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"Yeah, I guess this new Transformers series is pretty dumb. Let's watch another episode or two."
Shout! Factory / 600 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date March 6, 2012
The Transformers franchise has been reappropriated into American (and global) culture in an almost unprecedented fashion since Michael Bay dropkicked his feature films on us. What was once a mere toy craze and a relatively successful television incarnation both tripped the nostalgia switches of every dork who buried Transformers action figures in sandboxes back in the day and drew a younger base of viewers into the flying machine magic of these robotic adventures. However implausible it may seem (especially in hindsight), Transformers may be the major movie franchise of the last ten years.
So there was bound to be a spin-off (or twelve), which is where we find Transformers Prime: Season One, a CGI animated series that pretty much tells the exact same robo-stories that we've heard a trillion times already, but does so in a way that keeps us marginally interested. Transformers Prime, as experienced on this Blu-ray box set, aims clearly and often disappointingly low, but the fusion of sci-fi cyborg intelligence and the decidedly Earth-bound love of loud, fast cars nevertheless finds successful marriage points. Nothing on this set is inherently worth defending, but anybody who has had a GoBots vs. Transformers conversation in their lives will make it through an episode or two here.
The match-up is little more than an echo of the new films. The Decepticons are baddie robots, a race of metal men whose only major goal is to conquer Earth once and for all. On the other side are the Autobots, a set of Transformers who don't have too much of a grudge against homo sapiens, and are, in fact, willing to kind of help the cause on our behalf (how sweet...). There is a spacetime wormhole of sorts that Megatron wants to use to transport an army of Decepticons to the ol' U.S. of A. to rid it of its human menace, a ragtag bunch of teens who join up with the Autobots, and - of course - a lengthy climactic battle that has the fate of the planet hanging in the balance.
The animation on Transformers Prime's Blu-ray review isn't great, its storylines are predictable and frequently cliche to the point of redundancy, and there are no major elements of narrative finesse or savvy to draw attention to, but Transformers Prime: Season One is still the kind of collection that is difficult to all-out dislike. Geeks will eat it up, Michael Bay Transformers fans will enjoy it as a temporary stopgap as they wait for the next cineplex installment - it's probably bad TV, but I liked it anyway.