"More Than Meets the Eye" Part I
Written By George Arthur Bloom

"The north side of Cybertron is blacker than the inside of a drive shaft."

Synopsis

....."Many millions of years ago, on the planet Cybertron, life existed. But not life as we know it today. Intelligent robots that could think, and feel, inhabited the cities. They were called Autobots....and Decepticons. But the brutal Decepticons were driven by a single goal: total domination. They set out to destroy the peace-loving Autobots, and a war between the forces of good and evil raged across Cybertron; devastating all in its path, draining the planet's once rich sources of energy. The Autobots, on the verge of extinction, battle valiantly to survive...."

     Wheeljack and Bumblebee conclude their mission to find energy for the Autobots with conductors that could "barely last a quartex", as Wheeljack puts it. Heading back to Iacon, the two Autobots are met by a Decepticon garrison, led by Skywarp, Thundercracker, and a Starscream lookalike. In the chase that ensues after a short standoff, Bumblebee is shot in his rear axle, and Wheeljack goes underground as Skywarp and Thundercracker report to Megatron on their encounter.
     Wheeljack and Bumblebee make it to Iacon, but unknown to them, they have been observed by Soundwave, who is disguised as one of the statues outside the Autobot Headquarters. Soundwave dispatches Laserbeak to spy on the Autobots, and is interrupted when one of the other Autobots arrives at Iacon. Continuing his observation, Laserbeak finds out that the arriving Autobot, Jazz, has scouted the north side of the planet, and has found nothing. Autobot Leader Optimus Prime decides that a new source of energy must be found, or the war will never be won by either side. Therefore, the Autobots must embark on a search mission. Having heard enough, Soundwave and Laserbeak leave and return to Decepticon Headquarters.
     At the Decepticons' base, Megatron is echoing Prime, declaring that his side must be the first to find a new source of energy. Soundwave arrives and reports the Autobots' status, and Megatron decides that they will follow the Autobots and places Shockwave in command of the Decepticons' Cybertonian forces while he is away, and predicts the end of Optimus Prime. Starscream disagrees, declaring that the Autobots would have lost long ago had he been in control. Scoffing, Megatron declares that Starscream is not one of the "select few" who will lead. "My time will come, Megatron!" declares Starscream. 
....."Never," announces Megatron. "Never! Prepare to blast off!"

     Later, the great dome of Iacon retracts as the Autobots leave the planet. Following them (but not observed) are the Decepticons. Soon after taking off, both ships are greeted by a meteor shower caused by two colliding asteroids. The shower masks the presence of the Decepticons' ship, so Megatron is able to stage a sneak attack after the Autobots have blasted through the storm with the ship's main laser cannon. The ensuing struggle continues until an ominous lurch shakes the ship. Both ships have drifted into the gravitational pull of a small planet. Unfortunately, Prime is unable to restore control of the Autobots' ship, and both ships are sent flying, with the Autobots and Decepticons sent flying into a volcano.....

     Four million years pass. An eruption of the volcano, called Mt. St. Hillary on the planet "Earth", awakens the computer system of the wrecked Autobot starship. The computer sends out a scout, which surveys the area, looking for new forms for the Transformers to assume. Reaching an Air Force base in the vicinity, it scans a F-15 and sends the data to Teletraan 1, which repairs Skywarp. Instinctively, Skywarp places Megatron into the repair area, and the two place the other Decepticons under the repair beam, and the group hastily exits the Autobot vessel.


 "It must exist. And if this land is filled with resources, we shall return home with the power to build the Ultimate Weapon.....and, conquer the universe."

