Transformers: Season 1

Transformers: Season 1 (1986)
Extras: Production Notes, Outtakes & Alternate Sequences, Original Script, Convention Featurette

Sing it with me: ’Transformers/more than meets the eye.’ Most anyone who grew up in the 1980s will remember that song from either the commercials for The Transformers toys or from the animated television show. Rhino Home Video has taken the 16 episodes from the first season of that show and collected them in a handsome box-set that fans will simply love. The four-disc set is housed in a shiny gatefold box, and comes with two replica animation cels. The shows are presented in their original full frame aspect ratio. Each show has been painstakingly restored, but there are still some visible defects here, such as grain and dirt. Also, the digital transfer has highlighted some errors in the original animation. Those issues aside, the image is very sharp and clear, with the colors looking very good. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track sounds fantastic, as it offers clear dialogue and well-placed surround sound effects. The stereo separation is noticeably good and the booming bass adds ambiance to the robot battles.

The episodes in Season One begin with a three-episode story arc, which introduces ’The Transformers’ and their story. Millions of years ago, a war raged on the planet Cybertron between the good Autobots, and the evil Decepticons. Both races were Transformers, giant robots with the ability to change into vehicles or other objects. As Cybertron runs low on resources, Otimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots decides that his group must leave the planet and seek a home with more energy. As they leave Cybertron, the Decepticons follow. A battle ensues in outer space, and both parties crash-land on Earth. Millions of years later, the Transformers are revived by a volcanic eruption. Decepticon leader Megatron quickly realizes that Earth is brimming with energy and decides to take it from himself. The Autobots, along with their newfound human companions Spike and Sparkplug, vow to stop Megatron. The remaining episodes deal with this conflict, with the occasional introduction of new Transformers, such as the Dinobots and the Insecticons. (Which, surprisingly, joined the show just as their toys were hitting store shelves. Interesting.) The animation is very dated and cheap-looking at times, but the stories are still good, making ’The Transformers’ nostalgic fun.

While the restored episodes should appeal to anyone who was ever a fan of the show, the extra features will only hold interest to the most devoted ’Transformers’ junkie. The extras begin with text notes which describe the restoration process. This is followed-up by frame-by-frame and a side-by-side analysis of the restored material. ’Bumpers’ are the short clips that come before and after commercial breaks. The DVD offers 5 bumpers from the American version of ’The Transformers’ and 9 from its Japanese counterpart. An eight minute section labeled ’Outtakes & False Starts’ appears to simply be scraps from the editing room. More interesting is ’Anomolies’, which is thirteen minutes of bloopers, errors, and defects from the show. We are next treated to alternate versions of the opening and closing credits of the show, as well as the somewhat different credits from Season 3. Also, from the Japanese show comes the opening credits and a short show clip, driving home the point that this version was much different from what we saw stateside. (It had more of a Gundam feel.) Next is the original script for Episode 4 ’Transport to Oblivion’. Finally, there is six minute segment highlighting ’Botcon’, a gathering of Transformers fans and an interview with the coordinator of Botcon. Given the fact that ’The Transformers’ was a low-budget ’kids’ show from 16 years ago, I’m sure that these extras represent the best elements that were available.