Beast Wars: Transformers
By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Award-winning '90s series is violent but entertaining.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show intends to entertain rather than to educate.
The show draws a clear distinction between good and evil, so it's easy for viewers to identify with right and wrong. The Predacons are motivated by greed and selfishness, which is countered by the Maximals' efforts stated goal of peace. That said, all is not always well in the Maximals' camp, thanks to some infighting and one member's disloyalty to the leader, which sends questionable messages about the structure of a good team.
Positive Role Models
For the most part, the good guys are good and the bad guys are bad. Positive traits exhibited among the Maximals include courage, a strong sense of right and wrong, and devotion to their cause. The opposite is true among the Predacons, whose inability to work as a team often proves to be their downfall. There are exceptions to the rule, as with a Maximal who challenges his leader's authority and risks his teammates' safety because of it, and the Predacon who defects to the other side, but these are rare.
Violence & Scariness
The two sides wage battle in every episode, using laser blasts that cause explosions and sometimes injure those involved. In their beast forms, they use the animals' special features ( a rhino's horn, a cheetah's bite, etc.) against the enemies. What injuries do result typically don't last long, though.
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The characters don't curse, but they do sling insults and use some iffy language you might not want your kids repeating. "Idiot," "shut up," "kiss my skinplate!" and the like are frequent battleground talk.
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Products & Purchases
Beast Wars is part of the Transformers saga, which is heavily marketed in toys, games, accessories, apparel, and numerous live-action movies.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Beast Wars: Transformers is an Emmy Award-winning sequel to the original Transformers series but features an entirely new cast said to be descendants of the original characters, so it's helpful but not necessary to know the back story in order to understand what's going on. As with every good-vs.-evil plot, there's a fair amount of fighting between the two factions, often with their robotic weapons, but also in this case with the characteristics of the animal shapes they assume. Parents should be cognizant of the edgy language that exists even among so-called friends, as characters often call their peers names like "idiot," tell them to "shut up," or make suggestive remarks like "kiss my skinplate." If your kids are prone to repeating what they hear on TV, then this may be a concern for you. That said, the show exhibits some pretty impressive CGI effects for its mid-'90s roots and benefits from a clever plot and strong storytelling.
Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
BEAST WARS: TRANSFORMERS takes place years after the original Transformers series and concerns two warring factions, the Predacons (descendants of the Decepticons) and the Maximals (descendants of the Autobots). Led by Megatron (voiced by Gary Chalk), the Predacons travel through time and space in the hopes of locating and controlling Earth's vast supply of the substance energon. In hot pursuit are the Maximals, led by Optimus Primal (Chalk again), who hope to intercept Megatron and protect the universe from his greed. But when the two sides crash land onto an unidentified planet, they find its energon levels too toxic for their robotics, forcing them to assume the forms of native animals to protect themselves until they face off in battle.
Is It Any Good?
The second animated series in the Transformers franchise, Beast Wars is a futuristic story that bears just the right amount of resemblance to the original to simultaneously please existing fans and tickle the curiosity of those wanting a bigger, broader story. It's always an accomplishment when a sequel succeeds on its own merit rather than leaning too hard on the original's popularity, and that's just what's going on here. If you're already familiar with the Autobots and Decepticons' tale, you'll notice aspects of the story that remind you of it, but because the characters and setting are entirely different, there's no harm in making Beast Wars your introduction to the Transformers.
For a '90s show, the graphics feel surprisingly modern, which bodes well for keeping kids' interest, and the continuity between the characters' robot and animal forms makes it easy to keep track of who's who as they morph from one persona to the other. As for the show's content, parents' biggest issue may be the verbal jabs and put-downs between the sparring characters. If your kids do watch, be sure to remind them what is and is not appropriate for them to say around their friends.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about this show's message about violence. Is it portrayed in a positive way? Should violence ever be used to resolve differences in real life?
What distinguishes this series from other shows and movies in the Transformers franchise? Which qualities, if any, make it better than the rest? What similarities exist among them? Do you have a favorite among them?
How much influence does what we see on TV have on our desires for toys or products with particular characters' images? What other shows have ties to product lines?
- Premiere date: September 16, 1996
- Cast: David Kaye, Gary Chalk, Ian James Corlett
- Network: Syndicated
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Space and Aliens
- TV rating: TV-Y7
- Award: Emmy
- Last updated: April 10, 2023
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