Beast Wars: Transformers
[[File:Beast Wars title logo.jpg|250px]]
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Production
Genre(s) Animated Science Fiction
Developers Larry DiTillio
Bob Forward
Voices Gary Chalk
David Kaye
Scott McNeil
Ian James Corlett
Richard Newman
no. of Seasons 3
no. of Episodes List of Beast Wars episodes
Broadcast
executive producer Christopher J. Brough
Stéphane Reichel
Steven DeNure
Runing time 22-23 minutes
Chronology
External links
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[[Beast Wars title logo.jpg|250px]]
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Beast Wars: Transformers, titled Beasties: Transformers in Canada,[1] is a CG animated television series that debuted in 1996, serving as the flagship of the Transformers: Beast Wars franchise. The series was set in the future of the "original" Transformers universe as a sequel to the first Transformers series (which has since been rebooted in limited comic book stories by Dreamwave and IDW among others).

The Beast Wars TV series was produced by Mainframe Entertainment of Canada; its story editors were Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio. All three seasons are currently available on DVD in the USA and other Region 1 territories. In Australia, to coincide with the show's tenth anniversary in 2006, Madman Entertainment released all three seasons in Region 4 format. These boxsets include "world exclusive" special features, such as commentaries and interviews with the voice actors.

The production designer for the show, Clyde Klotz, won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation in 1997 for his work on Beast Wars.[2]

Setting and plot summary

The two main factions of "Transformers" in Beast Wars are descendants of the two main factions in the original cartoon: the Maximals are the descendants of the Autobots and the Predacons are the descendants of the Decepticons. (In the sequel series Beast Machines, the process during which Autobots and Decepticons became Maximals and Predacons is referred to as "The Great Upgrade.")

The leader of the Predacon team is Megatron. He and his forces are a splinter group on the hunt for powerful crystals known as Energon, (Though in The Agenda (Part 1) it's revealed Megatron got the location of energon as a bonus) to be used in a ploy for power and dominance. They do this with the aid of an artifact known as the Golden Disk and Megatron's stolen ship, the Darksyde, which is equipped with a transwarp drive. A Maximal exploration ship, the Axalon, led by Optimus Primal, is sent to stop them. Together the ships plunge through a time/space phenomenon created by the transwarp device during their battle in space, and crash-land on a mysterious planet.

The planet is found to be rich in deposits of raw Energon, in such extreme amounts that it proves to be poisonous to both factions' robot forms, forcing them to take on alternate organic forms for protection until their robot forms are needed. Thus the robots take on the beast forms of recognizable animals including mammals, birds, dinosaurs, arachnids, and insects.

Before crashing, the Axalon deploys its cargo of “stasis pods” containing Maximal protoforms — Transformer robots with vulnerable and undeveloped physical forms, which are left to orbit the planet as an alternative to possible destruction in the initial crash landing. This plays a larger part in the IDW series, The Gathering. Throughout the series, stasis pods lose altitude and crash-land on the planet, and the Maximals and Predacons race and fight to acquire them, as protoforms acquired by Megatron's forces can be reprogrammed to become Predacons. The stasis pods are used as a plot device to introduce new characters.

The teams are divided between the "good" Maximals and the "evil" Predacons. Dinobot changes sides, starting as a Predacon and becoming a Maximal. Additionally certain "Predacons" like Inferno and Blackarachnia were created from Maximal protoforms, but were fitted with Predacon shell programs, fighting instead for the Predacons. For the Maximals, the emphasis is on team spirit and good-natured arguing, especially from Rattrap, but the Predacons argue and battle for leadership, which impairs their effectiveness against the Maximals.

