SYNOPSIS FOR "A PRIME PROBLEM"
TOTAL NUMBER OF BLOOPERS: 62
"Yes, Spike. This time, I am definitely me. Or I. Myself. ...Whoever I am."--Optimus Prime, asserting his identity.
"The Autobots won't be played for suckers! You and your Decepti-goons will lose!"--Spike Witwicky, to Megatron. Sometimes I honestly wonder how Corey Burton delivered this kind of dialogue with a straight face.
- Was was Soundwave's definition of the corlonium crystals?
- Are the corlonium crystals in a crevice, or a crevasse?
- This episode was written by Dick Robbins and Bryce Malek, the story editors for the Transformers series.
- The auto-scout was apparently never given an Earth mode. It is unknown whether that's because it was created after the Decepticons arrived on Earth, or because Teletraan I only bothered giving Earth transformations to fully sentient robots.
- Yes, the back of the Kid Rhino video Prime Threat calls them Korlonium crystals. I personally prefer the spelling "corlonium," on the basis that the root word may be core (as in, crystals from the Earth's core) or possibly corona (as in the ring of light around the Sun). Besides, these are the same people who claimed that in The Transformers: the Movie, Unicron formed a little team called the "Unicrons"...
I originally wrote up these notes in preparation of the August 2000 discussion of "A Prime Problem" on alt.toys.transformers.classic.moderated. They're not terribly profound, but I figured I'd include them here all the same.
- I love the lighting at the beginning! None of the characters are animated in the "correct" colors while they're examining the crevice--instead, the fronts of their bodies are extra-light, and the rest of them are extra-dark colors. It's a really neat effect.
- The animation of the auto-scout rolling along the bed of the ravine is among the smoothest animation I've ever seen, including in the movie. The way its body changes angle so very slowly as it rolls along is almost photo-realistic. The same guys who did this episode also animated "Auto Berserk," incidentally, which also features some pretty spiffy animation.
- Funny, how when the Decepticon start shooting at the Autobots after arriving at the ravine, every single Autobot starts running for cover, and not one of them thinks to cover Spike, who is also left scrambling for safety.
- When Prime backhands Skywarp during the battle, there's some yellow juice or something spraying from Skywarp's neck. Did he spring a leak?
- I find it interesting that Bumblebee is the only Autobot who does not raise his weapon to gun down the "impostor" as he enters Autobot Headquarters. He does, however, take potshots at the clone once the Autobots discover Megatron's plan near the end of the episode.
- When Ironhide orders the Autobots not to fire on the impostor, check out the gun he's holding. It looks very similar to the weapon that came with the Ironhide toy. (This is, incidentally, the same one he was using in "City of Steel.")
- Ever tried to figure out which Prime is which during the assorted contests? Here's my take on which Prime spoke which lines of dialogue:
WHEELJACK: Take your positions...
IRONHIDE: And fire when ready!
PRIME CLONE: You may go first. (I know that the real Prime would seem like the type to be this polite, but keep reading.)
(The rock face collapses on the first Prime.)
PRIME CLONE: Well, it seems this contest is already over! (This strikes me as a bit too callous a thing for the real Prime to say.)
(The first Prime emerges from the rubble.)
OPTIMUS PRIME: They just don't make rocky overhangs like they used to! (This line is very reminiscent of Prime's characteristic dry wit. This Prime has very clearly triumphed.)
OPTIMUS PRIME: Be careful. We could be heading into another Decepticon trap. (Even though he hasn't come out and said it, he's warning the Autobots that the other Prime is the "other" Decepticon trap.)
PRIME CLONE: We'll spring any traps that need to be sprung! (Does this sound like Prime? I think it sounds more like Megatron, who's overcompensating for Prime's warning by trying to sound very tough, possibly what Megatron believes the other Autobots' perception of Prime to be.)
PLOT OVERSIGHTS: (11)
- Megatron notes that the corlonium crystals were "detected by our Earth scanners." Well, that's an amazingly clunky piece of exposition, ain't it? As opposed to what, their sensors on Cybertron? It doesn't strike me as likely that Cybertron is really going to detect an energy source on Earth before the Decepticons on Earth do. So why the distinction?
- This is a very minor thing, but it surprises me that the Decepticons named their cassette scout the "auto-scout." You'd think that prefix would have a negative connotation for them.
- I'm trying to figure out how in the heck Laserbeak managed to get "holographic views of Optimus Prime from every angle" when Prime was laying face down in a pile of rock at the time. Not only that, but Laserbeak's scan was sufficiently invasive enough to recreate Prime's insides, as we'll see later that when Teletraan I examines the clone that's created from these holograms, its internal components are identical to the genuine Prime as well.
