Well, “US” is technically accurate but the show was actually made in Canada by Mainframe Entertainment. I’m come back to that but first let’s get caught up with the history.
Transformers: Generation Two didn’t do so well for Hasbro as a toyline. The cartoon was just a rehash of the original series with an overused effect gimmick, the comic is garbage if you haven’t read my reviews (and yet somehow still has a fan following for reasons I can’t begin to understand–and although I didn’t like IDW’s run I do understand their fan success…they only rebooted because they couldn’t continue in that universe), and the toys didn’t fare much better. The early waves were just recolored versions of the original toys with added sound packs, with only Megatron getting a new tank form because the times demanded it. While new toys would be designed for the line after this it wasn’t in time to really benefit it. Hasbro needed something new or the franchise could have perished, or at least ended up like Masters Of The Universe, with the odd revival until nostalgia kicked in.
Their solution was Beast Wars, creating two new factions–Maximal and Predacon–and giving them all animal modes. While Transformers has had animals going all the way back to Soundwave’s cassettes Buzzsaw, Laserbeak, and Ravage these would turn into real animals rather than purely mechanical ones. They went to Mainframe Entertainment, who had a huge success with Reboot, to create this new series. A smaller cast than on the toy shelves due to CG limitations at the time proved to be a benefit as the smaller cast became easier to get attached to. Beast Wars: Transformers ran for three seasons, re-ran on Fox along with a new spinoff, and even made it to Japan. I’ll get into that next time, but believe it or not I can pull five videos out of the North American run alone. So let’s do that.
Beast Wars: Transformers first aired as part of “The Power Block”, a syndicated anthology programming block that also featured reruns of Reboot, and two new series. Vor-Tech is basically a poor man’s MASK going up against cyborgs while G.I. Joe Extreme was basically GI Joe: Generation Two as featured in the comics. The Dark Horse comics I reviewed from this period weren’t that bad, but check out TJ Omega’s review of the show to see how bad it really was. Unfortunately I can only bring it up on DailyMotion as of this writing and I’m sorry. The site is junk but that’s how it goes these days in video hosting land. Anyway…The Power Block.
The show also aired in another Hasbro promoting programming block, this time on the G4 network, called Action Blast that paired it with other Hasbro-based shows and for some reason Kaiju Big Battel, as hosts Louden Noxious and The Beav, hosts of the kaiju-costumed wrestling promotion. All I can find are a few random segments of it, no intros. When the Power Block ended Beast Wars would end up with its own series, going from two episodes a week (bookending the other shows) to a full show run. It would then get a full length intro.
Yes, all the Beast Wars intros are clips from the show with the same theme song. However, they do a good job of selecting the right clips in the right order to explain the plot of the show, two ships crash on a mysterious planet, have to adopt beast forms, and do battle. Of course as new toys were added, like the Transmetals and Fuzors, season two had to update the season’s backstory.
At the end of season one it is revealed that one of the planet’s moons is actually a “reset button” for experiments being conducted by aliens on the planet (which is season two was itself revealed to be prehistoric Earth). When Optimus Primal went to blow the thing up and Megatron attempted to sabotage it so Optimus went up with it, a “quantum surge” turned some of the characters into Transmetals, robotic animals with the ability to access vehicle-like augments. Some of the characters were killed while the surge also cause some new arrivals to scan two beast modes, fusing them into Fuzors. This is demonstrated rather well. And they had to do it again for the new status quo of season three.
Unfortunately this one isn’t as clear as to what’s going on. Season three involved the Maximals trying to protect the Ark while the Autobots and Decepticons slept waiting to awaken in 1984 AD and bring the war to Earth for the first time. All we get are random clips from season two and season three. The set-up isn’t as good. Hasbro would later decide to take the Beast Era in a different direction, which we’ll see in a few installments when we get to Beast Machines: Transformers but I would remiss not to show you what the intro looked like in Canada. In some parts of the world parent groups throw a fit if the world “War” is part of your title. For example, Mainframe’s other toy adaptation at the time, War Planets, has to be renamed Shadow Raiders for Canada and other markets. (Good show, though. I wish season 2 had made it to this side of Niagara Falls but still good show.) Their rename for Beast Wars however was not as clever.
Somehow that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? Otherwise the intros were about the same and this is the only one I found anyway.
Next time the Beast Wars reach Japan as we look at what they did to the series–and if you’ve been following the dub support postings I’ve been doing on Tuesdays you will find this one especially interesting. After that we’ll look at Japan’s own Beast Wars shows followed by Beast Machines. This should lead to shorter postings for the next few series, except maybe the Japan-exclusive Beast series. Join me for those.