IT IS THE YEAR 2005

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Friday » Fri Aug 06, 2021 1:39 am

I was so happy for Waspinator at the end of Beast Wars and then so sad for him in Beast Machines

that gives him a bit more dimension than the cartoon (where, for as much as he constantly claims he's a great warrior, he seems to completely disdain any strategy more complex than "go out there and shoot them in the face")


to be fair, Klingons are also like this for the most part.

A lot of people who "claim" to be great warriors are just brawlers. Which is fine, really.
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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sat Aug 07, 2021 3:08 pm

Go with the Flow is maybe not as bad as I remembered but still a solid contender for worst episode of Beast Wars.

"We have a machine that requires a fuel source that we can't get near. The solution is obvious: use tools we can operate at a distance abduct a half-evolved child who understands three words of English, doesn't know the difference between a hammer and a wrench, and hates us! I see no flaw in this plan."

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 09, 2021 2:46 pm

Season 3 isn't as narratively tight as season 2 (I'll come back to this later, maybe when I'm finished). And boy, if Go with the Flow isn't quite as bad as I remembered, Master Blaster is much much worse than I remembered.

I remember it feeling like a big deal at the time -- the first new episode in 3 weeks, Megatron finally gets back aboard the Ark and turns himself into a fucking dragon -- but...well, in a season that introduces no fewer than 7 new toys, this episode feels like it only exists to introduce a new toy, and doesn't really do anything else. The other new-toy episodes all advance the story in meaningful ways; this episode just gives Megatron a silly hat.

Image

Seriously, motherfucker's wearing a shrimp tail on his head.

The plot feels like something out of season 1: Megatron lures the Maximals out into the open so Tarantulas can shoot Optimus with a dart that allows them to control him.

And, because Megatron is still carrying around that idiot ball he grabbed back in that episode where he decided the best solution to having to reach something on the other side of the room was "kidnap a cave-child and have her do it", he chooses Quickstrike to control Optimus. I mean, I guess he's not the worst possible choice...just, y'know, the second-worst.

(How I'd fix it: Megatron chooses Rampage to control Optimus. He knows Rampage is loyal -- albeit only under threat of pain -- and he's arrogant enough not to consider that Rampage and Tarantulas might work together against him. While Megatron's incapacitated by taking on G1 Megatron's spark, Tarantulas zaps Dinobot*; with Dinobot down for the count, Megatron has no leverage over Rampage; remember that half of Rampage's spark is inside Dinobot, and Dinobot can hurt him. Rampage, unlike Quickstrike, is smart enough to realize that Tarantulas's plan could erase them all from existence, but he doesn't care; he'd prefer oblivion to servitude.)

So then Tarantulas tries to blow up the Ark and everyone in it, and this is the most important thing that happens in the episode, and sets up one of the enduring mysteries of the series that's never really resolved: just what is Tarantulas's deal, anyway? He later half-explains that he and the Tripredacus Council aren't descended from either the Autobots or the Decepticons, but the show ends without ever telling us precisely what that means. (The closest we get is Megatron referring to Tarantulas as "Unicron's spawn", though it's unclear if he means it literally or just as an insult.)

And then big fight scene and Optimus tries to convince Megatron to stop fighting and save the Ark and Megatron says "Megatron does not yield! He conquers!" and okay, great use of catchphrase, but...that doesn't feel like Megatron at all. Either one of them. ("I don't care if the entire timeline blows up, I just want to win this fight" seems more like a Galvatron thing. And TBF Megatron did just take a lava bath.)

It is a sloppy, bad, frustrating waste of a half-hour at a point in the series that really can't afford it.

* Dinobot is not in Master Blaster at all, and his absence is never addressed. Depthcharge isn't in the episode either, but his absence is explained by Optimus/Quickstrike calling everyone back to base and Depthcharge being like "lolno" because he's Depthcharge.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Wed Aug 11, 2021 12:19 pm

Course, if Megatron had picked someone else other than Quickstrike, then we wouldn't get Quickstrike's trial in the following episode



and I always liked that bit. Megatron in a judge's wig, Waspinator (nominally) acting as defense -- it's the good kind of Beast Wars silliness, and one of the last bits of comic relief we get before everything gets super-serious leading into the finale.

If I have a quibble, it's the old "why don't they just kill him?" They're about to, then they get an alarm and Megatron says "hold your fire." Why? Why not just kill him and then deal with the alarm? We're three episodes out from the end of the series, and he dies anyway; why not here?

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 13, 2021 12:26 pm

Wazzzzpinator happy at last.

