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Transformers Prime: Season One (Limited Edition Blu-ray) - animated DVD / television series DVD / kids and family DVD / Blu-ray review
TRANSFORMERS PRIME: SEASON ONE (LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY) Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Sumalee Montano, Kevin Michael Richardson, Peter Cullen, Jeffrey Combs, Tania Gunadi
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman   Distributor: Shout! Factory
DVD release: 06 March 2012   Feature runtime: 600 minutes (4 discs)
Format: AC-3, Animated, Collector's Edition, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 1.78:1, Audio tracks (English - Dolby 5.1, Dolby Stereo 2.0), Subtitles (English), 26 episodes (5-part "Darkness Rising" mini-series, Season One, Transformers Prime original graphic novel, Original "making of" special, audio commentaries, Toy featurette, Season Two preview

*Transformers Prime: Season One (Limited Edition Blu-ray)* Darkness may be rising, but it sure is sweet. Transformers Prime takes the Transformers universe into deeper moral and situational territory than any previous incarnation of the Hasbro merchandising franchise -- and that's a great thing, given that fans of the original series are all growed up and lusting for meaty sci-fi fare like the Battlestar Galactica of the 2000s and AMC's hit graphic novel adaptation The Walking Dead.

*Transformers Prime: Season One (Limited Edition Blu-ray)*Mind you, the latest sortie in the perpetual conflict between Autobots and Decepticons is a lot safer for kids than those. A trio of bright but somewhat outcast kids bond with the 'Bots after accidental encounters, leavening the bleakest aspects (even, one might argue, to the extent undercutting their emotional punch). Parents might want to steer their sensitive youngsters clear of some episodes for violence and thematic elements. Previewing for suitability is a smart bet.

*Transformers Prime: Season One (Limited Edition Blu-ray)*This limited Blu-ray edition is the way to go if you really want to immerse yourself in the Transformers Prime experience. The graphics employ panoramic shots, fantastic depth-of-field, seamlessly smooth transforming, brilliantly detailed surfacing and impressive pyrotechnics. The main shortcoming of the picture? Distracting aliasing when smoke or fog occurs in the darkest scenes. Also (unsurprisingly) the animation of the human characters is the least convincing. There's nothing bad to say about the full, active 5.1 surround soundtrack (or about Peter Cullen's iconic voicing of Optimus; Jack Darby's mother--voiced by Markie Post--isn't the only one with a crush on the last of the Primes).

*Transformers Prime: Season One (Limited Edition Blu-ray)*The five-part series "Darkness Rising" inaugurates the first season of Transformers Prime, providing an easy-to-follow intro to the Transformers universe. The five remaining Autobots dedicated to protecting Earth and humanity from the Decepticon menace (not to mention uber-villain Megatron) are Optimus Prime; his old friend and the team medic, Ratchet (Jeffrey Combs); yellow scout and bitchin' Camaro Bumblebee; Bulkhead (Kevin Michael Richardson), who is essentially The Thing in living tech form; and agile cycle Arcee (voiced by Sumalee Montano), blue here but still the only female 'Bot.

*Transformers Prime: Season One (Limited Edition Blu-ray)*"Darkness Rising" also introduces the human principles: 16-year-old Jack (Josh Keaton), who goes from flipping burgers at the local fast-food joint to teaming with a reluctant Arcee; Miko (Tania Gunadi), a 15-year-old Japanese foreign exchange student with impulse-control issues who hangs with Bulkhead; and Raf (Andy Pessoa), a shy 12-year-old computer whiz from a huge family who bonds with Bumblebee (he's the only human who can understand the scout) and thaws Ratchet's gruff heart. Special Agent Bill Fowler (Ernie Hudson) acts as liaison between the US government and the Autobots, often showing up unannounced at the 'Bots' rocky base in the desert outside quiet Jasper, Nevada.

The dark Energon that Megatron brings back from his exile in the far reaches of space plays a prominent role in the first season. Megatron raises an undead army (starting with Arcee's old partner, Cliffjumper, voiced by Dwayne Johnson) to defeat the last of the Autobots and claim Earth--and its veins of Energon--for his own. What may be the most glaring flaws in his plan are his obsession with facing and destroying Optimus in a one-on-one confrontation, and the surprising link between the ancient, legendary Unicron and the Earth. The revelation of that secret and the challenge it poses to both 'Cons and 'Bots make for an awe-inspiring season finale.

Themes of grief, shifting alliances, double-crosses, uncomfortable truths and wavering identity keep viewers riveted to this series (and doubtless attract more adults to The Hub than would otherwise tune in). Who knew I'd finally be unable to resist the siren call of robots in disguise? Season Two, here I come.
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reviewed by Sharon Schulz-Elsing
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