     On an overhang above the entrance to the Autobots' ship, Megatron reminds the Decepticons of their mission, and assures Skywarp that Cybertron still exists. Before leaving, Starscream begins to pelt the mountain with blasts from his weapon, prompting Megatron to tell his second in command not to waste his energy. After one more taunt and a few laser blasts, he does so.
     However, Starscream's final blast triggers an almost unbelievable chain of events: part of the overhang is destroyed, causing it to collide with their deactivated foes' ship. Amazingly, the tremors caused by this collision throw Optimus Prime into the path of the repair beam, and he is repaired and given a new form, that of a tractor trailer. The Autobots live again.
.....As Prime presumably allows Teletraan 1 to repair the other Autobots, the Decepticons select a new base of operations. Essentially a Transformer-sized rockpile, the area is barren and has no signs of life, save one. A small strip of buildings in the distance are what Soundwave suggests that Starscream use for raw materials, and the two, accompanied by Rumble, head for the installation.
.....At Autobot Headquarters (as the wreckage of the crashed ship has become), Optimus Prime briefs Hound, Jazz, Cliffjumper, and Sideswipe about the potential for Decepticon-created problems, given how rich with resources the planet is. Prime sends Hound to investigate, and is joined by an extremely overeager Cliffjumper, who is more than ready to get in a fight.
.....Meanwhile, Starscream, Soundwave, and Rumble arrive at what turns out to be an unmanned power plant. Starscream, obviously dissatisfied with his wasted talents, complains about how he should be rightful ruler of the Decepticons, and not Megatron. Rumble, however disagrees, believing that the Decepticon leader is too powerful to be overcome. "I will find a way," declares the lieutenant thoughtfully. "Everyone has a weakness." Naturally, Rumble disagrees, but Starscream is still determined. Recommitting himself to the task at hand, Starscream orders Rumble to "shake things up a little", only to sarcastically reply how impressed he is with the performance of Soundwave's diminutive subject.
.....Afterwards, Hound discovers what he and Cliffjumper have been looking for-Decepticon Headquarters. The two watch as construction on the Decepticons' new space cruiser continues, and listen as Soundwave announces that they can store Earth's energy into Energon Cubes, and transport them back to Cybertron. Angered by Megatron's gloating, Cliffjumper pulls out the world's biggest gun, and fires directly at the enemy leader.


"I've got Megatron dead center in my viewfinder....."

.....Unfortunately, Cliffjumper misses, and the Decepticons are alerted of their presence. Soundwave dispatches Laserbeak, who gives chase. Interestingly enough, neither Hound nor Cliffjumper recognize him as they split up, with Cliffjumper followed by a simple probe, and Hound by Laserbeak himself. While the smaller Autobot gives the probe a shot of his Glass Gas, destroying the simple device, Hound is shot down by Laserbeak, who returns to base, mission successful.....

.....Some time later, the Autobot scout is rescued by Cliffjumper, Ratchet, and Hauler. Cliffjumper definitely feels guilty about having disobeyed Prime's order not to attack, but Hound lightens up his mood by pointing out that the smaller Autobot is upset at missing Megatron, not firing. The two share a short laugh, and Hauler lifts his injured comrade up out of the pit as the four return to headquarters.
.....Sometime afterwards, Reflector and Thundercracker are off on a scouting mission, discussing their surprise at the survival of the Autobots (and the greater shock of how Megatron was able to restrain himself from blowing a fuse) when Thundercracker notices a moving cloud of dust streaking by in the valley below. The three Decepticons that are Reflector merge into their other form, a camera, and quickly produce a picture of a van.

.....Upon being contacted by the scouting party, Soundwave is instructed by Megatron to release Ravage, who discovers two electrical workers examining the end result of Rumble's handiwork.


"I don't understand it, Joe. It looks like a tornado hit this place."

.....When the worker named Joe remarks that "something's wrong....real wrong," the two are almost immediately jumped by Ravage, and chased off as the jaguar-like Transformer growls warningly at the two humans.
.....At Autobot Headquarters, Ratchet continues repairs on Hound as the injured Autobot explains what he and Cliffjumper has found out about the Decepticons' plans. Seeing the seriousness of the situation, Prime orders Jazz to assemble a strike force. Within minutes, most of the Autobots have left the base in search of the Decepticons. 
.....As the Autobots begin searching, Laserbeak returns to Decepticon Headquarters with news of an energy source, much to Megatron's delight. The target: a small offshore oil rig.
.....The normal operations of the operation are quickly disrupted by the Decepticons as the human workers feebly attempt to defend the rig. Rumble decides to pick on creatures his own size as he pushes one of the humans against a wall. The worker's son, a boy name Spike, tries to stop Rumble, but is easily thrown into the sea. However, the gesture gives his father the chance to gain some leverage and go after his child.
.....Once the humans are dealt with, Megatron systematically orders Starscream to activate his Null Ray, Soundwave to begin creating Energon Cubes, and energy collection to begin.

