UNLEASH THE BEAST IN YOU
A BEAST WARS RETROSPECTIVE
Article By: TFG1Mike
Looking back on it, I had outgrown cartoons in 1996. However since then, I’ve come to both appreciate and love Beast Wars. I’ve watched the series beginning to end three times since 2009. Once when I got the Rhino DVDs, all throughout The Beast Unleashed, and now just before writing this article up. This article is based on MY OPINIONS ALONE!!! no matter how others feel about The Low Road! LOL
The reason why I wanted to do this is simple. I enjoyed Beast Wars on both of the rewatchings I had done in the past. I’m also very sick of a few people on the internet talking shit about this series. So I’m here to set the record straight. YES there are issues with this series, like both factions constantly saying MAXIMIZE and TERRORIZE in order to transform. HOWEVER the reason for this is that it is an ACTIVATION CODE for their internal computer systems. The issue I have with them saying it, is that there are times when bots transform without saying the activation code. It should be one way or the other.
Other then that small nitpick, this series is amazing. The writing, sound effects, voice acting, music, and so much more make this series so great. The fact is that Beast Wars stands on it’s own and still homages G1. It’s also a great comedic cartoon. I’m going to break Beast Wars down by season, giving you a look at what I like and don’t like. I’ll also be talking about each faction. So lets get this war started!
The Maximals! Descendants of The Autobots. Why is it every time I think of the Great Downgrade that the Autobots just got smaller maxi-pads? LOL I know I’m weird like that. Optimus Primal the great Ape! direct descendant of Optimus Prime is the leader of this group. He possesses a wise and courageous, yet cautious leadership style. As the series progresses we see Primal become more and more Prime Like! The debate of Truk not Munky or Munky not Truk be damned. Then there is Rhinox, the wise “mystical”, snarky Rhino. His character is mostly serious for the second in command type, but there are times when his humor comes out. Then there is RatTrap, a character that must have been a descendant of Templeton from Charlotte’s Web LOL! RatTrap is a guy you can count on in a pinch, yet he has the most sarcasm amongst the group.
After that we have Cheetor, Silverbolt, Dinobot (formerly, and possibly still a Predacon), Tigatron, AirRazor, and eventually a Blackarachnia that has turned good to round out the team. Cheetor has and always been my favorite character. One reason is that out of all the Maxis (as QuickStrike would call them) Cheetor has the most growth in character. Even by the end of Beast Wars he is a young adult, and going into Beast Machines he’s all grown up. Yes Cheetor is the “Hot Rod/Rodimus” of Beast Wars. That’s probably why I like him so much, plus Ian James Corlett’s voice kicks ass!!!
Dinobot is a former Predacon, he is the one warrior amongst the group that has a very true sense of honor. I like DinoButt (as RatTrap would call him), however I thought the second Dinobot clone that Megatron made with the TM2 driver was slightly more interesting. Now all you Dinobot fans do not attack me here. I just felt that yes the real Dinobot is awesome, but TM2 Dinobot has a story of he didn’t know why he was feeling the feelings he had, until Megatron told him. Plus honestly I like the TM2 design better. Rattrap is just awesome with his wise crackin’ attitude.
Every time I watch Beast Wars, I think of the Maximals just as the Space Explorers from Voltron Lion Force. Both were out on a mission of exploration, until something dire happened, and they had to become heroes.
Ahhh my Predacons!!!! As Megatron would say….. The Predacons are a very interesting way to show descendants of the Decepticons. We start off with Megatron, Scorpinok, Dinobot, TerrorSaur, Waspinator, and Tarantulas Eventually Inferno, QuickStrike, Rampage, and Blackarachnia join the Predacon forces. Waspinator and Megatron are easily my two favorite Predacons. Megatron is so much more of a diabolical leader then his G1 ancestor ever was. Plus David Kaye’s voice for him is just amazing.
Waspinator is the heart of the villains here… If villains even have a heart….. He’s the comic relief, and just makes the series so damn good. Tarantulas creeped me the hell out, I felt that he was the mad scientist of the group. Blackarachnia after awhile couldn’t decide what side she was gonna be on. She was drawn evil, but captivated by Silverbolt’s charm. Inferno is just nuts, and QuickStrike is too hillbilly for me.
Scorpinok never really had any moments to shine he was the dumbass of the Predacons. Overall love just how evil the Predacons are, and they make great foils for the Maximals.
Season 1 has some great, and not so great episodes. We have the intro to the characters and plot of the series in the Beast Wars 2 parter. The story pretty much flows from there, with several one shot type episodes. I really enjoy season 1. Each episode gives us great insight to both factions, and the characters that make up the teams. There are times where the animation is spotty, but overall what I love about season 1 are the quotable quotes!!! The action, anytime Waspinator gets blasted, and of course The Low Road! Everyone says that is a lame, dumb, and useless episode. I severely disagree it’s fart humor at it’s best. I’m not usually into fart jokes, but when they are coming out of a Rhino robot, it’s funny as hell to me. Dark Designs, Double Dinobot, Possession, and the final three eps of Season 1 are all my favorites as well. What I liked about Season 1 is that it basically introduces us to the entire plotline of the series. Instead of just taking one episode to explain what the series is, it takes multiple episodes to do so. The stories told in Season 1 lead up to the action packed Season 2!!!!
