Beast Wars: Transformers is a CG animated television series that debuted in 1996, serving as the flagship of the Transformers: Beast Wars franchise. The series was set in the future of the “original” Transformers universe as a sequel to the first Transformers series (which has since been rebooted in limited comic book stories by Dreamwave and IDW among others).
The Beast Wars TV series was produced by Mainframe Entertainment of Canada; its story editors were Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio. All three seasons are currently available on DVD in the USA and other Region 1 territories. In Australia, to coincide with the show’s tenth anniversary in 2006, Madman Entertainment released all three seasons in Region 4 format. These boxsets include “world exclusive” special features, such as commentaries and interviews with the voice actors.
The production designer for the show, Clyde Klotz, won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation in 1997 for his work on Beast Wars.
The two main factions of “Transformers” in Beast Wars are descendants of the two main factions in the original cartoon: the Maximals are the descendants of the Autobots and the Predacons are the descendants of the Decepticons. (In the sequel series Beast Machines, the process during which Autobots and Decepticons became Maximals and Predacons is referred to as “The Great Upgrade.”)
The leader of the Predacon team is Megatron. He and his forces are a splinter group on the hunt for powerful crystals known as Energon, (Though in The Agenda (Part 1) it’s revealed Megatron got the location of energon as a bonus) to be used in a ploy for power and dominance. They do this with the aid of an artifact known as the Golden Disk and Megatron’s stolen ship, the Darksyde, which is equipped with a transwarp drive. A Maximal exploration ship, the Axalon, led by Optimus Primal, is sent to stop them. Together the ships plunge through a time/space phenomenon created by the transwarp device during their battle in space, and crash-land on a mysterious planet.
The planet is found to be rich in deposits of raw Energon, in such extreme amounts that it proves to be poisonous to both factions’ robot forms, forcing them to take on alternate organic forms for protection until their robot forms are needed. Thus the robots take on the beast forms of recognizable animals including mammals, birds, dinosaurs, arachnids, and insects.
Before crashing, the Axalon deploys its cargo of “stasis pods” containing Maximal protoforms — Transformer robots with vulnerable and undeveloped physical forms, which are left to orbit the planet as an alternative to possible destruction in the initial crash landing. This plays a larger part in the IDW series, The Gathering. Throughout the series, stasis pods lose altitude and crash-land on the planet, and the Maximals and Predacons race and fight to acquire them, as protoforms acquired by Megatron’s forces can be reprogrammed to become Predacons. The stasis pods are used as a plot device to introduce new characters.
The teams are divided between the “good” Maximals and the “evil” Predacons. Dinobot changes sides, starting as a Predacon and becoming a Maximal. Additionally certain “Predacons” like Inferno and Blackarachnia were created from Maximal protoforms, but were fitted with Predacon shell programs, fighting instead for the Predacons. For the Maximals, the emphasis is on team spirit and good-natured arguing, especially from Rattrap, but the Predacons argue and battle for leadership, which impairs their effectiveness against the Maximals.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: