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Transformers Syndication Edits

SCI-FI CHANNEL EDITS | FIFTH SEASON NARRATION | TRANSFORMERS: GENERATION 2 | OTHER MODIFICATIONS | BEAST WARS

"I'm missing several scenes from the picture.  Someone broke in here and stole them!"--the video room editor, "Hoist Goes Hollywood" (TF)


"Time to add firobably hate myself in the morning, but...!"--Grapple/Inferno, "Masquerade" (TF)


Every episode of the original Transformers series exists in at least two incarnations.  There is, of course, the original unabridged version, and there's also a slightly edited version that was played when the series aired on the Sci-Fi Channel on and off from 1993 to about 1995.  About one minute's worth of footage was typically removed from each episode, though the edits were usually made in small increments.  They did this for more commercial time, since programs actually ran longer back in the 1980's than they do today.  Most of the edits were fairly insignificant, but a number of them change the significance of entire scenes, and a few of the edits all but nullify the whole point of the episode!


Sci-Fi Channel Edits

The Sci-Fi Channel LogoGiven the preponderance of the Sci-Fi Channel's version of these episodes, being distrubuted as second-hand copies and available for download online, I thought it might be useful to document the content that is missing from these abridged episodes.  The numbers in parentheses below represent the total length of content removed from the Sci-Fi Channel airings. I've For the historical clips, the lines or in italics and parenthesis represent sections that were edited.

Note that every first-season and second-season episode aired on Sci-Fi used the second season title sequence and third-season theme music, since this was the form in which the episodes existed when they were presented near the end of their original run in 1986. The "More Than Meets the Eye" trilogy was the only set of first-season episodes to retain their original ending credits.  "Five Faces of Darkness" retained its own unique title sequence, as did "The Rebirth," while the rest of the third season had its usual intro.  Also, the original commercial bumpers were never aired on Sci-Fi, replaced in favor of the generic "Sci-Fi Cartoon Quest" bumpers used for their other weekday morning programs.

Eventually, the Transformers: Generation 2 series was produced, consisting of the original, unedited episodes augmented with computer graphics.  By 1996, the Sci-Fi Channel was still airing the Transformers series on their "Animation Station" programming, but only the remaning 46 episodes that had never aired for the G2 show.

I've used a combination of italics and parentheses to denote three different types of content.  When I've transcribed brief scenes of dialogue, they are used as "stage directions" to indicate characters' actions that are not evident from the dialogue alone.  For the third-season narrative trailers, I've used them to demonstrate which parts of the trailers were cut out.  Finally, for the fifth-season narration, they are meant to show where scenes from the episodes were interspersed within the narrative dialogue.  This should be fairly self-evident when taken in context.

Right now this list is still incomplete.  The archive I was using as reference for the unabridged episodes went offline when I still had 24 episodes to research.  I'll be completing the list as soon as I'm feeling up to tackling it again.

1.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 1 (55 seconds)

2.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 2  (75 seconds)

3.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 3  (65 seconds)

4.  "Transport to Oblivion"(31 seconds)

5.  "Roll For It" (59 seconds)

6.  "Divide and Conquer" (44 seconds)

7.  "Fire in the Sky"  (54 seconds)

8.  "S.O.S. Dinobots"  (21 seconds)

9.  "Fire on the Mountain"  (Total edited content: unknown.)

Note:  This is the only episode of which I do not own a complete Sci-Fi Channel recording.  If you have the Sci-Fi Channel version on tape and wouldn't mind transcribing the first few minutes' worth of the episode (up to the scene in which Skyfire is rediscovered), I'd appreciate it.

