by Alan Kistler
This week marks the release of Michael Bay's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," the second live-action film to star the amazing robot warriors from the planet Cybertron. Most people were introduced to the heroic Autobots and their evil Decepticon nemeses through their various animated adventuress. As far as many are concerned, the original cartoon series -- the so-called "Generation One" era -- from the 1980s remains the best of them all.
Even if you liked the last film, you may be curious to know more about where it all comes from. To get you ready for the sequel, releasing tomorrow, here is a list of memorable episodes and story-arcs from Generation One that you might want to check out:
The Autobots discover an island that exists out of phase with time, a place where dinosaurs still live and roam free. When Decepticon leader Megatron tries to tap into the energies of this strange island, it causes disruptions that threaten the fabric of space and time itself. What follows is a struggle to save the Earth from literally being ripped apart. Not to mention an all-out brawl involving the Autobots, the Decepticons, the savage Dinobots and actual, living dinosaurs.
“The Key To Vector Sigma”
This two-part saga was the first to show how a Transformer is “born.” It also introduced us to Alpha Trion, the robot who built Autobot leader Optimus Prime. In this story, audiences discovered Vector Sigma, a computer in the heart of Cybertron which taps into the energies of the “matrix” to give each Transformer its unique “spark,” the energy responsible for making them truly alive. Of course, things go bad when Megatron learns that the famous Key to Vector Sigma is capable of turning any organism into a lifeless robot, meaning the Autobots had better stop him fast. FYI, the “matrix” was later renamed the “AllSpark," which played a key role in Bay's first "Transformers" film.
“Starscream's Brigade” and “The Revenge of Bruticus”
This two-part arc had jet fighter Decepticon Starscream decide he was done being subordinate to the villainous Megatron. Finding various military vehicles, Starscream creates the Combaticons as his personal army. After failing to defeat Megatron, the Combaticons decide to destroy all of their enemies in one fell swoop, using their advanced technology to send Earth on a collision course with the sun. Optimus Prime and Megatron must join forces to fight this common enemy and save humanity itself from complete annihilation.
A group of Autobots begin to doubt their role as the "good guys," and consider shifting their loyalties to the evil Megatron. They inadvertently pick up a first-hand lesson in the difference between the competing ideologies when a time warp send them hurtling through time to the robot world of Cybertron, millions of years before the Transformers began their war on Earth. While exploring the world of their past, they (and TV fans) wind up witnessing the rise of the Decepticons and the origin of the warrior called Optimus Prime.
“The Return of Optimus Prime”
The third season of the original cartoon series took place years in the future, months after the death of Optimus Prime. In this two-part season finale, the Autobots and Decepticons are both about to be wiped out by a strange plague and it seems no one can save them. No one except the late Optimus Prime. Can the Quintessons, the cyborg aliens who first created the Transformers, resurrect the famous robot warrior so he can save his entire race before it is too late?