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Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

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Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Tronus_Rex » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:30 pm

Peter Cullen has become so distinct as Optimus, that people cannot help but see him, at this point forward, as THE only Optimus that will be accepted for the role. My example of an equivalent to compare is Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show.

When Leno took over for Carson, on The Tonight Show, Leno's ratings have since and always been a fraction of Carson's. This is a fact.

Why? The Tonight Show WAS Carson and never just The Tonight Show with a host. Many grew up watching Carson, who was relateable, funny, endearing, genuine, and had the ability to make people laugh when his jokes bombed. A tool that other comedians say - they marvel at, to this day. [Ref:"Johnny Carson King of Late Night" doc.movie]

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I grew up with Cullen like many in the 80's, while others didn't meet him until 2007's Transformers, (which I still think is a GREAT film, even though I hate the 2 sequels). Cullen has become even more measurably important since then. Cullen's inspiration included John Wayne. It's no wonder that many then gravitated to Prime. I will say that Cullen's modern portrayal of Optimus, should bring back his G1's sense of humor. Cullen in "Prime" had been portrayed as very humorless. Cullen and the "dynamic duo", have their reasons for this decision.

I want to point out that "the Duke", almost, always laughed, weather lightly, heartily, or with a gallows humor. Only "The Searchers" portrayed the humorless Ethan Edwards. (I'll also note that "The Searchers", puts Good-Bad&Ugly, Unforgiven, Appaloosa, all to shame, except for "Once Upon a Time..".] Optimus having no sense of humor has been played for humor, but, I still feel it reflects a far darker character than Prime should portrayed.

Anyway, that is subjective and based on taste.

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Leno is a professional comedian, not always best in delivery, has been guilty of blatant plagiarism, (and today, Copy Laundering), and, most importantly, is perceived as boring to many, worse still, disliked by others. Finding Leno funny or boring is subjective, but this is reflected by articles on the Tonight show and the ratings drop that came when Leno took over as host. It could have to do with fan's not wanting Carson to quit, at all.

There were two other hosts before Carson, unique to themselves, but Carson is what made 'Tonight Show important. Also due to public emotional attachment.

Just so everyone doesn't misunderstand. Carson was before my time, even though he was host for 11-13 years of my life. I only base my statements on what is written on Carson, Leno, & the Tonight show by others articles and videos. I haven't seen enough of classic Carson. But have seen enough Leno to just find him boring. Carson too, had his critiques.

Cullen's Prime has become just as important to TF fans, as Carson was to Tonight Show fans. The other Optimus portrayals have not been as consistent. With exceptions.

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Myself, I think Kaye's, Optimus, was very good in Animated. Chalk's Optimus Primal was also memorable in a positive way. These two were, generally, well received, because they were not trying to be Cullen. Chalk was playing a young, more insecure Optimus, in a story telling of how the hero came to fulfill his role. Primal was not Prime but unique as a character, and very enjoyable. They both played their own roles, as they saw fit. Not in direct imitation of Cullen.

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Above picture by zgul-osr1113 "Optimus Prime Animated"

http://zgul-osr1113.deviantart.com/art/Optimus-Prime-Animated-97992919

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Above - David Kaye

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Above Picture Gary Chalk

Kaye, also voiced the Beast Wars Megatron, the Predacon leader, distinct from the first.

Megatron's portrayal in Animated had Burton, who, would make for the perfect candidate to replace Welker in my opinion, when Welker eventually retires.

Welker in Prime gave a more in-depth performance to Meg's compared to G1, but, I actually think that not having the vocoder effect, hurt the portrayal. I felt it was was a little off or very rarely perfect. You may feel different, and feel free to say why it worked for you, better than myself. I still loved Welker in "Prime", anyway.

If Hasbro is not careful enough to replace Cullen with an actor who has his own charisma, gravitas, and more. If the replacement is just mimicking Cullen - the next Prime could be like Leno was to The Tonight Show. A man mimicking, someone, who is likeable and funny.