10.  "War of the Dinobots"  (61 seconds)

11.  "The Ultimate Doom" part 1 (57 seconds)

12.  "The Ultimate Doom" part 2 (67 seconds)

13.  "The Ultimate Doom" part 3 (52 seconds)

14.  "Countdown to Extinction"  (67 seconds)

15.  "A Plague of Insecticons" (59 seconds)

16.  "Heavy Metal War" (45 seconds)

17.  "Autobot Spike" (45 seconds)

18.  "Changing Gears" (54 seconds)

19.  "City of Steel" (57 seconds)

20.  "Attack of the Autobots"  (37 seconds)

21.  "Traitor" (54 seconds)

22.  "The Immobilizer"  (55 seconds)

23.  "The Autobot Run" (61 seconds)

24.  "Atlantis, Arise!"  (43 seconds)

25.  "Day of the Machines"  (43 seconds)

26.  "Enter the Nightbird" (59 seconds)

27.  "A Prime Problem" (57 seconds)

28.  "The Core"  (28 seconds, at least)

29.  "The Insecticon Syndrome"  (39 seconds)

30.  "Dinobot Island" part 1 (67 seconds)

31.  "Dinobot Island" part 2  (48 seconds)

32.  "The Master Builders"  (66 seconds)

33.  "Auto Berserk" (55 seconds)

34.  "Microbots" (57 seconds)

35.  "Megatron's Master Plan" part 1 (49 seconds)

36.  "Megatron's Master Plan" part 2  (?? seconds)

37.  "Desertion of the Dinobots" part 1 (61 seconds)

38.  "Desertion of the Dinobots" part 2  (56 seconds)

39.  "Blaster Blues" (52 seconds)

40.  "A Decepticon Raider in King Arthur's Court"  (58 seconds)

41.  "The Golden Lagoon" (?? seconds)

42.  "The God Gambit"  (56 seconds)

43.  "Make Tracks"  (?? seconds)

44.  "Child's Play" (65 seconds)

45.  "Quest for Survival" (?? seconds)

46.  "The Secret of Omega Supreme" (49 seconds)

47.  "The Gambler" (34 seconds)

48.  "Kremzeek!" (?? seconds)

49.  "Sea Change" (?? seconds)

50.  "Triple Takeover" (?? seconds)

51.  "Prime Target" (?? seconds)

52.  "Auto-Bop" (?? seconds)

53.  "The Search for Alpha Trion" (?? seconds)

54.  "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide"  (44 seconds so far)

55.  "Hoist Goes Hollywood" (62 seconds)

56.  "The Key to Vector Sigma" part 1 (68 seconds)

57.  "The Key to Vector Sigma" part 2 (61 seconds)

58.  "Aerial Assault" (?? seconds)

59.  "War Dawn" (?? seconds)

60.  "Trans-Europe Express" (?? seconds)

61.  "Cosmic Rust" (?? seconds)

62.  "Starscream's Brigade"  (?? seconds)

63.  "The Revenge of Bruticus" (?? seconds)

64.  "Masquerade"  (?? seconds)

65.  "B.O.T."  (?? seconds)

The Transformers: the Movie

The movie never aired on the Sci-Fi Channel.  See the Fifth Season notes below to read about the changes made when the film was split into five episodes.

66.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 1 (?? seconds)

67.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 2  

68.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 3

69.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 4

70.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 5  

71.  "The Killing Jar" (61 seconds)

72.  "Chaos"  (61 seconds)

73.  "Dark Awakening" (52 seconds)

74.  "Forever is a Long Time Coming" (68 seconds)

75.  "Starscream's Ghost" (73 seconds)

76.  "Thief in the Night" (49 seconds)

77.  "Surprise Party"

78.  "Madman's Paradise" (?? seconds)

79.  "Nightmare Planet"  (69 seconds)

80.  "Ghost in the Machine"  (?? seconds)

81.  "Webworld" (73 seconds removed, 3 seconds added)

82.  "Carnage in C-Minor"  (65 seconds)

83.  "The Big Broadcast of 2006" (73 seconds)

84.  "The Quintesson Journal"  (71 seconds)

85.  "The Ultimate Weapon"(?? seconds)

86.  "Fight or Flee" (?? seconds)

87.  "The Dweller in the Depths"  (75 seconds)

88.  "Only Human" (64 seconds)

89.  "Money is Everything" (72 seconds)

