The Autobots are battling the Decepticons for control of Cybertron. When it becomes obvious that Cybertron is running low on fuel, the Autobots set out for the stars with the Decepticons in tow. When their battle leads them to crash on Earth, the Autobots and Decepticons wake up to find their battle has moved from Cybertron to Earth…and humanity could hang in the balance!
The Transformers—Season 1 aired from September 17, 1984 to December 15, 1984 in syndication and included a three episode opening miniseries entitled “More Than Meets the Eye” (which is sometimes the longer title for the original series as a whole). The show was based on the Hasbro toys which were based on the Diaclone and Microman toys from Japan (where the series was known as Fight Super Robot Life-Form Transformers (or 戦え！超ロボット生命体トランスフォーマー Tatakae! Chō Robotto Seimei-Tai Toransufōmā). The series has been collected and released multiple times and is constantly going in and out of print.
I can remember rushing home from school to watch The Transformers. Though I was primarily a Masters of the Universe guy, The Transformers aired at a more “school friendly” series which I could time-out and watch all of it. Rewatching the series, I have the fun of remembering some good and some not so good aspects of the series.
Despite like Master of the Universe more, The Transformers was technically a better series. The show often dipped into multi-episode series and events in some episodes had ramifications in other episodes. The collections often put the episodes in order of how they are meant to be watched, but episodes involving Skyfire (sometimes called Jetfire…another legal issue) and the Dinobots aired out of order during the series’ original run. Unlike some other cartoons, it didn’t always make sense to watch The Transformers out of order…another reason the cartoon was slightly smarter.
The show did receive criticism like many of the cartoons of the ’80s for simply existing to sell their toys. As a toyline, it rarely made sense to me as kid what advantage Transformers had for changing into their forms…and it still doesn’t. They claim it is to “hide” among people (which on Cybertron doesn’t even make sense), but they don’t hide very much here…and it appears that most of the characters can already fly so becoming a jet doesn’t even help there. Regardless, you did want to have them all!
The animation also is sometimes questionable. The series feels like a modified Japanese animation with much of the stylized animation removed. Occasionally, you’ll see a shot that looks straight out of an animated series, but like many series, not much attention was paid to details…though the series often did try to do unique framing if possible.
The Transformers actually probably holds up a bit better than some of the ’80s cartoons simply because the franchise continues to truck successfully with live action films. Younger viewers will recognize the characters and might even question why the live action films aren’t very good (I hope). Of course they might find themselves scratching their heads in regard to Shockwave and his tapes…Of course throwing an MP3 file at Autobots is less interesting.
The Transformers—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide:
1.1 More Than Meets the Eye—Part 1 (Episode #1) Airdate: 09/17/84
The war between the Autobots and Decepictons is raging on Cyberton. As energon supplies begin to run low, both the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons led by Megatron are seeking new sources of energon. When the Autobots’ shuttle the Ark is raided by the Decepticons and crashes on Earth, the Transformers lay dormant for centuries…only to be awakened to discover their new planet Earth provide new sources of energon and transformations. The Decepticons’ attack on an oil rig leads the Autobots to saving Sparkplug Witwicky and his son Spike.
1.2 More Than Meets the Eye—Part 2 (Episode #2) Airdate: 09/18/84
The Autobots team with Sparkplug and Spike to try to stop the Decepticons, and Spike accidentally gives Soundwave access to the Ark. The Decepticons attack on Sherman Dam leads to a faceoff with the Autobots and the Autobots forced to make a decision on their future on Earth.
1.3 More Than Meets the Eye—Part 3 (Episode #3) Airdate: 09/19/84
The Autobots attempt to use Ravage to lead the Decepticons into a trap…but Megatron might not be as easily fooled as Optimus Prime believes!
1.4 Transport to Oblivion (Episode #4) Airdate: 10/06/84
The Decepticons have survived and are working to create a spacebridge to Cybertron. When Spike is captured, he could be the first “tester” for the new spacebridge if the Autobots cannot save him in time.
