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THE TRANSFORMERS (More Than Meets the Eye) – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

June 22, 2009 by  



“The classic 80’s animation of G1 Transformers is re-released but this time from Shout Factory, who did their research in making sure the problems that were exhibited on the first DVD release (from Rhino) did not happen again. Overall, faithful to the original broadcast and sold for a much lower price than the previous DVD release. ‘THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON’ is a must buy for fans of the series and the merchandise!”

 

Images courtesy of © Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE:THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

DURATION: 360 Minutes (16 episodes)

DVD INFORMATION: 4:3, English/Stereo

COMPANY: Hasbro/SHOUT FACTORY

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE:  June 16, 2009

Written by George Arthur Bloom, Bryce Malek and Dick Robbins, Doublas Booth, Donald F. Glut, Alfred A. Pegal, Earl Kress, Larry Strauss, Leo D. Paur, Reed Robbins and Peter Salas.

Starring:

Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime/Ironhide

Frank Welker as Megatron/Soundwave/Laserbeak

Dan Gilvezan as Bumble Bee

Christ Latta as Starscream

Scatman Crothers as Jazz

Corey Burton as Spike/Brawn/Shockwave

Michael Bell as Prowl

Gregg Berger as Grimlock

Four million years after crash-landing on an unfamiliar planet, sentient robots with the ability to disguise themselves as common vehicles awaken on present-day Earth. Engaged in a crucial race to find a new energy source for their home planet of Cybertron, Optimus Prime and the heroic Autobots must defend the innocent people of Earth against their archnemeses, Megatron and the power-hungry Decepticons.

1984, “THE TRANSFORMERS” was a merchandise success as every child wanted to own the latest Transformers toys from Hasbro and act out their own personal battles between the Autobots and the Decepticons and own their favorite robots that came from the popular television and comic book series (despite the TV show and comics having different storylines).

The first season which was written and recorded in the US featured animation by Japan’s Toei Animation, aired on television in the US between September through December 1984.  The series is based on the popular Japanese toys from Takara and various other toy companies (ie. Shockwave came from ToyCo., the Insecticons and Skyfire came from Takatoku Toys, etc.) and developed into a line called “Transformers” by Hasbro in the United States.   The TV series which featured the first season characters (known as Generation 1 or “G1”) would spawn about 98 episodes in a total of five seasons.

The first season was originally released on DVD back in 2002 from Rhino but was criticized for its high price but most importantly for its problems.  Rhino used the original 35mm film masters which gave the series a much more vibrant look but the problem was that the masters did not include the corrections that were shown on the final cut that aired on television and thus the episodes had incomplete animation.  Picture quality also had problems with “jaggies” and featured new sound effects that fans of the original series were not entirely very happy with.

This time around, for the 25th Anniversary release of the first season on DVD, SHOUT FACTORY was not determined to make the same mistake.   In the special note segment of “THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON” booklet, the following was mentioned:

Transformers DVDs released prior to our 25th Anniversary Edition were missing animation seen in the original broadcast.  We did extensive research, found the discrepancies between the original broadcast masters and the restored masters used for the last DVD release, reinserted the correct animation and color corrected it as best as we could to match the shots before and after.  But because a one-inch mater tape simply can’t hold up to the quality of the restored masters, you may notice occasional shots – or even scenes – in some episodes that seem slightly softer than others.  Just take comfort in knowing that laser blasts have been reinserted, backgrounds have been corrected and Starscream is Starscream once again.

So, I was absolute happy to see a re-release of the first season on DVD.

Of course, back then, as a child who collected the “Transformers” toys, the series was just the ultimate cartoon that pitted two robot groups against each other, the good Autobots and the evil Decepticons.

The series is about the two factions who have been at war for a long time in their planet of Cybertron.    Two groups would eventually crash land on the Planet Earth and the evil Decepticons attempts to take energy from the planet and being a constant threat to humanity, while the Autobots do what it can to help protect the humans and stop the Decepticons.  The sixteen episodes are featured on two DVD’s, while the third disc contains the special features.

“THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON” comes with the three-part “More than Meets the Eye” mini-series and the 13 episodes of Season 1.  Here is a spoiler-less, brief summary of each episode:

DISC 1

  • EPISODE 1 – More than Meets the Eye, Part 1 – The civil war in Cybertron between the Autobots and Decepticons continues but with Cybertron’s resources nearly depleted, Optimus Prime and a group of Autobots leave the planet to scout for the resources but are found by Megatron and the Decepticons.  The two end up crashing on the Planet Earth and are awakened 4 million years later.  Their battle begins once again but in a new planet!
  • EPISODE 2 – More than Meets the Eye, Part 2 – Both groups use their robotic powers to disguise themselves as vehicles from the planet Earth.  Megatron and the Decepticons now go after the Earth’s energy and bring it back to Cybertron.
  • EPISODE 3 – More than Meets the Eye, Part 3 – Megatron has to worry about one of his own men who wants the power for himself and lead the Decepticons.
  • EPISODE 4 – Transport to Oblivion – Megatron orders the construction of a “space bridge” between Planet Cybertron and Planet Earth.  Meanwhile, Bumblebee and Spike are captured by the Decepticons.
  • EPISODE 5 – Roll for It – Megatron wants the antimatter formula on Earth that would give him and the Decepticons ultimate power.
  • EPISODE 6 – Divide and Conquer – Optimus Prime is wounded and the Autobots must find a way to get a Cosmotron unit to save him.
  • EPISODE 7 – Fire in the Sky – While the Decepticons continue to syphon Earth’s energy, they meet a robot and powerful jet fighter named Skyfire. Is he friend or foe to the Autobots?
  • EPISODE 8 – S.O. S. Dinobots – With Ratchet’s interest in the Earth’s dinosaur fossils, he ends up creating dinosaur robots Grimlock, Slag and Sludge aka the Dinobots.

