The new Transformers animated series, Earth spark, does many things that might make die-hard fans wary at first. To be a family showbeing in it primary focus On are robot heroes like them sit handin-hand with two young children and their parents. Nor is it about an Autobot/Decepticon conflict, but a new generation of Earth-born Terran Transformers. But that’s it this: kind of a fascinating sequel to the classic cartoon.
Earth spark is set in modern-day Witwicky, Pennsylvaniaand does not re-litigate the arrival of the Transformers on Eart or the war with the Decepticons. That into Earth spark, has already done. Told to us through a cute riff on the 2D aesthetic of the classic cartoon series, Earth spark is set in a world where the Transformers and Decepticons did indeed arrive in the 1980s and fought a brutal war over the new world they found, attacking humanity along the way.
However, 40 years later in this world, things are very different. TThe War is Over, ppeople know Transformers exist, and culture has developed a consciousness of them similar to ours, both through comics and toys actual history. Pperhaps best of all, the war ended in relative peace: Optimus prime (Alan Tudyk) finally managed to convince Megatron (Game of ThronesRory McCann) to come to the negotiating table and form a new alliance to both rebuild the new home they had been fighting for and keep the peace, allying with a human task force called GHOST to destroy all the persistent Decepticon- to bring in agents willing to continue hostilities.
It is in this fascinating premise that we meet Earth spark‘s protagonists, the Malto family – Dot Malto, a former soldier in the Autobot/Decepticon war and now an undercover agent for GHOST, her husband Alex, ahhistory teacher and licensed Bumblebee Stan, and their children Robby and Mo. Recently moved to Witwicky (where Dots new job as one local park ranger appears a ruse to unknowingly take her away back to GHOST), Robby and Mo explore their quiet new town, only to stumble upon a wondrous evolution: a cave that gives birth to the first two Transformers ever born on Earth. Empathetically linked to Robby and Mo through two gauntlets that emerge in their creation process, the two “Terran” Transformers, Twitch and Thrash, are kept secret from their human colleagues by Optimus and Megatron GHOST, not only so they can stay with the Maltos, but so the Cybertronians can protect the secret of a new generation of their kind from the shadowy machinations of their weak alliance.
To be in this balance of the known and the new that Earth spark creates a compelling family show that yokes true Transformers typically restart jive. Loosely tcovering the classic show as a historical eventand tie up two generations of the Malto family’s relationship with it, the series creates fertile ground for enough nostalgic elements – though stylized, the classic Transformers and Decepticons are largely close to their Generation 1 designs – to entice older fans, while also providing a seriously new perspective for viewers in Twitch and Thrash, largely oblivious to their species’ past, with Robby and Mo acting as a bridge between those two perspectives. If someone with a passive familiarity with Transformersthere was enough world building allure here to draw me right into the show, and the charm of what’s new – especially Twitch and Thrash, which make for a cute, tween-esque lens in the Transformers world – was enough to make me look.
But while their antics with Mo and Robby will be the draw for a younger audience, there’s plenty of meat on them Earth spark‘s bones beyond the typical family show stuff to keep old-school fans intrigued too (apart from the occasional very cool action scene, many of which see the Transformers creatively switch between their vehicle and robot modes as part of their fighting styles). Pushing the Autobot/Decepticon conflict largely to the past creates room for new bottlenecks in the story. On a macro scale, there is the new villain Mandroid, a former veteran of the war who now sees the only way to drive the Transformers off Earth is to become more and more like them and modify parts of his damaged body with Cybertronian technology. Also lingering in the background are not only the remnants of Decepticon from the war, but also GHOST as an organization, and Optimus and Megatron’s differing views on their alliance with it.
There’s something fascinating about watching Megatron wrestle with the idea of imprisoning his former soldiers, especially as friction develops between him and Optimus over how GHOST treats detained Decepticons. A possibly lesser show could use this to end up playing Megatron in a re-heel turn, but Earth spark smartly distinguishes itself as Optimus and Megatron’s friendship is challenged but ultimately strengthened by this friction, with the former realizing that his friend has a point about GHOST’s politics, and the latter embracing that he has changed as a creature since following the steps has put to work with Optimus.
As Earth spark continues, and there are more Terran Transformers bornit’s going to be interesting to see how the show evolves in its relationship to the classic Transformers story. Right now, there’s a lot of potential for the show to balance a love letter on Transformers nostalgia with something that feels like a real step forward for the franchise – while keeping the series action-packed adventure show for families on the go.
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