"They don't make them like they used to" is quite a fitting way to describe animated TV shows these days. While there are certainly some exceptions, anyone who grew up in the 80's can tell you that that was, quite possibly, the peak of Saturday Morning-style animated shows for kids. It can be argued that the animation of the series seems dated at this point, but I find it preferable to the primitive CGI of some Saturday Morning shows now, which doesn't have the same level of personality as the traditional animation of this series.
"Transformers" was certainly one of the biggest examples of the best the era had to offer, and the series in its prime was everything that a kid could want: sleek gadgets, cool characters, big action and memorable stories. The action sequences weren't edited to oblivion and characters that felt well-defined (for an animated series, at least) and not generic. The voice acting is great fun, and even the theme song with the original series is still fantastic.
The popularity of the series is remarkable, having spawned an endless supply of toys, feature films and spin-off shows. However, none of the spin-offs of the series ever provided the kind of pure, old-fashioned entertainment as the original. Yes, even the original series was marketed towards kids who could potentially go out and buy the toys, but at least it felt as if the emphasis was on making a quality show first, and the sales would follow.
For the few who are unfamiliar, the series focused on the Autobots and Decepticons. In the series, the 'bots crash-landed on the planet millions of years ago, only to finally awake in unfamiliar surroundings in present day. Able to disguise themselves as ordinary vehicles, the 'bots transformed when needed. The two sides are locked in an endless battle, with both sides racing to find a source of energy that will power their home planet of Cyberton. The Autobots also are tasked with protecting the people of planet Earth, who find themselves in the middle of the war between the two sides.
Fans will be thrilled to learn that Shout Factory has restored the first season to its original broadcast versions, with new stereo audio. Episodes:
1: More Than Meets the Eye (1)
2: More Than Meets the Eye (2)
3: More Than Meets the Eye (3)
4: Transport to Oblivion
5: Roll for It
6: Divide and Conquer
7: S.O.S. Dinobots
8: The Ultimate Doom: Brainwash (1)
9: The Ultimate Doom: Search (2)
10: The Ultimate Doom: Revival (3)
11: War of the Dinobots
12: Countdown to Extinction
13: Fire in the Sky
14: Heavy Metal War
15: Fire on the Mountain
16: A Plague of Insecticons
VIDEO: Shout Factory presents the season 1 episodes in their original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentation quality is (considering the age of the series) awfully good, as sharpness and detail remaining at least respectable throughout the majority of the running time. Some minor dirt and debris is occasionally seen on the elements used, but the picture does usually appear fresher and cleaner than its age would indicate. No edge enhancement or additional concerns were noted. Colors looked bright and punchy, not appearing in any way faded or otherwise problematic.
SOUND: The restored stereo soundtrack didn't sound dynamic, but it did sound fuller and cleaner/clearer than expected.
EXTRAS: The main feature is, ""Triple Changer: From Toy To Comic To Screen", a featurette that looks into the development and production of the series. It's a relatively interesting overview, with some good interviews. We also get archive toy ads, a rare PSA and a printable script for an episode.
Final Thoughts: I haven't seen the original series in years, and was pleasantly surprised to find the series still as richly entertaining as I did when I watched the show growing up. The set offers excellent audio/video quality, as well as a few nice (although rather minor) extras. Recommended.