1.5 Roll for It (Episode #5) Airdate: 10/13/84
Megatron has survived his transportation to Cybertron and headed back to Earth for its energy. When Spike’s friend Chip comes into possession of a anti-matter formula which could create unlimited energy, the Autobots must protect Chip and the formula.
1.6 Divide and Conquer (Episode #6) Airdate: 10/20/84
Optimus Prime is mortally wounded when trying to save Spike and Chip and the Autobots discover that he’s dying. With the only hope residing in Wheeljack’s lab on Cybertron, the Autobots must find a way back to Cybertron to save him.
1.7 S.O.S. Dinobots (Episode #7) Airdate: 10/27/84
When the Autobots learn about dinosaurs, they decide to create Dinobots to aid them in the work to stop the Decepticons. With Grimlock, Slag, and Sludge prove too difficult to control, Optimus Prime orders them decommissioned…but a surprise attack from the Decepticons mean the Dinobots may be the Autobots’ only hope!
1.8 The Ultimate Doom—Part 1: Brainwash (Episode #8) Airdate: 11/03/84
Megatron sets out to bring Cybertron to Earth and enlists Dr. Archeville to help him build a brainwashed army of human slaves. With Sparkplug under his control the Autobots find that they have a traitor in their midst…and Spike is forced to battle his own father.
1.9 The Ultimate Doom—Part 2: Search (Episode #9) Airdate: 11/10/84
Cybertron is in Earth’s orbit and the gravitational pull is threatening to destroy the planet. With Decepticon plans to transfer energon to Cybertron, the Autobots go on a rescue mission to Cybertron.
1.10 The Ultimate Doom—Part 3: Revival (Episode #10) Airdate: 11/17/84
Wheeljack tries to reverse Dr. Archeville’s hypnotic-chips and free the Decepticons’ human slaves. With Cybertron destroying Earth, the Autobots seek a way to send Cybertron away from Earth.
1.11 War of the Dinobots (Episode #11) Airdate: 11/24/84
A meteorite crashes on Earth and threatens to destroy the planet with its energy. When Megatron tricks Grimlock, Slag, and Sludge into turning against Optimus Prime, the Autobots must rely on the new Dinobots Swoop and Slag to bring down the Dinobots before it is too late.
1.12 Countdown to Extinction (Episode #12) Airdate: 12/01/84
Following the Decepticons’ defeat on Earth, Starstream is making his grab for power on Cybertron and using Dr. Archeville to do it. Planning to harvest the power from Earth’s destruction, Megatron finds he must team with Optimus Prime to prevent the bomb from going off.
1.13 Fire in the Sky (Episode #13) Airdate: 12/08/84
The Decepticons are tapping into the core of the Earth to find energy to harvest and it is having disastrous effects on the planet’s temperature. As the Autobots head to the South Pole to battle the Decepticons the Decepticons find one of Starscream’s old allies…a plane called Skyfire. Thawed out, Skyfire discovers that things are not the same as when he was frozen and that he must choose sides!
1.14 Heavy Metal War (Episode #14) Airdate: 12/15/84
Megatron challenges Optimus Prime to one-on-one combat by Cybertron law…but secretly uses duplicator chips to take the powers of all the Decepticons for a surprise attack. While the battle goes on, the Decepticons’ new Constructicons (Scrapper, Hook, Bonecrusher, Scavenger, Long Haul, and Mixmaster) raid the Ark…and they have a secret in Devastator!
1.15 Fire on the Mountain (Episode #15) Airdate: 12/22/84
The Decepticons are tapping into the core of the Earth to find energy to harvest and it is having disastrous effects on the planet’s temperature. As the Autobots head to the South Pole to battle the Decepticons the Decepticons find one of Starscream’s old allies…a plane called Jetfire. Thawed out Jetfire discovers that things are not the same as when he was frozen and that he must choose sides!
1.16 A Plague of Insecticons (Episode #16) Airdate: 12/29/84
Decepticon Transformers named Shrapnel, Bombshell, and Kickback are discovered and revealed to take the form of insects. As Megatron tries to woo the Insecticons to fight with him, the Autobots try to prevent the Insecticons rampage.