Season 3 Changes

.....Few seasons of television are as ugly visually as that of the third season of The Transformers. With AKOM thrust into the role as the primary animators of the series (with other episodes being handled by Toei and what is assumed to be TMS for "Call of the Primitives"), things fell apart. Furthering the difficulties were the almost total elimination of re-takes. So, suffice to say, the third season presents few opportunities for Rhino and Shout! Factory to alter things.

"Five Faces of Darkness" Part 1-two changes (verified using FHE's "Five Faces of Darkness" tape)
Change #1-:01

Description: Despite airing with a special and unique variation of the Season 3 credits, the broadcast masters of most episodes of "Five Faces of Darkness" in Hasbro's possession feature the normal version of the opening.

Change #2-21:46

Description: Ignoring Rhino's font and layout issues for a moment, they got the end of this episode right with the "To Be Continued..." text as the episode faded to black. Shout! Factory's producer, Brian Ward, claims the master they have ended with a freeze frame, which led to the change. However, unless their master is from the Powermaster Prime re-runs, I don't see how that could be.

"Five Faces of Darkness" Part 2-two changes (verified using FHE's "Five Faces of Darkness" tape)
Change #1-:01

Change #2-21:48

Description: See Part 1.

"Five Faces of Darkness" Part 3-two changes (verified using FHE's "Five Faces of Darkness" tape and Rhino's Season 3, Part 1 DVD set)
Change #1-:01

Description: While Part 3 features the correct video on Shout! Factory's set, the audio is from the standard Season 3 opening. Oddly, Part 3 on the Rhino set featured the correct video and audio for this episode's open.

Change #2-7:16

Description: You would think that Rhino had gotten this out of their system with the first set. But nope, gotta fix those errors that aired. Yes, the broadcast version features a Decepticon-to-Autobot transition, which is rather incorrect, unless you care to consider Marissa Faireborn (the third season's reference to Flint Dille's favorite G.I. Joe characters, Flint and Lady Jaye) as being evil. Though technically, the broadcast transition is opposite what it should have been, since the other side opens with Blurr and Wheelie being hounded by the Decepticons-the sort of thing that usually follows the Decepticon half of a transition.

"Five Faces of Darkness" Part 4-one change (verified using FHE's "Five Faces of Darkness" tape)
Change #1-:01

Description: See Part 1.

"Five Faces of Darkness" Part 5-one change and three variations (verified using FHE's "Five Faces of Darkness" tape and Rhino's Season 3, Part 1 DVD set)
Change #1-:01

Description: As with Part 3, the special opening features the audio for the regular Season 3 intro.

Variation #1-9:47

Description: For no real reason, the shot of Blitzwing eavesdropping on the Quintessons' plans (and thereby sealing his doom as a character on the show) freezes for an additional moment in Rhino's version, but not in the FHE cassette, which throws off the audio in the tape.

Variation #2-19:15



Variation #3-21:24

Description: These two moments feature freezes and changes to the soundtrack which totally throw off the audio synchronization in the FHE tape (much like the earlier bit with Blitzwing).

"The Killing Jar"-two changes (verified using Rhino's Volume 8, "Evil Experiment")
Change #1-5:10

Description: Despite being tipped off to a number of errors in this episode, Shout! Factory missed this one, wherein Lippo the Clown's lips literally jump off his face while speaking (laying bare the animation cheat used in this shot).

Change #2-5:40

Description: The rather ugly close-up of the Quintesson was replaced with a stock shot from earlier in the episode (and used twice, in fact) in the broadcast version. Since this shot is used later in the episode when the Sharkticon is not next to the Quintesson, it's safe to assume that this was a change for continuity purposes.

Change #3-7:05

Description: While Shout! Factory fixed a botched before-and-after shot in "The Key to Vector Sigma" Part 2, they didn't fix this obvious error that they were told about on their message boards.

Change #4-13:41

Description: It's pretty obvious why this re-take was ordered.

Change #5-20:15

Description: In the original take (which is referenced in the various Transformers wikis as being an aired error), Cyclonus' mouth moves to the sound of the Quintesson scientist's voice.

