I've been wanting to do this for a while for this site. I'm an old-school G1 fan, as in 1984 and having my dad buy me Transformer toys and watching the cartoon when it premiered. Ah, memories...
So, here it is. Episode by episode. DOn't expect deep deep
analysis. I'll leave that to others more intelligent than I.
Images are from the TF wiki or my own captures.More Than Meets the Eye part one
Yeah, saw this when it first aired in 1984. Five years old, going on six. That opening is iconic
. Faction symbols sweep by... and he
transforms. Optimus Prime. He's running at me! This song is seared into my brain. When I'm old and senile, I'll be humming it. "Autobots wage their bat-tle to des-troy the e-vil forces of-the Decepticons!
The seekers transform and land-with Thundercracker in the lead! Wheeljack, Mirage and Bumblebee transform to head them off, transformations... remarkably smooth
with no stock footage. Take that, Unicron Trilogy! Jazz and Skywarp duke it out, with Jazz showing how to use transforming effectively as a combat tactic. Soundwave ejects these things called 'cassettes'. Megatron uses his gun mode... without anyone holding him! He fires at Prime, Sideswipe, Prowl, Mirage and Wheeljack. And I either own or have on pre-order all five of their Classics-style toys. The two factions fly behind a mountain... for some reason.
And the episode proper starts in deep space, with Victor Caroli expositing. Basically intelligent robots existed on a planet named Cybertron-and that shot of the planet is effin' gorgeous
, by the way. Very alien and otherworldy. They were Autobots and Decepticons, locked in war. We see smoke, fire, explosions and torn landscape. And I can't get over how incredible those landscapes are.
"The Autbots, on the verge of extinction, battle valiantly to survive!"
.. Wait, what
?! They're the good guys... And for the most part, not warriors. This is... rather realistic, if you think about it. Look at the crew of the Ark
. Not many with the 'warrior' function.
We pan down to some grating and see our first two characters, Wheeljack and Bumblebee. Whelljack has no mouth but flashing ears. Bumblebee is small and yellow. They're collecting energy conductors, but they 'won't last a quartex', according to Wheeljack. Bumblebee's glad they found those, at least. "And when these run out?" Long-term and short-term planning, there. With logical pessimism mixed in.
Wheeljack transforms, thankfully into a non-Earth vehicle. Excellent
touch there. It fits him, too. They speed off down what looks like the mail delivery system from Omashu, and down a rather deserted road. Cybertron is... empty. And damaged. And lonely. They're heading to Iacon, the Autobot capitol. But all is not well as we now see the antagonists, the Decepticons.
I should note now that, unless it's bad
, I'm not commenting on animation errors. I'd be here all day if I did.
We see Starscream-with a deep voice-Thundercracker and Skywarp. Curiously, they remove their arm cannons before firing them. Wheeljack has some sort of shield go up over his upper body and skids to a halt. Very 'alien' sounds again. Bumblebee gets out, shoots at... something to the right and hides. "Prime told me there'd be days like this!"
"And you didn't believe him?"
"I do now!"
A purple seeker shoots a ring of flame around them, and Wheeljack decides to beat repulsor lifts-small Star Wars joke-and Bumblebee transforms into a small car/flying saucer hybrid. Wheeljack pops out little fans and the two blow through the blockade. A Megatron-like voice shouts, "After them!" and we see Skywarp and Thundercracker transform into the most famous Cybertronian mode-the tetrajets. The Autobots pass under this clear tube... thingie-seriously, no idea what it is-and Bumblebee is hit! Wheel gets blown off, but in a legit good driving feat, Wheeljack opens his pod bay door and gets Bumblebee inside.
Wait, the good guy gets hit and damaged? What is this?! So they escape underground. And the seekers report back to Megatron. Insert ominous music, here.
Seriously, Cybertron is empty
. It's probably the most effective way to show the damage wrought by the Great War.
Wheeljack approaches Iacon, a domed city. He drives past... a friggin' lamppost.
It's Soundwave, who transforms by... straightening up. Lame! He sends Laserbeak to report, who almost
makes up for Lamppostwave there. *Sigh* Creepy monotone and synth voice.
Laserbeak flies up and lands, little sensors extending. Another vehicle speeds by-Jazz, we later see. Who seriously
should've seen the Decepticon. Failed a spot check, did we?
Jazz reports to Optimus Prime, Prowl and Trailbreaker. This is one of the only times we see 'defensive strategist' Trailbreaker in position to fulfill his duties. And we learn the entire north side
of Cybertron is 'blacker than the inside of a drive shaft'. Holy slag! They've killed their planet! So time to blast off, in search of more energy. "Unless a new supply of energy is found, nobody is going to win this war. So, time to start the search.
