The Second Season of Transformers Prime continues the animated battles of the Autobots and Decepticons on Earth as well as the robots in disguise home planet of Cybertron. The series adopts the look and style of Michael Bay’s (truly awful) Transformers franchise and recent video game releases that as a fan of the original toys, comics, and cartoon series, I will freely admit, doesn’t always please me.
This means we’re stuck with several problematic elements from the movies including a Bumblebee that still can’t speak (and is a Camaro instead of a VW Bug), the moronic monster-like design of several of the Decepticons, a lack of understanding basic differences between robots and humans, a scarcity of only a handful of Autobots heroes, and a near endless supply of nameless (not to mention useless) Deception cannon fodder warriors that rank somewhere between Stormtroopers and Cobra soldiers in the grand scheme of things.
Despite all these issues the Second Season of Transformers Prime manages to entertain. The CGI design of the show takes a couple of episodes to get used to, but despite using the designs of the Bay films for many for many of the characters, the stories feel far more like the original series than anything put out under the Transformers brand in an awfully long time. You can tell that at least a few members of creative team are longtime fans of the franchise as several aspects of the original Transformers are incorporated as well including Vector Sigma and Optimus Prime‘s past as Orion Pax.
The season opens with a three-part storyline involving Megatron (Frank Welker) taking advantage of Optimus Prime’s (Peter Cullen) confused state following last season’s cliffhanger. Other storylines include the Decepticons gathering various ancient Cybertronian relics over the course of the season, the return of Wheeljack (James Horan), appearances by Shockwave (David Sobolov), Smokescreen (Nolan North), and Cliffjumper (Billy Brown), the duplicitous actions of both Megatron’s former lieutenants Airachnid (Gina Torres) and Starscream (Steve Blum), Bulkhead‘s (Kevin Michael Richardson) recovery after a vicious attack, the search for new forms of energy including Dark Energon and Red Energon, the struggles of the various humans helping the Autobots, Bumblebee temporarily losing his ability to transform, and the mercenary humans known as M.E.C.H. using Cybertron technology for their own ends including dissecting Autobots and Decepticons and creating their own remote controlled version of Optimus Prime.
There are some odd choices such as combining the characters of Ironhide and Hound into Bulkhead, not including fan favorite characters such as Jazz, Sideswipe, and Sunstreaker, and taking one of the most awesome Decepticons of all-time in Soundwave and making him completely irrelevant (in both function and design). However, the return of Peter Cullen to voice to the character he’s made popular for most of my lifetime certainly helps sell the series to longtime fans and even if I’m not thrilled with the design of Megatron he resembles the original animated character (in all but design) far more than Bay’s bastardized big screen version.
Along with a government appointed liaison (Ernie Hudson) the show includes three kids three helping the Autobots in various ways which gives the show’s writers a variety of ways to work the human element into the stories. However, the best episodes are almost all where the humans get as little screen time as possible.
The four-disc Blu-ray includes all 26 episodes along with new interviews from the creative team behind the show’s second season (Stephen Davis, Brian Lenard, Michael Vogel, Jeff Kline, Duane Capizzi, Steven Melching, David Hartman, Vince Toyama, José López, Christophe Vacher, Todd Waterman, Shaunt Nigoghossian), and Larry King‘s interview with Peter Cullen from 2012’s San Diego Comic-Con.
[Shout! Factory, Blu-ray $59.99 / DVD $23.93]