You're not alone. We who are nearing the dreaded, gulp, 30 and those who've recently passed into that territory are increasingly bemused by the trappings of our adolescence. We download emulators to play arcane video games. The movies, the music and the TV shows we once devoured hold a gloriously nostalgic place in our hearts. And each reacquaintance with these artifacts allow us to relive some of those joyous days gone by. It's gleefully self-indulgent and it's why grown men get in eBay bidding wars over the G.I. Joes they either firecracker'd to kingdom come, or tossed out long before graduation.
Now that we're gainfully employed, for many of us, some of our disposable income is going toward reinforcing these fond memories with wicked-cool boxed sets such as Transformers: Season One (1986, 490 minutes, four discs). Original Hasbro "robots in disguise" are in such demand that they sell for obscene sums at toy shows and auction sites. A new series of comic books based on them is SO popular they've reissued the inaugural editions several times over. Although, there's also a new line of toys and toons likely to make we codgers cringe. Optimus Prime as a FIRE truck? Megatron PC'd out of being a GUN? Ye gods, what's the world come to!? Put such travesties out of mind by settling in for these SIXTEEN classic episodes polished to new luster.
Of particular note are the three-part "More than Meets the Eye" and "The Ultimate Doom" episodes that play out like mini movies. First chronicling how a nasty robot feud on Cybertron found its way to Earth and, later, just how dangerous these unruly Decepticon fellas can be to we puny humans and our blue planet. In between, there's great stuff such as the amusing saga of the dim-witted Dinobots, the oddball introduction of Insecticons and the once deep-frozen tin fella who gets to lay the squash down on them -- great big ol' Skyfire. Everything in between is pure nostalgic heaven as well.
Audio/Video: Rhino's revisited the series with a wealth of upgrades. They detail the restoration process in pages of on-screen notes among the extras. But folks far more versed than yours truly can detail, at great length, what they'd term as innumerable content errors made by Rhino during this process. In general, most casual fans will agree they've greatly improved on the color and clarity of those old TV masters. Some also quibble with monkeying with the original mono to create new Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, especially without providing the option of viewing with the original audio (the DD 2.0 tracks may be of small consolation).
Extras: Disc four is packed with all manner of goodies, though mostly for animation fanatics. There's nearly an hour of side-by-side comparison footage of the a/v restoration. Oodles of outtakes, flubs and bumpers of all stripes, most notably, are the Japanese variations. A complete episode script. But, personally, of greatest interest were two all-too-brief reels on "Botcon" where fans congregate with their own kind and even fall in love! Zippy animated menus recreate the Autobot's stranded craft complete with that classic theme song blaring in a never-ending loop. Nifty at first, maddening moments later, especially while navigating a somewhat clumsy interface. The whole shebang comes in a hansom faux-chrome, gate-fold keepcase that simply couldn't be slicker! Tucked inside is a printed booklet with an excellent episode guide and detailed track listings. Behind that are two 5x7 "Classic Collectible Cels." Mine came with Rumble and personal fave, Starscream, voiced by the late-great Chris Latta who was just as ingeniously sniveling as Cobra Commander on my OTHER favorite cartoon series.
Final thought: This set would be a sinch for a DVD Talk Collectors Series rating if not for the seemingly legitimate concerns of a vocal minority. However, casual viewers anxious for a kick-hiney stroll down memory lane will glady find these Transformers are still more than meets the eye. Highly Recommended