Soundwave retrieves Laserbeak and flies off. Interesting how he transforms into a tape about four million years before it's invented. :p And now we see... HIM
, the slagmaker, the Emperor of Destruction, the Decepticon leader... Megatron! This is presumably at Kaon, retconned into usually being Megatron's first base in G1.
Soundwave reports that the Autobots are set to launch, and what a wacky coincidence, so are the Decepticons! We also see Starscream and Shockwave. Shockwave has two hands, which some people call a continuity error with how he has a laser cannon in place of his left hand... four million
years later. Yeah, no change in four thousand millennia. *Headdesk* Shockwave's put in charge. "Cybertron shall remain as you leave it." Oh, you have no
Oh, and Shockwave's... cranium. Just a flashing optic sensor, hexagonal-shaped. So creepy
! "Now it's merely a matter of time until Optimus Prime admits defeat." Hmm, interesting wrinkle there. And now Starscream makes his first onscreen bid for power! Admittedly, some people have hypothesized this was his first. It does
explain why Megatron hadn't killed him yet. And there is a hint of surprise in Megatron's voice. "Never... NEVER!"
For the longest time, it looked to me like Megatron was looking at the camera. We cut back to Iacon as the transparent dome retracts, then the upper walls, revealing the Ark! Pan across the bridge, and we see Prime sitting at a console. He presses the button and engines fire! Nice sequence, too. We sweep... possibly a little ways away, hard to judge based on the size, to the Nemesis. And Megatron on a throne. Subtle contrast.
There's a cut back to the bridge, some people thinking there's an FTL jump between the shots. And two asteroids collide. The TF wiki makes a big deal about this being so
improbable... but this is a show about giant robots. Big deal! The Ark seems to weather it better than the Nemesis, actually. And we see Ironhide for the first time. "Leakin' lubricants!" Soundwave sounding panicked is rather amusing, too.
Jazz gets knocked out of the pilot's chair and Prime takes control, ordering Ironhide to fire the laser and blast a path through. The Nemesis follows. We get a good line by Prowl. "Viewtrex report-we are
being followed." So they weren't completely clueless about the giant Decepticon cruiser on their tail. Starscream says to blow them away, but Megatron wants to know what they're after. It... makes sense. Are the Autobots heading to a specific
destination? The Nemesis pulls up and locks two tractor beams onto the Ark. Prime calls to fire the laser... which would do nothing to the Nemesis at the angle the ships are at.
The Decepticons board, and one error here. Prime calls to 'prepare for battle!' and then Megatron shouts, 'attack, attack!' Using the same Prime footage. Whoops... It was
supposed to be a shot of Megatron on his throne, though. Just one of the many
animation errors the show has. *Sigh*
Soundwave kicks ass, taking out Sideswipe, Prowl and Jazz but Ironhide dropkicks him from behind. We then cut to Soundwave recovered and taking out Ratchet, despite being hit so hard electricity erupts from his chassis! We pan to Prime and Megatron fighting... but the Ark is caught in a planet's gravity well, oh noes! Prime pulls a lever, but it's no good. The Nemesis's tractor beams are torn away as the Ark augers
into the side of a mountain at apparent full speed... and is not instantly vaporized
"Diecast construction... it's a lost art."FIND THE ART AGAIN!!!!!!!
We have a fade from a desolate landscape to one with vegetation, showing the passage of time. Rather nice, there.
And the caption 'four million years later'. The volcano-Mount Saint Hillary in most G1 fiction but unnamed here, but It's always been my name for it too-erupts. The gist is supposed
to be the volcano uncovered the Ark... but that's not how it is. We apparently missed the giant ship sticking out of the mountain. We pan across the Arks' bridge-with some good scenes of the carnage-as Teletraan-One boots up and launches a satellite. This being before the age of the 'modern' internet, it can't really 'hack' anything for useful info.
The sky spy scans an F-15 and Skywarp is reassembled. He drags Megatron into the... healing beam? Some sort of re-energizer? "Megatron, my leader. We are alive again." There's a rather good shot of Skywarp having to help
Megatron to his feet. Subtle, but good. The rest of the Decepticons are revived and they fly out. Why, I have no idea. The Ark is a perfectly usable base. But, oh well. Megatron notes the passage of time. A somewhat sad line. "How do we know Cybertron still exists?" Oh, ouch
. Still, optimism! Megatron presses on and first mention of ultimate weapons!
Starscream... fires at the mountain. "I'm just saying goodbye!" Write a postcard, you nitwit! Okay, it's again supposed
to be him sealing the Ark up. And there's no way he'd know he'd knock Prime into the healing beam
The sky spy scans a tractor trailer and, "Thanks!" I love the thumbs-up there.
The Decepticons walk into an open desert area which looks like the American Southwest, but I could and am probably wrong. They'll set up base, there. Soundwave is tasked to prepare plans for a new space cruiser-like the 'new'-while Starscream has to get the area ready and materials... which makes sense, as we'll see later on. "What about materials?" "Use your imagination."
