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About Shivkala

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  1. I was born in 1979, so, like I said, I was perfectly positioned for The Transformers, but too young for the comic or the other lines Marvel put out. Though GI Joe, Rom, and Micronauts are all very weel regarded. It's funny that the Marvel Transformers comic was set in the Marvel Universe originally, though that quickly changed (despite Spider-Man appearing early on and the Dinobots being tied to the Savage Lands). Mainframe did work on Beast Machines, though they employed a very different style for that show. I never really got into Reboot, though I know it's also really well regarded. It's funny how many people in and around Mainframe and their shows are connected to the comics and TV worlds. Dan Didio who recentlly was fired from DC Comics after a near 20 year run was VP of Mainframe. Larry DiTillo worked for them and was friends with J. Michael Stracynzski, working with him many times, including on my all time favorite show, Babylon 5, until the two had a falling out. As you said, they got some comics writers to work with them, including Marv Wolfman, who also worked on "The Return of Optimus Prime" for the original cartoon.
  2. Shivkala

    Episode 248.5 — Minisode 248.5

    I only listen to the episodes of movies I've watched, but I listen to all the mini-episodes. I get what you're saying about the low-budget movies, but I have a feeling it's due to the pandemic. While we've been getting some previously recorded in the "before-fore times" live shows, I imagine they want to save the bigger budget, more popular movies for when they can get in front of a large audience again. My favorite episodes are those live shows. Paul, June, and Jason are a great team, but there's something about the crowd that really adds to the show. From the repeated jokes (Jason and babies in the crowd, the balcony, etc.) to hearing questions from audience members, to just having the audience to play off of, I find them way more enjoyable. And I'm sure the bigger, more popular the movie, the better the response from the crowd. So as long as post-pandemic they get back to those movies with live shows, I'm okay with lower-budget movies. Besides, it gives me an opportunity to catch up on the other podcasts I listen to during those weeks for me.
  3. Well, long time listener, first time commenter here, prompted by this episode, so some background first: I'm a few years younger than Paul and Jason, but that positioned me to be 5 when Transformers first came out. Like Paul, I was into Go-Bots, but that shifted to Transformers rather quickly. I lost interest by late '86, early '87, as the cartoon was winding down. The toy-line would continue on for a few years, before being revamped and repackaged as Transformers Generation 2. By this time, it was the 90's, so while a sizable portion of the line were reissues of the original toys, they all had a 90's flair to them, with new color schemes (neon colors where possible) and self-sabotaging branding (Optimus' trailer now included his name, written largely on it, because "Robots in Disguise" seemed to escape them). The cartoon was repackaged as well, with early 90's CGI serving as a way to frame the episodes, as no new episodes were included. I bring this up for those unfamiliar with Transformers fandom, as the era from 1984 to the launch of G2 in 1993 became known as G1. The Transformers fandom has many divisions to it, but the oldest are those who worship the original characters and toys. They are commonly referred to as "Gee-Wunners" and painted as only loving the original stuff and therefore only wanting to see the characters introduced in G1 depicted as they appeared in G1. Back to a personal note, while I shifted from Transformers to Star Trek (I was a very popular 3rd grader, I can assure you!) the line went on, as I indicated, though here in the US the toys mostly stopped (newer toys were released in European and Asian markets during this time) before G2 brought them back. I missed out on G2, as the last thing I wanted to do as a high schooler was revisit my Kindergarten through 3rd grade interests. As G2 ended, Transformers continued into two lines, Machine Wars and Beast Wars. MW featured the G1 characters with updated looks, but no media existed to support the line. BW however, got a cartoon featuring the best mid-90's CGI available. As was the trend in the 90's, the show creators seemed to be more interested in putting together a well-written show than something the kids would like (which, like Pixar found out, would happen if you, surprise, surprise told good stories). Yes, the show was still in service of selling the toys (to June's confusion about the "chicken or the egg," not too long before Transformers the rules were changed