.....As things move along with picturesque ease, Starscream takes the time to gloat over the completion of their mission, to which Megatron can only scoff in disgust as he explains just how finite this single raid is towards completing their mission.


"We did it, we did it, Megatron! The energy is ours! We can go back to Cybertron!"
"You fool, Starscream! This is but a small fraction of the energy we need. We must suck this planet Earth DRY!"

.....At that point, the overeager lieutenant notices the Autobots as the battle is joined. As a number of skirmishes develop all over the rig, Megatron and Prime spar with renewed vigor until Laserbeak can give his leader and comrades enough time to begin leaving. As a parting gift, Megatron leaves the gift that keeps on giving: a number of fusion blasts that leaves the entire rig in ruins.


"So long Prime, have a nice swim!"

.....As the Autobots struggle in the oil-encrusted water and wreckage, Prime hears the cries of help from two of the humans, and tries without success to free them before the flames approach.....


"The fire! It's coming closer!"


"I can't lift it!....Too....heavy! Grab onto me...Keep your heads above water....."

....."In the next episode of The Transformers, the evil Decepticons create a tremendous tidal wave. Optimus Prime battles his arch enemy, Megatron, high atop Sherman Dam, and Megatron discovers the Ruby Crystals of Burma, all in the next exciting episode of The Transformers!"

Commentary

.....Of the nearly 100 half hours (and notorious feature film) of The Transformers produced in its heyday, few have had an affect like this episode, the first part of "More Than Meets the Eye", which is also the first episode of the weekly first season. What sets The Transformers apart from other series has always been it's commitment to developing a working (yet very flexible) back story. Despite the highly detailed introduction by Victor Caroli (whose role as narrator is in itself a landmark for 1980s cartoons), most of the more important details (such as when the war began, and who the leaders of each side are) are left absent, but somehow this helps the story. The viewer only gets an idea of what life on Cybertron is like, and then it's only on a "need to know" basis.

.....A major advantage of this format is the ability for writers to show events as they take place, as opposed to wasting precious time having both the Autobots and Decepticons deliver badly stilted lines about what the war is about (in fact, you get the impression that the war has reached the pointless stage of just bickering over the rotted hulk of a planet for what Austin Powers would call "shits and giggles"). Even better, George Arthur Bloom leaves out any introductory lines for the characters, choosing instead to have each Autobot and Decepticon mentioned by name (listen carefully to the dialogue in the scene at Decepticon Headquarters and you'll see what I mean). The script uses the introductory narration to introduce the base concept, and just throws you into the action. Chris Latta and Dan Gilvezan instantly step into their roles as Wheeljack and Bumblebee, making them act and sound much like the later episodes of the series. In fact, most of the characters and actors make the most of this early material, so much, in fact, that it isn't until "Transport To Oblivion" (the first regular episode) that you can tell that all parties involved are still pretty shallow characters, development-wise (presenting the possibility that "More Than Meets the Eye" was written at a later date-much as the introductory G.I. Joe Season 1 epic The Pyramid of Darkness would be the following year).


"Autobots! Stop them!"

.....Other than the somewhat clunky dialogue in the Decepticon HQ scene (which sets some sort of a record for gratuitous uses of Shockwave's name), there aren't too many really dumb parts, or errors. The ball is dropped, however, with the identity of the white Decep jet in the "Decepticon Welcoming Committee" that Bumblebee and Wheeljack meet. Is it Starscream? He has two lines, one voiced by John Stephenson (voice of Thundercracker), and the other by Frank Welker (Skywarp)-although only Skywarp and Thundercracker are onscreen when the Welker line is spoken. However, neither line is delivered in the voices they use for those two characters. Also, the repeated animation of Prime calling the Autobots to battle at the end of Act 1 has always been disappointing to me, especially since not only is another view of the interior of the Decepticons' space cruiser is lost, but possibly of the Insecticons as well (assuming that they were slated as potential foes for the Autobots at this point).