- When Megatron dumps the holographic images into his cloning machine, he says, "Now to begin the cloning process." After the clone is created and emerges from the chamber, Soundwave exclaims, "It is Optimus Prime!" Is Soundwave really that ignorant? I mean, even if Megatron never fully explained his plan to him, what part of "cloning process" does Soundwave not understand?
- I find it entirely implausible that Megatron, while controlling the Optimus Prime clone, would mistake Ironhide for Bumblebee. He knows who both of these Autobots are. He referred to Bumblebee by name in "The Immobilizer," and he correctly identified Ironhide in "The Autobot Run." (I can only assume that the writers wanted us to recognize right away that the Prime clone got it wrong, but this still strains credibility. Why not choose two Autobots similar in appearance, like Bluestreak and Prowl?)
- The clone begins to betray his facade when he reveals that he has no idea how to work Teletraan I properly. Putting aside for the moment that this was a serious tactical blunder on Megatron's part, when he accuses the computer of needing a maintenance check, Jazz reminds him that "you did that yourself this morning, Optimus." Why would Optimus have performed a maintenance check? Wouldn't that be Wheeljack or Ratchet's job?
- Here's a retroactive blooper that's a bit bothersome. When Teletraan I does his scan of both Primes, you can see through their armor and into their chests, and there is no sign of the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. While I realize that the Matrix didn't make its debut until the movie, the writers (and the story editors, in particular) must have at least known of its existence, given that the movie was probably already in production by the time this episode was made. I don't think it would have been that difficult to at least draw the Matrix inside the chest of Optimus Prime. They wouldn't even have to allude to its existence in the episode, but it would have made for some nice visual continuity.
Of course, there is the theory that Optimus Prime didn't have the Matrix with him, an idea which is supported by Beast Wars story editor Larry DiTillio, who primarily invented the loophole to explain why the Matrix was not present in Optimus Prime's chest during the events of "The Agenda" (BW). I can't think of a good reason why Prime would risk leaving the Matrix on Cybertron, but this explanation is almost preferable. At least that way we don't have to deal with the ramifications of the Matrix itself somehow being cloned, and also explains why Prime never just used the Matrix to prove he was the genuine article in the first place.
- During the battle at the crevice, Skywarp chucks a grenade at the Autobots. Since when is he equipped with grenades?
- When Optimus Prime is trying to convince the Autobots not to follow the clone into the ravine, he refers to Trailbreaker as "Trailblazer." Getting the name of one of your troops wrong is probably not the best way to convince them that you're not an impostor.
- If Megatron were smart, he would have had the Prime clone transform before it landed on the corlonium crystals. Of course, that would violate the unspoken rule that he's only allowed to use his latest master plan once and only once. (That is, of course, why the cloning machine was never utilized again, despite the fact that it survived to the end of the episode.)
- Finally, where did Powerglide and Warpath suddenly come from? They both show up during the final battle for the crevice (Warpath is the bloke who is gunned down next to Hound, right before Prowl charges.) "Desertion of the Dinobots" will demonstrate that Powerglide, at least, must have been on the Ark when it crashed, since he's been exposed to Earth's atmosphere for long enough that his cybertonium has started to deteriorate. So, why haven't we seen him before? Given that he's one of the few Autobots who can fly under his own power, he would certainly have come in handy before now. His existence points the way to a "lost episode" in which the Autobots possibly unearth the rest of their crew, who may have been buried at some heretofore inaccessible section of the Ark. I find it amazing that there was never an episode that explained this, but even more than that, I find it inexcusable that it was the story editors for the series who introduced Powerglide out of the blue with no explanation as to his sudden appearance.
DIALOGUE AND SOUND EFFECTS: (6)
- When the auto-scout is examining the crevice, is Megatron's voiceover supposed to be in real time? Megs and Soundwave appear to be watching its actions, but the auto-scout grabs one of the crystals long before Megatron warns, "do not allow the auto-scout to make contact."
- When the Decepticons ambush the Autobots and the Decepticon jets charge at Optimus Prime, they make a generic "troops yelling" noise. The voices are not that of Skywarp, Thundercracker, or Starscream.
- The way the Optimus Prime clone responds is inconsistent. At first, the clone repeats everything Megatron says--Megs says, "I am Optimus Prime," and the clone repeats it. When Megatron says, "I will lead them to their doom," however, the clone is speaking in tandem with him. Well, let's chalk that up to a bit of creative editing. Later on, Megatron is watching the Prime clone on his monitor. Megatron must have just fed him a line, since the clone says, "Must've jarred my equilibrium chips in the fall," while Megatron says nothing. Then, Megatron continues speaking, "But they'll stabilize," and the clone is speaking in synch with Megatron again.
