Launched in 1996
, Beast Wars
is the first Transformers
series to be created since the original Transformers line ended in the late 1980's
. The main script writers were Bob Forward
and Larry DiTillio
, who turned what could have been another carbon-copy 'let's beat up the bad guys and sell toys'
cartoon into something truly memorable for all ages. Although it does
feature talking animals
that can turn into robots
, it also features some of the best characterisation
and storylines in children's shows
(or any television show for that matter) today. Bob and Larry have won the hearts of Transfans
Beast Wars runs over three seasons (26 episodes in the first, 13 in the second two) and begins when the two opposing factions, Maximals and Predacons crash-land on a primitive planet after a heated battle in space. The planet later turns out to be Earth, but this is not revealed until the beginning of the second season. One would have thought that earth-like animals running around all over the place would have given them plenty of clue.
Due to high energon concentrations on the planet, the Maximals and Predacons acquired 'Beast Modes' to protect their robotic bodies. Although they use energon to power their systems, the form on the planet is unstable and causes them to go into stasis lock. The Maximals chose the predictable 'cute and fluffy' Beast Modes while Predacons went for the insectoid and dinosauroid kind. Based on these forms, they created their highly original names. It can be assumed that they had alternate names back on their homeworld of Cybertron, but apart from Optimus and Megatron, these were never revealed.
The show goes on to detail the power struggle between the Maximals and Predacons. If the Predacons manage to get enough energon, they could quite possibly use it to launch an assault against Cybertron. It is the Maximals' moral responsibility to stop this from happening and beat the slag out of them.
The Maximals are your classic band of rag-tag space adventurers who just happened to get caught up in this mess when the Predacons stole the Golden Disk (the same one carried on the Voyager probe) from the Maximal Elders. Although the Axalon was only an exploration vessel, it was the only one that was close enough to go chasing after the Predacons. That was what led to the battle that caused them to crash.
The Maximals are led by Optimus Primal. He is a responsible captain, perhaps a tad too serious, but tries his best to be fair to his crew. He is no relation to the original Optimus Prime, he just took his name in honour of him.
Optimus Primal (gorilla)
Silverbolt (wolf/eagle fuzor)
Tigatron (white tiger)
Blackarachnia (black widow) (third season)
The Predacons are led by Megatron (again, no relation to the original). He's a schemer, yesss... with a penchant for rubber duckies and an extremely sexy british accent, he feels no loyalty to his troops. The troops themselves are by far the more amusing faction as they plot, bicker, and follow their own agendas.
Quickstrike (scorpion/cobra fuzor)
Inferno (fire ant)
Blackarachnia (black widow) (before switching)
Other characters of note
Jok and Oona (protohumans)
Ravage (a tape from the original Transformers with a Russian accent)
Tripredacus Council (Predacons)
The Vokk (uber flaming skull aliens)
Over the course of the Seasons, the Maximals and Predacons meet aliens (and subsequently piss them off), influence the ancestors of humans, die, be resurrected, go Transmetal and do strange and bizarre things with time. Several links were made to Transformers canon, even going so far as to have the Maximals move into the Ark in Season Three. The original Decepticon battle ship, called Nemesis, was also unearthed.
The end of the show saw the Maximals blasting back off to Cybertron in an emergency shuttle with Megatron strapped onto the back. Meanwhile Waspy, unsung hero of all three seasons, went on to rule the protohumans.
It is generally agreed that the successor, Beast Machines, failed to live up to the high standards set by Beast Wars. Although it boasted far superior graphics, the execution of many of the ideas left much to be desired.