Cartoon Corner: The Transformers (TV Series) (1984)
Show Name: The Transformers
Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Adventure and Superhero
Created by: Hasbro and Takara Tomy
Voice Actors (a few): Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), Frank Welker (Megatron, Soundwave, Skywarp, Rumble, Frenzy, Laserbeak (screeches), and Ravage (growls).
Release Dates: September 17, 1984 to November 11, 1987
Anyone that was raised in the 1980's remembers this iconic animated series. This would play at 4:30 pm I believe. I would watch this as part of my afternoon, after school cartoon viewing. This included He-man, Garfield, COPS, GI Joe and of course Transformers.
Although the recent movies have left a sour taste in my mouth, I still remember the original animated series with fondness. This series is also known as Generation 1. Generation 2 would be adopted when the second series would emerge in 1992.
Let us dig into the series that started it all and let us see if the cartoon still holds up to this day.
Like He-Man, this animated series was made to sell toys for Hasbro. I guess this was a trend back in the 1980's and the strategy paid off.
The show was actually inspired from the Microman toy line and its spin-off Diaclone.
In 1984, US regulators seemed to have relaxed many restrictions in regards to advertisement directed to a younger audience. So this actually made it easier to have a show that was really a half hour promotion for a product.
The concept was conceived by Jim Shooter and Shohei Kohara.
The story is essentially, a good vs evil battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Autobots, like you would expect are automobiles which are led by the iconic Optimus Prime.
On the other side of the fence we have the Decepticons. They are mostly known to be flying machines like planes and so on. They are led by an iconic villain named Megatron.
The series started as a mini-series in 1984. The main premise of this was that energy supplies on the home planet of Autobots and Decepticons (Cybertron) were depleting and they needed a new source of energy. So, they ended up landing on Earth.
After these events, Transformers were dormant for 4 million years, until they are awaken in 1984. The Decepticons start their quest to take energy sources from the Earth, while the Autobots help humankind by stopping the Decepticons. There are humans that help the Autobots. They are named Sparkplug and Spike Witwicky.
At the end of the series, the Decepticons are believed to be dead and the Autobots were ready to head back home to Cybertron. So this is where it all started as a TV series.
Basically, every time that you would think the Decepticons were dead or gone, there was always a sense that they were never really gone. I guess they were true villains.
What made this cartoon so Memorable?
1) Opening Theme
The opening theme is still remembered to this day. It is also listened to a lot on YouTube. As of the writing of this blog post, there are over 2 million views on just one channel.
The song stays stuck in your head and you just feel like you want to watch the show when hearing it. All good cartoons had great themes and this is no exception.
I personally always loved the opening phrase, "Transformers, more than meets the eye.". It just fit the show so well.
Intro and Outro Theme
As a kid, I really loved Optimus Prime. He always knew what to say and what to do. I was also very sad in the 1986 movie, when he dies. I think there was not one kid that was not sad when this happened on the movie screen.
However, we cannot disregard the villains. Megatron was just as good of a villain as Optimus Prime was a hero. The way that he was condescending and that voice. All the pieces were put together to have an iconic villain. To be quite honest, he is better as a villain than many others in the genre. he is just as good or better than Skeletor in He-Man or Cobra Commander in Gi Joe.
Each robot, Autobot or Decepticon had their own personality. Every kid had an attachment to one. They were different but the viewer was attached to it. For some it was Bumblebee. Some others was Trailblazer for his sense of humor. My personal favourite other than Optimus was Soundwave. I know he was a bad guy but I always loved his digital voice.
There were also a long list of different types of Transformers. There were the Dinobots which were dinosaur transformers and also Insecticons, which were as you would have guessed, are transformer insects. There are way too many to name here. However, below is I believe when the Autobots and Dinobots first meet.
3) The Movie
I do not remember much from the individual TV Show, however I will always remember the movie. That scene when you see Optimus Prime lying there motionless and realize that he is dead. It was a pretty intense moment, even for a 6 year old.
That is also the strength of this cartoon. The viewer was attached to these characters and when one of the iconic character died, you felt it.
I am not sure that there are many animated series today, that have that kind of attachment to the viewer. Then again, I do not watch them very often anymore. However, this movie stands up to the test of time. Yes the animations are very 80's but the quality of the characters and story still hold up.
Transformers: The Movie (1986) - Optimus Prime Dies
This cartoon was awesome when it came out. Planes and cars and anything you can think of, that become a robot. How can that not be a winning formula? The creators were able to build something special here and proof is that all these years later, people still remember the first series and it is still being watched today.
Does it stand the test of time? Yes it does. No matter what generation that you are, kids are watching the series on DVD, old VHS tapes and even on YouTube.
Unfortunately, the movie franchise has tarnished the series' reputation. The movies are just CGI fests with very little story. I think that people have to remember how these cartoons were and bring back their spirit.
The animated movie (1986) still holds up and for many that followed this series, is still a tear jerker. It is funny, for a movie based on machines, it packs more emotions, then some of the movies that come out nowadays.
I still watch some episodes from time to time. Yes there is a sense of Nostalgia. However, unlike the Superfriends, this series still holds up and I think that it will for generations to come.
What do you think? Do you remember this series? Does it hold up for you. Let us know below.