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~Ephesians 5:16

Monday, March 30, 2015

Transformers: Robots in Disguise "Pilot" Review

Transformers is one of the coolest concepts to be envisioned. The thought of giant robots being able to transform into cars, planes, etc. is something both kids and adults can get a kick out of. There has been countless toys, many TV shows, comics, and four live action films. Suffice to say, it's a pretty popular franchise yesterday and today. The latest iteration is the TV series Robots in Disguise, which is a sequel to Prime. Prime brought everything that was good about the franchise into one show: Great characters, compelling stories, and excellent fight scenes. Many fans were disheartened that Season 3 would be the last. A new show was quickly announced, and the question ringed in many minds: "Will it be as good?" I personally was not a fan of the earliest announcement, saying that it would be lighter, more comedic, and aimed at kids more so than Prime. But, as a reviewer it's best to hold judgement. Surely, this wouldn't be a slap in the face to the previous series like Teen Titans GO! is to its predecessor? While not that extreme, Robots in Disguise gets off to a mediocre/average start.

In the premiere, Bumblebee's solo mission to Earth turns into a team effort. Conclusion. Bumblebee and the team try to prevent a Decepticon from reaching Crown City.

Prime ended on a rather interesting note, with Optimus Prime basically deceased and Megatron no longer looking to conquer. Because of this, the new show obviously couldn't have the latter come back as the villain because that would slap all development away from Predacons Rising. Instead, the show decided to go the route of introducing exclusive creations. There's nothing technically wrong with this concept, but let's see how this show plays out. The opening establishes a rather odd status quo, because nothing is determined. Who is the leader of the Autobots? Does a leader exist? Are there only rouge Decepticons with no leader? What happened to Bulk Head, Arcee, and Ratchet? Let us ignore these questions for now and look at what the show does present to us.

Comedy isn't a bad thing, but a lot of the writing here ranges from average to painful. Characters that could be engaging are made less so because of that. Bumblebee's cadet Strongarm for example could be a very likable character, but her running gag of "This protocol states" quickly becomes annoying. Hopefully this was just for the pilot. Sideswipe is a very annoying hotshot, Still, the bot writing is rarely terrible. It's the humans that will make you want to change the channel, namely Denny Clay.

Transformer shows always have human characters. Usually they are annoying, but mainly when they take the spotlight away from the robot conflict. (This is why all four live-action films borders between average to plain awful.) Prime did this right, and interestingly Robots in Disguise looks to repeat that success. The only sad part is that when the humans are on screen the writing is terrible. The opening scene when Denny Clay greets his son Russell is so awkward and forced. From that scene alone you wouldn't guess that he was his father. Russell isn't terrible, but I don't see how he's going to bring anything to the table. He's probably just there for the kids to have someone they could relate to.

Bumblebee for the most part is pretty solid. I won't pretend he's anywhere near his Prime self, but he doesn't do anything that would merit a negative rating of him. The antagonist is an original creation, Underbite. He was a very engaging Decepticon to watch, with the right amount of evil and humor. Hopefully we haven't seen the last of him. One of the disappointments of Prime was that it hinted at the arrival of Grimlock and the Dinobots, but that never came to play. Here Grimlock is a main character, which is nice...but at what cost? For one thing it's obvious from his escape that he isn't inherently evil, why the Decepticon logo? In fact, since this is in the Prime continuity, he was established as a hardcore no-nonsense character (with the Autobot insignia) in the game Fall of Cybertron. So, what happened in-between? The blatant disregard for continuity is pretty appalling.

The animation is solid. It's a step down from Prime, but can't be called bad. The fights, while not too notable, are adequate enough. The scuffs between Grimlock and Underbite were pretty entertaining. The soundtrack is alright, not bad but not worth mentioning. (You'll forget almost all the themes by the time the second episode ends.) It's disappointing that there's no theme song, just a title card when every preceding Transformers show had a catchy intro.

Robots in Disguise gets off to an average start. There is definitely potential, but it's easy to see with such mediocre writing that the show is destined to stay average. Still, it's not fair to judge so early. While there are quite a few factors against it (mediocre writing, awful human in the form of Denny, poor representation of Grimlock) there's still potential with the solid animation and a few good characters. We shall see if it will rise or fall.



  1. I really don't like the art style.

  2. Your blog's acting up a little Destroyer...<_<

    Well, a 5 is pretty fair for the show. It'll likely end up with a 6 for me, but that's close and I'm just assuming that it'll stay fun. It's certainly a step down from the average Transformers show, but as long as it is's a keeper. It's definitely no Sonic Boom though!