It's interesting to see how the Transformers have carried on in different forms over the years. I remember playing with the toys when I was a kid (and I'm sure I still have a couple of them tucked away somewhere) and watching the cartoon series. From what little I remember, the whole enterprise revolved around two battling groups of robots (the good guys being lead by Optimus Prime) capable of transforming from vehicles into stories-tall robots, and the ability of the toys to also change was one of their most appealing points.
Now, there's another "Transformers" feature film in the works and prior "Transformers" shows on DVD, including the previously-released "Beast Wars" and "Beast Machines". "Transformers: Armada" started shortly after "Beast Wars" ended its run. The series, which saw a return to traditional animation after the CGI "Beast Wars", offered a pretty basic premise: the Autobots (good guys, lead by Optimus Prime) fight against the Decepticons (bad guys, lead by Megatron), while both sides search for "mini-cons", which are smaller transformers that can add special powers to those who find them. There was also "Transformers: Cybertron", which saw the Autobots venturing throughout the universe in search of a series of Cyber Planet keys, which may save their home planet, Cybertron, from being destroyed by a black hole that is wrecking the planet from a short distance away.
"Transformers: Animated" is yet another in the line of animated efforts focusing on the robots, and this time, we get a series whose story at least partially resembles that of the recent movie. This time around, the Autobots have arrived on Earth, their new home that they have sworn to protect. They are also faced with the task of watching over the powerful Allspark (which was a part of the movie), which will prove even more difficult once the Decepticons have regrouped and head for confrontation once again over the Allspark.
While the "Cybertron" and "Armada" shows offered CGI animation for the Transformers characters, my one issue was that the CGI animation was quite basic: "Cybertron" had scenes where only the mouths of the characters moved while much of the rest of the scene remained still. While "Transformers: The Animated Series" isn't CG, at least the more basic animation is rarely static. The storylines are purely Saturday Morning material, with dialogue that can be a tad corny and some villains - aside from the Decepticons - that sometimes seem goofy. Still, despite some flaws, this remains above-average for a recent animated series.
1. 1- 1 26 Dec 07 Transform and Roll Out - Part 1
2. 1- 2 26 Dec 07 Transform and Roll Out - Part 2
3. 1- 3 26 Dec 07 Transform and Roll Out - Part 3
4. 1- 4 5 Jan 08 Home Is Where the Spark Is
5. 1- 5 12 Jan 08 Blast From the Past
6. 1- 6 19 Jan 08 Thrill of the Hunt
7. 1- 7 26 Jan 08 Nanosec
8. 1- 8 9 Feb 08 Total Meltdown
9. 1- 9 16 Feb 08 Along Came a Spider
10. 1-10 23 Feb 08 Sound and Fury
11. 1-11 1 Mar 08 Lost and Found
12. 1-12 8 Mar 08 Survival of the Fittest
13. 1-13 15 Mar 08 Headmaster
14. 1-14 22 Mar 08 Nature Calls
15. 1-15 29 Mar 08 Megatron Rising - Part 1
16. 1-16 5 Apr 08 Megatron Rising - Part 2
VIDEO: The series is presented in 1.33:1 full-frame by Paramount. The animated series looks just fine in its DVD debut, appearing crisp and clear throughout much of the running time. While a couple of minor instances of artifacting were spotted, the picture was otherwise clean and smooth. Colors looked vibrant and well-saturated throughout. These episodes didn't look much beyond broadcast quality, but image quality was consistently pleasing.
SOUND: The show is presented with a crisp, clear stereo soundtrack that likely resembles broadcast quality. Dialogue remained clean and easily understood throughout.
EXTRAS: Season 2 photo gallery sneak peek.
Final Thoughts: While "Transformers: The Animated Series" certainly isn't better than the original animated series, I did find it more entertaining than some of the recent "Transformers" CGI shows. The DVD presentation offers good audio/video quality, but lacks in the extras department. Recommended for fans.