If you’ve been with the site long enough you know about tonight’s showcase. When the show debuted I discussed it. It came up during the Many MANY Intros Of Transformers series. It’s part of the Aligned continuity, which technically wasn’t all that aligned but that’s another post. For the rest of you here’s a brief summary.
The third series of the Aligned Continuity (after Transformers Prime and Rescue Bots, the fourth being the current survivor Rescue Bots Academy) and the second series and toyline to use the name, Transformers: Robots In Disguise saw the series move from The Hub as the partnership with Hasbro fell through (the channel being renamed to Discovery Family) to Cartoon Network, where the channel soon buried the show as during this run someone at CN became so obsessed with Teen Titans Go you couldn’t get one of the five remaining programming slots without emulating it. The series takes place just after the end of Predicons Rising as Optimus (spoilers) sacrificed himself to save the planet. Although let’s be honest, Optimus dying and coming back is hardly a spoiler these days.
Bumblebee is sent by Optimus’ ghost to planet Earth when an Autobot prison ship carrying Decepticons crashlands on Earth. Bumblebee is reluctantly joined by by-the-book cadet Strongarm, joyrider Sideswipe (who may be more reluctant to be there than Bumblebee), and dinobot Grimlock (back before Hasbro gave everyone a G1 makeover in Rescue Bots Academy). They find the Mini-Con Fixit, the only Autobot survivor of the crash, and two humans who join them to recover the lost prisoners. Tonight, thanks to Hasbro’s official YouTube channel I get to bring you the first episode (well, it’s a two-part episode, so technically episodes one and two) of my favorite of the new century Transformers shows. Enjoy!
Too bad they don’t include the closing credits. This is a regular occurrence for official YouTube channels of shows and I find that disappointing. I know the credits themselves aren’t all that interesting give it’s just text on a background, but these people worked hard on the show, especially the voice actors and animators, so why not acknowledge them. Leaving off the intro is a growing trend as well and you can guess how I feel about that given I talk about intros quite a bit. At least with the pilot there wasn’t an intro due to spoilers. I peeked ahead to episode 3 and it had the full intro and closing credits. So why no credits here?
Why is this my favorite of the 21st century Transformers shows? First off it was a breath of fresh air after the dark and often dreary Transformers Prime. You have bright colors, sunlight, and the new computer art style allowed for more humans to show up in a scene. The cel-shaded graphics make it look more like a cartoon rather than Prime‘s attempt at combining photorealistic backgrounds and slightly more cartoonish character models. Bumblebee gets to talk, and I’m getting as tired of Bee losing his voice as I am all the dead-and-reborn Optimuses. (Optimusi?) The cast becomes a really group of friends by the end and everyone gets to develop as characters, even Optimus Prime (not unique but rather rare). We also get numerous variations beyond the usual biped without the junkpile designs of the Bay movies. In this episode alone we get Chompazoids and Dinobots, and other kinds of Transformer types show up as the series goes on, which would extend to the Mini-Cons. It just works so well.
It doesn’t work perfectly mind you. It’s never really explains why Bumblebee doesn’t check in with Agent Fowler for backup, or contact his other human allies from Prime, not even his best bud Raf. I know the creators of both this and Prime ignored the rest of the Aligned continuity, even the surprise addition of the Rescue Bots (Blurr makes a five minute tops cameo and mentions Heatwave, but he has a whole different design than he had in Rescue Bots) but outside of Bumblebee’s motivation and Optimus having to return from the other side it’s like they ignored even their prior show. It may be a different network but it’s most of the same showrunners. Some acknowledgement that could make a difference would have been nice. “I don’t want to involve the military again or Raf, Jack, and Miko. Let them have their peace and their normal lives. They earned it.” I would have accepted that. I wonder if Rescue Bots lampshaded that when they did an episode where Blades was annoyed Bumblebee didn’t tell them about his being back on Earth? We also had an episode where Sideswipe chased after a crazed Mini-Con that escaped to Griffin Rock. That’s more than either of the other shows did for their Decepticon-less colleagues.
Overall though this is a great series. I thought Tubi had the show up but it appears to be gone along with the various Rescue Bots shows. Meanwhile the show is available on home video through Shout Factory though sadly only season one is complete from their website. And of course the official Transformers YouTube channel is slowly revving up and rolling out the series. It comes highly recommended by me.