DISC 2

  • EPISODE 9 – Fire on the Mountain – The Autobots hope for Skyfire to join the fight against the Decepticons.
  • EPISODE 10 – War of the Dinobots – Megatron tries to convince the Dinobots to betray the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 11 – The Ultimate Doom, Part 1: Brainwash – The Decepticons team up with an evil human scientist who wants to use mind control on the humans in order to fight against the Autobots.
  • EPISODE 12 – The Ultimate Doom, Part 2: Search – Planet Cybertron is in Earth’s orbit and now the Earth is being torn apart.  Can the Autobots prevent the planet’s destruction?
  • EPISODE 13 – The Ultimate Doom, Part 3: Revival – Spike and a few Autobots try to sabotage the Decepticon hypno-chip.
  • EPISODE 14 – Countdown to Extinction – A new leader of the Decepticons emerges.
  • EPISODE 15 – A Plague of Insecticons – In the Island of Bali, a group of robot insects are terrorizing the people of the island.  Who are they?
  • EPISODE 16 – Heavy Metal War – The introduction of the evil Constructicons and Devastator.

The release comes with three DVD’s and are collected as thing packs with a deluxe foil board sleeve with embossed accents.

Coming out in July is “THE TRANSFORMERS: 25th Anniversary “Matrix of Leadership” Edition Collector’s set which has 38 hours of content, the entire original animated “G1” series, many extras and a 16-DVD box set.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON” looks very good on DVD.  I’ve seen a lot of 90’s animation make it on DVD and many suffer from a softness that really brings out its age.  Granted, you can tell the picture quality is of an 80’s animation but it doesn’t look soft.    The animation does have a good number of dust particles throughout the video but it’s not very distracting (although, I hope if the series does get a High-Definition transfer, if it is possible, I do hope they do clean the video up of the dust particles).  But otherwise, for an 80’s animation to look this good and better than many 90’s animation on DVD, is a major plus.

As for audio, audio is presented in Stereo.  Dialogue is clean and easy to understand.  For those with a home theater setup, I found it more pleasing to have my receiver set to output at stereo on all channels.

Overall, each episode is restored to the original broadcast versions with a new stereo soundtrack created from the original audio.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON” comes with the following special features (note: some were featured on the “Transformers: The Movie” 20th Anniversary DVD):

  • TRIPLE CHANGER: From Toy to Comic to Screen – (19:53) Interviews with the people involved with the series, involved with the toys and how the US created a backstory for the toys.  Where the name “Transformers”, “Autobots” and “Decepticons” came from.  How character names were made, how Hasbro started working with Takara in terms of the design of the toys and more.  Also, thoughts of those individuals on their favorite characters and toys.
  • ORIGINAL COMMERCIALS – (1:31) Three toy commercials are featured:  Optimus Prime and Megatron, Insecticons and Dinobots and G2 Optimus Prime.
  • PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT – (:31) A PSA for “Bumblebee: Running Away from Home”.
  • Printable “Transport to Oblivion” Script – The script is a 62-page PDF that can be viewed by inserting the DVD to a computer and accessing the file.
  • Booklet – An episode guide booklet plus production credits.
  • Autobot Magnet – Also, included in the box set is a 4-inch tall Autobot magnet.

Growing up with “The Transformers”, my brother and I were like most kids in the 80’s who were literally in love with the toys, the cartoon and comic books.

But moreso, being impressed with the technology that went into having a robot transforming into a car, an airplane, a gun, a dinosaur and an insect.  It may seem commonplace now but back then, it was an amazing time to have these die-cast metal/plastic robots that transform, using the television series as a basis of what robots we wanted to get (and hoped our parents would buy) and have these all out battles.

The first season of “THE TRANSFORMERS” was just an amazing cartoon series at the time and I’m still impressed by it 25-years-later.  Watching it now, especially comparing it to a lot of Transformers animated series that have come out in the last two decades, the series continues to remain quite strong compared to the newer incarnations of Transformer-related series (especially with the toys that had die-cast metal, which were really awesome back then compared to some of the plastic Transformers toys that are sold today).

Personally, there is nothing bad I could say about this release.  SHOUT FACTORY learned from Rhino’s mistakes of how to issue the series on DVD for the Transformers 25th Anniversary and how to please fans but also admit the challenges they had in restoring the original broadcast versions with a new stereo soundtrack created from the original audio.  Especially, releasing the first season for such a low price.

I also enjoyed the addition of the “Triple Changer: From Toy to Comic to Screen – The Origins of the Transformers” which really gave us a behind-the-scenes look on how the series created and the process of coming up with the names of the characters and more.

Again, there’s nothing bad I can say about this release.  If I had to really nitpick, sure I can wish for cleaned up video in the hope that thousands of instances of dirt, debris and scratches were removed (which I do hope they do if they intend to release the series again via High Definition) and I would love to have more Hasbro toy commercials but overall, I’m quite content with the release as is.

If you are a fan of “The Transformers” and like many fans who  have wanted to own the first season on DVD without breaking the bank, now you can own it for a low price with a much superior release compared to the last.   The series has been restored to the original broadcast versions and no more missing animation or any audio problems.  This release is quite solid and is simply the definitive DVD version of “THE TRANSFORMERS – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON” to own.

Highly recommended!

 






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