September 9, 2012

Robotix, chapters 13-15

Chapter 13: All For One

The giant wolf-like creatures are bearing down on the humans. They call out for help, but even Boltar is weak on energy by this point. Kanawk shoves Exeter towards the wolves, which Exeter decides to run with as he hops on the back of one and digs his fingers into its mane. Tauron leaps on, too, and together they use the wolf to leap out of their pit. Tauron frees the other humans and gives them crystal, which they use to power up and interface with the first Robotix they each reach. Exeter grabs a crystal and swings down to Jerrok, who's still hanging over the lava pit. He powers up and interfaces with the Protecton, who's now able to save himself and fend off the rock creatures while Exeter rallies with the others.

Good humans find themselves in Terrakors, bad humans in Protectons, as both sides start working together, breaking the Robotix free, fighting the rock creatures, and spotting the blocked exit, which they try to break through by using the interface to meld Goon, Bront, and Boltar into a massive battering ram. Tyrannix unfortunately goes on a shooting spree, triggering the volcano, which caves in the exit and starts crumbling the chamber around them. Alliances fall apart as the Terrakors purge any good humans and welcome back the bad, and they attack the Protectons before interfaces with their regular pilots can be made.

Nara and Argus form a bridge across a chasm, saving some rock creatures, who guide all the Protectons towards an escape tunnel. The Terrakors are stuck with nowhere to go, but gloat as they watch lava spill forth and fill the escape tunnel. The rock creatures and Protectons run like hell, finally reaching the surface as they witness the volcano rip into a full eruption.

The Protectons return to Zanadon, only to find the Terrakors managed to escape and reach the city, too. Tyrannix goes into another shooting spree, dropping an avalanche down on the Protectons.

Chapter 14: Battle for Zanadon

The avalanche not only burries the Protectons, but half of Zanadon, and Tyrannix is quickly beaten for potentially harming the still-needed Compucore. While the Terrakors are still arguing, Zanadon suddenly pulls itself out of the rubble, lifting into the air and flying away. They realize the Protectons survived, and Nemesis vows to pursue.

In the central chamber of Zanadon, the Protectons praise "Kontor" for his quick thinking in raising the city (in reality, Venturak is just surviving as the rest of the Terrakors left him behind during the previous chapter). They leave him alone with Compucore as they set about exploring the city, each falling under attack when he quietly opens the protective domes and lets the Terrakors in.

Argus/Exeter explore a museum, where they ponder the past and future. Nemesis/Kanawk attacks. Argus realizes the domes have been opened and who must have been responsible.

Narra/Steff head to the medical wing to see what supplies are viable. Steggor/Nammo attack and pursue Narra down increasingly tight corridors, even shedding his shell at one point and slithering after them as a snake. They lead him to an x-ray machine, which they use to fry his circuits and get away.

Bront/Tauron come into an arena, where Bront thinks back on his days as a famous athlete. They're attacked by Tyrannix/Gaxon, who go on another shooting spree. Bront uses the balls from the game to distract his foe long enough to get away.

In another chamber, Jerrak/Spirro zips around stuff while dodging fire from Goon/Lupus.

Narra arrives in the main chamber where she sees "Kontor" making a break for it with Compucore. He reveals himself as Venturak and they start fighting. Nemesis and Tyrannix arrive, overpowering Narra and flying off with Compucore. The other Terrakors fly off with them.

The Protectons converge on the main chamber, where Narra fills them in on what went down. Without Compucore, they do their best to examine the complex controls of Zanadon. By the time they figure out how to close the domes, the Terrakors return with the full power of the Terrastar now at their control. They blast away at the flying city.

Chapter 15: The Final Attack

Explosions rip across Zanadon and it crashes, upended, into a mountainside. The Protectons climb their way to one of the outer domes, narrowly ahead of a continuous barrage of laser fire. Compucore suddenly announces there's a malfunction preventing her from continuing the attack, all while the Protectons spot the Terrastar below them and leap onto its surface. They try breaking in through the hull, but the Terrakors get wise and fly the Terrastar out of the atmosphere and into an asteroid field. Jerrok, Bront, Boltar, and their respective interfaced humans are knocked off into space.