"Prepare for battle!"

.....On the flip side, seeing Cliffjumper pull out his ridiculously big gun (a point enforced by the camera angles used while he is brandishing it) is hilarious. Seeing as how little prominence directors were given in Marvel/Sunbow cartoons, it's always nice to see a part of the episode clearly defined by how it is directed, both visually and verbally (as Casey Kasem goes into total Dirty Harry mode while preparing to fire). Other finely directed points come in the scene at Decepticons Headquarters (with Megatron, Soundwave, Shockwave, and Starscream), as well as the take off of the Ark, and the awakening of both sides.
.....As in most every Marvel/Sunbow series, the sound effects and music (and the editing of such ear candy) are nothing short of spectacular. The sound effect used when Bumblebee's rear axle gets shot off goes way back, all the way to the old days of radio (and the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, which is where the effect originated presumably), making it a very nice touch (if somewhat displaced). Two, more modernly borrowed, sounds are that of Megatron's fusion cannon blasts and the hum of the Energon Cubes-better known then as Venger's magical blasts (itself partly derived from one of the collision sounds that Hanna-Barbera created around the time that Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? premiered) and the hum of Bobby's club from Dungeons & Dragons. Also borrowed is the sound of the Autobots' blasters (not including Prime's rifle, which was yet to be used in this initial episode), from, of all places, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. And, as with G.I. Joe's MASS Device miniseries, Johnny Douglas' incidental music captures the mood perfectly, in addition to helping to create the musical backbone for the rest of the series.


"We're out of control!"

.....Perhaps the most elegant scenes in the episode are those concerning the revival of the Decepticons and of Prime. Not only are we treated to a time-lapse account of how things evolved around the Ark (in and of itself one of the few similarities between this cartoon and the oh-so-bad Marvel comic), but there's a definite sequence of events that would surely come to weigh in heavily on the series.

.....First, naturally, is the separation of the two starships, the discovery of the Decepticons' vessel having later come into play in David Wise's "Microbots" (and, to a very tenuous extent, his later effort, "Trans-Europe Express"), not to mention the escape pod mentioned as being used by the Insecticons in "A Plague of Insecticons". While one could certainly argue about Wise's respect for continuity (in addition to the infamously poor continuity of "The Secret of Omega Supreme", I find it extremely hard to believe that the Deceps carted both the Heart of Cybertron and the glowing natural disaster at the center of the Pearl of Bahoudin to Earth), the story-telling potential surrounding the cruiser is quite great.

.....Even more important, of course, is the declaration that the events of the first act happened four million years ago, or 3,998,016 BC if you will (given that one of the more aggressive snippets in Hasbro's figure documentation was that the Autobots and Decepticons awakened in 1984). Additional kudos must got to the person at either Sunbow or Toei who decided to use a standard title format (although not the one that Sunbow would later use for the episode title cards-definitely prudent when you consider the fact that pretty much all the first season eps would receive a card showing the ep title once they became part of the weekday syndication cycle in 1985), which makes it look pretty nice, as opposed to the sloppy font used in "Starscream's Brigade" in a similar circumstance. Of course, I assume you are watching along with an original copy of the ep, and not the G2 version.....