Soundwave points out what looks like a power station... and now we see what I consider to be the start of the ultimate kicks to the nether regions of the Masquerade
and I LOVE IT! I love the LA movies, but this is one area the G1 series did so much
Rumble flies off with Starsceam and Soundwave, and we cut back to the Ark. Earth has a lot of resources, and the Decepticons know it too. Thanks, Prime! He's got his arms crossed, which is kinda cute. He sends Hound and Cliffjumper to find them. Back to Starscream as he says how he'll lead the Decepticons. Not in front of Soundwave, yah moron! Rumble uses his piledrivers to 'shake things up a little'.
Back to Hound and Cliffjumper, as Hound begins falling in love with Earth. "We won't be staying that long!" Ah, Cliffjumper. Wanna talk about being two days to retirement and sailing off with your wife too? :p They find the Decepticons and da-yum, they're going quickly! The outer shell is almost complete and there's some conical structure in the middle. How much time has passed, again? Down at the base, we listen in as Megatron does standard evil overlord 101 and we see a rather neat use for Soundwave's chest screen as he shows the space cruiser schematics. He also says they can concentrate their energy into 'energon cubes'. More on those iconic items later.
Back to Hound and Cliffjumper... as Cliff has pulled a gigantic bazooka from nowhere
! First subspace dimensional pocket use? He fires, but misses. And the Decepticons realize the Autobots survived. Laserbeak is sent off, now in spiffy condor mode, as the two drive off in retreat.
Kinda cute how they don't recognize Laserbeak.
They split up, but Laserbeak launches a drone after Cliffjumper. "Eat my dust, birdbrain!" "You couldn't hit an Autobot with a moonbeam!" Trashtalk point goes to Cliffjumper, this round. He fires off his glass gas which takes out the drone, but Hound is blown off the road down into a ditch. Ouch.
After the break we see Cliffjumper, Ratchet and 'Hauler'-Grapple's design-drive up, and a rare appearance of Ratchet's repair bay. Hound has no hard feelings, but Cliffjumper apologizes. Aww. "You shouldn't have missed, you mean." We cut to a cliff and the Reflector trio and Thundercracker. They spot a dust trail and Reflector transforms and combines... into a polaroid camera. That takes actual photographs. Right... "Okay, Reflector. Let's see what you can see." Heh.
And now we have the first contact between humanity and the Trnasformers... and it's them first surveying the destroyed power station, then Ravage attacking them and them barely escaping with their lives. For the record this is one of the weakest Decepticons. We're fucked, aren't we.
Back at the Ark, and Hound tells them about 'some kind of cube'. A battle unit is organized and roll call! "Autobots, start your engines! Ready, Prime." Rather calm, there.
Laserbeak flies over the Decepticon base... which looks even more
built-up. Nice sense of time-change, there. He's found a source of energy and we fade to an oil rig. And we see... them
, two of the best human protagonists in TF history. Spike and Sparkplug Witwicky.
Seriously, they are. a father and son, both with technical skills who can teach the Autobots about humanity and Earth without being too
annoying. But before SPike can get the baler, the Decepticons land. "Dive, dive, DIVE!" The humans throw.... wrenches at them. It goes about as well as you'd expect. -_- One thrown pipe and most of them are swept into the ocean. Rumble throws Sparkplug against a wall. Spike tries, bless his heart, but an incredibly casual swipe from Rumble and he's knocked into the ocean! Sparkplug uses a rather clever leverage move on Rumble and dives after his son.
Energon cubes are laid out and the oil is transferred in. How do these things work
?! Starscream prematurely celebrates... odd, too. And he also spots the Autobots on approach. :p Flying in. Ah, early kinks in the series, how I love you.
Megatron transforms into gun mode... being wielded by Starscream. Who thus far has only said
he'd take over. Meh, some posturing but nothing big. Yet.
"Don't interfere, Prime." ... Uh, he was interfering for about five million years before you landed on Earth. I think it's a might
beyond a habit by now! They tussle a bit and we see other shots of fighting. Skywarp and a Reflector begin scooping up energon cubes, but Prowl and Jazz shoot at them. Looks like they even get some cubes, too! Laserbeak flies over and interferes, letting Megatron escape. "So long, Prime. Have a nice swim!"
Two fusion cannon shots and the oil rig breaks apart. "Here's something to keep you warm!" And the oil is ignited. Not. good. Ooh, somewaht creepy shot of Megatron and the flames superimposed over him. *Shiver* Spike and Sparkplug call for help, as they're trapped by the wreckage. Prime tries to lift the wreckage... and to be continued!Thoughts
This... is still rather good, actually. Cybertron so empty and desolate like that is just sad
. Good moments for the characters, too. MTMTE is one of the 'highlights' of the franchise, not just G1, and it does show here.