- Teletraan I's voice is usually muffled as though it were always talking via communicator, but its voice isn't muffled when it reports, "Both subjects identical, therefore both are Optimus Prime."
- Preparing for the sharpshooting contest between the two Primes, Wheeljack says, "Take your positions!" but the fins on his head aren't flashing.
- Something else that seems inconsistent about Megatron and his clone is the fact that there are several times when he's wearing the control helmet, with that little microphone dangling in front of his face, and yet he's saying things that would be very unbecoming of Prime. For example, when he's fiddling with dials and speaks aloud, "These energy amplifiers are giving Teletraan I exactly the wrong readings." Maybe his helmet has got a "mute" switch or something, but if it does, we never see him use it.
ANIMATION AND CONTINUITY: (45)
- As the Decepticons examine the energy crevice, in the first close-up of Megatron, his Decepticon symbol is missing its "eyes."
- When Soundwave ejects the auto-scout to investigate, his eyes change from red to grey. His Decepticon symbol is also missing its eyes here.
- Just out of curiosity, why does the auto-scout eject, land on the ground in cassette mode, and then transform? None of Soundwave's cassettes have ever done this before. (I'm guessing it was to show off the fact that this was an unfamiliar cassette.)
- When the ship-disguised-as-a-mountain is landing, it's colored entirely purple, with a light purple rocket ship stuck to it. After it's landed, in the next shot of it (which is now a painted backdrop), the mountain disguise is its correct brown color.
- During the ambush, when Optimus clobbers the Decepticon jets, he lifts Thundercracker over his head with his rifle. In the next shot, Prime is suddenly lowering Starscream with his rifle. (Maybe he used this trick on both of them, but it looked like it was supposed to be a continuous shot to me.) When Starscream lands, incidentally, the component on his back is red instead of grey. Then in the next shot, Prime is facing the fallen Thundercracker again as he lowers his rifle.
- As Megatron orders Soundwave to eject Laserbeak (in order to take pictures of Prime), Soundwave's cassette window is dark blue like his body instead of its usual "window blue." The scene changes to a shot of Soundwave, but the background remains the same (the exact same angle of the cloning machine). It's very disconcerting--it's like he teleported or something. Then, when he ejects Laserbeak, the animation is recycled from earlier when Soundwave ejected the auto-scout (it's colored differently when he's standing over the lights of the crevice, of course).
- Laserbeak's camera has changed again. As you may recall, in "Divide and Conquer" it extended from his left air intake thingy on his back, but in this episode he's equipped with a smaller version in his head, complete with a telescoping lens.
- When Soundwave makes the amazingly stupid exclamation, "It is Optimus Prime!" the spaces in between the normally yellow stripes on the outside of his chest are colored yellow, instead of the stripes themselves.
- When Megatron is reciting dialogue with the Prime clone, Megatron's eyes are blue when he gets to the words, "And, at Megatron's command..."
- As Megatron watches his clone rejoin the Autobots on the monitor, Jazz's eyes are grey instead of blue.
- The Prime clone makes up some excuse about his equilibrium circuits being messed up, and when Megatron completes the sentence with "but they'll stabilize," the cannon on his back is on the right instead of the left. (This is the only time I can recall this particular error happening, actually.)
- Soundwave is present during the battle after the Prime clone joins the fight. Suffice to say, this isn't possible since he's hiding in the ship-disguised-as-a-mountain at the time.
- Only the Prime clone, Trailbreaker, and Jazz are seen returning to Autobot Headquarters. What the heck happened to Ironhide, Cliffjumper, Windcharger, and Spike? (It has occurred to me that they may simply have retreated on their own. You know, on the pretense of suddenly realizing that they had to protect Spike.)
- When the Autobots detect Optimus Prime approaching the base and the Prime clone explains that it must be an impostor, the front of Ironhide's chest is black instead of red.
- In the long shot of the Autobots waiting for the "impostor" to enter the base (I don't remember ever seeing sliding doors leading to the control room before...) we see Bluestreak, Ratchet, Jazz, the Prime clone, Ironhide, Trailbreaker, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Windcharger, and Spike. In the next shot, Sunstreaker has suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
- When Ironhide runs out and stops the Autobots from shooting, the rather disappointed-looking Prime clone has very light blue eyes... they're almost white.
- In the next group shot of the Autobots, Sunstreaker's fist is black instead of yellow.
- Then, when the Prime clone asserts, "Every Autobot knows that I am the genuine Optimus Prime," Huffer, Wheeljack and Mirage have joined the group. This sort of thing continues throughout the rest of the episode.
- As Teletraan I announces, "Both subjects identical. Therefore, both are Optimus Prime," Bumblebee is very nearly as tall as Wheeljack. I normally don't like dealing with size differences, but this one sticks in my mind since Bumblebee only came up to Wheeljack's middle in "More Than Meets the Eye" part 1.