The same can be said of a future Megatron. Look at the lazy performance of Hugo "Sleaping". This man is a capable enough actor to make "V" in V for Vendetta become very charismatic, sympathetic, and very readable with that mask covering his face. He's quite capable of delivering a great performance with just his voice. But if he doesn't take the performance seriously, and does not have the right director to coax that out of him...

It was a combination of Optimus's badly executed death, and then cancellation of the cartoon even when Cullen returned. Without the cartoon backing these toys, with stories, fan interest died, slowly.

TF fans want a good Prime - the success of the franchise has always been linked to characters to draw kids interest in to buying the toy. It wasn't just the toys following strange trends, at the end of G1, that hurt toy sales.

Optimus's death was not thought out and badly executed. Compounding this was the poor handling of his successor with Rodimus. People seem to have forgotten just how badly Prime's death was used in G1.

Please, bear with me, I am about to use a figure that is controversial, to say the least, but not is in no way being used to convert or preach, but just as a device for an argument. I place no value statements about the individual and the reference. At least in this statement.

I find it extremely, galling, when people make comparisons of Optimus Prime's G1 deaths (plural) to Jesus Christ. This is an invalid and HORRIBLE comparison.

Prime's death was against his will, meant to shock, was arguably pointless IE a waste given Megatron escaped and then became Galvatron. Also the characters successor, was portrayed, written, and handled even worse still. If Optimus's first death had any real value, kids wouldn't have come away from theaters, traumatized. Instead, inspired, by what should have been a heroism sacrifice, with lasting effects and value. A death with a meaning, that would have resulted in fans writing, epic songs about what Prime did. Even emulating the act. They didn't because their was no point and no value to it. Kids just asked, "why?", or, "what was the point?"

[ His first death in Marvel Comics was even worse, funny enough. He killed an NPC in a video game, felt guilty, then destroyed himself, :BANG_HEAD: ]

Now the contrast with Christ. As it is written; Jesus Christ knew what He was doing when he came to Earth, via birth as a man, in full knowledge of His mission, to be the required payment for the evils/lawbreaking/wrongdoing/selfishness/crimes/sins - of humankind. As the substitute for all individuals. Knew He would die, even struggled with it, yet he followed through, deliberately, boldly, decisively, with full clarity and knowledge. Christ knew he would die, and that it would not be a defeat, but the single most important victory as written in the Bible. Jesus even said that he would come back from the grave a full 3 days later. Jesus died as a hero, and as an example for any "masculine" man, or human in general. The death was portrayed by the written words as a choice that Jesus didn't have to make and to many made no sense. "He died for us while we were yet sinners..." The book pointed out how few would die for a noble/good person, let alone a "criminal" or "sinner". It was also a plan from the beginning "Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth...".

Prime's death was an accident, against Prime's will, and had no value. :-x

Then, Jesus, by Himself, "...defeated the grave". Not like Optimus who to fans, and critics alike, died "like little bitch" [ xRazorFistx, Doug Walker, Linkara, ETC], for clumsy Hasbro to sell more toys, but resulting in the opposite effect.

Weather you believe what is written in the Bible or not is not important here, so please, do not start a heated angry religious debate. I'm not preaching at anyone. If you cannot handle even talking about this in a philosophical/logical debate, then, please re-frame from commenting. This is just to point out what is written about Christ and how he is perceived by those that claim to believe it. Not to discuss the accuracy of the Bible, and I will not entertain any discussion on Jesus or the Bible unless used in the context of this statement, as presented. In other words, don't debate the Bible, debate Hasbro, and fan attachment to Cullen's performance. I do not place any value statements, supporting or refuting the Bible, at this time.

Optimus death had no value, and he did not return by his own power. Optimus drove the 'Cons away, but this turned out to a little pause in the "war". It is written that Jesus died to effectively buy humankinds salvation as a Messiah. In the TF Movie, Prime didn't beat Unicron, instead it was a McGuffin device wielded by a week character.

This is a valid point, and accurate to describe how careless Hasbro has been in the past.

This brands toy sales are linked to good portrayals of characters that people want to emulate in these stories. If Hasbro screws up enough, Transformers might die, again.

