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DVD Preview: Beast Machines Transformers: The Complete Series


Beast Machines Transformers began its run in 1999, and is a follow up to the first 3D computer generated Transformers series, Beast Wars Transformers, which originally aired in 1996. Beast Machines continues with the computer generated animation, though with better quality seeing as how the technology had three years to advance. I never got into the Beast Wars series, as I didn't like the character designs and couldn't get myself interested in robots that transform into animals who are all stuck on some prehistoric non-technology having planet. And thus, I never even bothered to try checking out Beast Machines.

But now that I have watched it, I have found that I like it. I really like it... well, except for the maximal character designs. I still hate those. They just look retarded, both in animal for and in robot form... but mostly in robot form. The first episode starts them out in their original Beast War designs, but before long they find their themselves obtaining reformatted bodies. Now when they're in beast mode they no long look like animals, they look like some kind of freaky robotic-animal hybrid. Of course, they ARE now robotic-animal hybrids, but that doesn't change the point that they still look like freaks!

The other thing I hate about the characters is that they don't transform. I know what your thinking, this is a Transformers series, how can they not transform?! What I mean is that their bodies no longer readjust their various parts to take on their alternate forms, instead there is a glowing light and one form just kind of morphs out of the glowing light while the other form morphs into it. It's a pretty pathetic way of doing it, especially since we know from the toys that they can actually physically do the transformation. So why cheat?

Those two gripes I just mentioned are pretty much the extend of my gripes, and they don't even affect the bad guy group of transformers, called the Vehicons. Their character designs aren't nearly as bad as the Maximals, probably due to the fact that they are robots that transform into vehicles and not some dopey animals. And I do mean transform, not "morph" like the Maximals. Now, these Vehicons still don't stand up to some of the great original generation one character designs, but at least they are semi-cool looking futuristic vehicles that transform into semi-cool looking robots. Unfortunately, there's only three of them (and by three, I mean three designs, because in the show there are like hundreds of them).

What really makes this series good is the characters (note I said characters, and not character designs) and the story arc. All of the characters here not only have separate personalities, but they are flawed in some way. They each have issues going on under the surface that they don't want to be revealed. So putting these kinds of character into a complete story arc that spans over two seasons makes for some good TV. This is not a "foil the bad guy's plan of the week" show, this is like an entire saga, and is for sure much better watched on DVD where you can watch multiple episodes in a row.

The basic story here goes that the Maximals had won the beast wars, but upon returning to their home world of Cybertron something went wrong. They awake on Cybertron to find themselves separated from each other, with no memory of what happened, and completely unable to transform into their robot modes. And what's worse is that Cybertron seems completely void of robotic life. The only robots running around here are soulless (or they would say "sparkless") robots that seem determined to annihilate the Maximals.

It's not long before five of the Maximals meet up and realize that they are infected with some kind of virus which is not only preventing them from transforming, but is actually killing them. Luckily, Optimus locates the oracle, and they quickly find themselves being transformed into some kind of freak robot-animal hybrid which they call techno-organic. With this change they must now learn how to use these new bodies, as transforming from one mode to another is no longer trivial. Then they must also try to figure out what's going on with Cybertron, and what happened to the rest of their companions.

This series is definitely a lot darker than the Generation One Transformers, but it's also very engaging. Once I started watching, it didn't take me long to get through every single episode (unlike C.O.P.S., which felt like a life-and-death struggle to make it through each and every episodes). Even if you weren't a fan of Beast Wars, this would be something worth checking out. In fact, I'm even interested in going back to the Beast Wars series to give it another go.

The DVD set includes several extra features, though most of them are interviews. Lets see... there's an interview with the guy who plays Megatron (David Kaye), an interview with the series developer (Marv Wolfman), an interview with the story editor (Robert N. Skier), and an interview with the voice director (Susan Blu). Then the other special feature is commentaries on a couple the episodes.

Beast Machines Transformers: The Complete Series was released by Rhino on DVD starting February 28, 2006.

Video Streams


"Master Of The House (The Confrontation)"
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_MasterOfTheHouse(TheConfrontation)_high.asx
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_MasterOfTheHouse(TheConfrontation)_low.asx
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_MasterOfTheHouse(TheConfrontation)_med.asx
http://www.rhino.com/VideoPlayers/BeastMachines/master2.ram
http://www.rhino.com/VideoPlayers/BeastMachines/master2.mov

"Master Of The House"
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_MasterOfTheHouse_high.asx
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_MasterOfTheHouse_low.asx
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_MasterOfTheHouse_med.asx
http://www.rhino.com/VideoPlayers/BeastMachines/master1.mov
http://www.rhino.com/VideoPlayers/BeastMachines/master1.ram

"The Reformatting"
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_TheReformatting_high.asx
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_TheReformatting_low.asx
http://www.rhino.com/streams/BeastMachinesTransformers_TheReformatting_med.asx
http://www.rhino.com/VideoPlayers/BeastMachines/reformatting.ram
http://www.rhino.com/VideoPlayers/BeastMachines/reformatting.mov

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