90.  "Grimlock's New Brain" (73 seconds)

91.  "Call of the Primitives" (68 seconds)

92.  "The Face of the Nijika" (72 seconds)

93.  "The Burden Hardest to Bear" (58 seconds)

94.  "The Return of Optimus Prime" part 1 (73 seconds)

95.  "The Return of Optimus Prime" part 2 (56 seconds)

96.  "The Rebirth" part 1 (69 seconds)

97.  "The Rebirth" part 2 (67 seconds)

98.  "The Rebirth" part 3 (54 seconds)


Fifth Season Narration

Powermaster Optimus Prime will be back soon, to transform your day into... an adventure!Following "The Rebirth," the Transformers series was revamped for the 1987-88 television season.  No new episodes were animated, but existing stories were augmented with new sequences of the Powermaster version of Optimus Prime (actually an animatronic puppet) telling stories of his grand adventures to his young human friend, Tommy (played by Jason Jansen).  All of Victor Caroli's original narration was replaced with Prime's, sometimes changing the storyline slightly.  The show also got a new title sequence (made up primarily of clips from the movie and from toy commercials), and was the first incarnation of Transformers that didn't feature characters transforming from one mode to the other during the scene bumpers. Twenty episodes got this treatment, including a televised version of The Transformers: the Movie,  which was broken down into five installments.

At the beginning of almost every episode, Tommy runs out into the middle of what looks like a barren asteroid and yells "Optimus!" as Optimus Prime, in his combined Powermaster form, flies toward the asteroid and lands.  Tommy's also a fantastic gymnast, as he sometimes manages to do a jumping flip and land on Prime's shoulder.  (This footage is recycled so often that I haven't included it in the transcriptions below.  It typically added about 20 seconds to the episode's total running time.)  The end credits were also extended to 45 seconds in length because extra screens for the live action/puppetry segments were added.  The lines from the episodes below in parentheses and italics are meant to indicate where these scenes appear in the narrative commentary.

1.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 1

2.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 2

3.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 3

 However, it was aired as part of the Transformers series during the fifth season, in which Powermaster Optimus Prime narrated the stories.  In this version, Spike's line, "Oh, shit!  What are we gonna do now?" is removed from the soundtrack.  Also, Ultra Magnus' "Open, dammit, open!" was changed to "Open... open!"

The Transformers: the Movie Day One

The Transformers: the Movie Day Two

The Transformers: the Movie Day Three

The Transformers: the Movie Day Four

The Transformers: the Movie Day Five

66.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 1

67.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 2  

68.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 3

69.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 4

70.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 5  

77.  "Surprise Party"

73.  "Dark Awakening"

94.  "The Return of Optimus Prime" part 1

95.  "The Return of Optimus Prime" part 2

96.  "The Rebirth" part 1

97.  "The Rebirth" part 2

98.  "The Rebirth" part 3


Transformers: Generation 2

Brawn and Gears as seen through the Cybernet Space CubeIn 1993, shortly after the first of the Transformers: Generation 2 toys were released, Sunbow broke out some of the original episodes for syndication on television once again, augmented with the Cybernet Space Cube.  Using a new computer-animated title sequence (originally played in movie theaters to advertise the Generation 2 comic book) and a new narrator (Gary Chalk, later of Beast Wars fame), thirteen episodes were produced for the initial run.  The first-season episodes can be identified by tiny, nearly illegible on-screen titles and the fact that Victor Caroli's original narration was replaced and duplicated by the new narrator.

Fewer changes were made to the second season episodes; the original on-screen titles were retained when applicable, and someone took the time to try to match the original font used to finally add titles to episodes like "Roll for It" and "The Ultimate Doom."  Victor Caroli's narration was also kept intact for these episodes.  This season made use of more creative computer graphics, such as the "puzzle piece" scene bumper and an on-screen mechanical border added late in the season that "transformed" during many of the characters' transformation sequences (see image above).  Episodes from this season can be identified by the title sequence, in which Optimus Prime's head morphs into the cyber-net space cube after punching out Ramjet.

