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The Transformers: The Complete First Season (25th Anniversary) DVD Review

The Transformers: The Complete First Season (25th Anniversary)

June 12, 2009

Director: John Gibb,
Starring: Michael Bell, Chris Latta, Corey Burton, Don Messick, Peter Cullen, Scatman Crothers, Casey Kasem,

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DVD Review

When The Transformers debuted on American television in September 1984 with the episode “More than Meets the Eye,” a whole generation of kids fell in love with transformable robots and the accompanying toys became all the rage, spawning a legitimate phenomenon. For years, fans of the original series have suffered crap bootlegs and only marginally better official releases. Finally, the wonderful folks at Shout! Factory have given the show the proper respect on DVD that it deserves and on its 25th anniversary no less.

Millions of years ago on the planet Cybertron, two warring groups of transformable robots are draining their world of its energy. The cruel Decepticons, led by the merciless Megatron, want Cybertron for themselves. They have almost made the peaceful Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, extinct. Both sides decide that they must look to other planets for the energy they so desperately need. Each side sends their best representatives and it doesn’t take long before they continue their battle in outer space.

In the ensuing chaos, the Transformers crash land on Earth where they lie dormant for many years. A volcanic explosion revives the Autobots and Decepticons. Megatron plans to take all of the resources they need and return to Cybertron, while Optimus Prime wants to stop them. In order to remain undetected, the Transformers can change into things common to our planet: automobiles, airplanes, a portable radio, a gun, and so on. And so, the epic battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons continues on Earth with humanity caught in the middle.

The series kicked off with a three-episode mini-series before settling into a familiar formula as the Decepticons try to drain the planet of its resources and the Autobots try to stop them. One of the things that makes the show work so well is that it has a great villain in Megatron and a true hero in Optimus Prime. They represent tried and true archetypes that are easy to root for and against. It doesn’t hurt that there is something inherently cool about giant robots fighting each other.

This first season saw the introduction of two new sub-groups of Transformers – the Dinobots, inspired by dinosaur skeletons but unfortunately with the same level of intelligence, and the Insecticons, robots that can turn into nasty insects. The former ally themselves with the Autobots, while the latter team up with the Decepticons.

For anyone who grew up watching The Transformers, these DVDs will be a wonderful trip down memory lane. The episodes all look great with the correct animation colour inserted back in which was missing from the previous edition. The recaps of previous episodes and previews for upcoming ones are included, as well as bumper spots for commercial breaks that will instantly take you back to when you first saw them. I, for one, can’t wait for season two, which, of course, is the build up for Transformers: The Movie (1986).

Special Features:

“Triple Changer: From Toy to Comic to Screen” is a 20-minute retrospective featurette about The Transformers phenomenon. The show’s origins came from several Japanese toy lines. An American company named Hasbro decided to bring it to North America and create a cartoon around them, giving each robot its own personality and create a storyline. They also created a comic book to go with the toys. With this featurette we get the lowdown behind the names for the various robots in this informative and engaging extra.

Also included are three original commercials, vintage ads that tie in the toys with cartoons. The one featuring the Insecticons is a particularly memorable one.

“Public Service Announcement” is an example of how each episode used to end with a Transformer imparting a safety lesson and this one sees Bumblebee convincing a kid not to run away from home. This is all good cheesy fun.

Finally, there is a PDF copy of the script for “Transport to Oblivion.”

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 85%

Website: http://www.hasbro.com/transformers/en_US/

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