, outside of the names. Either minor things like color or major differences like which head characters representing Deluxe figures had on the show, or even alt mode species; the Optimus and Megatron toys were actually a bat and a crocodile at the time this episode aired.