And I'm done with my Beast Wars rewatch. And y'know, while I was disappointed in Master Blaster, the last three episodes really do a good job of bringing it in for a landing, upping the stakes, and making it very clear that yes, this is the end -- from shakeups like destroying the Darksyde and killing off a surprising number of characters for a children's cartoon, to reminding us it really could be the end of everything, from straight-up quoting Revelation to Rhinox's line before the final charge, "For everything that ever was."

The biggest weakness is Tigerhawk, who's killed off two episodes after being introduced. AIUI that was Hasbro's call; they told the showrunners to kill them off because there wasn't going to be a Tigerhawk toy (and then later changed their minds and made one after all). That sucks, but even if they'd lived, the show still would have ended and not exactly given them much time to develop; can't say as I would have wanted to see what Skir and Isenberg would have done with them if they'd survived into Beast Machines.

There are other bits that feel a little rushed -- it's awfully convenient that Tarantulas had an entire underwater apparatus set up to recover the Nemesis, and Megatron finds it right after his own ship is destroyed. And it's never explained why Megatron suddenly wants to blow up the Ark; I had to figure that one out for myself: once he takes G1 Megatron's spark in Master Blaster, he no longer needs the Ark; he can destroy every Decepticon in the Ark, including Megatron's body, but Megatron's (and, presumably, Starscream's) spark will still survive to ensure a Decepticon/Predacon future. This also explains away my gripe from the end of Master Blaster where Optimus tries to convince Megatron that they need to save the Ark and Megatron's like idgaf, but it really should have been explained in dialogue; either Megatron gloats about it to Optimus, or Optimus figures it out himself, or something. Maybe have Optimus try to reason with Megatron that Tarantulas is about to destroy the Ark and everyone on it, and Megatron says "Not everyone" and opens up his spark cavity; hell, that'd work the whole "Transmetal 2s have visible sparks" toy gimmick in.

Also, speaking of G1 Megatron's spark, I'm a little disappointed that the DVD version didn't restore the cutscene where they returned it; it's only 12 seconds long and kind of an important bit of continuity. Anyway, here it is. 3 times for some reason. (Does/did YouTube block videos under 30 seconds?)



Speaking of continuity...yeah, I get the gripe about how Dinobot's face turn doesn't really make sense, and it would have been better if they'd set it up in Dark Glass as planned. But it still worked for me. I remember that at the time Ben Yee had a theory that, when Rampage joined the Matrix (where all are one), it opened some kind of conduit between Dinobot 2's spark and the original Dinobot. I think that explanation works just fine, really.

I wonder what season 4 would have looked like, if it had happened. I remember an interview where either Forward or DiTillio said that if there had been another season and Tigerhawk had survived, the plan was to have them be a character the Maximals weren't really sure they could trust -- because yes, Tigatron and Airazor are in there, but so are the Vok.

I remember I kind of pictured the premise of season 4, before Beast Machines happened, as following everything happening mostly as it did in the finale, with the Maximals off to return to Cybertron with Megatron, only it takes them awhile to get there and they have adventures in space in the meantime. (Which, now that I say it out loud, sounds an awful lot like what Lost Light wound up being some 20 years later. Huh. Guess that really was the Transformers comic I always wanted.) A quick search doesn't pull up any direct corroboration of that, but I do see a messageboard thread where some fans say they heard that was the plan, so I'm guessing I probably didn't imagine it and that detail may have been from the same Forward/DiTillio interview I'm remembering where they talked about Tigerhawk. At any rate, I expect they wouldn't have killed off quite so many characters in those last few episodes if they hadn't gotten notice that it was the end.

TV Tropes has a bit about Tigerhawk on the Executive Meddling page, as well as stating that Hasbro told Skir, Isenberg, et al not to watch Beast Wars at all before making Beast Machines, which would certainly explain a lot. But it's TV Tropes, not Wikipedia, so none of it's sourced. Guess I'll keep looking and see if I can find anything else.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 13, 2021 2:04 pm

Okay, I think I found the Tigerhawk/Beast Wars in Space source: a Usenet post by Larry DiTillio.

To answer the question - it was Ace Fipke, our stalwart Producer who came up
with the idea for TigerHawk. Hasbro wanted to introduce a new toy in OV
(sigh!) and Ace came up with this quasi-fuzor. It then made sense to make him
an amalgam of Tigatron and Air Razor. His elemental powers was also Ace's
notion and I put them together.

It is hard to say what would have become of Tigatron and Air Razor had it not
gone this way. I am sure I still would have shown them in the Vok Nebula, but I
doubt they would have come back (Hasbro simply wouldn't have allowed it).