History and development

Template:Original research Originally, the series was going to be set in the present, with certain characters from the original cartoon series reborn in new bodies. This was evident in the early Beast Wars toy tech spec cards containing pictures of the Transformers taking on giant-sized forms in the present era (similar to the original 1980s cartoon). However, Forward and DiTillio knew next to nothing about the original series. Since they were given free rein to promote what was at the time a dying franchise, they instead chose a considerably earlier setting with no connection to the Transformers universe outside of a few recycled names. Larry DiTillio revealed in an interview that the decision to make Earth the planet in question was not finalized until the end of the first season. They gave the planet two satellites and decided that they would destroy one moon if the planet was indeed to be Earth. When he and Bob Forward discovered the Usenet group and learned more about the original series, they began to work in classic Transformer elements, placing Beast Wars in the same universe. Contrary to early concept art, the faction leaders in Beast Wars are not the same as the ones in the original cartoon series. This is confirmed when both Optimus Primal and Megatron come face-to-face with the currently deactivated forms of their ancestors (Optimus Prime and the original Megatron) inside the Ark at different points, as well as the earlier episode when the Spark of Starscream inhabits Waspinator's body.

The show was originally going to feature a much larger cast of characters, but limitations on CGI at the time meant that the animators had to shorten the cast to five members on both sides, adding new characters sparingly. Bob Forward has credited this as being part of the reason why the show was so successful, because a smaller cast meant he could focus on character development and personality for every character, as opposed to the ungainly task of writing for an entire army's worth of characters.

Also, instead of Tigatron, the toy-only character Wolfang was supposed to be in the show, but was replaced at the last moment to conserve money, as Tigatron was a repaint of Cheetor in the toy line, and could thus be a repaint of Cheetor's CGI figure. This reuse of character CGI figures to introduce new characters is a fairly common money-saving tactic for most CGI-based television shows, and was used in Beast Wars to make Blackarachnia (a slight remodel and remap of Tarantulas) and Ravage whose head was a repainted version of Tigatron's beast mode head, mounted on a robot body which was a remodel of Transmetal Cheetor's robot mode body.

Susan Blu, who provided the voice of Arcee in the original Transformers series, was the voice director for the Beast Wars series, as well as the voice of Transmutate in the episode of the same name. She went on to direct voices in Beast Machines, Transformers: Animated, and Transformers: Prime as well, making her the longest serving Transformers staff member.

Beast Wars was the first Transformers series to include deaths in the television episodes (the original 1980s series continuity had several characters die in the theatrical movie, but no characters died in the series itself, except Alpha Trion). The characters Dinobot, Dinobot 2, Scorponok, Terrorsaur, Tarantulas, Tigatron, Airazor, Depth Charge, Rampage, Tigerhawk, Inferno, and Quickstrike were all killed by the end of the show. Of the ten characters that appear in episode one, only six survived the entire series, and out of these, only three survived to the end of Beast Machines (Cheetor, Rattrap and Waspinator). Notably, Waspinator was blown to pieces or otherwise dismantled in almost every episode of the series, but he never officially "died". Even in Beast Machines Waspinator survives, albeit in a new body and identity, as Thrust.

Initially Waspinator was to die at the beginning of season two but because people enjoyed Waspinator as comic relief, the creators decided to kill off Terrorsaur instead. Waspinator went on to become the only Predacon to survive both Beast Wars and Beast Machines (not counting Blackarachnia, who defected in season three of Beast Wars).

The third season of the TV show was originally supposed to include an extra episode, titled "Dark Glass", written by Christy Marx. The script of the episode depicted an encounter between Rattrap and the clone of Dinobot, where Rattrap finds the data tracks of the original Dinobot in the Maximals' ship's computer, and goes on a suicide mission to install it into the clone, in a desperate bid to bring his old friend back. However, the script was seen as "too dark" for children to watch, and so the episode was never produced. A considerably lighter and more jocular episode, titled "Go with the Flow", was created in its place. Transcripts of the episode are rumored to survive and it is now considered part of the Beast Wars continuity by some fans, mainly for its explanation on how the Dinobot clone regained the original's personality after Rampage was destroyed at the end of season three.

Episodes

Main article: List of Beast Wars episodes

Characters

Main article: List of Beast Wars characters

Cast

Video games

There have been two Beast Wars video games. The first game, simply called Beast Wars: Transformers, was released for the PlayStation and PC. It was a Third person shooter, based on the first season of the show, in which you can control either the Maximals or the Predacons in a series of missions to undermine the other faction's attempts at gaining enough resources to win the war between them and escape the planet. It was given a multiplayer feature (removed from the console releases) that allowed up to 8 players to play over LAN, with its own play rooms in the MS Gaming Zone (they have subsequently been removed).

