4 Mar 2015

Transformers RID (2015) Season 1 Episode 5 Review

Better late than never (unless you hate me, in which case, that's mean), here's my review of Transformers Robots in Disguise (still bucking the trend of using a semi-colon) episode five, W.W.O.D.? ("What Would Optimus Do?")
! Yes, the title is a play on the old "What Would Jesus Do?" saying/acronym/whatever, but frankly, I don't think Jesus could create a show this good. Sorry man, but I think you should stick to carpentry or turning water into wine.

In all seriousness (which means "not a lot"), this review is a little later than I had hoped, but yesterday turned out to be "SNES Repair Day". Long story short, my Super Nintendo is alive and well, but as old hardware goes, it still needs some tweaking (which is my excuse for "I dun goofed up my modification").

As a quick aside, I've decided not to review Shuriken Sentai Ninninger because I'm already reviewing two episodes of RID a week and am trying to get some other personal projects done in-between, as well as trying to work on a hopefully great video for YouTube, so I don't have a lot of time to do another review. However, I will most likely review whatever new Kamen Rider show comes out later this year because by then, we'll hopefully be on a break from Transformers (not that I exactly want one, but I assume that will be the case and will give me some breathing room).

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

But for now, let's get to the important part - the review! As usual, don't forget that this will contain spoilers of all kinds, so proceed after the jump with caution.

Bumblebee, Bumblebee, Bumblebee. He's definitely the focus this episode and, clearly, the entire show is putting emphasis on him. Bumblebee was no one's first choice for leader... except Hasbro's, mainly because money. You'd expect another pointless Bumblebee but as I have been saying since Robots in Disguise started, this Bumblebee is great, with this episode being far from the exception.
We get to witness Bumblebee as he tries to act like Optimus Prime. First it's just the voice, then he adds the body language, and finally, he adds the inspirational team speeches. Now, this all feels very forced and very silly, but it works because of that. The rest of the team just look and laugh because it is that stupid.
Throughout the episode, Bumblebee tries to lead his team successfully, but they keep doing stupid stuff instead, such as Sideswipe's "wet willy" (a name which I despise, but let's be honest: everyone knows what I'm talking about), which ends with Strongarm taking him down into a submission hold (I played a lot of WWE on PS2, okay?) and Grimlock cheering her on. I find it interesting that she only says Sideswipe "stuck his finger in [her] audio receptor", when there's clearly a "squish" sound when it's done, and Sideswipe is showing putting his finger in his mouth beforehand (do Transformers have saliva now? Maybe it's oil).
Fitting then, that he ends up saving Strongarm from the tower of old, rusty pinball machines that Sideswipe climbed up and knocked over, only to end up with a pinball in his mouth (which seems far, far too big).
The reason I bring this up, actually, is because of Denny. I have more to say on Denny later, but this particular scene is also the start of something else which comprises most of what I'll be talking about about with this episode: weird problems that make no sense. Don't get me wrong - I liked the episode, but when the pinball machines come crashing down and Denny seems upset about one in particular (despite them all looking identical), he then seems very happy pre-opening sequence when Bumblebee somehow gets one million points by spitting out the pinball into the machine.

There really isn't much point in beating around the bush: this episode is all about Bumblebee, so I'm just going to get all of his moments out of the way. I've already mentioned multiple times that I think Bumblebee is basically Hot Rod from Generation One, although a more apt comparison would be to Rodimus Prime. Still, when Bumblebee is trying to act like Optimus Prime during this episode, there are a few times when a little of Hot Rod's ego sticks out, and it's a nice touch.
Probably the best part of the comparison to Rodimus is that the show basically acknowledges this, with a wink and a nudge. When Optimus Prime shows himself to Bumblebee ("reflected" in an elevator door, of all things), Optimus says to him "Bumblebee, you are not me". Of course, when Optimus Prime goes to elaborate, he is cut off, but it's clear to me that the writers are well aware of Rodimus Prime trying to be Optimus and failing, so they're basically telling us "look, we know Bumblebee isn't Optimus, and he's not going to try to be Optimus. He's going to be his own character and will become a leader that isn't trying to fill someone else's shoes".
I like this, because it makes me excited to see what they have planned for Bumblebee. I think it will be worth the wait.
It should be noted that if the title of the episode (W.W.O.D.? i.e. What Would Optimus Do?) doesn't make sense to you by now, you either haven't watched the episode or were paying less attention than I was when I watched it the first time (and I had a good reason for being distracted VACCUM CLEANER SCUM). Optimus Prime seems to be at the beck and call of the Primes, although what kind of being he now is, exactly, is still unclear. It seems his "reflection" appearances are still only viewable by Bumblebee, though, so to see Denny and Russell watching Bumblebee talk to an elevator is pretty amusing.
By the end of the episode, Bumblebee has devised a plan to save the day, and his team actually listens. There's no quick resolution here, though - much like Strongarm and Sideswipe's "resolution" at the end of Trust Exercises not stopping their squabbling in later episodes, Bumblebee still has a long journey ahead of him. This was but a small step. His plan, however, involved a certain Decepticon and... cowboys.