*Warning! Major Rant Below!*

.....I mention the G2 version of MTMTE primarily because, like the original run, the re-tooled version of The Transformers' premiere episode was intended to show off the merits of the "new" show (and the "new" toyline). Of course, the "merits" of the Transformers: Generation 2 toyline are more or less a laundry list of what was wrong with Hasbro at the time: neon paint jobs, spring-loaded missiles launchers, idiotic voice boxes, lost copyrights, copycattish marketing, pandering to politically correct mores, and lost/stolen/destroyed molds. You think I'm lying? Then consider this: the initial Generation 2 release of Megatron had a disguised form of a bright green and purple tank. Granted, a 1987 piece of Federal legislation denying toy manufacturers the ability to produce realistic-looking (or dark colored) guns left Hasbro with few options when it came to the mighty Megatron (originally a very realistic-looking Walther P-37) and the similarly powerful Shockwave (who never got a G2 figure release), but there's a limit to such insanity when you're recycling a cartoon in order to hype your toys. But it doesn't stop there. Case in point is the "computer enhancement" to the series, as given to the viewer by the Cybernet Space Cube. Put mildly, it's a cheap excuse to play with CGI technology (which was quite new in 1993-1995, the period that G2 existed) that breaks the prime (no pun intended) rule of animation: no clutter. (To be honest, it's a rule in just about everything.)
.....Worse yet is how in this episode (and the two following parts), Victor Caroli's narration has been replaced by one done by Jack Angel (voice of Astrotrain, among others), who was the voice behind the G2 intro and commercial tags. In addition to dubbing over some God-knows-what music over the original music (primarily because it'd cost some cash to synch up the original music track, plus pay off whoever owns Johnny Douglas' music for the various Marvel and Marvel/Sunbow series), it's pretty obvious that Mr. Angel's voice isn't suited to be the narrator for this show. Don't get me wrong: I love a lot of Jack Angel's work (especially his turns as Wet Suit on G.I. Joe). But he's not one best suited for being the narrator. His list of major roles includes, in addition to Wet Suit and Astrotrain, Emmett Benton (father of Jem lead character Jerrica Benton), King Zarkon (from Voltron), Smokescreen, the post-movie Ultra Magnus, Ramjet, and Omega Supreme (among others). The characters he's done don't have real imposing voices (although Omega is pretty close to imposing, if you ask me), and typically fall into two categories: thugs and stoics. While you can have a career in stoicism for a role as a narrator, a "major" voice is necessary. Like Stan Lee (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and The Incredible Hulk), Jackson Beck (narrator of G.I. Joe and, according to the Internet Movie Database, the early TV versions of Superman), and Lou Scheimer (who did some narrator-like duties on the multi-part episodes of He-Man and She-Ra), Victor Caroli has a grand voice, one that is capable of making the narrator's line sound dramatic, but not forced. Unfortunately, Mr. Angel is not capable of doing the same with his (very talented) voice.
.....In addition, the opportunity is (of course) taken to edit the show in order to make more money (as is the case with just about any animated program that isn't in the middle of its original run), which is by far and away the scourge of classic television. What's odd is how over the course of it's life, the G2 series actually wasted time with their messy transitions-in fact, many a shot before the transition sequence is lost to the CG effects, including one of my favorites from this very episode:


"Thanks!"

Granted, Prime giving Teletraan 1 the thumbs-up is a simple (and very 80s) moment, but it's one I've always liked, for many reasons. First off, the angle used is easily the most unique view of the Autobots' supercomputer ever utilized, although the similar angle used in "Dinobot Island" Part 1 from the opposing viewpoint is far more dramatic (no surprise given that that scene had five stumbling Dinobots ready to destroy Teletraan 1). Second, it allows the writer to personify an inanimate machine without coming off as stupid, or making you want to shoot the Autobot in question (which the TF comic is guilty of doing in an early issue when Ratchet tries talking to a street light). Third, it shows Prime in a positive light, which is always a good thing on this show. Fourth, it allows me to easily end my rant. :)
.....With the exception of the chase by Laserbeak of Hound and Cliffjumper, much of the rest of the second act is really just building blocks for future scenes of the miniseries. Somewhat excessive (but still enjoyable) is the audiences' introduction to the small (but decidedly mighty) Decepticon, Rumble.


"Rumble, activate pile drivers. Operation: Destruction."