to allow shows to be 30 minute advertisements for the toys, so the toys came first* followed by the comic and the show). Anyway, as that show wound down, I, like many late teens/early 20 year olds at the time made the "Trukk. Not. Munkey" argument to a friend, which is basically, "Optimus Prime is a truck, not a stupid monkey." The friend, a fan of the show, explained, patiently, that BW starred Optimus Primal, a descendent of Optimus Prime, and there was a really good reason for him to have a beast mode. He sent me a digital copy of the 3rd season premiere (given that it was 1998 I'm still amazed at him pulling off that feat) and I loved it. A few months later, I found myself home between terms at my college, when Fox Kids began re-running Beast Wars as a part of their afternoon line-up. I was hooked and it re-kindled my love for the Transformers. Apparently, what my 14 year old self rejected, my 20 year old self relished. Here's as good a point as any to mention that Transformers unlike most other franchises, doesn't have an ongoing continuity. as such. Star Trek for example officially has the "Prime" universe (TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, ENT, DISCO, PICARD, LOWER DECKS, and the related movies) and the "Kelvinverse" (all 3 of the recent movies). Star Wars has the movies, the cartoons, and whatever books and comics they choose to include at the time. I guess a good analogy with Transformers would be Marvel. The comics are their own thing, the various animated shows are all separate (with the exception of the 90's shows which all tried to link up to a degree). The movies are their own corner. And the rest (books, certain comic lines, such as Marvel Knights or the various ones aimed at kids) also exist separately. For Transformers G1, G2, Beast Wars, and Beast Machines are all in the same continuity. The movies are all in their own separate continuity. And every few years, the TV shows start a new continuity. For about 10 years I followed the shows (Beast Machines was the sequel series to Beast Wars which led to Car Robots the first return to vehicle modes for the Transformers, and then the three-show long Unicron trilogy), collected the toys, and awaited the movie with eager anticipation. I recall liking the movie, but not loving it. The designs weren't that appealing to me (and made for messy, unwieldy transformations for the toys). Also, there was a gap between series, so with all that, in early 2008, I gave up on Transformers. I did see Revenge of the Fallen in movie theaters, but it was from a different perspective, as I was no longer an active fan of the property. By the time of the third movie, I had stopped wanting to see them in theaters, opting for Redbox, then Netflix, and finally for the last one I watched it while donating platelets. Then in 2018 I got interested again and now I'm back to collecting and watching the shows that come out (though I ended up not seeing Bumblebee in the theaters and buying a digital copy when it came out instead). All of this serves to (a) give you guys some background on the franchise and (b) show my personal connection to it. As such, I'll say this, the movie was everything you expect from Michael Bay, warts and all. In anticipation of this charity episode, I did re-watch it in late July and made it through the whole thing. It certainly helps to have a connection to the franchise. There is a distinct division in the fandom (as I alluded to earlier, being so varied, the Transformers fandom has many divisions) between the fans of the movies and those who didn't like them. Those who hate them are accused of being "Gee-Wunners" and are just mad that Michael Bay made Transformers cool. Those who love them are accused of having no taste and being accepting of the sexism and racism that go throughout the movies. There are those who argue the movies are all action sequences punctuated with juvenile humor, while others who argue that the characterization of the Transformers themselves is unmatched in any other depictions. Having the background in the lore definitely helps. For while the movies do introduce some concepts, many of them are interpretations of concepts that were already in existence. Case in point, the "Matrix of Leadership," which first appeared in the 1986 film, aptly titled, The Transformers: The Movie. Yes, it is a silly name, but it comes from a time when the cartoon was aimed at elementary aged school kids who ate up ideas such as that. So, again, not everyone who likes Transformers loves the movies. Some, like me, see them as entertaining diversions, but far from the best storytelling the franchise has had (again there are many arguments over this, but the IDW comic run from around 2005 to 2019 is often viewed as the gold standard. Then there are large debates over whether Beast Wars, Transformers Animated, or