A good example of a noble sacrifice is Prime throwing himself in to the "Swarm" in Marvel TF G2 Issue:10.

A bad replacement would be akin to Carson and Leno with The Tonight Show. It depends on how he is written, the seriousness of the performance, the actors charisma, and ability to also be fun and even empathetic/relateable. That is what sold the toys. The toys have always been linked to good characters with good story telling. Hasbro's track record in this regard is not consistent, and full of pot-holes. This is the trap of selling a toy through a TV show or game, or even a comic. Also if there is no show at all then sales figures decline even more. Once again I ref. Weaving.

Optimus was brought back at the end of season 3, however, the show was already DOA, ending with a mini-series to complete "season 4". When the show went in to rerun, the toys lost much of the appeal and ability to draw money.

I hope that Cullen isn't going to become to TF what Carson is to Tonigh', because of poor replacements for the characters portrayal, and/or characters successor. I also hope Hasbro doesn't choose to once again simply stop making these video series and now games, or interest will fall even further.

:BOT: :CON:

[Companies can be this stupid, repeating past mistakes and making stupid presumptions. Look at the WWE today. Or how about how American Superspy "Jimmy" Bond in 1953's(?) Casino Royal.]
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Re: Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Rodimus Prime » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:06 pm

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Very 1st thing, this is probably in a more proper place in the TF General Discussion.

Now, just to be clear (and please correct me if I am wrong about this), the point of this topic is to discuss the value of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime to the franchise as a whole.

Not having watched The Tonight Show while Carson was hosting it, I can't really comment on his impact. I did, for years, watch it regularly with Leno as host, and I found him humorous and entertaining. Then the fiasco with Conan happened, and I kinda stopped watching since then. I catch it once in a while and it still makes me laugh, but I don't feel it necessary to watch all the time. I do have to say that from watching footage of Carson, I didn't think he was any special. Of course, being the host for 30 years had to require some talent and connection with the audience, so obviously he was good at what he did.

Does Cullen mean the same to Transformers as Carson was to The Tonight Show? That's a matter of opinion, I believe. Depending on how much emotional value you place in each of them. This might be blasphemy, especially with Geewunners, but I really don't care if Cullen voices Optimus or not, mainly due to the fact that I never cared for Optimus Prime much at all. I don't dislike the character, but I don't consider his actions the be-all end-all of Transformers. As you said, his death was very impactful emotionally on the fandom, and that is totally understandable. He was the favorite of many, and he was killed in the cartoon seemingly for no reason. He and Megatron were hurt more or less equally, but the bad guy got a pass and an improvement, while the fandom's favorite hero got canned? Way unfair to most. It might be OK to do it on a show for adults, as adults are more capable of handling the emotional impact, but to do it on a children's show? Bad move. Even if it paved the way for Rodimus, whom many dislike simply for the fact that he wasn't Optimus. But no one could be, and that was due to Cullen's effort and dedication through his talent.

I will stay to the main point, and say that in the end, other voice actors won't measure up to Cullen as Prime simply because he is the blueprint. He was the 1st to do it, and everyone will be compared. He is the one most identified with the character. IMO, I prefer Optimus Primal to Optimus in the cartoon, and it does have to do a lot with Garry Chalk's portrayal. To me he made Primal seem more human-like, thus more relatable. G1 Prime was exactly what Cullen himself has said he wanted him to be: a cartoon John Wayne. Over the top. It worked for back then, but if it were done now, it would probably fail, because the character is too simple. He transferred this quality more or less successfully to the Bay movies, as Prime from there is pretty much the same as he was in the G1 cartoon. Not much room for character development. Whether that's the writers' doing or Cullen's is debatable. I think it's a combination.

So to answer your question: Yes, Peter Cullen will be to Optimus what Johnny Carson was to Tonight. Anyone following will be forever compared.
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Re: Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Tronus_Rex » Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:36 pm

Rodimus Prime wrote:Very 1st thing, this is probably in a more proper place in the TF General Discussion.

Now, just to be clear (and please correct me if I am wrong about this), the point of this topic is to discuss the value of Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime to the franchise as a whole.

