The Transformers Season Two, Volume One

The Transformers Season Two, Volume One
Finally available at a non-import price, Shout Factory is re-releasing the original Transformers cartoon in fast and furious instalments. Hot on the heels of the first season, which appeared just in time for Michael Bay's live-action sequel, comes the first half of the highly successful second season. Like the first batch of episodes, the second season finds both the Decepticons and the Autobots still marooned on Earth. The Decepticons continue to exploit the planet and its inhabitants for the power sources necessary to send them back to their home world of Cybertron. Still standing in their way are the Autobots. Of course, this being a television show based on a line of kids' toys, new characters are liberally introduced throughout the season on both sides in an effort to raise the profile of their plastic counterparts. Similarly, the second season introduced stories involving non-Transformers-related characters for which toys were never made (i.e., the underwater society depicted in the episode "Arise, Atlantis, Arise"). Like many cartoons of this era, the quality of the animation is questionable at best and the formulaic plot lines are so full of holes you'll be slapping yourself in the head for not seeing them when you were five years old. This season was also a demarcation point for the cartoon; following its completion (only the first half is included in this set) the Transformers animated movie hit theatres, ushering in a new era set in the future with much darker (and therefore more interesting) storylines. Even if your fondest childhood memories focus on this era of the show, revisiting the episodes you grew up with can be a deflating exercise. No matter how much retro value you attach, it'll never be as good as you remember. Curiously, there are no bonus features this time out. (Shout! Factory)