A blast from the past...




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Most collectors today are fondly familiar with the Transformers franchise. With the two recent movies and a multitude of varying collectible lines from several manufacturers, those of us that grew up two decades ago got to experience this masterful cartoon series in its infancy.

Just in time for the Transformers' 25th Anniversary comes the original series on DVD again, this time celebrating the milestone with some much needed video and audio enhancements. The Transformers: Season 2 Volume 1 set comes packed with a lot of nostalia, throwing me back to my days as a child when these episodes first appeared on TV.

Those that might have missed these when they originally aired or those that werenít born yet to enjoy the many escapades of Optimus Prime versus Megatron, these episodes artfully showcase what made the Transformers so popular through the years.

If you're not familiar with the premise of the Transformers series (and oddly enough there are), the Autobots and Decepticons are two warring factions of cybernetic beings that crash landed on Earth millions of years ago only to awake during present day (too bad for them they awoke during the time of big bangs and crappy music). The Decepticons are the evil faction that oppose mankind and are always on the search of an energy source called energon that is vital for Transformers well-being. They are led by the maniacal Megatron that has this innate hatred towards humans and seeks to destroy them at all costs since they stand between him and his much needed energon. The Autobots are allies to humans and try to protect and aid them whenever they can. They are led by the ultra-powerful and fearsome Optimus Prime who strives to show his fellow Autobots what good can be achieved with their abilities.

This DVD set includes the first 28 episodes of the second season and there are several good episodes and story-arcs which Iíll note. My favorite of the entire set is the two episodes of "Dinobot Island" (the 3rd and 4th episodes of this series and numbers 19 and 20 overall). These are my favorites probably because I just love the Dinobots so damn much (címon Michael Bay, put these bad boys in your next flick!). Not only do these episodes showcase the incredible untapped power of this group of Transformers, but also the simple-minded hilarity of how they interact with each other.

My next favorite episode is named "The Immobilizer" (2nd of this season and episode 18 overall) in which Wheeljack invents a device that freezes any object, including Transformers, in motion. This proves to be a problem for the Autobots as Megatron is able to steal the device and use it to his advantage.

Lastly, Iíll point out the two episode story arc of "Megatron's Master Plan" (15th and 16th of this season and 31 and 32 overall). Here, Megatron is able to banish the Autobots off Earth and trap them in a ship headed towards the sun. This allows him to launch an all-out assault on humans. However, with the help of a couple quick thinking Autobots, theyíre able to reverse course and turn the tide of battle.

As for extras that are included with this set, umm, there arenít any. Yep, thatís right. There are not extras at all to speak of unless you count the episode guide that includes a short, detailed synopsis of each episode. The video is presented in a 1.33:1 transfer that is Full Frame. The video has been restored from previous releases (and itís about time) to make the colors richer and more vibrant without excess grain. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 with no subtitles. I was kinda disappointed at first since I have a nice surround sound set-up, but with the voices edited to sound less pitchy and the blaster noises reworked to sound more, umm blastery, I quickly forget about it. Plus, anyone that has an audio/video receiver can convert the sound to 5.1 and get the full effect anyways.

All in all, any child of the '80s will love Transformers: Season 2 Volume 1, regardless of the lack of any extras. The episodes look and sound much cleaner than what you originally saw or have in your current collection. And for those that didnít get to enjoy this series when it first aired? I feel sorry for you, BUT this is a great way to catach up and watch what made the franchise what it is today.

- Aaron Binder