Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings and Delirious Ranting
re: "Beast Wars" Part One
6/30/02

This is going to be very short, since I'm not terribly into this episode, and more importantly, my copy of it is buried somewhere in a rental storage unit for the summer. I'm working entirely from memory, so bear with me.

It's interesting to look back on this episode, in light of all the sophistication that followed it -- sophistication of plot, characterization, and animation. Most of what goes on is fairly simple. We do get to see several things which seem anomolous in light of the entire series: the Axalon and its Predacon enemy both in flight, rather than as crashed wreckage; Megatron sans beast parts; Dinobot as a full-fledged, untainted Predacon; Rhinox using one of Cheetor's gut guns for some unknown reason (presumably so we'd be totally wow'd when he finally whipped out the old Chainguns of Doom a few episodes later.)

The Preds definately get short shrift in this ep. Only Megatron gets more than two or three lines, and none of the other Preds say anything to really establish themselves as characters (though the beginnings of Tarantulas's mania is evident.) Rattrap, on the other hand, is practically a fully-fleshed character by the end of the third act. He and Primal share what for me is the episode's most memorable scene, one that stands out even in light of what came later, when after the firefight, Primal gives Rattrap a good bawling out for disobeying orders. That one scene still makes me sit up and take notice; it was our first indication that this show was going to go places with dialogue and characterization that G1 never got the chance to. It still is pleasurable viewing today.

Otherwise, the series pilot, while no doubt impressive on its own, becomes quite forgetable compared to episodes like "Other Voices" or "Bad Spark" or even "Victory". Much of the show is, by necessity, spent establishing the premises of the series and the characters. The plot consists of "crash on planet, get beast modes, have fight. Oh, and Dinobot is kicked out of the Preds." Typical of Dinobot to carry the most interesting part of the plot.

The CGI is... more than adequate. It was damn impressive at the time, though. My favorite shot from this episode is the two distant starships falling from the sky, smoke trailing behind them, and crashing to the ground. The character movements are oddly smooth, especially after they've just transformed -- they tend to woober their limbs around just a little bit in a way that doesn't look entirely natural. The backgrounds are bright, and the lighting on the characters seems almost unnatural -- particularly given the frequent fog and storm which would shroud prehistoric Earth later in the series.

Overall: not a very good show for persuading newcomers of the show's merit, honestly. But in it, you can see the seeds of BW's later greatness.

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