Not having watched The Tonight Show while Carson was hosting it, I can't really comment on his impact. I did, for years, watch it regularly with Leno as host, and I found him humorous and entertaining. Then the fiasco with Conan happened, and I kinda stopped watching since then. I catch it once in a while and it still makes me laugh, but I don't feel it necessary to watch all the time. I do have to say that from watching footage of Carson, I didn't think he was any special. Of course, being the host for 30 years had to require some talent and connection with the audience, so obviously he was good at what he did.


I'm likely very close in age to yourself, I too never knew Carson, and instead Leno. Conan is doing just fine, Leno has already had another replacement announced back in March. The point of the comparison, is that The Tonight Show was at it's height, measurably, under Carson. My reference argues why. It may be that NBC stayed with Leno too long, made the wrong choice by choosing Leno to begin with, (Carson didn't like the choice either), or, it could be that no one could have replaced Carson.

Does Cullen mean the same to Transformers as Carson was to The Tonight Show? That's a matter of opinion, I believe. Depending on how much emotional value you place in each of them. This might be blasphemy, especially with Geewunners, but I really don't care if Cullen voices Optimus or not, mainly due to the fact that I never cared for Optimus Prime much at all. I don't dislike the character, but I don't consider his actions the be-all end-all of Transformers. As you said, his death was very impactful emotionally on the fandom, and that is totally understandable. He was the favorite of many, and he was killed in the cartoon seemingly for no reason. He and Megatron were hurt more or less equally, but the bad guy got a pass and an improvement, while the fandom's favorite hero got canned? Way unfair to most. It might be OK to do it on a show for adults, as adults are more capable of handling the emotional impact, but to do it on a children's show? Bad move. Even if it paved the way for Rodimus, whom many dislike simply for the fact that he wasn't Optimus. But no one could be, and that was due to Cullen's effort and dedication through his talent.


The same can be said about John Wayne, in that Optimus is not loved by everyone. I'm more concerned that a suitable successor, weather another Optimus, or just another Prime, will be poorly handled. Weaving didn't care about performance he gave in the Bayformer movies, perhaps a reflection of Bay himself, given his focus on humans. I'm G1 too, but, I'm more about Welker and Latta. Welker was THE Megatron for many, Kaye was his own Megatron, really, only Burton seems to be the right person to be another Megatron in the classic silver-black-red G1 archetype. Given how many kids and teens buy Optimus toys, it could be said that, children, and newer fans seem to love him even more. When you think about it, when Cullen returned to the role, Gary Chalk had been a great Optimus, but only Cullen was accepted, given G1 fans. (I know Chalk had already been replaced, but look how that worked out). Cullen was unfamiliar for the kids and they LOVED his performance.

Cullen's replacement, Judd as Hot Rod, was along the lines of the "hero archetype", young, bright eyed, brave, courageous, even brash. The transition was badly handled. Sunbow was replaced, Galvatron altered to make him less scary, Starscream just became a cameo, many others were dead, or the actors replaced. During season 3, the replacements didn't connect with as many as before.

Cullen's return, may have made him even more important to G1 fans. Of course the show was dead by then anyway.

Beast Wars and Machines had great characters, including a good Optimus replacement, thanks to the studio that made the show, Mainframe. Which lead to what you said next.

I will stay to the main point, and say that in the end, other voice actors won't measure up to Cullen as Prime simply because he is the blueprint. He was the 1st to do it, and everyone will be compared. He is the one most identified with the character. IMO, I prefer Optimus Primal to Optimus in the cartoon, and it does have to do a lot with Garry Chalk's portrayal. To me he made Primal seem more human-like, thus more relatable. G1 Prime was exactly what Cullen himself has said he wanted him to be: a cartoon John Wayne. Over the top. It worked for back then, but if it were done now, it would probably fail, because the character is too simple. He transferred this quality more or less successfully to the Bay movies, as Prime from there is pretty much the same as he was in the G1 cartoon. Not much room for character development. Whether that's the writers' doing or Cullen's is debatable. I think it's a combination.


