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The Original Transformers Season 3 Part 1

Review by Jeffrey M. Jacobson. (October 30, 2003)

Transformers is ™ Hasbro and Takara. Transformers Program content: ©Sunbow Productions, Inc.


Only the second version of "Dark Awakening" included

There were two versions of the episode "Dark Awakening" that aired on television. The version contained on this set is the second version. This second version aired the day before "The Return of Optimus Prime (Part 1)" aired. Narration was added over end of the episode asking, "But is this really the end of Optimus Prime?" and telling you to tune in tomorrow to "The Return of Optimus Prime" to find out. The original version of "Dark Awakening" did not contain this narration.

What Rhino should have done here was to have one audio track with the original version of the episode, and one audio track with the second version. (And with no Rhino-added sound effects in either audio track!) Or alternatively, have the original (no-narration) version on this set, and the added-narration version on the next set before "The Return of Optimus Prime". But they only included the second version, with narration telling you to tune in tomorrow for "The Return of Optimus Prime", an episode which is not even on this DVD set! (I checked all three audio tracks (5.1, 2.0, and original 2.0) on the set, and they all contain the "But is this really the end. . ." narration.)

Incorrect opening credits in some episodes

The first five episodes in season 3 ("Five Faces of Darkness" parts 1-5) had a different opening credits sequence than the rest of the season 3 episodes. On this set, "Five Faces of Darkness" parts 1, 2, and 4 incorrectly have the regular season 3 opening, while parts 3 and 5 have the correct "Five Faces of Darkness" opening.

Out of order episodes are now in order!

Three episodes in season 3 were produced and also aired out of order: "Starscream's Ghost", "Thief in the Night", and (a few episodes later) "Fight or Flee". But in this order made no sense. In "Starscream's Ghost", Galvatron wants Octane killed for betraying him, and Autobot Sandstorm helps him escape. "Thief in the Night" shows how Octane betrayed Galvatron. In "Fight or Flee", the character Sandstorm is introduced. Rhino has put these episodes in a more logical order: "Fight or Flee", "Thief in the Night", and "Starscream's Ghost".


The video comes from (according to the box) a "new digital transfer from original 35mm film", which looks good. The only problem I noticed were some vertical dark red and light blue streaks on screen during certain scenes in "Thief in the Night". The blue streaks seem to occur during scenes with glowing effects. When there is a change to another scene, the streaks go away. I'm guessing that the streaks were present on the film source material. Having seen Rhino's attempts to fix errors in episodes on their Season 1 set, I'm glad they didn't attempt to fix this, though. Below are some screenshots of the streaks.

Trypticon eats an energon cube. Sixgun looks at an energon cube held by Perceptor. The Aerialbots take off from Broadside.  (Red streaks only) A few frames later, blue streaks appear.


Good news! This time around Rhino has included an extra 2.0 audio track called "Original Broadcast Audio" for each episode. This is Rhino's first Transformers DVD season set to include the original unaltered audio track for every episode!

So to clarify, there are three audio tracks for each episode on this set: a 5.1 and 2.0 audio track that contain a bunch of extra sound effects that were added in by Rhino, and the 2.0 "Original Broadcast Audio" track.

Rhino's previous TF DVD sets only contained the first two audio tracks (the messed up 5.1 and 2.0 only). I believe their intent on these sets was for only the 5.1 track to have the extra sounds, and for the 2.0 to be the original version. I think the reason for the extra sounds on the 5.1 track was that they wanted to have directional sound effects, but didn't want to actually remix the original sound elements. So they just added a bunch of directional sounds over the top of the original sound track. Unfortunately, the 2.0 tracks on some episodes ended up with the extra sound effects, too. (The Season 2 part 2 set did not contain the original audio for any episodes.)

I'm not sure why anyone would want the messed up 2.0 track (or 5.1 track for that matter) when they could listen to the original. So be sure you select the "Original Broadcast Audio" track when you watch these DVDs (because it is not the default).