Beast Wars sucked. I'm gonna break it down for you here.
First of all, let's talk about the CGI animation. Now, this company had already done Reboot, which I really liked. Reboot was a great CGI show, I think it was the first actually. But then they went to Beast Wars, and it just... it's a different show. In Reboot, the weird and funky look of the CGI was alright because it all took place inside a damn computer. It was trying to show the world of programs and code and so it made sense that everything looked very unnatural and strange and the CGI was rather primitive. All the characters looked rather computerized and there was primitive lighting effects and it was fine.
Now, they go on and try to do Beast Wars. This show does not take place inside a computer, it's out and about in the real world. The robots are all on Earth and so we mostly see a bunch of terrain and forests and waterfalls and animals and stuff in nature. This is completely different from illustrating an otherworldly computer-based reality. This stuff just looked bad. Especially whenever they tried to show forests, it looked like uh, forests in video games from the 1990s. Very very poor depictions. Now, they had the technological limitations of the time, I understand. That's why, frankly, they shouldn't have done it. It just looked very bad and I couldn't take it seriously. I mean, making CGI stuff like good animal fur was just beyond their means. Of course, the show went on for quite a while and their CGI quality improved a bit over the years, but all in all, trying to do it all back in those days on a TV series budget was a mistake to me.
Then you've got the actual concept of robots turning into animals. Now, the expression "Trukk Not Munky" is a bit simplistic. There's more to it then that. The whole appeal of Transformers for me was that you had these robots transforming into vehicles. There's a sort of logic there, one mechanical form turning into another. Robots are technological beings, while vehicles are pieces of technology. It's not hard to envision. The problem with Beast Wars is they went away from the vehicles and thought animals would be a good replacement. But see, animals... are organic. They're biological. They are about as far away from robots as you can get. And so that logic breaks down. There's no sense in robots transforming into animals of flesh and blood.
I mean, when they're animals, they're supposed to be flexible and their skin and muscles all act naturally like real animals. But how's that possible if they're mechanical robots with hardened armor chassis? How does that make sense? I never really understood it. If you shot them, would they actually bleed animal blood while in animal form and then bleed cybertronian fluid when in robot form? Are they covered with biological tissue like the Terminator cyborgs from the Terminator films? If so, wouldn't they all bleed profusely when the robot transformation rips the tissue apart and they'd be covered in torn muscle and organs and everything? That didn't happen on the show. It would be really gorey, wouldn't it? I mean, just look at Rhinox for the love of god. His entire chest is made up of his rhino's giant lower jaw, with teeth. Where's the tongue? It's gross.
When they were transforming into cars and planes, it had a nice dichotomy between the Autobots using mostly civilian vehicles, and the Decepticons using more war-like combat vehicles. That balance made sense. The cars and trucks were basically pacifist. On the other side, you could clearly tell that the fighter planes and magnum pistol were threatening and aggressive. This sorta thing doesn't really work out at all in Beast Wars, because you had animals. The Maximals had a gorilla, a rhino, a cheetah, a tiger, a wolf/hawk, and a rat. The Predacons had a T-Rex, a pterosaur, a scorpion, a wasp, a spider, etc. That really doesn't tell me anything. Except that apparently, a T-Rex can get fought to a standstill by a gorilla.
The other problem is that you had Optimus Primal as this ape, which barely made him larger then a human. Kinda lame when you consider that Optimus Prime was a great big truck. It's hard for me to respect this great Maximal leader when he's that small. Megatron was a large Tyrannosaurus Rex, but when he transformed back into robot form, his legs were basically the T-Rex legs, which kinda made him look like he was walking around on high heels or something. It was a strange look.
Then there's the energon deposits forcing stasis lock. On this Earth, energon deposits are all over the place. So much energon that it actually creates unstable energy that will force the transformers into stasis lock if they don't travel around in beast form. That's the conceit. I dunno why energon would be harmful and force you into stasis lock, for one thing. On the G1 show, it seemed like getting tons and tons of energon was always the goal and I never saw any of the energon cubes locking anyone into stasis. Energon seemed like a very good thing, almost like the lifeblood of the Cybertronians, so it makes no sense that it would be this very harmful radioactive element.
