Looking Back on Beast Machines

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Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby JazZeke » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:55 pm

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The other day I got this... weird, sudden flash of nostalgia for Beast Machines, of all things. Which is weird, because as a 13-year-old, I kind of hated that show.

Beast Wars was what I grew up with. I'd had just enough exposure to G1 thanks to swap meets and VHS tapes to appreciate Beast Wars not just on its own merits, but as a part of something bigger than itself. Halfway through Beast Wars' first season, my family moved way the hell out into the boondocks to try our hand at homesteading. We had no TV reception, but we had a TV and a generator, and my grandfather, may he rest in peace, taped Beast Wars for me and my siblings. Out there, I was a pretty lonely kid, and the Maximals became my "best friends." Beast Wars had such a profound effect on me that it inspired me to become a writer as an adult.

So when Beast Machines came around, I hated seeing Rattrap reduced to a whiner without any of his past snark. Optimus Primal turned into a short-sighted zealot. Silverbolt made heartless and dour. And most egregiously, Rhinox made evil. The sheer stupidity of primordial ooze as a do-all plot device and the liberties the series took with G1 canon were aggravating too, but it was the characters I cared enough. Most of the time, I'm content to pretend Beast Machines never happened.

But all of a sudden, I saw the Beast Machines logo somewhere and my mood just... flipped. Not the series or the toys themselves, oh god no, but like, that very strange period in the franchise's history. Looking back on it, it's kind of hard to believe how weird Transformers got at that point. Biomechanical figures, unorthodox designs, a complete lack of show accuracy... these toys had nothing to do with the original G1 Transformers in concept or aesthetic, but at the same time you could see the clear evolution from one into the other. Looking back on it now, after 18 years of relative brand stability, it feels kind of surreal how the brand got so "off-focus" like that.

And you know? As much as I'm looking forward to the Siege toys, at the same time I feel like it's kind of a shame Hasbro isn't as experimental as it used to be. I love building up my "neo-G1" collection (and it's about damn time I got a good Ironhide figure for it), but I feel like the brand has been scared to try anything fresh since Animated, and that's a crying shame.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby shajaki » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:15 pm

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My initial reaction of BM was shock, then I fell in love with it. It was daring for the time, and sadly true that they don't take chances like that anymore.

It is by far the most dark and adult oriented series we've ever gotten. I find even the animation has aged well (whereas BW is a bit of a chore). It has it's issues, it's not perfect, but it's sophisticated. I was ok with pretty much all the character changes. Rattrap however took some getting used to, but once I understood the "why" (which is what a lot of this show was about), that made him all the more interesting.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Wingz » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:09 pm

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Beast Machines...I actually rewatched both Beast Wars and Beast Machines very recently, and I agree with you on quite a few points, Jaz, especially regarding Rattrap. Regarding him in Beast Machines, I still just see an inside-out boy scout on training wheels when I look at that model, and he comes off as helpless for the first half of the series. Given the events in the series, personality changes are understandable, but I never got used to the models.

There was something I caught this time that I did not catch the first time, though, since you mentioned the liberties the writers took with G1 canon. When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform. Because it was organic and animals existed there? It doesn't really make a lot of sense, and it's never clarified.

Taking the series for what it was and what it offered, it was decent, but by no means great in my opinion. It would be nice if they reached outside the comfort zone more often, such as with the concept of Beast Wars, but I'm not sure the risk is worth the effort at this point in time.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby shajaki » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:37 pm

Motto: "A man who wants nothing is invincible."
Wingz wrote:When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform.
Didn't "Five Faces of Darkness" reference them learning to transform?
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Wingz » Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:07 pm

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shajaki wrote:
Wingz wrote:When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform.
Didn't "Five Faces of Darkness" reference them learning to transform?


It's been a while since I've seen "Five Faces of Darkness" :lol: May have to revisit it at some point soon, then. Thank you for the heads up! ;)^
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Vector Primal » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:55 am

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I did not care for it. They may as well have made a new cast of characters. Rattrap wouldn't go to Megatron...way to smart and to much pride.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby ScottyP » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:05 am

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The Beast Machines show was very good indeed. I wouldn't mind seeing a Blu-Ray release of it.

Though "I am transformed" in lieu of "maximize" had some moments where it was more cringey than anything.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:20 am

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I saw Beast Machines about 10 years ago. It was a cheap boxset on Amazon so I thought why not? BM was never televised here in the UK that I could recall (Season 3 of Beast Wars shared a similar fate) and as such, being the early days of forums, I only heard talk of how "terrible" it was. I was curious.

I'm a fan of villains, not heroes. I adored the Vehicons. Their concept, execution (and the toys) was superb. The ideas of drones and Mold Clones was very G1. Really enjoyed Megatron's arc, toying with the idea of corruption. How, merely holding the spark of G1 Megs had fundamentally damaged Megatron long term. His once brilliant and cunning mind slipping into madness and general decay.

Rhinox was the only Maximal I liked. I did not care for the Tankor revelation.

The rest of the Maximals? Characterisation, designs, motivations, to me it was all 'off'. If this had been a standalone series, I don't think this feeling would have been there. As it stands, basically Beast Wars Season 4, mistakes were clearly made and I didn't really see any positives from the alterations. The Maximal toys were 95% terrible too.

So in summary, half the show I liked, half I didn't. I do still regard it higher than the Unicron Trilogy though.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Cyberstrike » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:48 am

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Wingz wrote:
shajaki wrote:
Wingz wrote:When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform.
Didn't "Five Faces of Darkness" reference them learning to transform?


