In this special episode Optimus Prime answers your questions! Where does his trailer go when he transforms? What was it like to die? All these and more!
Are lab coats sexy? Why are the IRS after Sparkplug? Is Optimus Prime a hit and run driver? All these questions and more are answered in this, the third episode of a series that ruins your childhood one memory at a time.
Lost in Transmission: The Series, where we ruin your childhood one piece at a time. In this episode: We about Spike and Sparkplug's white privilege, why transforming is kind of stupid, the horrible secret of Spike's mom, and Cliffjumper's special song request to Mirage. All this and more are revealed within!
Based on the original articles by Nick Peron! Feast your eyes on Lost in Transmission: The Series, where we ruin your childhood one piece at a time. This time we rip apart the first episode of the Transformers. Is the Cybertronian Energy Crisis a hoax? Megatron and Starscream: Will they or won't they? Does Thundercracker have a disability? The answers to all this and more!
It's time for yet another edition of Lost in Transmission where we look back at the original Transformers with a critical eye, mostly because we are joyless and destroy everything we touch. This is our final look back at the first season of the original Transformers cartoon with the final three episodes Countdown to Extinction, A Plague of Insecticons, and Heavy Metal War.
The Decepticons get into the slave trade in this doozie of an edition of Lost in Transmission!
Hey, welcome back to Lost in Transmission the series of articles where I dissect half-hour toy commercials like they are high art. If this is your first time here you can find my previous installments here, here, and here. In this edition, we are looking at the episodes Fire on the Mountain, and War of the Dinobots. Two episodes that were intended to sell new toys, and failed to give them any redeeming qualities.
Fire On the Mountain
In this episode, the Decepticons travel to Peru where they find a crystal of incredible power within an Incan temple. Discovering this, the Autobots dig up their pal Skyfire so they can hitch a ride down south to stop their foes from using the crystal as a weapon.
Operation: After Thought
After the Autobots discover the Decepticon's current scheme, Optimus Prime decides that to get to Peru, they need to dig up Skyfire. Skyfire, as you remember, seemingly perished in Fire in the Sky after being buried under tons of ice. The Autobots even have a memorial for him. So now all of a sudden they're digging him up like being buried alive wasn't such a big deal.
The Autobots only dug him up because they needed a ride. This is the definition of a dick move.
Yet, here is Skyfire, instantly willing to fly the people who left him buried under ice. This is just another reason why Skyfire is the worst Autobot of them all.
Looking into this, the Autobots would actually need to fly part of the way to Peru. According to Google Maps, you apparently can't drive the last stretch between Panama and Columbia unless you want to barrel through a lot of rainforests. Still, as anyone who read our last edition could tell you, you can't just drive to the North Pole either. Also, if it it is such a hurry, why not build an aircraft? Or, I don't know, commandeer one from the human military? Aren't the Autobots and the American government buddies in this universe?
This episode's McGuffin is called the Crystal of Power, which Megatron is attempting to harness as a powerful weapon. However, as far as incredibly destructive crystal go, this one is less than consistent. On the one hand, it can blow up a spy satellite in space in a massive explosion, yet it causes little to no damage when it is fired randomly only a short distance away.
Another common thread in a Transformers cartoon is that everyone is a terrible shot. I could point that out in every episode I review, but that would get old fast. However, this episode is a real stand out in terms of bad marksmanship. Megatron can blast a satellite orbiting the planet, yet he can't shoot a few feet in front of him. He turns into a gun! You'd think of all the Decepticons at least he'd be an expert marksman.
Meet the People
The story also focuses a lot on a small Peruvian village near the Incan temple the Decepticons are raiding. They all look like simple peasants, and at the very least walking racial stereotypes. There's nothing sinister about these simple villagers, right? Sure, at least not outwardly. However, they are all of Spanish descent. You know, the people who colonized South America and basically wiped out the Incas?
If you were the product of centuries of Manifest Destiny, and suddenly some highly advanced space robots decided they were going to play kick the can in your back yard, you'd be more than a little frightened. In fact, you probably would be too busy shitting your pants to see the irony of the situation.
Then there is the female lead in this episode, a girl named Luisa who tries to hook Bumblebee up with her brother's car. The car is named Juanita. People giving a car a name is a common thing but isn't giving it one that is a slang term to sexually objectify a woman kind of weird? Meanwhile, Bumblebee gives a big grin and goes "Aww Shucks". Am I the only one who finds this kind of messed up? "Hey Bumblebee, my brother has a sexy car that isn't self-aware, do you want to hook up with it?" Bumblebee's reaction is on part with someone who enjoys taking advantage of someone with a lower IQ. Do you think he's also into Dinobots? Speaking of Dinobots...