I'll just say it: I've never cared for cowboys. Cowboys do nothing for me, but I don't hate them. They just don't excite me. I've never been into Westerns and although I like the concept, few shows or games that even touch on the genre actually made me like the setting. Robots in Disguise didn't exactly change my mind, but it didn't make me hate Westerns either.
Somehow, humans have found a stasis pod, which they transported to the "Crown City Museum of Natural History and Sciences". This is the beginning of an onslaught of problems (see what I did there?) that occur during W.W.O.D.?
First of all, that thing is obviously heavy, what with a huge Decepticon in there and all, so they must have had to do some heavy lifting... which is fine, but if it's as alien as the journalist is letting on, then shouldn't that thing have been locked up by the government and hidden away, instead of sitting around in a museum with a bunch of scientists probably not qualified to deal with alien tech?
Then we have Russell and Denny, who dress up are archaeologists to gain entrance to the museum. Their rapport is great, even if it is very much of the father-son variety.
Denny is clearly homaging Indiana Jones, but as for Russell... Look, I've never actually seen much of Indiana Jones. That damn song plays so often that it puts me off watching the films. I'll get around to it eventually, but my point is, I know Indiana Jones has a boy with him in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and yet I didn't know his name. All I knew was that Russell was an homage to him. "Him" being "Short Round". Apparently, that is his name. I just checked the Transformers Wiki because I was feeling lazy. So there you go - Russell is homaging "Short Round". Weird name.
Right here, we have another problem: the museum staff seem so enamoured with Denny and Russell's tale, that they let them into the museum without supervising them nor checking their credentials. You'd think the staff would want to show these two around if they are indeed famous. You'd think they'd want to check to see if these two are who they claim to be and that their offer is genuine. You wouldn't expect the staff to let Denny and Russell wander around, eventually getting to the back of the building where they can, all by themselves, open the garage door at the back (which seems quite small for a big museum that probably has large items coming and going), then set off the fire alarm without anyone noticing any of this.

It gets worse. Everyone at the museum apparently cleared out extremely fast. Usually, you'd have a couple of staff, at the least, hang around to make sure everyone got out okay. You'd also expect a fire alarm in a museum to, oh I don't know, alert the firemen. Perhaps they just said "you know what, I don't feel like fighting fires today", or maybe they stopped for lunch on the way there. Whatever the case, Denny eventually just turns the fire alarm off and everything appears to go back to normal.
Oh, but it gets even worse. I probably should have mentioned our new Decepticon by now (Terrashock, a Buffaloid, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson who voiced Bulkhead in Transformers Prime), but he's fairly shallow as far as characters go.
I like Terrashock's design, I like his voice, and I think he's insanely dumb, almost to the point where it feels stupid just how dumb he is. Terrashock isn't, in all honesty, very important in this episode.
The things that make no sense, though, seem important to me. Things such as how Terrashock was taken out of stasis without killing a bunch of people or even seeing another human (which he hints at when he asks Russell "what are you?") - or perhaps he did, but you'd think they would have evacuated long before Denny set off the fire alarm if there was a giant, alien robot killing innocent people.
Jumping back a little, what about the part where they chuck a tarp on Grimlock to conceal him when going into the city, when in the previous episodes, they refused to take him with them because he'd stand out too much, even though they weren't even going into the city? Okay, a t-rex going to a museum, sure, but have you ever seen a t-rex that looked like Grimlock? Don't answer that, because if you've ever seen a real t-rex, the government will probably be coming after you.
Seriously though, even if "we have a t-rex for the museum" was a viable cover story this time, why wasn't it one before? Because they weren't going to the museum? It doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.
Speaking of not making sense, blowing a hole in the front of the museum with giant robots, one of whom turns into a vehicle and drives away, is apparently pretty normal, or at least can be explained away by saying they're animatronic. Yeah, sure.
Then on the highway, they pretend it's some kind of car show, presumably like a demolition derby but with transforming vehicles instead of completely destroyed ones. None of this makes any sense. Who is dumb enough to believe any of these cover stories? Terrashock, maybe, and probably only Terrashock.

