In November, 1995, Alliance Communication announced Beast Wars. It is showing in Canada on the YTV network (under the name "Beasties"). In the United States, it was syndicated through Claster TV. Most of the 100 independent TV stations that showed the first season will also be showing the second season.
See also www.beastwars.com and the list of fan sites for Beast Wars.
Maybe I should put in for hazard pay. Sometimes the things I have to watch for this column really scare me. Case in point: Beast Wars. This syndicated cartoon (check TV Guide listings) employs spooky 3-D animation. When the main villain, an awesome T. rex named Megatron, snarls and snaps in close-up, you get the dizzying feeling that you're about to fall right into his choppers. It's like vertigo with bristling fangs. Megatron's primary opponent, a gorilla named Optimus who looks like Mighty Joe Young on anabolic steroids, has a terifying set of incisors himself. I don't thing it's an accident that about three times every episodes, one of the show's creatures comes at you with jaws agape. If in the annals of medicine there's a phobia aobut being swallowed up whole, then Beast Wars could cause an epidemic.
Beast Wars is the lead-off hitter for a nitro-driven syndicated
package called the "Power Block". It's followed by VOR-Tech, a
cyberhorror cartoon; ReBoot, another 3-D offering that originally aired
on ABC; and finally, a warrior who needs no introduction: GI Joe
Forget the after-school cookies and milk, Mom; just leave out a bottle of tequila. The Power Block is like heavy-metal music for the skateboard set.
The premise of Beast Wars is a little hazy, partially because of the show's impenetrable argot: "Rhinox, intensify perimeter scan and see if you can get through to Dinobot. I want the Predacons spotted."
As best I can figure out, the cartoon tells the story of two antagonistic bands of space adventurers who have crash-landed on the same primitive planet. It's a rugged, butted terrain that looks like remotest Utah. There are the Predacons, led by the toothy Megatron. He rules over a pterodactyl and an outsize tarantula, wasp, and scorpion. You can tell they're the bad guys because they all have voices as abrasive as sandpaper. Megatron's crown weighs uneasy, however, because all his henchmen are constantly circling hem, looking for a sign of weakness so they can stomp him and assume dominance. What can I say? It's a real Tron-eat-Tron world.
The good guys are the Maximals, a corps lead by the gorilla Optimus and composed of a cheetah, a rhinoceros, a white tiger, a falcon, and, last and least, a rat. Old Rat Trap is an unlikely hero -- with a Bronx accent and a less-than-valiant attitude. Sounding just like George Costanza as a rodent, he provides the Maximals' comic relief.
With a simple command both the Predacons and Maximals can instantly adapt into heavily armored and heavily armed robots. Then, at least for a few minutes, they stop trying to tear each other limb from limb and instead take up a far more civilized pursuit: blasting each other to smithereens.
The constant battles on this eerie, arresting, but ultimately empty show often result in strange, squeamish confrontations. Have you ever seen a giant rat in a pitched battle with a mumongus spider? Believe you me, it's not a pretty sight.