Of course, Shockwave is excluded from this.

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Never confuse bizarre speech impediments with personalities. (Please Save Me Robots)

Grimlock, Soundwave and Wheelie didn't have character, they had bizarre speech impediments.
Agreed.

I'd go so far to even say that even the few who do (Bumblebee and Starscream) are really pretty much just cliche as can be in terms of characterization.

Let's face it.

The tech specs on the back of the boxes often had more character than an appearance on the show.

Is that why some of characters are so popular? Purely off their tech specs?

Hmmm...

9 Comments

N:

The G1 cartoon is driven mostly by plot, not character. Characters react more than they act. This isn't a bad way to make stories, but it doesn't always give us much insight into the characters' personalities.

With that said, I protest that there is indeed characterization in there. Watch MTMTE, and though we're not told it directly, we soon know that Cliffjumper is impulsive, brash, and not too smart. We even get a personality for Soundwave, in that he has none whatsoever. We don't know why, but we are left pretty sure that he'd never engage in idle chitchat like Thundercracker and Skywarp did.

Sure, these are very small character-bits, but there they are. We can't just flippantly discount vocal mannerisms, either. Why? Well, the actors who voiced these characters gave them these mannerisms as a clue to their character. Grimlock's speech impediment isn't meaningless. It is there to help us know him as a big slow-thinking Hollywood caveman (though he wasn't that way in the comic).

I've begun to watch a lot of action cartoons of that era and have been quite surprised that so many are *better* than I remember them, and the Transformers show is actually quite good, when seen in that context. It's not a bad context. I hold that any of those shows is far more "adult" in outlook than most grown-up live TV drama, with their emphasis on responsibility and the defense of the weak, and are quite possibly more mature than even the kids' shows today.

Anyway, I drift. Get it from voice or actions or however you will, there is characterization to be found in Transformers, even in the G1 cartoon.

I've always wondered about this myself... With hindsight, one can plainly see that many of the cartoon episodes were silly, gimmicky, defied the accepted laws of physics and frequently featured characters that did little more but save the day with whatever featured superpower they conveniently owned and operated.

On the other hand, for a 20-minute animated advert, the show collected some of the most memorable character designs and voices seen in some time. Compare and contrast with Energon and Cybertron, for instance.

Indeed, much of it seems like a collection of speech impediments... But try to imagine the characters. Doesn't Beachcomber's voice just infer laid-back cool? Doesn't Powerglide radiate recklessness? How much of the dull, thugish monotone of the Coneheads tell us that they brutally follow orders?

I'm not trying to infer the cartoon had a greater cultural aspect; but it is interesting to note that outside of it's intended purpose as an explosion-filled commercial, it achieve a surprising degree of traction with its characters.

Similarly; why is it so many adults now attribute Optimus Prime as entirely fictional father figure?! :)

Much of the show could be improved; but somehow, it maintained a certain charm that has been lacking since in its predecessors. And I say that, hopefully, with the Goggles of Nostalgia (tm) absent. :)

Yeah, we had talked about this a while ago. . . the fact is that what put Beast Wars (and to a lesser extent, G1) light years ahead of any other TF fiction was the quality of the voice acting in conferring character. (Even Nightscream had a decent voice actor, though I hate Nightscream and like Gaeda.) There's a reason that people remember Optimus Prime as something more than a cheap commercialization to sell toys to this day, and that reason is pretty much that I'd follow the voice of Peter Cullen ordering me around into any battle Patton got himself involved in.

Meanwhile, Powahhgloide is just an excuse to make fun of people from Boston. "Fack you Proime! Powahhgloide's in chaaage of this pack 'a robot caahs from now on! I'm fackin' drunk roight now! POWAHHGLOIDE!!!!" And Wheeljack is that creepy uncle who smokes 12 packs a day and is always covered in grease from rebuilding an engine.

Starscream is a middle manager on cocaine.

On another note, I think that Warpath should have been the one to deliver bad news in any situation.
"Spike, I have some POW! ZING! bad news. Danny's been KABLOWIE! torn apart by a pack of BOOM! Sharkticons. As you can KERASSSH! imagine, we're all pretty WHAM! broken up about it."

And while we're on the subject, I think I'd be a vastly different person had it not been for the voice acting of Chris Latta during my childhood.

"Wasssss. . . Oncccce. . . a maaaaan. . . "

Speaking of Powerglide, never ever forget this pic.

Oh. And is that from Cobra*coughshittycough*la?

Hahahaha! Oh man, priceless. "Sorry Spike, but POW! ZING! you have KABLOWIE! herpes. WHAM!"

And I always thought that Wheeljack had the mechanic voice down to a tee, although I never quite posited inflections of creepy smoker uncle. That's gonna stick in my head now whenever he talks. :)

"Hey Prime! The Decepticons have stolen my Universal Negagator!"

"Universal Negagator, Wheeljack?"

"Yeah! It's for... uh... negagating things. Like... panties."

Seriously though, top-notch voice acting. And I know he has his fans, and it worked well enough in Beast Wars when they wanted a more uncertain commander, but... sorry Garry Chalk, you are no Peter Cullen.

And here I am all ready for Neil Kaplan to voice a Prime again.

Got it in one, Nala. The Odd Couple Cobra Commander/Roadblock portion saves the film due to its unintentional hilarity.

You never got smoker out of Wheeljack, JOP? I forget who or when, but someone suggested that the whole facewrap/light up ears thing was as a result of Cybertronian replacement larynx technology.

And what about Marbor?
http://www.tfu.info/issue03/Marborojack/index.htm

Oh, and Soundwave does have a personality. It's "I'm too cool to actually associate with any of you because I have all the friends I need in my chest. But I do what Megatron says because he pays the big bucks." At least that's what I got out of "SOUNDWAVE SUPERIOR, CONSTRUCTICONS INFERIOR."

Good point on ol' Marboro.

Heh, and it's testament to the movie that even with the plot inconsistencies and mistakes, there are so many memorable lines. I couldn't read that without thinking to myself "HEY! Nobody calls Soundwave unchrasamatic!"

On that note, I would also suggest that by virtue of his voice acting alone, Shockwave gets a nod as character. If that wasn't pure voiced aloofness, I don't know what is... and I'm English. :P

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This page contains a single entry by Nala published on May 4, 2007 8:26 AM.

History of an awful pose. What is up with this? was the previous entry in this blog.

And then I'd paint this red, and then I'd cut this part off... is the next entry in this blog.

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