A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that a good portion of every episode in this action-heavy cartoon series revolves around the inevitable clash of the two rival robot groups (the hero Autobots and the evil Decepticons). Though the machines seem to cause a lot of damage, since they aren't human and don't bleed, it's not particularly upsetting. The show -- which is just the latest in a long line of Trasnformers titles -- is tied into an extensive line of toys; in fact, the toys came first, and parents of young fans should expect to be besieged with requests for Transformer gadgets.
What's the story?
The Transformers characters have been around since the 1980s, first as a popular line of toys (kids loved the action figures), then as a hit cartoon TV series. Other animated iterations followed (including Transformers: Cybertron), as did, of course, Michael Bay's movie blockbuster. In this series, the Autobots (the good guys) and the Decepticons (their sworn enemies) return to the small screen. The series' basic idea is pretty simple: The Autobots have a powerful object called the Allspark, and the Decepticons want to take it. That's enough of a story to justify the many mechanical combat sequences that are the series' central element.
Is it any good?
Fans of the live-action 2007 movie Transformers -- about a race of living robots that have the ability to change themselves into a variety of vehicles and other mechanical objects -- may be disappointed to know that TRANSFORMERS: ANIMATED serves up the same fare as so many other cartoons. Sure, it's kind of cool to see the robots' arms and legs start to flip around, changing from a humanoid shape to a car, but the effect is less impressive in the cartoon version of the franchise than it was in the big-screen film.
Transformers: Animated is simple enough entertainment for kids -- not too complicated, easy to follow, and the good guys always win. It doesn't win any points for originality, but young viewers are often comforted by the familiar.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing -- particularly the stuff that's aimed at kids. Kids: Is it obvious to you that this show is linked to a campaign to sell something? Did you know that the original show came out after the toys were introduced, with the main purpose to boost toy sales? Is that OK? Should young kids be shielded from such obvious sales efforts? Can you think of other shows that are particularly closely linked to toys and other products?
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