- When Spike says, "But there can only be one real Prime" (Wasn't that the byline for the Highlander movie?), Wheeljack is standing behind him and his fist is light grey instead of its usual dark grey.
- After Cliffjumper sets the two Primes up for a race and chants, "On your marks, go!" when Trailbreaker asks, "What happened to 'ready' and 'get set'?" his arm-mounted gun is black instead of silver.
- Megatron's a bit lopsided when he's playing with the energy amplifiers. A very large section of his red middle arm is showing, like he's got his right sleeve rolled up or something.
- During Gears' big dirt-eating scene, he's missing the Autobot symbol on his chest. Also, behind him is Jazz, and the fender on his right leg is colored grey instead of white with a blue stripe.
- As Megatron and Starscream are watching all this on the monitor, when we see Starscream from behind, the Decepticon symbols on the back of his wings are incorrectly right-side up.
- Megatron is missing the sight on his gun barrel as Starscream delivers his delicious exposition about destroying one of the Decepticons.
- As Starscream starts pacing the room, he appears to be the same height as Megatron, even though Megs is seated at the time. Suffice to say, the two Decepticons are the same size.
- We are treated to even more recycled animation when Soundwave ejects Laserbeak to go and retrieve Starscream.
- When Spike and Windcharger spot Laserbeak exiting the ship-disguised-as-a-mountain, Windcharger's wearing a Decepticon symbol.
- When Starscream lands and starts shooting away at Laserbeak, the large stripes on his wings are colored white instead of red.
- Then, when Beaky returns fire, his eyes are dark grey like the rest of his head instead of yellow.
- As Beaky carries Starscream back into the ship-disguised-as-a-mountain, Starscream's feet are colored grey instead of blue.
- Ending our adventures with Beaky for this episode, when he re-enters Soundwave's chest, Soundwave's forehead visor is grey instead of blue.
- In the next long shot of the group of Decepticons, the cloning machine in the background is silver instead of its usual Decepticon purple.
- Then, as Megatron walks toward the right side of the screen, he passes by the cloning machine in the foreground, and it's incredibly small. I think somebody mixed up which animation cels were supposed to go on top.
- After the Starscream clone is created, as it emerges from the cloning chamber, its helmet is grey instead of black.
- Once Soundwave has retrieved Spike, in a group shot of the Decepticons, the panels on the front of Starscream's legs are grey instead of blue.
- When Spike delivers that amazingly corny "Decepti-goons" line (see above), Soundwave, who is holding him, has blue forearms instead of grey.
- As Megatron is reminding Starscream that it's not the real Optimus Prime that will be fighting the Starscream clone, we pan over to Soundwave, who is drawn with components on the side of his head with horizontal lines going across them, similar to the ones Starscream and Jazz have.
- As Starscream's clone challenges the Optimus Prime clone to the battle, the Starscream clone's neck is red instead of dark grey.
- There appears to be a mystery Autobot present before the Prime clone's duel with the Starscream clone. He's standing in between Optimus Prime and Trailbreaker and can be seen when Trailbreaker asks, "All right, so what happens when one of you wins?" Only his helmet and face can be seen; it has styling similar to Red Alert1, but his helmet is shapely like Cliffjumper's.
- Well, the Autobots should definitely find this duel to be a bit suspicious. Right after the Starscream clone is destroyed, three Decepticon jets look on, and yes, one of them is colored like... Starscream!
- When Ratchet affirms of the Prime clone, "Right... we follow him," Trailbreaker is standing next to him and his cheeks, not eyes, are colored blue.
- Ironhide's gun has changed when he and the other Autobots shoot down the clone. Earlier, when he stopped the other Autobots from shooting, he had a gun that looked like the one that came with the toy. In this later scene, it appears to be a generic weapon.
- I question Powerglide's successful rescue of Spike at the end of the episode. After Spike is dropped from the ship-no-longer-disguised-as-a-mountain, Powerglide intercepts Spike, and Spike collides with Powerglide's hull at a 90 degree angle. It sure is a good thing that boy's got an adamantium skeleton...
- Then, when Powerglide does his fly-by after catching Spike, the open spaces in between his stabilizer fins and his engines are colored red.
- After Cliffjumper decides that the Primes will have a race to determine the real leader, at the start of the race he brings his hand down as though he were holding a checkered flag. Apparently he watched Rebel Without a Clue recently, since that maneuver is borrowed directly from that movie.
- The corlonium crystals were "quartz-like and packed with layers of multi-colored rods."
- The crystals are in a crevice. Crevasse is a term that specifically describes a fissure in ice.
This Page Created 8/20/2000
Last Update: 1/4/2001