Despite being one of the most popular cartoons of the '80s, The Transformers has had an awful time on DVD. The initial DVDs of The Ultimate Doom (released alongside the then-rare "Rebirth" three-parter on single-disc DVDs) had a pressing error which resulted in a batch of the discs including the "Rebirth" three-parter instead. However, the problems really started when Rhino decided to remaster the series by going back to the original 35mm negatives. Those 35mm reels were incomplete, however: every re-take in the series was not present, forcing Rhino to insert the footage from whatever sources were available. Rhino, was not perfect, however, (far from it, in fact), and many scenes were left uncorrected, and others had poor attempts to digitally alter the 35mm footage to match the broadcast masters. The famous transition sequences even had to be re-inserted in the first four episodes, and a great many were of the incorrect type. Adding insult to injury, the new 5.1 sound mix had added effects, and a great number of episodes from the first two seasons did not have the unaltered audio available (and the company responsible, Magno Sound, lied to everyone about the new effects, even after fans identified sounds from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which first aired as The Transformers entered into the land of perpetual reruns).
So, now, leading up to the 25th Anniversary of the fabled animated series, Hasbro assigned home video rights to Shout! Factory, which promptly declared that they would be fixing Rhino's mistakes. The mono mix has returned, lightly stereo-ized but without Magno's alterations (though some episodes, such as The Ultimate Doom Part 3, have reverted from a stronger mix of the effects and music tracks of the Rhino DVDs to the muted mixes that were created in the '80s). And true to their word, Shout! has fixed may of the problems with the prior DVDs. However, there are still a great many errors present, especially in the first season (which was the most problematic of Rhino's releases).
Among the things that are still uncorrected:
-Incorrect transitions in the second and third parts of the "More Than Meets the Eye" three parter
-Rampant amounts of incorrect footage in the recaps and previews for many of the multipart episodes
-Numerous shots of missing snowfall in the opening scene of "Fire in the Sky"
-A handful of mis-framed shots in "Divide and Conquer" and "SOS Dinobots" (the former episode as the Autobots transform to meet Prime at the weapons factory, and during the battle with the mindless Dinobots in the latter episode)
-Starscream colored as Thundercracker at 15:33 of "Fire on the Mountain" and 2:15 of The Ultimate Doom Part 2
-The missing background as the Energon Cubes explode at the climax of The Ultimate Doom Part 3
-Rhino's digital tinkering to fix the 35mm footage of Wheeljack and his Shock Blast Cannon in "Heavy Metal War"
-Lava which moves *up* Megatron's face (and gets in his eye) in the last shot of "Heavy Metal War"
-The mis-titled title card for "The Master Builders" (titled "The Master Builder" on the DVD)
-The *correct* spelling of the word "Decepticon" in the title card of "A Deceptacon Raider in King Arthur's Court"
-Missing freeze-frames at the end of two episodes: "Auto Berserk" and "Revenge of Bruticus"
-Incorrect openings for all five parts of Season 3's "Five Face of Darkness": Only parts 3 and 5 have the correct video, and unlike the prior Rhino DVDs, the audio is from the normal opening in both parts.
-"Dark Awakening", which was altered so as to precede "The Return of Optimus Prime", features only the audio from the original airing (which did not feature Victor Caroli's famous narration). In this era of DVD branching, it seems a bit silly that both versions were not able to appear on the same disc (what with the historical significance of the alternate version).
To be fair, the episodes are much improved. "Heavy Metal War", rendered nearly unwatchable on the Rhino DVDs, has only 19 incorrect shots, which is a significant reduction (and many of the differences are rather subtle in those 19 shots). Other episodes with are even more successfully corrected, such as a few seconds of black on Rhino's "Desertion of the Dinobots" Part 1 and the upholding of "War Dawn's" notoriously slowed-down Act 2 (done to cover up the removal of the original-and far more gruesome-crippling of Orion Pax from the final episode). [EDIT: Further investigation by yours truly reveals that the second act of "War Dawn" is still played at the wrong speed-only the voices have been corrected.] Also, the extras are very good, featuring a great number of commercials, an excellent cast reunion, and a conversation with Bob Budiansky that's infinitely better at illustrating his importance to the series than the similar one with Larry Hama that's featured in Shout! Factory's G.I. Joe set. I do, however, find the lack of participation from David Wise (who was at least as important as Flint Dille and Earl Kress, who were re-interviewed for this set, to the series) a bit disconcerting. Also, due to Hasbro's orders, the running order for Season 3 does not match the running order on the packaging of the version of this set offered directly by Shout! Factory as of this writing. However, it is the continued insistence on using the flawed 35mm masters (and not the broadcast masters) that causes the greatest concern with this set, especially when broadcast masters are used on 5 episodes (Season 1's "Countdown to Extinction", Season 3's "The Burden Hardest to Bear", and all three parts of "The Rebirth"), just as they were on the Rhino DVDs, and they look pretty good for their age (and the inconsistency of Sunbow's telecine transfers). Until a more even-handed approach is taken, it's hard to recommend such an expensive DVD box set.