I know I mainly pointed out the flaws in this episode, at least so far, but I did actually enjoy it a lot. It just seems there were a lot of liberties taken with common sense (although the highway scene feels like it was a tongue-in-cheek stab at the first live-action movie). Writing felt a little sloppy, is all, and I hope that doesn't become a trend, because this was the only episode so far to have any major problems that stuck out to me.
Enough of the negatives - let's discuss some of the positives. I've already mentioned Bumblebee a lot, so I'll just leave it at "Bumblebee is awesome" and go from there. Sideswipe and Strongarm continue to have a great rapport, with a relationship that consists mainly of immature bickering and creates some golden moments of the show. Strongarm didn't quote rules and regulations this time (not strictly, anyway), and that's a major bonus.
Fixit doesn't do a lot this episode (I guess his screen time was all used up last episode), but we get the annoying speech glitch again. I didn't want to mention episode five during the episode four review, but I got close to it because of this: Fixit's vocal tic finally graduates from a stupidly annoying thing to him just saying the wrong word twice before getting the word correct. This time, he isn't glitching out. He literally just says the wrong word twice. If they absolutely insist on this awful gimmick, then the least they can do is make it convincing, because in episode five, it has already become the least convincing of the all the stupid gimmicks out there (which isn't true, but emphasis, man).
God only knows what the hell Fixit's "rag cloth" is, though. I shudder to think what he actually uses that for. Poor Strongarm.
Denny is still solid. He's keen and eager to help, and he does a good job. I enjoyed his line about having a good partner, which he delivered whilst looking at Bumblebee (who had just helped them out) but with Russell beside him. Russell, of course, didn't listen to what his father told him to do but still thinks he was the good partner (hint: it was actually Bumblebee), and the two basically have their own "team" problems (the father-son relationship. If you are a man, then you already know all about this), with Denny being in very much the same position as Bumblebee.
Russell continues to be a great character, though. I say great because damn, that kid is smart. I don't need to spell it out for you if you've already seen the episode, though. You really need to see it to understand why Russell is a good character.

I've rambled for long enough, so that's basically it for this episode, but first, one final talking point:

If you've already seen the episode in English (at this point in time, since it has only aired in Australia and New Zealand as of writing), you will have seen a different opening (or none at all, if you watched it on Cartoon Network). For the unaware, I wanted to explain what happened. See, someone over at Cartoon Network (or maybe it was Polygon Pictures who do the animation, or perhaps someone else involved with editing and/or producing) decided that the intro should be cut from this episode.
Okay, I don't exactly know what happened, but the first two minutes of the episode is the entirety of the pre-credits (opening credits, that is) sequence, at which point, the show is meant to cut to black for half a second or so, then the intro begins. Except that's not what happened in this episode.
Instead, it cuts to black, then repeats the first two minutes. After that, the episode continued. Then, at the end of the episode when the credits show up, Cartoon Network thought it'd be a good idea to overlay an ad for new episodes of Adventure Time (as if that show needs more publicity) which, unsurprisingly, was the show that aired following RID both times it was broadcast on Sunday, which meant that the credits were obscured for the majority of the time (in particular, the voice actors, the list of which is the most dynamic part of the credits, making it the worst part to obscure).
To this end, someone sourced both credits sequences from the Chinese version that aired a few months ago and spliced them into episode five. The end result is noticeably different watermarks (not "CN" watermark from Cartoon Network. Boohoo) but otherwise, the end credits remain identical (they're still in English, ironically).
The opening, however, is a little different, as there are no vocals and it is longer. I personally prefer the intro without the vocals although after many years of watching Transformers, I'm used to having vocals. I think it sounds better without them this time, though, but it still feels weird.
Now, this intro was apparently used in every episode of the Chinese version. There is also a music-less version of the intro that was aired with episode eleven, and a version with the vocals that was aired with another episode or more, the numbers of which I'm unsure. If Cartoon Network screws up again, perhaps we'll get the full intro with vocals next time. Else, it'll just be the regularly credits. I'm sure it would have been easier to use the regular intro from the English broadcast, but at the time, someone incorrectly presumed the full intro started with episode five and would have been there had Cartoon Network (or somebody else) butchered it.

Alrighty then, that's all, folks! Thanks for joining me for another episode review and stay tuned for this week's episodes (As the Kospego Commands! and Collect 'Em All). Don't forget to check back after they've aired for my next two reviews, and if you enjoyed this, please share it with your friends. Y'all come back now, ya hear?

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