This also put the emphasis on the transformers' beast forms, because they had to constantly run around in them to avoid the stasis lock. But the thing is... them being animals was boring. I mean, don't get me wrong, I used to watch Marty Stouffer's Wild America all the time when I was a kid. But for Transformers, the main appeal is the robots in "robots in disguise." It isn't the disguise that's the main draw. The emphasis is on the robots. And here, the animals, the very poorly CGI animated animals... they shouldn't have been the draw. Yet they kept having to stay as animals because of the energon deposits. It was uh, it was dumb. It was a dumb move.
Then there's the plot of aliens trying to destroy the Earth. They're called the Vog, I believe. Right off the bat, I'm sorry but the whole second moon revealed to be a deadly sphere of planet busting doom... cmon. Way to ripoff the Death Star. That's just what it was. And that's a staggering lack of imagination there. I can't respect that. Then you had that earlier episode where the Vog's... how should I describe it? The "Giant island with that one tall tower in the middle?" Yea, that giant island thing that flew around everywhere running into mountains and trees and shit? That was kinda silly. It was a silly thing, watching this island flying around the sky and causing all kinds of hijinks. It was something to see. The whole Vog plotline struck me as some writers basically wanting to tell their own scifi story but doing it in a Transformers show. Me, I'm interested in watching the conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons. I don't need some other story about a completely separate alien race. For me, the draw's in the fight between the two Cybertronian factions, the Vog thing was an unwelcome distraction from there.
Then there's the weird Transmetal bullshit. Hasbro wanted to sell more toys, of course. So they came up with this shitty Transmetal phenomenon where a lot of the transformers suddenly got transformed and became metallic animals. It just looked godawful and silly. I forget, but it was some lame bullshit explanation about energy waves and uh... yea, Transmetal. But ya know, that wasn't even the worst part about Transmetal. The worst part was how they added a second toyline called Fuzor. This was a freakish mix of different animal species into one robot with transmetal. The one example I remember vividly was Silverbolt, who was this ridiculous wolf/hawk hybrid. Just looked fucking retarded. I can't believe they decided that was a good idea. Who the hell thinks a half wolf half hawk abomination looks good? Or a T-Rex with silly helo rotors on either hip? I don't get it. I just... I just don't get what the hell they were going for.
Then there's the weird Transformers romance. I'm not a fan of that whole Black Arachnia/Silverbolt romance they had going. Or the hawk lady and the tiger robot. It's just weird. I mean, these are cybertronian robots, they have no genitals, they have no sexual reproduction, they can't fuck each other. So the idea of them being romantic with one another, it's not one I welcome.
Then there's the strange attempt to tie into G1 continuity. At the beginning of the series, I figured that this was going to be in a separate continuity. Sorta like Elseworlds for DC Comics. Just completely new and in a parallel universe. That made sense, since they changed the Autobots to Maximals and Decepticons to Predacons. And now Optimus Prime was called Optimus Primal, because he's a gorilla and that means he's primal and all. Get it? Do you get it? Cause a gorilla is primal? There's like, a primal instinct? Get it? Do you get the clever wordplay involved here? Are you guys getting this? Do you see what they did there? Do you see it? It's awesome, right?
And Megatron was Megatron, because they couldn't come up with any sort of animal wordplay to jam in there. So it seemed very clear this was a new universe and continuity. Fine, whatever. But then it seemed that about halfway through the show, they suddenly changed their minds and tried to tie it all back into G1. To get us to believe that all along, this was actually a part of G1. So they showed us the Ark, with all the original G1 transformers onboard. They did an episode with Starcream's soul or some bullshit. And they ended the series with the resurrection of the Nemesis.
Now, this doesn't fly with me. No, I'm sorry, I don't buy it. Why the fuck would the two leaders in this show be called Optimus Primal and Megatron, when there's already an Optimus Prime and Megatron? They just happened to land on the planet Earth with the names Optimus Primal and Megatron, where there was already an Optimus Prime and Megatron? Really, that's just a crazy coincidence? Yea, no thank you. I don't buy your bullshit, Hasbro. That just doesn't work for me.