Transformers Animated: Season 2
For as long ass most of us can remember there has always been a strong association between television shows and toys. When I was a kid we all had to have a Daniel Boone cap, official Superman cape and a set of Lone Ranger toy six guns. It was no coincidence that these were also the most popular TV shows for that age group. Marketing departments of the television studios where smart; they knew that even if we didn’t have cash of our own we did influence what our parents bought for us. In the annals of TV tie in marketing there is one association that is supreme; the Transformers. This was basically a toy robot made by Hasbro. There was also a television series about robots that could change into cars, trucks and other types of vehicles. The marriage was made in heaven and took off. For over two decades the ‘Transformers’ have been a main stay for generations of kids watching TV. While their popularity has waxed and waned over this time they are hitting a new high thanks in large part to the release of the live action movie version of the story. For the last couple of years Paramount has been releasing the animated series on DVD and they are great. They are rich with a vast and complicated universe and back stories for the main, robotic, characters. The story has morphed and grown over the years but what remains are some of the most classic themes in literature including the ever popular good versus evil. With fast pace action and colorful graphics the kids will be instantly drawn to the show. The stories are engaging enough as science fiction so that the adults will readily want to join the younger set and watch it right next to them. It is rare enough for a show primarily targeted for pre-teen boys to have such a universal appeal but the ‘Transformers’ have pulled it off. Now, the tag lines of the series ‘More Than Meets the Eye’ and ‘Robots in Disguise’ have become known all over the world. There have been numerous series over the years and this time up Paramount releases the second season of the most recent series. It continues the basic story of the first but does hold together as a stand alone epic Sci-Fi story.
Most people in the civilized world know the basic premise. In this universe of the Transformers there exists a race of sentient robots. They all have the ability to alter their form and become something else, most typically a vehicle of some sort such as a car, truck or air craft. Don’t worry about the real life details such as the robots tend to be huge and can morph down to a sports car with no problems. This series does require more than the usual ability to suspend belief. Among the Transformers there are two diametrically opposed factions. The good ones are the Autobots. They hold all life as precious and work diligently to preserve even lowly organic life forms like we humans. In a never ending battle with the Autobots are the Decepticons. They are fundamentally evil by our standards. They want to control the universe and find organic life either a distracting infestation or at best a potential slave race. What makes it possible for machines to come alive is the Allspark. It can covey life on most pieces of equipment and is the basis of both the Autobots and Decepticons civilization. The Decepticons want to get their robotic hands of the Allspark in order to create a vast army of their own kind to conquer and rule the universe. The Autobots have been sworn to prevent this goal at any cost. Their battle has been fought out beyond the stars and with this series has come to planet earth.
The main action takes place in the American city of Detroit. At the head of the Autobot forces is Optimus Prime (voiced by David Kaye). He is relatively new to command and a student of Trnasformer history. This season picks up directly after the climatic battle that concluded the previous season. The maintenance bots are busy cleaning up and repairing the massive damage. It helps a lot that man of them can transform into dump trucks and other required heavy machinery. Humans in their cars are trying to get through the broken highway when Optimus Prime tries to help but they freak out at the sight of a huge robot. Thins are still unease between the humans and they protectors. Optimus is upset but the other Autobots try their best to reassure him. The Cybertron Elite Guard consisting of Ultra Magnus, Jazz, and Sentinel Prime have returned to earth to make sure the Allspark stays out of the hands of the dreaded Decepticons. It appears that it was not destroyed in the battle as first though but broken in to pieces that have been dispersed throughout the city. This does set up a classic plot device; the plot coupon. This is where you have to find a series of items creating a noble quest. While this is going on the Decepticons are gathering their forces after their defeat. Megatron (voiced by Corey Burton) has his team create a space bridge in order to invade the home world of Cybertron effectively cutting off the Autobots. One of the human allies of the Autobots, Sari Sumdac (voiced by Tara Strong) is having her own problems She is unable to locate any birth or adoption records and is unable to prove she is the daughter of the famous scientist Isaac Sumdac. This results in her being evicted from her home at the Sumdac towers. There is a growing descent in the ranks of the Decepticons when some of them discover that Megatron has a piece of the Allspark which is keeping him alive. A human, Henry Masterson, is instrumental to running Sumdac systems but he has some plans of his own. He fakes a Decepticon sighting in order to gain control of the body of Sentinel Prime (voiced by Townsend Coleman). The consciousness of Sentinel has to make peace with Opitmus in order to get his body back.
It is unusual for an animated series to have this level of complexity in its story. One of the best things about it is this never gets to the point of being too much for younger members of the audience to follow. There is also plenty of action and more than a little character development making this a good choice for viewing by the entire family. Many of us got into science fiction with the classic space operas of the fifties and this series is reminiscent of them. This is a series to have on the shelf for those rainy days when you are stuck in the house with the kids. You might as well have a good time with them watching this and you certainly will.