May 2, 2013

[TV] Beast Wars: Transformers - Season 3

The first season of Beast Wars: Transformers only hinted at how fun the whole series would be as it danced around whether or not it would become tied to the original G1 stories. The second season cemented its connection to the G1 characters and stories and pushed the limits of where those stories could go.

This third and final season of the series certainly marked a greater sense of maturity in both the stories and the characters as they had to face quite a bit. Not only were the Maximals up against the treacherous Predacons, but there's also the machinations of the mysterious Vok, who appear to have their own series of experiments on what we now know to be prehistoric Earth. And how all those complex pieces come together does make for even more interesting possibilities for the characters.

One of the strengths of the show has always been its keen focus on its characters. What initially began as a cost-saving measure eventually became one of the driving forces behind the show. With a consistently limited cast (one that had even been trimmed down at the end of the first season), there was more time available to include more character-driven tales. And I really enjoyed this part of the show.

Synopsis: Beast Wars: Transformers is a CGI-animated series that ran from 1996-1999. The show had been created by Bob Forward and Larry DeTillio for Hasbro. The last two seasons only had 13 episodes each whereas the first one had a full 26.

The end of last season really brought us back to the G1 era with Megatron's attempts to break the legendary Ark that contained the deactivated Autobots and Decepticons. Not even the efforts of the Tripredacus Council and their agent Ravage (same as the G1 character) were able to truly stop Megatron completely. This season begins at the end of the three-part cliffhanger, The Agenda, which ended with Megatron pretty much killing the original Optimus Prime. As the story resumes, the Maximals scramble to save Prime's spark long enough for the computer's systems to repair the damage to the body.

This new season introduced us to the quirky Optimal Optimus version of the leader of the Maximals. So suddenly he's a triple-changer with minimal connection to this original beast form. This season also led to more characters going the "Transmetal II" route along with a few more characters like Depth Charge.

This season also tried to address the loss of Dinobt in the last season. After his noble sacrifice, it seemed  a shame that he had disappeared from the character roster. And the writers certainly found an interesting way of bringing him back - but on the side of Megatron and his Predacons this time around.

Megatron's plans seemed weirder and weirder as this season continued on though. The big "kill Optimus Prime plan that crossed between the two seasons was certainly fun enough. But later on his efforts started to include the proto-humans in weird ways and it was as if his ambition was severely tempered by some of his quirkier obsessions. And the strange plan to take control of Optimus Primal's body? Oh well, I guess it was sort of like Bombshell's antics in the older comics. Or something like that.

But despite the rather tight 13-episode run, the writers still managed to accomplish quite a lot in the span of the run. And not only did it have some interesting stories to tell, but they also managed to tie up some of the loose ends of the various plots presented in this series. There are naturally many stories left to be told in the Beast Wars universe, but as far as series-enders go, this wasn't too bad. And yes, I still see this as series-ender given the follow-up series, Beast Machines, ended up with a very different look and feel when you get down to it.

Beast Wars: Transformers remains one of the most fun incarnations of the Transformers that have appeared over the years. And while the animation seems a little clunky by modern standards, I still feel it's fair to state that this show still stands the test of time. This last season rates a fun 4 crazy plots by Megatron out of a possible 5.

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