Almost none of the Generation 2 episodes were edited for time, although they contained scenes that were occasionally obstructed by the new computer graphics around the edges of the screen or during scene transitions (as well as the fade-outs and fade-ins between commercial breaks).  For the most part, their running length is identical--in fact, the animation was often slowed down immediately before and after the commercial breaks in order to make up for the fact that the fades were cut, even though doing so frequently put the animation briefly out of synch with the dialogue.  The one exception to this was "The Autobot Run," which had two seconds of music edited at the beginning of the episode.

Since a few minor changes were made to the episodes themselves, whether deliberate or inadvertant, I've noted them below as well.

1.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 1

2.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 2

3.  "More Than Meets the Eye" part 3

14.  "Countdown to Extinction"

16.  "Heavy Metal War"

23.  "The Autobot Run"

27.  "A Prime Problem"

34.  "Microbots"


Other Modifications

As the Transformers gained worldwide popularity and the cartoon series began airing in other countries, changes were sometimes made.  The Japanese version of the series sometimes spliced the content of one or more episodes together to create new stories.  Subtitled versions were made for viewers overseas who didn't speak the English language.  Curiously, SKY Channel in Britain aired every episode from the first and second season without on-screen titles and writer credits, with the exception of "War Dawn."

5.  "Roll for It"

8.  "S.O.S. Dinobots"

10.  "War of the Dinobots"

12.  "The Ultimate Doom" part 2

16.  "Heavy Metal War"

34.  "Microbots"

36.  "Megatron's Master Plan" part 2

69.  "Five Faces of Darkness" part 4

92.  "The Face of the Nijika"

98.  "The Rebirth" part 3


Beast Wars

Beast Wars LogoEven the first computer-animated Transformers series didn't escape the axe.  When the FOX network picked up the series for syndication, they made some minor edits for violence or other content.  Also, a third commercial break was added to the third act of each episode. They seemed to strongly disapprove of Rhinox's chain guns, in particular; they typically worked around those scenes, showing him just after he's fired. I've never seen the FOX version of Beast Wars and don't have copies of the episodes, so I don't have anything close to a complete list at this time.

In Canada, which ironically enough was where Beast Wars was originally produced, the series was renamed Beasties due to censorship issues (the same reason our War Planets became their Shadow Raiders) and got a revised theme song and title sequence to match.  Beast Wars was also edited when it aired in Great Britain on GMTV.  Most of their changes involved the removal of any dialogue containing the word "slag," since the term has a decidedly negative connotation in Great Britain.  Some scenes were also cut due to violent content.

There were also some changes made to the Beast Wars series that were independant from censorship guidelines, which I have also noted below.

1.  "Beast Wars" (part 1)

2.  "Beast Wars" (part 2)

9.  "A Better Mousetrap"  

Every known airing of this episode in the U.S. is missing the on-screen title and writer credits.  Larry DiTillio said that his copy of the episode has the titles intact, which makes me wonder if Mainframe gave him a completed version but sent out the unfinished version to the networks.

14.  "Double Dinobot"  

Not a syndication edit, but there's an interesting variation on this episode in existence.  Rattrap and the Dinobot clone go to investigate the clone's claims of a Predacon operation, and Rattrap transforms after they arrive.  In an early version of the episode, one of the sound effects layers for his transformation is missing--you can hear his parts shuffling around, but the high-pitched noise of whirring gears is absent.  Apparently, two separate versions of the episode were sent out (possibly when somebody at Mainframe noticed the problem?) because subsequent airings included the correct sound effects.  



Acknowledgements

Thanks to Skyflight for his information about the Sci-Fi Channel's post-G2 lineup.  Special thanks to Rikard Bakke, whose RealAudio episode recordings I used in some cases to compare the unabridged episodes with the Sci-Fi versions.  Some fifth-season narration clips were transcribed from the sound files available at bigbot.com.

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This Page Created: 1/25/2001
Last Update: 5/28/2001