The second game, Beast Wars Transmetals, is a Fighting Vipers-style fighting game based on the second season. The PlayStation version was released by Hasbro Interactive and the Nintendo 64 version was released by bam! Entertainment. This game was memorable for having most of cast members from the show reprise their voice roles.

A third game was in the works for the PlayStation 2, but was scrapped in pre-production, without any official word as to why, or how far the project was before the plug was pulled.[3]

DVD releases

The series was originally released on DVD in Region 1 by Rhino Entertainment in 2003/2004.[4][5][6] These releases have been discontinued and are now out of print.

On February 8, 2011, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired the rights to the series and planned to re-release it.[7] They subsequently re-released season 1 on DVD on June 7, 2011[8] as well as a complete series set on the same day.[9] Both releases contain extensive bonus features including interviews, featurettes and special 24 page comic book- Transformers Timelines “Dawn of Future’s Past.” Season 2 & 3 was re-released on October 4, 2011.[10]

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment released all three seasons on DVD in Australia in 2006. On June 24, 2009, they released Transformers: Beast Wars - Complete Collection.[11] The 10-disc box set features all 52 episodes of the series as well as many bonus features.

DVD Name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 4
Season 1 26 August 12, 2003
June 7, 2011 (Re-release)
March 17, 2006
Season 2 13 March 23, 2004 July 25, 2006
Season 3 13 March 23, 2004 November 10, 2006
Seasons 2 & 3 26 October 4, 2011 (Re-release) N/A
Complete Series 52 June 7, 2011 June 24, 2009

Reception

While the toyline was lauded for its innovative joint construction and the show is overall liked by fans, the show was initially derided by a minority of fans for using animals instead of vehicles for the line's alternate forms.[12] Overall, Beast Wars was well received and is often praised for its mature tone and character development, in addition to its blend of comic relief and darker storylines.[13][14][15] [16]

Legacy

Main article: Transformers: Beast Wars

The Beast Wars franchise would go on for years worldwide. In animation, the show was succeeded by Beast Machines, with a new creative team in charge of production. The Japanese series Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo were created to fill the gap while the second and third seasons of Beast Wars were being translated into Japanese (called Beast Wars: Metals). Several comic books and video games were also produced.

References

  1. "Beasties - Opening - Youtube". 2009-08-03. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfkGgI0HiTQ. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  2. "PBS early Daytime Emmy leader - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety". 1998-05-11. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117470640.html?categoryid=14&cs=1. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  3. Beast Wars: Aftermath Episode Trivia - TV.com
  4. Beast Wars Transformers: Complete First Season Boxed Set DVD @ DVD Empire
  5. Beast Wars Transformers: Complete Second Season Boxed Set DVD @ DVD Empire
  6. Beast Wars Transformers: Complete Third Season Boxed Set DVD @ DVD Empire
  7. Beast Wars: Transformers DVD news: DVD Plans for Beast Wars: Transformers | TVShowsOnDVD.com
  8. Beast Wars: Transformers DVD news: Press Release for Beast Wars: Transformers - Season 1 | TVShowsOnDVD.com
  9. Transformers Beast Wars: Complete Series | Shout!Factory
  10. Beast Wars: Transformers DVD news: Announcement for Beast Wars: Transformers - Seasons 2 & 3 | TVShowsOnDVD.com
  11. Transformers: Beast Wars - Complete Collection (10 Disc Box Set)
  12. "The Rebirth of Optimus Prime". Wired. June 26, 2007. http://www.wired.com/entertainment/hollywood/magazine/15-07/trans_movie. Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  13. "The History of Transformers on TV". IGN. http://uk.tv.ign.com/articles/800/800768p2.html. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  14. "Beast Wars Transformers: Complete Second Season". DVD Talk. http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/10037/beast-wars-transformers-complete-second-season/. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  15. "Beast Wars Transformers: Complete Third Season". DVD Talk. http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/12259/beast-wars-transformers-the-complete-third-season/. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  16. "Beast Machines Transformers: The Complete Series". DVD Talk. http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/20792/beast-machines-transformers-the-complete-series/. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 

External links

Template:Animated series based on toys

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