"Chaos"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Dark Awakening"no changes and one variation (verified using Rhino's Volume 2, "Revenge of the Decepticons" and the Season 3, Part 1 DVD set)
Variation #1-21:42

Description: When produced, "Dark Awakening" was intended as the "final word" on Optimus Prime, and a key piece in the season-long storyline where Rodimus Prime deals with his new roles as leader of the Autobots. (Ironically, writer Antoni Zalewski would also have the final word on Scarlett's-and G.I. Joe's-dignity in writing the infamously bad DIC-era G.I. Joe episode, "Chunnel".) However, when the reaction to Transformers: The Movie reached a fever pitch (enough to be featured as one of the many jokes in the studio's 1986 Christmas video), the decision was made rather hastily to have him come back (and, in a bit of damage control, the first news of the decision essentially became a commercial bumper for a number of episodes). "Dark Awakening", being an episode with Prime, was therefore chosen by Marv Wolfman and Cherie Wilkerson as the springboard for their story, and a special narration by Victor Caroli was prepared for an airing the day before "The Return of Optimus Prime" Part 1's premiere. While Rhino's DVD set (and the primary bootleg source in the '90s) used the narration, Rhino's video tape and the new Shout! Factory set used the audio from the original airing. Why this episode couldn't have both audio tracks remains a total mystery.

"Starscream's Ghost"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Thief in the Night"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Forever Is A Long Time Coming"-no changes and one variation (verified using Rhino's Volume 5, "Return to Cybertron" and Sci-Fi Channel re-broadcast)
Variation #1-3:44

Description: Now here's an odd one. Rhino's VHS release has a shot of Perceptor and Blaster sloppily plastered over part of Ramhorn wondering where everyone went. However, the Sci-Fi rerun in my possession (which is one of the few smartly edited Season 3 episodes that simply removed the Historical Trailer) matches the episode as featured on the DVD. Obviously, someone at Rhino toyed with the VHS transfer, or was attempting to cover up some damage that cropped up after Sci-Fi Channel had their way with the series.

"Surprise Party"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Madman's Paradise"-no changes (verified using Rhino's Volume 9, "Grimlock the Hero")
"Carnage in C-Minor"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Fight or Flee"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Ghost in the Machine"-no changes (verified using Rhino's Volume 11, "The Decepticon Possession")
"The Dweller in the Depths"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Nightmare Planet"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"The Ultimate Weapon"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"The Quintesson Journal"-one change (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
Change #1-18:29

Description: This smells like a Hasbro-ordered change. Hasbro management, specifically then-company head Stephen Hassenfeld, was concerned about the horrors of war, which was why the infamous "parachuting to safety" cliché came to be on G.I. Joe after MASS aired. I'm sure that after the chilling explosion towards the end of G.I. Joe's first season episode, "The Funhouse", mushroom clouds like this one were declared to be verboten on Sunbow shows, resulting in the extreme zoom-in in the broadcast version of this episode.

"The Big Broadcast of 2006"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Only Human"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Grimlock's New Brain"-one change (verified using Rhino's Volume 9, "Grimlock the Hero")
Change #1-4:49

Description: Rodimus, Perceptor, and Grimlock all pop in out of nowhere in the original take, resulting in some judicious video editing.

"Money is Everything"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"Call of the Primitives"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"The Burden Hardest to Bear"-no changes (verification not needed-episode sourced from broadcast master)
"The Face of the Nijika"-no changes (verified using bootleg of Season 3 broadcast)
"The Return of Optimus Prime" Part 1-no changes (verified using Rhino's Volume 7, "The Return of Optimus Prime")
"The Return of Optimus Prime" Part 2-no changes (verified using Rhino's Volume 7, "The Return of Optimus Prime")
"The Rebirth" Part 1-no changes (verification not needed-episode sourced from broadcast master)
"The Rebirth" Part 2-no changes (verification not needed-episode sourced from broadcast master)
"The Rebirth" Part 3-no changes (verification not needed-episode sourced from broadcast master)

Notes: It speaks far less of Rhino's remastering abilities than of the budget crunch at Sunbow in 1986 that only four episodes (six if you are counting the Shout! Factory-related issues) after The Movie have differences in their DVD incarnation, not counting the opening and end credits (the latter because of a change in the animation of Kup running in place partway through the season). To make these last 33 episodes whole, 2 video edits, 5 re-takes, one changed transition, 2 "To Be Continued..." tags (present on the original DVDs, mind you), and 5 intros need to be fixed. And, with the exception of "The Quintesson Journal", all the affected episodes have been released on video or DVD intact.

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