November 29, 2013

Day 188/ Why Prime

Not much happened today, so I thought I'd talk about something that's been on my mind of late. Especially in light of me watching a slew of Buffy episodes with my thesis in mined, I think it's time for me to explain really why I do what I do, why I stopped reviewing Buffy, and why I think Prime deserves more recognition than it's getting right now.

When I started out my reviews, I began with Buffy, and it is no surprise that I... well, I kinda sucked at it. I was arrogant, far too playful with the episodes in question, and didn't have a handle on what Buffy was really about. I think a lot of that stemmed from the fact that I had just finished the show. Literally; I had marathoned it in about three months, and was now moving onto Angel, without really looking at or appreciating what I had just seen. Sure, I knew Buffy was great, but I didn't seem to know why it was great. It was not until I stopped reviewing it, until I actually went back and looked at the show again with an eye on character and thematic follow-through, that I found that this show was so complicated and loaded and deep, that frankly, I'm glad I stopped when I did. I leave the Buffy analysis to Critically Touched, a website that is certainly the most comprehensive coverage of Buffy that I've found to date. Oh, there are other books out there, essays, theses, but these are all looking at specifics of the show. Critically Touched looks at the show... like, all of it, and by God, do they do it well. That's not to say I'm not jealous, because I am. I'm also pretty embarrassed, because should those guys ever find this site and look at my reviews of Buffy, well they'd probably roll their eyes, yell at their computer screens, or just exit out of my site without a backwards glance, and they'd have every right to do that, because I did not know what I was talking about when it came to Buffy, and I'm still not sure that I do know the show as well as I could, even with my digging and rewatching and studying of it for my senior thesis.

So, Buffy and Angel were both out. That left me with the thing that I should have focussed on from the beginning: Transformers. Transformers is something that I do understand, and it's easy to see why. With no disrespect meant to the fans out there, the Transformers... phenomenon, for lack of a better term, is not complicated. You have good guys vs. bad guys, giant robots and huge obnoxious battles. It's pretty much a stereotypical male wet dream. So, why am I a fan? Well, I'm not a stereotypical male, if that's what you're thinking. I'm a fan because I'm drawn to characters, and Transformers, despite it's ludicrousness, despite it's blatant catering to young boys who just want to see things blow up, it boasts a surprising world-building scheme and depth, along with Transformers characters that, when written well, are as human as any of the human companions that accompany them.

Now, being drawn to characters, you might think it's funny that I dropped Buffy for... Transformers. "Really," you may ask. "Out of all the shows you could've picked up after messing up Buffy, you pick Transformers? A shoot-'em-up fest of a show that has nothing in it except guns, explosions, and wooden characters who are so bland as to be interchangeable? Why, man?" Well, you're right if you think this. Transformers is definitely a shoot-'em-up fest that has explosions, and there are certainly continuities and shows that have nothing in them but wooden characters who are so bland as to be interchangeable. However, when I get this complaint lobbied at me, I point to the myriad of other material that Transformers has manifested in. Look at the IDW comics, look at the more recent television shows, Transformers Animated and Transformers Prime. These are the things that make the Transformers universe worthy of being looked at as a serious piece of art.

What makes these Transformers-related materials stand out? First is undoubtedly the characters. While I'm not the biggest fan of Animated, I do not deny that it did have a solid cast of characters, all of whom had strong arcs throughout the show. I'll get to Prime in a minute. The IDW comics has some of the most amoral, grey, macabre characters I've ever seen. There is such a richness to the IDW universe which is only magnified by the masterful treatment and writing of the characters that populate it. The second thing that makes these three works stand out is the world-building and the richness of the universe. This mostly applies to the IDW comics, but both Prime and Animated had solid foundations of what the laws of their worlds were and how their characters were able to thrive in them. IDW's whole Transformers comic series is all about world-building. The amount of history that is housed within the pages of the comics, whether it be about the war, about Cybertron, about any number of the millions of characters running around in the universe, is astounding. It's like Ice and Fire for giant robots. It's insane. The last thing that makes these continuities stand out is... well, continuity. While not as high a marker as the other two criteria, continuity does impact how good these three materials are because, well... IDW, Prime, and Animated all actually have and rely on continuity. Story arcs and season-long arcs for Prime, relying on previous information for Animated, and deep foreshadowing and seed-planting for IDW all help make these three stand clear above the rest of the Transformers fiction out there.

So, with this in mind, my reviews quickly spun away from Buffy and instead began to tackle Transformers Prime, in my opinion the best Transformers television show ever made. To come back to my original intent of the post (because I know this has gone off track a little bit, and I'm sorry about that), my style of reviews really began with Prime. Sure, you can find my Buffy reviews entertaining, but by no means are they analytical, at least not to the degree that the show deserves. With Prime, I really wanted to show the world that this is a show worth watching. Why? It comes back to what I look for in a show. I look for plot, I look for fun and brain factors, but most importantly, I look for engaging, fun, relatable characters. I found in Prime all of these traits, and being that I actually knew a little something about the history of Transformers, as well as the fact that, unlike Buffy, Prime had not been analyzed to the point of actually reaching diploma status, I felt pretty comfortable taking it on as a serious, academic-like project. Prime is something that I feel strongly about, it's something that has affected me on a more personal level than Buffy ever did, and it's something that I feel should be appreciated where it clearly isn't, because people regard it as just a kids show. Buffy is not just a kids show, and people know this, and people respect it and admire it as a serious form of art worthy of analysis. I'm trying to do the same to Prime; maybe not make it an academic study, but I'm trying to make it be seen as more than just a cartoon for kids, because there is clearly substance in this show.

That's what I'm hoping to do with my reviews. This is not to say that Buffy is bad or that I don't appreciate it as art; I do. I feel that I'm unworthy to review it properly. I feel far more qualified to review Prime. It may seem like I'm taking the easy way out, that I'm somehow just dropping a challenging show like Buffy for something easy and transparent and obvious like Prime, but I don't think this is the case, and I don't want it to come across like that. I'm not really sure why I'm justifying this whole thing at all; this is my blog, I'll do what I want. I just wanted to put this out there more for myself than anyone else. I guess my "mission statement" would be to show people that Transformers Prime is more than it's title suggests, much like Buffy is more than it's title suggests. Yeah, I think that about sums this up.

No comments:

Post a Comment