Optimus has been damaged, alliances are shifting and the Autobots have been defeated as the final season of the Hub’s “Transformers Prime” kicks off March 22. The series even stretches its name out in the third season, adding “Beast Hunters” to the title, signifying a new “creative direction.”
“The ‘Beast Hunters’ [title] plays to the toy line as well,” said the series’ producer Jeff Kline. “It’s also just a little bit of reminding people that we’re always doing something different.”
Something different is apparently on the agenda for this last season. For Kline and the other producers, including Duane Capizzi (“The Batman,” “Superman: Doomsday”) and “Star Trek” stewards Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (who also guided “Fringe” and wrote the “Transformers” movie franchise), the Emmy-award winning show began as a different way to tell the story of an age-long battle between good (Autobots) and bad (Decepticons) robots from a far-away world that has spilled over onto Earth.
“We wanted to create a show where you could get into it if you were just coming in in the beginning, but if it was your 10th iteration, it wouldn’t feel like the same thing,” said Kline. “We also didn’t want to start all over ’cause there was 20 years of history… There are great fans [of ‘Transformers’]; they are legion and vocal.”
Judging from the trailer above, those fans will get a scrappy bunch of Autobots fighting at their usual disadvantage against overwhelming odds and a new foe: the Predacons. There will be new allies as well, some familiar to longtime fans, but those remain secret. The good guys will need them, too, since many of their own have fallen, and the producers have shown a willingness to thin the ranks.
“We kick it off in the first episode [of the series, three seasons ago] with killing off one of the original Autobots when we kill off Cliffjumper,” Kline said. “And we kill him off in a way that no one will be able to bring him back, as opposed to some animation where characters seem to pop back in even though they’ve been destroyed.”
Cliffjumper, Optimus, Megatron, Starscream, Bumblebee and more are relics of the popular ’80s era ‘bots that older toy collectors and cartoon watchers might recognize. Also recognizable may be the voices of some characters, with original cast members Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Frank Welker (Megatron) chief among them.
“For those who grew up on the series, that pairing is the place to start,” said Kline. “We record our show radio-play style so the actors can play off of each other. [Cullen and Welker] were so happy to be together that that happiness washed over the rest of the cast.”
Kline realized the importance of appeasing the old guard of “Transformers” fans.
“In the modern day, that G1 [first-generation show] exists whenever you want it,” he said. “It might’ve been different 30 years ago when you had to stumble upon it on TV or trade grainy tapes with a collector in Japan. I think to redo that is a mistake … We’re constantly trying to honor G1 and the other shows in the ‘Transformers’ mythology, but we’re just not trying to duplicate it.”
Kline said the creative team is working on a new “Transformers” show that could go into production soon, but he was reluctant to reveal too many details. As for “Transformers Prime,” he believes viewers ultimately will feel as though the saga has reached an appropriate conclusion.
“I believe that at the end of episode 313, you will feel like this particular tale in the ‘Transformers’ mythology has been told,” Kline said. “Hopefully there will be some surprises, but you will be satisfied.”
— Jevon Phillips
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