Like the first use of Laserbeak (seen as Wheeljack and Bumblebee enter Iacon), the standard command phrase for the Decep cassettes is used. This format, which generally has Soundwave alerting the chosen cassette (even if Megatron or, later on, Galvatron has mentioned whose services he desires), telling them what is to be done, followed by the "Operation: (generally Destruction, Warfare, Espionage, or some other general or specific task)" tagline. Some deliveries remove the intermediate task, and many add the verb (or, depending on the placement, adverb), "Eject!" All, however, increase the level of respect and power given to Soundwave, while making his unit of cassette Transformers look like a bunch of Snake Eyes-like super-commandoes. 
.....The fact that Frank Welker is able to give each a distinct and enjoyable personality (except Frenzy, who is later introduced in "Countdown to Extinction", and quickly dissolves into a cheap clone of Rumble) is not only a testament to his varied skills, but to his ability to avoid killing voice director Wally Burr. In this episode alone, Welker delivers lines as Megatron, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Rumble, Ravage, Trailbreaker, Skywarp, and a couple of ad-libbed crowd voices. In 1984, the union limit was four voices per episode. Welker had at least twice that, and would through most of the first season and on into the 1984-produced portion of the second. Burr must be one helluva guy to get that type of a performance out of Frank Welker for some 30-40 episodes. Of course, as the saying goes, when you have talent, use it.
.....A nice transition occurs as the short scene where Prime briefs what few Autobots he has available shifts to the destruction of the power plant (which itself makes Megatron seem insanely impressive, despite the fact that he has yet to fire a single shot) and again to that of Cliffjumper and Hound's search for the Decepticons. The only thing that makes the transition sloppy is a severe (especially for its rarity) animation error as Prime briefs Hound, Cliffjumper, Jazz, and Sideswipe.

Obviously, the colorist(s) for the first shot has(have) mistakenly colored Cliffjumper as Bumblebee, the only time this would ever happen in the series. Ironically, it invokes the memory of the famed toy variation "Bumblejumper", which was a Cliffjumper package with a yellow Transformer (but not the Cliffjumper mold, although a yellow Cliffjumper did exist in Japan, and did make it to America, as did many oddly colored versions of the early minicars in 1984 [due to the inability of Takara to manufacture enough of the "correct" TF toys in time for the holidays]) inside the bubble. 
.....While I can somewhat forgive the coloring errors involving Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker (which is oddly absent in this episode), it's a little ridiculous when Toei is handling the animation. In fact, the most error-filled episodes of G.I. Joe and The Transformers are animated by Toei. Some of their near and definite forays into the use of stock footage on The Transformers are alone enough to tick me off. The rumor that Japanese companies slack off when they animate "lowly" American series is only partly true, particularly here. Part of the job of animation checking goes to the American studio, in this case Marvel Productions (which partly explains why the coloring flaws are more prevalent in 1984-at the time being MP's busiest ever). While MP and Sunbow are top-notch, they were really busy, and the animation checkers don't get a soundtrack and script with the print-they just make sure that everyone is the right color. Toei has it worse, since they don't speak English, which is why the 130-episode run of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (animated in the US) has one voicing error to the numerous that happen with Marvel/Sunbow shows. Also, translations get botched, making it worse for the studio. But Toei? Puh-leeze. The two G.I. Joe miniseries, The MASS Device and The Revenge of Cobra, have like, zero, coloring and silly animation flaws-and the Joe line and cartoon weren't exactly beloved in Japan (not a surprise given the fact that G.I. Joe represents the American military might that devastated the nation in the closing days of World War II). But The Transformers was, and still is, huge in Japan. And to think that this world of confusion started with a miscolored Cliffjumper.... :)
.....Also of note is the appearance of Ratchet's repair unit as he, Cliffjumper, and Hauler (one of the murkiest additions to a Transformers plot ever) arrive at the start of Act 3 to rescue Hound's trashed person.

It's another "one-and-only" appearance, and harkens directly back (once again) to the toys. The repair unit is part of the Ratchet toy, which (like its mold-mate, Ironhide) is nothing like the Marvel/Sunbow version in appearance. In fact, the toy doesn't even resemble the cartoon in robot mode. (I'd show pictures, but I just can't find any....) Even stranger is how the animators are able to make this extraneous part of Ratchet's body appear to belong in this scene, then ignore it for the rest of the series.
.....More quality character building occurs in the next scene, as Reflector and Thundercracker get rare exposure. For Reflector (who would utterly disappear once the second season's influx of new Decepticons began), the exposure would prove to be vital. The idea of having three Transformers as one unit is not unique (as Optimus Prime uses the concept), but having the three parts as one entity is.


