3 Mar 2015

Transformers RID (2015) Season 1 Episode 4 Review

I hate birthdays. I HATE them. Family, too. At least my profile information is correct now, though. But anyway, that's all another subject. What you're here for is Transformers, not self-loathing!

In all seriousness, yesterday was chaotic. Thank every god ever that it's over. Now I finally have time (kind of?) to write a couple more reviews. I've given myself this obligation, so I should stick to it. I considered doing both episodes together like I did for the premiere, but the pilot was two parts, whereas these are two separate stories, so they're going to be separate reviews.

I've had no time for video editing (well, other than the obvious, at least to certain people), so I have yet to throw up something new on YouTube, but since the video I was preparing requires way too much work for what was a spur-of-the-moment look at a video game console power supply that I blew up (I'm sorry, V-Saturn, I promise you'll live again~), I've decided just to scrap it and jump straight into working on something more exciting. With any luck, I'll start working on it tomorrow. It should at least prove amusing if you like weird Japanese video games (or if you hate them, too).
Oh, by the way, I dropped the segment name, because I think it's dumb (and makes the already-long title longer). Let me know if you want it back. Until then, it can sit in a corner and think about what it has done.

Fixit from Transformers Robots in Disguise (2015)
Image by Hasbro Studios via Transformers.com

But now, it's time for the review. Don't forget, there are spoilers ahead, so join me after the break only if you're prepared!

Episode four, More than Meets the Eye, introduces us to two new Decepticons, but unlike last time, they're both captured in this episode. Whether or not any of them who have been captured will pop up later on, I'm not sure, but I hope so, for Bisk's sake. That's right - Bisk finally shows up. Most everyone knows about him by now, since he's the one we've seen probably the most of in trailers. Ironically fitting, then, that he has the least amount of screen time out of any Decepticon so far. When the episode begins, the Autobots already know who he is, and don't take long to take him down.
There are a couple of dialogue exchanges between Bisk and the Autobots that I found interesting and wanted to mention.
The first is Bisk's bragging about beating four Autobots, which is corrected by Bumblebee who tells Bisk that Grimlock is actually a Dinobot. Now, at this point in the show, Grimlock is still running around with Decepticon insignias on him, which I find quite amusing, but instead of saying that he was a Decepticon, Bumblebee defaulted to his sub-faction. My assumption is that this is simply respect for Grimlock, pointing out that he is no longer a Decepticon but he isn't quite an Autobot yet, and yet he's still strong and dangerous.
The second line of dialogue that I wanted to mention was Bisk's claim - after Bumblebee corrected him (three Autobots, not four) - that he could still get even. Get even for what? Did they kick his butt three times before? That seems like an awful lot if it was off-screen. What about three captured Decepticons? Nope, only Underbite and Hammerstrike so far, with Bisk being the third. Maybe there's something I missed both times I watched it, but I have no idea what Bisk was referring to when he said that.
Oh, by the way, in case it needs to be said, Bisk is hilarious. Apparently, he's got some video game theme going on. It's only loosely brought up by Bumblebee, as well as Bisk's half-assed attempt at referencing the Konami Code (which was funny, but could have been a little more accurate. I guess the reference was going for more "generic video game talk" than "Konami Code reference", but anyone who is familiar with the Konami Code most likely assumed that's what the reference was).
Anyway, I love Bisk. I want more of him, because we hardly saw any of him. He never transformed, so it's a possibility. Bisk is voiced by Khary Payton (Grimlock), with the two voices being quite different, so that's welcome.

Now let's talk about the bulk of the episode and, indeed, the other Decepticon. I like to think of the theme for this episode as "the little guys", because Fixit and Russell get some time to shine and shine they do.
I love Fixit. He seems like that friend who you know is kind of annoying but he's very loyal and kind and you could never find it in yourself to hurt him in any way. I'll say it again: I believe Fixit is a legitimately hilarious character. Someone needs to put a stop to the speech glitching gimmick, though, because it's already old and annoying and uncreative. As I've said before, his vocal tic is predictable. At this point, it's not even clever, because it feels forced. He doesn't stutter or go bonkers. He just says two wrong words, then says the correct one. That isn't clever, and it needs to end. Other than that, though, Fixit is great. He's also, arguably, the hero on this episode. More on that soon, but first...

Russell is one of the humans. Yeah, I know it and you know it, so there's no need for me to point it out, except for the fact that in a show called "Transformers", we want giant, alien robots beating each other up instead of worrying about humans. Humans are boring. Well, someone's trying really hard to make these humans likeable and all-round good characters, and they're not doing too badly.
Russell mentions having friends in the city at the beginning of the episode, so that adds to my suspicion that we'll be seeing something more of the city in the future, as far as how it relates to Russell and his father Denny.
However, Russell makes some new friends this episode, and that's quite enjoyable. Okay, they don't all get names, and only two of them get to even talk - specifically, Hank (who has a voice actor that has yet to play any other role in the show, and is definitely not of the Hill variety) and Butch (voiced by Mitchell Whitfield a.k.a Fixit).
Still, they make a few jokes about names (Butch tells Russell what Hank's real name is (Henrietta) and Hank tells Russell that Butch's real name is Cynthia, the latter of which is obviously a joke), and they appear to become fast friends... kind of. They play football (the one where they don't use their feet much. The American one, that is. Not rugby. It's sports, I don't care, moving on).
There's not much to really say other than that. There's some character growth and Russell has a little girlfriend which is adorable (okay, okay, I know it isn't "official", but I promise you that Tumblr is exploding over it already. I refuse to visit Tumblr).