The depth of Cullen's Prime does depend on the writers AND the director. I like the seriousness, but, it did need more. That has to be asked for by the writers, performance asked by the director, and with these conditions, Cullen can give more to Prime than I think you give him credit for. But even a good actor, given bad direction and script, will look bad.

So to answer your question: Yes, Peter Cullen will be to Optimus what Johnny Carson was to Tonight. Anyone following will be forever compared.


And that is what Hasbro needs be careful not to do. Kaye gave the best alternative as the reluctant hero type. Chalk, well, I actually just call him "Primal", no Optimus/Optimal, as he wasn't Optimus, nor a Prime. Chalk's Optimal was a Maximal leader. The next leader needs to himself, not a parody of Cullen. Find a good performer, good director, good, writer, and quality animation of any kind, then promote it, a new TF show with a new Prime, Optimus or not, the show will succeed and Transformers will live on.




...Though if they pick someone like Calvin Johnson as Megatron, and opposite, Richard Sherman as Optimus... :BOOM:

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Re: Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Slashercon » Wed Dec 04, 2013 8:54 pm

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Tronus_Rex wrote:I find it extremely, galling, when people make comparisons of Optimus Prime's G1 deaths (plural) to Jesus Christ. This is an invalid and HORRIBLE comparison.

Prime's death was against his will, meant to shock, was arguably pointless IE a waste given Megatron escaped and then became Galvatron. Also the characters successor, was portrayed, written, and handled even worse still. If Optimus's first death had any real value, kids wouldn't have come away from theaters, traumatized. Instead, inspired, by what should have been a heroism sacrifice, with lasting effects and value. A death with a meaning, that would have resulted in fans writing, epic songs about what Prime did. Even emulating the act. They didn't because their was no point and no value to it. Kids just asked, "why?", or, "what was the point?"

Now the contrast with Christ. As it is written; Jesus Christ knew what He was doing when he came to Earth, via birth as a man, in full knowledge of His mission, to be the required payment for the evils/lawbreaking/wrongdoing/selfishness/crimes/sins - of humankind. As the substitute for all individuals. Knew He would die, even struggled with it, yet he followed through, deliberately, boldly, decisively, with full clarity and knowledge. Christ knew he would die, and that it would not be a defeat, but the single most important victory as written in the Bible. Jesus even said that he would come back from the grave a full 3 days later. Jesus died as a hero, and as an example for any "masculine" man, or human in general. The death was portrayed by the written words as a choice that Jesus didn't have to make and to many made no sense. "He died for us while we were yet sinners..." The book pointed out how few would die for a noble/good person, let alone a "criminal" or "sinner". It was also a plan from the beginning "Lamb slain before the foundations of the earth...".

Prime's death was an accident, against Prime's will, and had no value. :-x

Then, Jesus, by Himself, "...defeated the grave". Not like Optimus who to fans, and critics alike, died "like little bitch" [ xRazorFistx, Doug Walker, Linkara, ETC], for clumsy Hasbro to sell more toys, but resulting in the opposite effect.

Weather you believe what is written in the Bible or not is not important here, so please, do not start a heated angry religious debate. I'm not preaching at anyone. If you cannot handle even talking about this in a philosophical/logical debate, then, please re-frame from commenting. This is just to point out what is written about Christ and how he is perceived by those that claim to believe it. Not to discuss the accuracy of the Bible, and I will not entertain any discussion on Jesus or the Bible unless used in the context of this statement, as presented. In other words, don't debate the Bible, debate Hasbro, and fan attachment to Cullen's performance. I do not place any value statements, supporting or refuting the Bible, at this time.

Optimus death had no value, and he did not return by his own power. Optimus drove the 'Cons away, but this turned out to a little pause in the "war". It is written that Jesus died to effectively buy humankinds salvation as a Messiah. In the TF Movie, Prime didn't beat Unicron, instead it was a McGuffin device wielded by a week character.

This is a valid point, and accurate to describe how careless Hasbro has been in the past.