Killing off TH was a last minute move on Hasbro's part.

My original idea was to have TigerHawk stay with the Maximals BUT with the
notion that he might still be working for the Vok, so that no one could
completely trust him. Of course this was fashioned on the idea that there
wouild be another season during which our heroes and villains would be
travelling in space.

This my friends is the problem when working on toy-driven shows. You can
create all the memorable characters you want, but the minute the toy company
decides not to keep making the toy you have to get rid of them some way. I
hope to not find myself in this situatuion again any time soon...


And a (very) little bit more on what season 4 would have looked like:

Re: Season 4... About all we had in mind was getting the Beast Warriors off
that damn planet and back into space, where we thought the show should have
been set all along. I imagine we probably would have had a "long voyage home"
to Cybertron and then once our heroes and villains arrived we would deal wiht
the changes wrought by the brief time storm.

But that is only speculation, since Hasbro pulled our plugs pretty early and we
simply dropped any notions of Season 4 and worked to wrap up as many loose end
as we could in Season 3 (No, we didn't get to all of them and I regret that,
but c'est la guerre)...

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Mon Aug 23, 2021 12:27 pm

I decided to pick up the Transformers Japanese Collection now that it's in that window where it's out-of-print but its eBay price hasn't gone through the roof yet.

I've watched the first three episodes, and...well, at least the animation is good.

So, okay. Simplified overview of what happened:

Transformers started out as a Japanese toy line, by Takara.

It got licensed in America, by Hasbro.

Hasbro licensed a TV series to promote the toys. It was animated by Toei.

The TV series ran for three seasons and a movie, plus a truncated fourth season, and then ended.

The TV series was exported to Japan (except for that fourth season), and after it ended, Takara commissioned Toei to continue it from where season 3 left off.

So anyway! I'm watching Headmasters, and...I don't know if it's as dumb as season 3 (it's at least less racist) but it's really dumb. First and foremost is the seeming pointlessness of immediately undoing everything that happened at the end of the last season. The Return of Optimus Prime did what it said on the tin; by the end of the two-parter, Optimus was back, Rodimus was just Hot Rod again, and the Matrix was depleted. By the third episode of Headmasters, all that shit's been undone; Optimus is dead again, Hot Rod is Rodimus again, and he's carrying a recharged Matrix of Leadership.

So that all feels awfully pointless.

But nothing leading up to it makes any sense either.

The setup in episode 1 is that Optimus has to go to the core of Vector Sigma. And he doesn't have the Matrix with him, and he hasn't told anyone else where he hid it, because they need a reason to fuck around for an episode and a half.

Rodimus and co go to Earth to retrieve the Matrix so they can help Optimus, and when Optimus makes it to the core, not only are they right behind him, somehow Cyclonus has gotten there first. Even though Optimus has just spent two episodes fighting his way to the core and Cyclonus wasn't even on the same fucking planet at the beginning of the episode.

This is some Game of Thrones "travel takes as long as is narratively convenient" shit, except at least Game of Thrones waited a few seasons to start fudging the travel time between Winterfell and King's Landing. This is more like if Ned had taken half the first season to make the trip and he got there and Jon was waiting for him. After spending an episode or two at the Wall.

Nothing anyone does makes any sense, time itself doesn't make any sense, and I don't care about any of the characters.

You know what it does? It makes me appreciate what Ron Friedman pulled off in Transformers: The Movie. It's pretty fucking impressive that he managed to kill off nearly the entire original cast and introduce a bunch of new toys nobody had ever seen before, and actually make us give a fuck about Hot Rod and Kup and Ultra Magnus and Arcee.

Say, have I shared this yet?



Mark Evanier interviews Ron Friedman, who talks about a lot of stuff but does spend some time on Transformers: The Movie (and how killing off Optimus Prime wasn't his idea but he committed to it -- and also foresaw the fan backlash).

Anyhow. I'm finding Headmasters fascinating, if not very good. The animation, at least, is pretty; it's the same studio so it doesn't feel like a major departure (though the Autobot symbol is weirdly off-model in the scene-change animation). It's been over 15 years since I actually re-watched the original series, but my gut reaction is this looks better than season 3 (but not as good as the movie). Of course they apply a lot of the standard tricks -- detailed figures who don't move much, reused animation (I'm pretty sure Galvatron made that same turn in the movie...), strobe-style sequences with only a few frames of animation, slowed down to make it look dramatic. But anyway, it looks good.