What about more Transformers, though? Well, good thing you asked (or did you?), because our Decepticon of the week is a combiner! Going into this episode, I had no idea that Chop Shop (voiced by David Hunt) would be in it (sometimes being unspoiled is worth it), and was pleasantly surprised by him at first glance. Little did I know that he could split into five creatures, though. That was pretty awesome to see, to be honest.
Now, there's some debate as to whether Chop Shop is comprised of five spiders or five ants. I initially thought it was five spiders, but it's hard to tell, to be honest. Each creature has six legs, plus two "arms". If you count the arms (which look pretty much like the rest of each component's legs, but are rarely - if ever - used as legs) as extra legs that Chop Shop just uses as arms, then each component would have eight legs and therefore be spiders of some description. If, however, they're actually mandibles used as arms, then they'd be ants... or something like an ant (from what I understand, this isn't unheard of - I believe insects and bugs (apparently they're different things) can use their mandibles to essentially pull stuff towards them, such as food. I guess it's a bit like grabbing food with your mouth and not touching it with your hands - it's doable, and can be useful, but it's probably not the best idea).
But no one really cares about that, do they? I'm personally more interested in Chop Shop's accent. He's... he's British. I don't know if it suits him or not but it's growing on me. Someone said he's basically a common British burglar, and I think this fits his character perfectly. He's got the right accent and speech patterns, and he's definitely a thief... who apparently knows how to build a rocket. Chop Shop is interesting in so many ways, so I hope we get to see more of him again in the future.

Before I move on, I want to talk a little bit about Chop Shop in more depth, primarily to raise a few questions that will hopefully be answered later on in the show's run.
Chop Shop is a combiner, but not in the traditional sense. His robot mode is his combined form, each spider (or ant or crocodile or giraffe or whatever) looks the same and yet there are three different "robot" modes for them (leg, arm, torso), each arm seems to have a pre-determined function so that they can't swap places (although this is only an assumption, since we haven't seen much of this gimmick, and replacing his "lost" arm with, say, a leg would be pretty pointless), and each individual component appears to be a different being.
The individual being part is what strikes me the most. Chop Shop is clearly the torso spider... thing. You never hear his voice come from the other four, and he talks to them as if they are individuals. Whilst they follow his orders, they do indeed seem to possess their own intelligence separate from Chop Shop. On the whole, Chop Shop as a concept is such a unique take on combiners and one that I want the show to explore more. Chop Shop gets an "Evil British Badass" out of ten from me.

Touching on Fixit one more time, we get to see Chop Shop use him as an arm when he can't get to Righty (thanks, Strongarm). This was hilarious, and a great callback (whether intentional or not) to the Japanese-exclusive G1 OVA, Scramble City: Mobilisation (I literally just learnt it had a subtitle). However, unlike in Scramble City, where Wildrider connecting to Superion was enough to screw over Superion, Fixit is controlled by Chop Shop. This honestly makes more sense to me than one out of five causing trouble, although I guess the idea there was that it's a foreign element being introduced (similar to a virus). Of course, Fixit eventually fights back, getting to then brag to Grimlock about how he beat the stuffing out of Chop Shop (and he totally did). Go Fixit!

This episode was a lot of fun, although I don't feel it was as strong as last week's Trust Exercises.For now, let's tie up some loose ends with a handful of quick notes.
First, Strongarm. In all honesty, I'm just not into Strongarm. Her constant "rules and regulations" spiel is starting to annoy me. I really hope they put an end to it. It seems that the rest of the cast mostly ignore her or shut her up when she starts talking that way, so there's hope yet, particularly for an episode or even a whole story arc where they could potentially do a "coming of age" story. Her bickering with Sideswipe is still great, though, and the two just work together. The show tends to hint at them being about the same age as each other, so that probably helps character dynamics. They definitely feel like they're approximately the same age, whereas the other characters feel quite different, age-wise.
We can't go an episode without mentioning Denny so um... let's mention Denny! As I said last week, I like Denny, and I believe that as long as his presence is strong, regular but not too frequent, he'll be a nicely-written father character who isn't overdone. Sound familiar?
Grimlock is like a big baby. He's just a ton of fun. I'm surprised by just how much G1 Grimlock I can see in him, especially when I went into this show ready to hate Grimlock more than anyone else (including the humans). That's all I really wanted to say about Grimlock this week... and of course, the fact that he does the best Kool-Aid Man reference EVER. Funny how I've got to know about Kool-Aid man through all the references, yet we never actually had Kool-Aid in New Zealand (to my knowledge, anyway) so I never saw the original ad(s).
Finally, Bumblebee (sorry Sideswipe, you didn't do much this episode apart from being cool again). I find it amusing that Bumblebee tells Sideswipe and Strongarm to radio as soon as they find the Decepticon, and yet he finds Chop Shop first but doesn't call the other two. Bumblebee seems to think he's stronger than he actually is, and that's not a bad thing. He still has to grow into the role of the leader, which appears to be a big part of the story for this show. RID's Bumblebee ranks up there with G1 and Animated, at least for me, so I'm glad they're doing a good job with him. He's a strong character with an excellent voice actor. Oh, and he gets some awesome spotlight... next time!

That's right, this is it for episode four: More than Meets the Eye! Join me again tomorrow for the review of episode five. Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this review, why not click all those sharing buttons below? I don't even know how many of those services I've signed up to, but I'm going to try it myself~

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