With the second season of the supremely well written Transformers Prime nearing, I felt like revisiting one of the shows who, during the 90's, set a benchmark for me in animated TV show quality along such giants as Batman The Animated Series. This show is Beast Wars, a revival of the Transformers Franchise which at the time proved rather controversial, but eventually proved very successful.
First some background. Past the mid point of the 90s, the Transformers franchise was but a shadow of its former self. The re-packaging of the original The Transformers cartoons and toys into Generation 2 had pretty much ended. Hasbro came up with the bright idea to re-launch the franchise, with a focus on "realistic" animal alt-modes rather than the robotic ones featured in the original toys (like the famous Dinobots). The line featured also new factions. The original toys were packaged with a comic that has absolutely nothing to do with the show we are covering (Optimus was a Bat, Megatron an alligator).
cultural financial impact the original show had on their sales, Hasbro decided that this line should also feature half an hour long toy commercials, and decided to contact the fine folks in the Canadian Studio of Mainframe Entertainment, responsible for a show called ReBoot (which is also awesome. Go watch it if you haven't. I'll wait.) Mainframe and their flagship show had made a name for themselves by having the show made entirely out of CGI. Which, for a product aimed entirely at television, with television budgets, was unheard of. This no doubt made Hasbro interested since having their half hour toy commercial featuring this new technology would give them all the more visibility. Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio would be the writers (both of them have impressive resumes. Check them out online).
The initial reaction to the show was divided. Transformers Fandom is one permanent case of Broken Base (There's a reason they've coined the term Ruined FOREVER after all), but the show's great writing, great voice acting, and high production values won fans over. So step with me as we look over the show's 52 episodes and see how it holds up, and perhaps let us see how Transformers Prime measures up.
Trivia and Questions and Stuff!
- I don't intend to cover Beast Machines, though I DO intend to make one (or 2) updates giving a short look over the series once I am done with Beast Wars
- I live in Canada. Which lead to two things: I got to watch Beast Wars episodes early (As YTV, a Canadian channel, was a partner in producing the show, and got first dibs.) On a sad note, the show was called Beasties here, because YTV didn't like shows with "War" in the title. Mainframe's War Planets was called Shadow Raiders here. It's odd because YTV was not otherwise known for their censorship, in fact, they were quite lax and welcoming of shows with darker complex themes. Except if the darkness was in the titles... Odd. YTV remained a partner with Mainframe on many of their shows, starting with ReBoot all the way to Beast Machines (Which we also got to see earlier than Americans. It made discussing episodes online... akward. Pre-Youtube era, remember).
- I'll probably make a reference to the Transformer Toys. Beast Wars got me into collecting them. Today I own about 400 (An estimate. I last stopped counting at 300).
- Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio were very involved in the Fandom, answering questions, participating in online discussions, etc... I don't remember everything they've ever written, but will try to dig it out when I can!
- Beast Wars was the first TV series I ever owned on DVD.
- According to The Other Wiki, the Production Designer for the show, Clyde Klotz, won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation in 1997 for his work on Beast Wars. So that's awesome.