Also Galvatron doesn't seem to be crazy anymore? I wonder if he was ever crazy in the Japanese-localized version.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:34 pm

The Beast Wars comic kicks off its second arc with a new artist, Winston Chan, and his art's a pretty big departure from Josh Burcham's.

Here's Burcham:
Image

Image

And here's Chan:
Image

Image

Image

So yeah, pretty big departure. I like 'em both; looking at upcoming covers it looks like we haven't seen the last of Burcham, so that's good. Plus, "Burnham/Burcham" is just fun to say.

Anyhow, this issue introduces Blackarachnia, and a couple of interesting wrinkles. One of them is in that last page I included -- the Golden Disk appears to contain a message from Beast Wars Megatron.

Another is that it introduces a critique of toxic masculinity. Terrorsaur insults Skold's intelligence and then later, when Waspinator asks him why he would taunt someone who could punch his head clean off if he wanted to, he responds that that's why he has to keep her in her place, because if she ever gained any confidence she'd be a threat, and you know what I don't see any lava around the Predacon base but I still think I've got a pretty good idea how Terrorsaur is going to die.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Thu Sep 09, 2021 5:10 pm

Still watching Headmasters, and it continues to be pretty but mostly-boring. I think some of that is down to a dry, typo-riddled localization, but some of it's down to choices that were clearly there in the original Japanese -- too much focus on annoying characters like Daniel, Wheelie, and Blurr (whose entire, let's generously call it "characterization", in the show seems to be based on that "no hope, no hope, no hope at all" line in the movie; he's twitchy and he repeats himself and that's all there is to him).

"Rebellion on Planet Beast" was kind of interesting because it's a Transformers/Battle Beasts crossover. "The Four-Million-Year-Old Veil of Mystery" was actually the only episode I've seen so far that I'd describe as good. And "Terror! The Six Shadows" is at least dumb in an entertaining way: six mysterious shadowy villains show up on Earth; halfway through the episode Daniel explains what ninjas are to the Headmasters and then they're like "Oh yeah now that you mention it we had a formative trauma involving a robot ninja who could split himself into six shadowy figures and we just forgot about it until this very moment but now that you mention ninjas this is definitely him."

I'm hoping there's at least more entertainingly-dumb stuff on the way. That beats bland any day of the week.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Sat Sep 11, 2021 1:24 pm

For as little reason as Headmasters has given me to give a fuck about anything, I'm surprised that I give a fuck about the episode where they blow up Cybertron.

I don't really care about the destruction of Cybertron itself; I've seen that story before and done better; here it just feels like more forced and arbitrary escalation.

But I liked the aftermath pretty well -- Galvatron at ground zero, trying to defuse the bomb and apparently vaporized in the explosion; Rodimus deciding to resign his command and go in search of a new home. It feels like something meaningful happened here in terms of character, and there's a sense of passing the torch to a new generation, just like in the movie. (Just to underscore it, Rodimus takes two other characters who were introduced in the movie, Kup and Blurr, with him.)

The downside to this is that the new generation they're passing the torch to sucks and is boring. They just took damn-near every character on the show who I gave a fuck about off the board. I do like Scorponok for new leader of the Decepticons -- they've got kind of a cool thing going on where we've only seen him in shadows, and now we know that unlike Galvatron he's the kind of guy who'd blow up Cybertron just to make sure the Autobots don't have a chance to get their hands on some kind of macguffin. And Soundwave/Soundblaster is still around. But other than them, who's left? Grimlock hasn't shown up since the first episode, Bumblebee/Goldbug and Ultra Magnus have maybe had two lines of dialogue each, Spike occasionally shows up but only to motivate his obnoxious whinybutt son. Cyclonus and Scourge have devolved into bumbling henchmen (there's no reference to Scourge being possessed by Starscream's ghost). Arcee hasn't done anything but stand around and be a token. And I don't really give a fuck about any of the Headmasters except Scorponok. Hell, I can't even name most of them.

I know for a fact that, given the right story, it's possible to make me care about Chromedome.

Image

But this is not that story.

So I dunno. I still find the whole thing weirdly compelling even though it's mostly bad and not even in an entertaining way. I plan to keep watching. But I can see why it never really got much acknowledgement in the English-speaking world.

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Re: IT IS THE YEAR 2005

Postby Thad » Fri Sep 17, 2021 12:54 am

Okay so I watched the movie again and you know what Blurr's entire character is pretty much just whining and repeating himself; it's just that John Moschitta is just so goddamn much fun that he still manages to be charming anyway. Japan, it appears that once again I owe you an apology.

Also god damn the movie looks good in 4K/HDR and if you get a chance to see it that way you should.

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