THANK YOU :APPLAUSE: :APPLAUSE: :APPLAUSE:
It is incredibly annoying how so many fans I know blindly believe this and upon watching the movie for the first time, I had this same exact feeling, maybe even more-so...disgust and detachment. Heck, Optimus seemingly had a more meaningful death in ROTF, saving Sam and allowing him to escape from enemy clutches. He at least died SAVING SOMEONE. WHO did Optimus die saving in '86? HOW did he die? >:oP


Anyway, on topic...I think when Optimus will be replaced, (lets be honest, Cullen won't be here forever :-() the new voice actor will have to convey a different performance and try not imitate Cullen. A similar example (in my opinion of course) is with Mark Hamil as THE voice of The Joker. I can honestly see John DiMaggio be the next long term Joker with his performance in Batman: Under the Red Hood. It was different for sure , but at the same time appealing.
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Re: Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Autobot032 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:12 am

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To answer the question in the title: Yes. Often imitated, never duplicated, can't top the original. He brings a certain weight to the role, a depth, a strength. That's not to say that the performances by Kaye, Kaplan and Chalk were subpar or lacking in quality, quite the opposite in fact. Their performances were solid, excellent takes on the character, especially Kaye's. Young Optimus? Heck yeah.

But Cullen...whether he originated the role or not, he just has that commanding power to draw your attention. And it sells so well.
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Re: Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Rumblebee357 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 6:18 am

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yes Peter Cullen will always be Optimus Prime in the eyes of most fans especially G1 cuz he was the 1st to do it. I've enjoyed his performances with the movies n Prime but more so with ''Prime'' cuz of the writing staff, but the movies r just a different beast. But I also like the primes from ''Animated'' n ''Cybertron'' cuz they portrayed prime as what he is a ''hero'' n a great leader that the autobots can get behind. I admitt his death n G1 was handled badly because his predecessor didnt fit that model but u wont see that again Hasbro wont let Prime stay dead for that long cuz they dnt wanna kill the franchise ( I think its in their ''bible'' ). I could see David Kaye taking over the role n being excepted and Corey Burton as Megatron... Still luv that animated Megatron toy!
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Re: Will Peter Cullen be to Optimus Prime what Carson was to the tonight show?

Postby Rodimus Prime » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:14 am

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Slashercon wrote:Optimus seemingly had a more meaningful death in ROTF, saving Sam and allowing him to escape from enemy clutches. He at least died SAVING SOMEONE. WHO did Optimus die saving in '86? HOW did he die?



How about EVERYONE? The Decepticons were absolutely dominating the Autobots and destroying Autobot City in the process. Were they allowed to continue, there was no doubt they would have won. Even if all the Autobots didn't die in the fight (in addition to the ones already dead on the shuttle) they would have been useless in stopping the Decepticons from further wreaking havoc on Earth and eventually overtaking it. Enter the Dinobots and Optimus Prime. Yes, the Dinobots were eventually dispatched by Devastator, but they were the 1st Autobots to actually have an impact in slowing the Decepticon assault. Then comes Prime. He goes ape-shit (no pun intended) and takes out every Decepticon in his way, leading up to Megatron. Regardless of your opinion of G1, that was a hell of a fight. The fight in RoTF is on par with it, but IMO it's not better. He not only defeats Megatron, he wrecks him, to the point that if it weren't for Unicron, he would have died, thanks to Starscream. So, Optimus enters battle: Decepticons defeated? Check. Megatron disabled? Check. Autobots and humans saved? Check. The only part that didn't work out was that Prime didn't survive. The death itself I also had some difficulty accepting, considering he most likely could have been saved instead of just being left to die on the "bed" like a terminal cancer patient. But that was necessary to make way for his replacement, the cast of season 3, and the new toys. I wish it didn't happen, considering how they mishandled Rodimus in season 3, but it's the way it is. So overall, his fight and death in 1986 were far from pointless, both in the story and in terms of marketing, even if it was overkill (pun intended). I do think Hasbro could have introduced the new characters (including Rodimus) without killing Optimus. They dropped the ball on that. But to say it was all meaningless is a big misunderstanding of G1 in my opinion.
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