"Let's find out."

Unlike the toy (which tried to emphasize the somewhat meager physical differences by giving each a separate primary color and name), the cartoon would dive head first into the "clone" idea, giving only the center part of Reflector a different detail (the retracted lenspiece). Also, Chris Latta gave Reflector a completely emotionless voice, one that he recorded three times for the full effect (which must have been at the heart of at least one of his famed temper tantrums that were aimed directly at G.I. Joe and Transformers voice director Wally Burr). For the final touch, some first season episodes used the Reflector character model (the one without the lens) as a placeholder villain when the episode called for a "large-scale" Decepticon assault.
.....A very convenient (but not completely unexpected) plot device is employed when Reflector spits out a Polaroid-style photo, even though his transformed mode is unmistakably that of an old-style Pentax camera (much like the ones that photographers stereotypically use, such as Jimmy Olsen in the various Superman comics, TV shows, and films). Of course, if you can picture Reflector's disguised mode as being a photographer's camera even in this age of smaller (and better designed-Reflector isn't even supposed to be an automatic camera) cameras, then someone's done a pretty good job.
.....After a quick shifting of scenes (which includes a short cue that Sunbow never used again), Ravage gets even better exposure, and comes off as being a million times more impressive than any real jaguar (car or otherwise) I've ever seen.

The way he takes out the two maintenance workers is a thing of beauty. I also like how the windshield view has Ravage "gliding" along of the front of the vehicle, even if it's fairly unrealistic. It automatically makes Ravage a force to be reckoned with, and would help add to the Decepticons' legitimacy as a whole, given how important Ravage would soon become in terms of Decepticon surveillance and attack.
.....A quick burst of pure advertising occurs as Jazz calls (an incomplete) roll before the Autobots roll out (god damn, does that pun suck....). Pretty sad given that most of the Autobots named don't even have a line in the entire episode....
.....As well defined as much of this episode is, it seems very odd that the battle on the oil rig is so....primitive. The action is extremely stiff, and the usual banter between both sides is remarkably limited to only Megatron and Prime, in addition to only lasting for some 15-20 seconds. Unlike the next part, Starscream's null ray creates a block of ice around the affected area, a side affect that would be ignored, especially as Starscream started using his special weapon on moving targets.
.....Equally odd is how Spike and Sparkplug are introduced. If any characters are more responsible for the success of the cartoon, please tell me. Granted, many can't stand the humans (and this is very much true for Daniel and Ms. In-Joke Herself, Marissa Faireborn), but I love seeing them.


"Gimme a hand, Spike. We gotta raise this bit; flush it out."
"Right, Dad....I'll get the bailer."

Spike practically lifts Jazz and Bumblebee to their fullest potential, and there's no doubt in my mind that Sparkplug would prove to be invaluable as a friend and assistant to Ratchet and Wheeljack as the series progressed. While Chip Chase and Carly (who are quite possibly two of the richest characters in the entire series) were still a ways from being introduced, one must recognize the fact that the legacy begins here.
.....Back on subject, it just seems to me that Spike and Sparkplug really do nothing special except catching Prime's eye when they're trapped under the girders. Whereas Chip and Carly had viable reasons for joining the Autobot cause (Chip having previous access to a high-security energy project, and Carly because of her curiosity about the Autobots added to being insane enough to get herself involved), Spike and Sparkplug are....lucky. It's odd, and it's the most glaring flaw in their development as characters.

Final Verdict

.....As first episodes go, "More Than Meets the Eye" Part I is naturally incomplete. But, taken as a single half hour, it's pretty good. It sets into motion both a miniseries and an entire series, and does it quite nicely. Characters are introduced, situations presented, and conventions established. Unlike the first half hours of some series (such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Dungeons & Dragons), you can't create that one definitive "baseline", upon which the entire series is based. However, I can easily base it against the other two parts in the story arc. And in that, the initial episode of "More Than Meets the Eye" is a very enjoyable, well-animated (outside of the coloring flaws that I've whined about above), well-conceived, and suitable beginning.

Today's Moment of Whimsy

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