The Transformers: The Complete First Season: 25th Anniversary
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-06-16 DVD Movie Hasbro / Shout! Factory

If someone had told me ten years ago that the Transformers franchise would receive such a massive resurgence, I would've called them a liar. But with a new live-action film releasing in theaters in just a matter of days, along with an ever-expanding toy line, new episodic television series and growing DVD lineup, it's easy to see that Transformers as a brand now is bigger than it has ever been.

It's fitting then that Hasbro and Shout Factory have teamed to release the very first Transformers television series on DVD, as 2009 marks the series' 25 year anniversary. Especially appropriate for younger (read: newer) fans of the franchise, but perfect for fans of all ages, The Complete First Season set of the Transformers on DVD is a trip back in time to where this timeless franchise first began.

The storyline here is one that has been tweaked and modified over the years, but is as epic in its original form as anything Hollywood could ever produce.

Four million years ago, a robotic battle raged on the planet Cybertron between the evil, dastardly Decepticons and the noble Autobots. As our story begins, the battle travels to Earth, where both the Autobots and the Decepticons become stranded and immobilized in the desert, in a sort of mechanical slumber until they arise once again in the modern day, only to find themselves in a completely foreign world, lacking an energy source to return them to their planet.

While both sides are at first focused solely on the destruction of the other side, the Decepticons quickly learn of the various power plants and oil refineries scattering the landscape, and set out to utilize these man-made power sources as a way to convert Earth's energy into Energon cubes (Energon being the power required to run Transformer-based systems).

Instead of simply leaving the humans to their fate, the Autobots join with their new organic friends in an effort to rid the planet of the Decepticon scourge, freeing both Earth and Cybertron from their grasp forever.

As far as DVD sets go, the offering here is a bit two-sided. Season 1's 26 episodes are spread over two discs, which unfortunately lack both in subtitles and standard closed-captioning (a small issue for longtime fans of the show who already know the names of every Transformer by heart, but a larger problem for newcomers who may have difficulty distinguishing between names like Soundwave and Shockwave).

There is an appreciated option to seamlessly play all multi-part episodes (that is, "too be continued" episodes) without any break in between, but other than that, it's a real "what you see is what you get" situation.

Not so on the third disc, which is full of Bonus Features ranging from a printable show script, previously archived Hasbro Transformers toy commercials and PSAs, and even an in-depth featurette discussing the origins of the Transformers franchise as not only a television series, but also as a toy and comic line, and most recently, set of feature films.

Technically speaking, the series does show its age, but even though the animation may be outdated when compared to many of today's offerings, when compared to the likes of some modern day cartoons in the realm of Chowder or Flapjack, which are absolutely atrocious (and even that's a bit too kind), or even something like Transformers Animated, the most recent television series to air on Cartoon Network, this original season doesn't really look that bad. Plus, any complaints one might have can be ignored entirely based on the age of the original television series, whereas complaints with the look of newer shows aren't so easily forgiven.

The soundtrack is understandably a bit grainy, and skewed in terms of volume, causing dialogue sequences to sound much softer than anything action related, but this really only becomes an issue on older television sets and even then is in no way enough to ruin the experience.

For long-time fans of the Transformers universe, this release is sure to please. It's the Transformers the way they were meant to be viewed, without any streamlining or apologies to make them more appealing to the modern-day child demographic. The Transformers are bulky, rigid beings that fight with their fists before their words, and are entirely bad ass because of it. If you've seen the live-action films and are at all interested in the true origins of the franchise, do yourself a favor and pick this up. You'll surely be transformed into a fan.


Special thanks for Scott Neumyer and Shout! Factory for providing a copy of this title.