War of the Dinobots
After a strange meteor crash lands on Earth, Optimus Prime sends the Dinobots to guard it. Impressed with their performance he has Wheeljack and Ratchet make two more. Meanwhile, Megatron convinces the original Dinobots to turn against the Autobots so they can get at the meteor. Hilarity ensues.
After the Autobots secure the meteor, Prime leaves the Dinobots to guard it while they run some readings on a sample back home. On the way back, Prime tells Spike and Chip Chase that he is impressed with the performance of the Dinobots, and decides they should build two more . Let's do a checklist of all the things the Dinobots have done so far:
- They almost killed the Autobots and destroyed their headquarters.
- While they saved the Autobots later, they only figured out who the good guys were by figuring out what their insignias are for.
If this is what qualifies as good performance, it's no surprise the Autobots have so many character flaws and depression issues. It's one thing to be impressed with the three Dinobots you have now, but to build two more heavily armed warriors with child-like minds. Also, if Wheeljack was able to upgrade the Dinobots brains, why did he stop improving them?
The last point I want to bring up here is, of all the Transformers, why are you leaving the Dinobots behind to guard a strange meteor? Especially when you don't know if it is stable, radioactive, or swarming with alien diseases. It's unlikely, but still, you'd think they would be concerned for the safety of their human friends. Also, Optimus Prime shoots off a sample after expressing concern about its stability. About that meteor....
Move Out of the Pacific Northwest!
I'm not an expert on meteors or anything but assuming it is a meteor the size of Optimus Prime and hit 72 km a second, It would have struck with an impact of 1.76 megatons. That is more powerful than some of the earliest nuclear bombs built in the 1940s. The fact that it crashes in an "abandoned" part of town is a moot point, as it would have caused significant enough damage to have a hefty body count. If you don't believe me, run whatever numbers you wish through this and you tell me if a meteor that size wouldn't wipe out at least a small city.
By this point, Megatron had discovered that the Dinobots were incredibly stupid and gullible. Which says a lot about how quick on the uptake he is. Anyway, he sends Soundwave to find the Dinobots' "soft spots". Soundwave probes their minds and confirms that the Dinobots are hostile, arrogant and stupid. Megatron then exploits this and convinces the Dinobots to turn against the Autobots. It took about 30 seconds. About the same amount of time it takes to convince a toddler that broccoli is gross. Megatron could have saved himself a lot of words if he just waved ice cream in front of them. I know that robots don't eat ice cream, but the Dinobots don't know it either, so my point is valid.
The New Dumb Dumbs
It's by this point that we are treated to another montage of the two new Dinobots being built. They are Snarl the stegosaurus and Swoop the pterodactyl. There's not much I can add here that I didn't say about SOS Dinobots. These Dinobots were just as dumb, Wheeljack is still an idiot, etc. etc. etc.
I guess if there is anything that segment of the episode proves my theory that Sparkplug is most likely a high school drop out. I base this on a scene where he can't figure out the schematics for building the new Dinobots. This is a guy who worked on an oil rig and he can't figure out blueprints? How did Sparkplug sustain employment? I wouldn't trust him to build an Ikea bookshelf, let alone build thinking weapons of mass destruction.
Credit where credit is due, at least the Autobots realized that Skyfire is terrible at flying and built another flying Autobot. Sure, you can't fit a whole lot of Transformers onto Swoops back, but we've already established that the Autobots are terrible at being practical.
Anyway, the boiling point of the plot is that Wheeljack discovers that the meteor is unstable and warns Optimus Prime that it could destroy the entire planet. Prime rushes to the crash site is forced to fight the Dinobots. Loses. Then the new Dinobots show up, help beat the crap out of the old ones. The meteor hits critical mass and explodes, harming nobody, the Decepticons retreat and Grimlock learns the errors of his ways. Seriously? You build up all this drama for nothing. I get that they were just trying to sell two more toys that Christmas, but for crying out loud, could you have at least had a conclusion that wasn't a total cop out?
Next Time on Lost in Transmission....
Yet another extinction level event threatens to destroy the Earth. The Decepticons totally pimp out their Space Bridge. The Decepticons get involved in the white slave trade, and anyone with an Autobot logo on their chest are terrible at their jobs.
Planes that can't fly, extinction level events, and developmentally delayed dinos are all on display in this edition of Lost in Transmission
In this edition, we' talk about bridges to space, why anti-matter can't fit into cubes, as well as tips and tricks on how you can use an Amiga 500 and a modem to hack into your favorite Transformer!
Welcome to the first edition of Lost in Transmission where I take a look back at classic episodes of the original Transformers cartoon produced from 1984-1987. Unlike most retrospectives, this series is going to look at the uncomfortable questions that come up when you start looking through the lens of a critical thinking adult.