The Transformers: The Movie was a game changer for me. I got to see my beloved Transformers in a high quality presentation, set in the then future and with some intense drama. Of course I considered it the greatest movie ever made at the time; I was very young then. Now I see it as a beautiful example of traditional cel animation. The fall of 1986 would bring yet another season of The Transformers with elements from this new movie. Exciting! Time for some totally new changes in the mythos of The Transformers. Yet at heart this is still the same show, just continuing on during a new era.
Remember when the year of 2006 seemed like a far off future? Decades unreachable at one time, but when viewed now that year is more like a distant memory. I am sure some of you may not have been born yet? The film ended, but there was more to tell in terms of what was introduced in the summer of 1986. With all of these new and older elements in place one can see season three as a mixed bag. I am sure many do not like this season for the fact of all the changes and the unfamiliarity… and some characters. Yet the more that we change we stay the same. The third season would continue the more imaginative sci-fi and fantasy that was introduced the previous year except now we are in the future (that has past us now) with many new characters including the first full-time female Autobot lead (we love you Arcee!) and stories. The downside in some ways was the writing and characterizations which at times are not the strongest in certain episodes, but there are some things that this third season did very well.
Darker themes would begin to creep into some of the plots lines. Rodimus Prime being the new leader of the Autobots lacked the confidence of Optimus Prime. He was more human and vulnerable and as a character I appreciate him sometimes more than the idolized Autobot champion. Death also plays a heavy role as seeing the ghost of certain fallen Autobots and Decepticons from the movie make their presence as well. Dark Awakening being one of the more unpolished episodes visually is perhaps one of the best episodes that expressed the heavier mood. Even the Quintessons are creepy and always so super serious! Not to say there was not humor as well. Think Grimlock’s New Brain, which is a favorite episode of mine for the fact that the Technobots were born during this half hour.
Our new cast is vast and many get only a handful of showings that are short lived. Many new faces did however get some time in the sun to show themselves. None more so than Cyclonus and Scourge who only got brief moments to even say a line, or two, in the movie. Cyclonus is a particular favorite of mine. He has a nobility and a sense of honor that lacks in many of the Decepticons. Almost like the dark twin of Ultra Magnus? Talk about a departure for the Decepticons second in command, almost like an inverse of Starscream. Sadly some of the new characters are just kind of dull, or overly cartoonish, and can be seen as window decoration. Marissa Fairborne of Earth Defense Command is a welcome addition to the human group of characters. Is she really Flint’s daughter, from G.I. Joe? And speaking of G.I. Joe, there is some guy who looks and sounds way too much like Cobra Commander… a nice cross over moment.
Highlighting this season are the opening and closing episodes, which are multi-parters. The quintet of Five Faces of Darkness (could this be a pun? Five and five?) and the double episode finale of the super obvious The Return of Optimus Prime both give this season a proper start and finish and flush out more of the mythology of The Transformers and Cybertron. Plus fans were pleased to see Optimus Prime return at the end. I see that now as a nice gesture, but really? Why not bring back Tracks, or Sunstreaker too! While season three may not be the most popular, or even consistent, it is sometimes my favorite. Pull a good dozen episodes as the pillar of what this season could have been collectively and I am quite satisfied as that selection is watched often.