on 19 November 2003
Well, it's been a long, hard, bitter year since Maverick Entertainment released their boxset of season one of the Transformers, and since then, the rights have changed hands to Metrodome. Blessedly, they have refrained from releasing individual volumes, and gone straight for releasing a box set containing twenty-four episodes from the 49-episode-strong season of the show.
While the second season of Transformers is certainly the most memorable in the minds of most fans, introducing a wealth of new characters, with lots of diverse stories, in terms of actual inter-episode continuity, cohesion and general storytelling, season two is the weakest Transformers season, strung out too long, with too many new toys to sell. It introduces many new concepts and explores Transformer history, but it would be season three that would take it and run with it.
Metrodome is connected with Kid Rhino, the company that is releasing Transformers on DVD in the US. Hence, while Maverick used their own animation, and purchased Rhino's 5.1 audio, Metrodome has access to Rhino's sharp, colourful remastered animation, and both their 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. And unlike the Rhino S1 set, these episodes do NOT have any added animation errors, so there's no problem there. You'll remember from the s1 boxset, however, that Rhino's 5.1 audio has added several original sounds to the show, blaring out loudly at you and generally feeling out of place. Well, while we had to put up with it on Maverick's set, on this set, you can turn on the 2.0 audio option, which doesn't have these sounds - except for on "Changing Gears," "City of Steel," "Attack of the Autobots" and "Traitor," where a technical error resulted in their application. Thankfully, these episodes are light on them.
Now, as with my S1 set review, it's time to take an extensive look at the extras. And they're not going to set the world on fire any time soon.
First is the "mistake reel," highlighting for fun a sampling of the numerous animation errors that litter Transformers. Lifted right off of Rhino's set, it is a bit hit and miss, with more explanatory text, arrows or highlighting often ebing required to point out what the mistakes actually ARE.
The packaging and menu proclaims the scripts for episodes 16 and 17 are on the disc - which would be "Autobot Spike" and "Changing Gears" (these are actually 17 and 18, but a numbering error made by Rhino throws the episode numbering system off by one for the entire set). However, the only script here is "Autobot Spike," and it's poorly done. Some lines are clipped because of poor page-to-page formatting, in place of it's last page is... it's first page. Again.
The footage from TF convention, Auto Assembly, is disappointing. It's some silent video footage with the TF theme played on top it. They couldn't have interviewed someone...? Re-watching it after you find out what's on it, it doesn't seem as bad - but it could have been so much *more.*
Character profiles are fine - except they're only for season one characters, none of the new TF's introduced in season two! Nice Lee Sullivan art, but like the menus, basic presentation and weak visual composition (each profile gets only one screen, and it's all very cramped looking) spoil them.
"Titan Comic Strip" is a scrolling show of the prologue to famous UK comic story, "Target 2006." A bit needless, but one of the better-presented extras, although the resolution could be better. There's that phrase again... "could be better."
The Fan Art gallery seems more impressive in this set than it did on Maverick's, perhaps because it's surrounded by lacklustre extras.
The Promotional Toy Image gallery contains scrolling images of the various toy catalogues from season two's toys onward in a slideshow. Would have been great, except there's no way to individually select each catalogue, or zoom in of your own choosing. Suffers from the problem the comic strip has.
The set also comes with four Lee Sullivan postcards, and they're well nifty - they're of Prowl, Jazz, Grimlock and a group shot of the Dinobots.
The quiz in and of itself is fine with good questions, but basic graphics and composition and some typos mar it. If you complete the quiz, you unlock another extra - and not a little bit of footage like on Maverick's. In a moment of exceptional coolness, you unlock another whole episode, "The Golden Lagoon," which is the next chronological episode after the final one on this set, It's got 5.1 and 2.0 too, and the 5.1 has extra nosies, while the 2.0 doesn't. And on the Rhino set that featured this episode, EVERY episode had the extra noises on the 2.0 tracks. So, that bodes well for the next set.
Many of the problems seem like little ones taken on their own - but when added together, along with some typos on the packaging, and the very weak visuals of the main menus, the set has a tendency to exude an irritating air of unprofessionalism, that I was hoping would be shaken off after Maverick. But Maverick's extras, unprofessional or not, stand stories above Metrodome's - but of course, with Maverick's box set, they REALLY had to sell it with all those kickin' extras, as they'd already released the episodes on separate discs, so they had to give you a good reason to get the set. With Metrodome, the sheer volume of episodes for such a great price (it's great value even without the discount online sites are giving) is truly all that's needed to sell the set, so the iffy extras can be forgiven. You're lookin' at about nine hours on non-stop Transformers, lads! Roll on part two!