Season 2 kicks off with The Aftermath. This is where we get NEW Toys… I uh.. mean new animation designs. Rattrap, Cheetor, and Megatron all get brand sparkin’ new bodies. Each has new abilities, and in my opinion I like the new designs slightly more than the original ones. Especially Megatron. TM Megs is so much cooler!!! Love that Cheetor is a flyin’ cat now, again goes towards his growth as a character. Episodes that are damn awesome in season 2 are: The Aftermath, Coming of the Fuzors 2 parter, Maximal No More, Code of Hero, Bad Spark, and The Agenda three part finale… that literally leaves you hanging off a cliff!
Season 2 is where the writers work in the G1 connections, especially when the Ark is found. I love that they went this way with the series. It was damn good storytelling, and the voice acting is top notch as per usual. The animation has very much improved since Season 1. The designs are more flushed out, and using the new animation models gives us something to look at that is super shiny. The backgrounds have improved greatly as well. Season 2 of Beast Wars is some of the best animation writing, and storytelling that has ever been. They end the season on such a great moment, I can’t imagine what a ten or eleven year old was going through in waiting for Season 3 to start. That must have been agony right Steve?
Season 3 continues the epic G1 arc…. in the opener Optimal Situation, we get Primal in a new body, Megatron heads for the Maximal base, and everything is just Prime! It is super interesting to see (as of the 90s) an updated look on the G1 characters. I thought that was a nice touch. Season 3 has the best animation and CGI out of the entire series. Plus the story that is told through out the season is just awesome. Beast Wars started off as a sci-fi story, then the writers went all TF, while still keeping the science fiction aspect.
The writing, voice acting, and plots are all well thought out here in the final season. Now that I think about it, there are few one shot or filler eps within these last thirteen episodes. I’d saythere are two outta the thirteen that are not my favorites at all. The rest are all solid, intriguing, and epic episodes. We see that Megatron is still plotting and planning as always, plus he actually nearly gets away with his plan! The characters have really developed by the time S3 has arrived. You don’t see the normal tropes or the bad puns that sometimes plagued the first season.
My question on a few parts of the animation would be, why are Optimal Optimus’s eyes both red and green? In Robot form they are green, yet when he has the ape face in robot form they are red…? This is just a nitpick, but I had to point it out. As I said before the Feral Scream 2 parter might be my favorite storyline out of Season 3. Love seeing Cheetor grow up.
When we chatted with Larry DiTillio I asked him what would have happened if Beast Wars had a Season 4 or 5…. he said they would have gone back to Cybertron. So even though Beast Wars and Beast Machines are two different series, they are not separate from each other. The way Beast Wars ends is on the ultimate cliff hanger if Beast Machines had never happened. In this fan’s eyes that would have been a huge letdown.
Final Thoughts and Rating:
Even though most Generation 1 fans are just that, I have become more than that. You could say I have transcended my “JUST GEE WUN” persona as I had back in the 80s and 90s. I’ve become a TF fan that enjoys all the major US based cartoons (The Unicron Trilogy sucks) I can look at something,. see what I remember and like, and be open minded to new story elements to what has already occurred. At least with the Beast Era I’m like that. Beast Wars is something that will be forever remembered for those that grew up with it, and for those that found it later in their lives. As i’ve already said I love the voice cast, effects, animation, soundtrack, (THERE NEEDS TO BE A BEAST WARS SOUNDTRACK RELEASED!!!!! Get on that La La Land Records!!), and so much more. Beast Wars created characters we like, love, hate, and love to hate. Even though there may be 10 episodes out of the entire run that I just can’t stand, I still have to give this Transformers series a Perfect score. Most everything about it is just that damn awesome!!!! Because the series is just PRIME! Join me in a few months when I’ll be doing a Beast Machines Retrospective as well.
Mike, I agree that Beast Wars is a solid, enjoyable series. Like you, I wasn’t watching a lot of cartoons at the time, but BW caught my attention. I was somewhat turned off by the CGI initially, but I quickly came around to liking what episodes I saw due to the interesting characters and solid writing. I haven’t re-watched all of the series yet, but I have re-watched (or watched for the first time) many episodes and I stand firm that it is a good series, and it fits in well with the TF mythos. Sure, some will criticize it for the (now) dated CGI, but I still believe that the stories and characters make this a series that is worth of re-watching today.
The Beast Unleashed podcast was great and I watched the entire Beast Machines series after jumping onboard with the podcast. Beforehand I had never even heard of the series, so discovering it was a real treat. I own both series on DVD now and I look forward to diving into Beast Wars again soon.
AWESOME!!!! Yeah people need to take the CGI for what it was at the time it was done… it was breathtaking and groundbreaking. After TFG2 next year we will be UNLEASHING more TBU in the coming years….Commentaries and a few other new, never before done things as well.