It's been a while since I've seen "Five Faces of Darkness" :lol: May have to revisit it at some point soon, then. Thank you for the heads up! ;)^


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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Nacelle » Sat Dec 22, 2018 9:52 pm

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Just finished watching the show a few minutes ago, have a mixed opinion on it, so I'll organize it a little (several spoilers ahead):

Good:

The status-quo changes all the time. Actions have consequences and the show remembers it's own continuity.

Megatron was actually a pretty good villain, even if different from his previous characterization.

The plot point of the Vehicons being the characters who went missing was really interesting and helps tie the show to the previous one.

Un-popular opinion but I found Rattrap quite annoying in BW, so I significantly preferred this version, even if he was a total coward.

The finale is really good and has high stakes.

The way the mystery of what happened is very well done, in that the characters and the viewer are just as confused as one another. Instead of the main characters accepting things the viewers don't know, they don't know what happened either, and they have to figure it out as well.

The show is interesting.

Bad:

A lot of the Maximals act like jerks and not in a good way either. It sorta worked with Silverbolt due to his guilt, but many of the other characters seem to get really angry one episode and then change back to not being angry in a really strange way. I guess it kinda makes sense due to the situation Cybertron is in.

The Maximal designs are really bad. In beast mode, they're mostly alright. But their robot modes are really really bad. I can't really put into words but I just can't stand the designs. Cheetor, Black Arachnia, and Nightscream especially, but the others as well. The exception are the Vehicons, whose designs are really good and unique.

The message was quite forced, especially in the first season, and certain lines of dialogue get repeated a lot.

Overall, I thought it was a flawed but interesting show. It keept me interested throughout.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Sabrblade » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:43 am

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Loved it as a kid and still love it, enough that I even mapped out its timeline in accordance to the 2001-2004 BotCon fiction. :-D
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:20 pm

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Here is a question. If they hadn't have back-peddled out of the finale to The Agenda and Beast Machines had instead become "Season 3" (& 4), the alternate future caused by Megatron killing Optimus Prime in the past, would it have been better received?
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby JazZeke » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:24 pm

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AllNewSuperRobot wrote:Here is a question. If they hadn't have back-peddled out of the finale to The Agenda and Beast Machines had instead become "Season 3" (& 4), the alternate future caused by Megatron killing Optimus Prime in the past, would it have been better received?

...Maybe? So long as it was all undone and the timeline restored, it might have made some of the more egregious sins--such as everyone acting wildly out of character--more easy to swallow. That wouldn't have solved the primordial ooze as an all-purpose plot device, however.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:30 pm

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What if the Beast Machines finale was unchanged though? That the restoration of the timeline only came about through the death/reformation of the last Optimus and Megatron?
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby JazZeke » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:45 pm

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AllNewSuperRobot wrote:What if the Beast Machines finale was unchanged though? That the restoration of the timeline only came about through the death/reformation of the last Optimus and Megatron?

Then that probably would have pissed off fans even more. Alternate-timeline stories almost always need to resolve with having the "true" timeline restored. If the first two amazing seasons of Beast Wars had ended there, with Beast Machines saying "this is the joyless status quo now, everything that you enjoyed about the first two seasons no longer matters and no longer exists," then it would have just compounded peoples' issues with the series. It would have been a ballsy move for a kids' show, sure, but still wrong.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:58 pm

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JazZeke wrote:
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:What if the Beast Machines finale was unchanged though? That the restoration of the timeline only came about through the death/reformation of the last Optimus and Megatron?

Then that probably would have pissed off fans even more. Alternate-timeline stories almost always need to resolve with having the "true" timeline restored. If the first two amazing seasons of Beast Wars had ended there, with Beast Machines saying "this is the joyless status quo now, everything that you enjoyed about the first two seasons no longer matters and no longer exists," then it would have just compounded peoples' issues with the series. It would have been a ballsy move for a kids' show, sure, but still wrong.



The most notable 'ballsy' move Hasbro/Takara made was the '86 Movie and they were right to do so, even if the execution could have been better. ;)

What I mean is, instead of the naff Techno-organic "running" scene at the end. If when Primal and Megs hit the core, the blast wave restored everyone to the visual design of Season Two Beast Wars. Cybertron itself, brought back to the look briefly shown in 'The Web' and other flashbacks.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby JazZeke » Sun Jan 27, 2019 11:21 pm

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AllNewSuperRobot wrote:
JazZeke wrote:
AllNewSuperRobot wrote:What if the Beast Machines finale was unchanged though? That the restoration of the timeline only came about through the death/reformation of the last Optimus and Megatron?

Then that probably would have pissed off fans even more. Alternate-timeline stories almost always need to resolve with having the "true" timeline restored. If the first two amazing seasons of Beast Wars had ended there, with Beast Machines saying "this is the joyless status quo now, everything that you enjoyed about the first two seasons no longer matters and no longer exists," then it would have just compounded peoples' issues with the series. It would have been a ballsy move for a kids' show, sure, but still wrong.



The most notable 'ballsy' move Hasbro/Takara made was the '86 Movie and they were right to do so, even if the execution could have been better. ;)

What I mean is, instead of the naff Techno-organic "running" scene at the end. If when Primal and Megs hit the core, the blast wave restored everyone to the visual design of Season Two Beast Wars. Cybertron itself, brought back to the look briefly shown in 'The Web' and other flashbacks.

Eh, the techno-organic stuff still would have been a needless divergence, and that was a major element of Beast Machines.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Mon Jan 28, 2019 8:27 am

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Not Necessarily. Swap out The Oracle for the Vok (in the guise of The Oracle). That way all the things that happen from the Oracle "visions" tie into a Vok mission to "fix" the damage to the timestream Megatron had caused. I would also swap out Nightscream for Depthcharge, for obvious reasons.
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