Transformers Prime gets to claim the title of "best Transformers cartoon"). While I do get why, I have to say, I was a little disappointed at the approach to this episode. As a fan of the franchise (and someone who thinks the movies are enjoyable, but very, very flawed), I would have loved to have seen the same enthusiasm for this one as you guys gave Hobbs and Shaw. But I also realize why that wasn't the case. I do agree that the movies have some great comedic delivery. Going with the point about casting, Ken Jeong has a small role in the 3rd movie, with John Malkovich uttering what is perhaps the best line in all of film history (Step aside, "Frankly my dear...," "Leave the gun, take the cannoli," "Play it, Sam..." and all the others). His character is interviewing Shia in an open concept office, where he has a clear view of the workers. Each floor is color coded and everything needs to be in-line with that, including coffee mugs. Upon seeing a different colored mug, he calls for it to be taken care of, justifying it by saying, "It is a visual, and therefore visceral, betrayal." Go on, I dare you to find a better line, especially given Malkovich's delivery of it. It's moments like this that make the movies watchable. What was interesting was Jason and June agreeing the humans made the movie. Among fans, it is a widely accepted thing that human characters are usually universally annoying, bad, and/or uninteresting. As a fan, you want to see the robots and yes, they do have personalities. Comic writer Bob Budiansky is responsible for a lot of it, coming up with bios including details about their unique personalities for much of the original G1 characters. For those who don't love the movies, we often cite this as an issue. If you find the human characters the most engaging part of the movie, then the movie failed. If you want to make a movie that focuses on humans and has the giant robots as mostly set pieces, make another Pacific Rim. Among fans, there's even calls for the next movie to be set entirely on Cybertron, therefore leaving out humans altogether. It remains to be seen, if this is made, whether it will be successful, or proof that the humans are needed to get non-fans in the seats. While opinions differ on just about everything to do with these movies, it is a widely held belief that the action is too fast and too confusing. Detractors of the movies point to part of the problem being that the Decepticons are all grey, which makes them nearly indistinguishable. Therefore, it is hard to follow and leaves no impact when you're (a) not sure who the Autobots are hitting or (b) who's hitting the Autobots. For better or worse, the Transformers do die with alarming frequency, so while it is "shocking" it also means that by this movie or the third one at the latest, there's even fewer reasons to care about characters who might not be around much longer. I've got two final thoughts. First, to Jason's question about what it takes to kill a Transformer, the IDW comic series did a good job of covering this. There are three key components to a Transformer, the brain module, the transformation cog, and the "spark." The brain module is what it says and like a human brain, if it's damaged to a certain point, the Transformer can no longer live. The transformation cog is, aptly, what allows them to transform. Of the three, this is the one that can take the most damage and is the easiest to replace. The last is the "spark" and the closest analogue to humans is the idea of the soul (though in practical sense, damage to it would be like damage to a human heart). Sparks are often viewed as glowing balls of energy and can be transferred from one body to another, allowing Transformers to continue living after their previous body is destroyed. I can't remember specifics, but it's likely this is how Optimus is brought back to life, as the Matrix retrieves his spark. The Matrix has been shown to preserve the sparks of previous holders (the "Primes") and in various media, we've seen the sparks both go off to join the Allspark upon the death of the body, as well as in rare cases return from the Allspark in a sort of reincarnation. The final thought is that while I can understand and forgive your approach to this movie, I cannot overlook the omission of John Turturro's infamous line as he's giving his location as, "directly beneath the enemy's scrotum." That has to be both the funniest and most cringe-worthy thing in this movie, and that includes the racist depictions of Mudflap and Skids (the cringe-worthy part, not the humor part, as there's nothing funny about those two). *I highly recommend watching The Toys that Made Us episode on Transformers on Netflix. The toyline has an interesting history, as it started as a way to import toys from two different toy lines from Japan, DiaClone and Machine Robo.