Narra and Argus smash their way into the Terrastar's main cockpit, venting it of air. A fight breaks out with the Terrastars having the upper hand and Narra being knocked into space, but Argus takes advantage of the zero gravity. Argus' control console is shattered, exposing Exeter to the vacuum. The human doesn't go down without a fight, though, blasting the control console housing Kanawk, then diving towards the ship's control. Kanawk makes his way to a space suit and gives him a fight, but not before Exeter puts the ship on a path to collide with a massive asteroid.

Argus manages to sweep up Exeter and Compucore before diving out of the ship, and they watch as the Terrastar collides with the space rock in a fiery explosion. The other Protectons arrive, having used their interfaces to merge into a spacecraft. Argus attaches himself and they head back to Skalorr.

On the surface, the Protectons are proud they can finally focus all their efforts on rebuilding their damaged world. The humans decide to stay and help.

Out in space, in the wreckage of the Terrastar, Nemesis returns to life.


I love how it's treated as a big surprise that the humans would agree to stay behind, what with their ship being used as building materials for a structure that's now been swallowed by magma, and the only other ship, the Terrastar, being squashed on the face of a massive space rock. Heaven forbid the Protectons, in ship mode, don't help them transport to another world. Like that nearby planet of vegetation that'll likely need to be visited, what with their still limited supply of food. And did we ever get an explanation for than enemy ship that shot them down in the first place? I guess not. Oh well.

As with the last three chapters, this is my main problem with the finale: it's not that it's awful, it just feels like the show has suddenly fallen into a new set of hands who either overlooked or weren't interested in ongoing elements that had already been set in place. The worst of it being Zanadon's ability to take to the air and fly, despite an entire chapter being built around the city's main power generator being destroyed. Hell, that entire dome was vaporized in an explosion, yet all of Zanadon is magically intact. And the rock creatures? What the hell were the rock creatures? And where the hell did they go? They actually help our heroes there for a moment, and there's a scene as two of their number, as well as one of the wolves, stand alongside our heroes to witness the volcanic eruption... but then we cut to the next scene and they're gone. Where did they go? What was their purpose? Why did they and the heroes suddenly becomes friends? Gah! So many questions without answers!

All of those problems aside, I do think they pulled things together for quite a rousing climax. The destruction of Zanadon is a striking image, with the heroes scaling through the off-kilter, flaming wreckage of their once proud home, so much of their history and technology going up in flames. However, when they do take their fight to the enemy, it's a shame that it pretty much comes down to just Argus and Exeter, with all the other heroes being tossed aside. Again, if they hadn't distracted us so late in the game with that rock creature bullshit, this is stuff they could have expanded upon to give everyone their moment to shine. That aside, the fight between Argus and the Terrakors is strengthened by the bit of Exeter braving the vacuum of space to save the day. How he not only remains conscious, but continues to talk at one point, is beyond me, and his struggle with Kanawk could've been a little more personal, but it's still a good hero moment. Though how he magically got back into Argus' control console, which is magically intact, is again never explained.

There's other good moments, like the final tag that would allow our villains to return, the other Protectons having saved themselves by pulling together and becoming a craft (the third time in this stretch we've seen Robotix join with other Robotix), the interplay in the first chapter as the human/Robotix interfaces get all mixed up before it's sorted out, and the attacks within Zanadon as we get a few personal moments with the Protectons, like Bront reminiscing his athletic past, and the great moment of Steggor shedding his shell and slithering through the shadows, taunting Narra about how he wants to dissect her and see her inner workings. That was a dark place for this show to go, but it handles it well, as it does with them eventually turning the tables on him.

But overall, this is a letdown. It doesn't make sense. The characters are still flat. The buildup to the final battle is more exciting than the final battle itself. There's inconsistencies and contradictions left and right (why did Compucore throw out the great idea of it being a machine without sides by choosing to save the Protectons with an intentional delaying tactic?). And the slick animation I praised in the opening chapters? That production team must have moved on because what we get here is no less sloppy than the worst moments of Bigfoot.

I liked the setup of this show, with its central focus on humans struggling to survive in the midst of a civil war that's long been waged on a ravaged world, and how their presence affects and is affected by the situation. The show looked great and had some cleverness and intrigue, but yes, it was flat. Unfortunately, instead of building on what they had and fleshing out the aspects that needed it, the show suddenly veered off in chaotic directions, good threads were abandoned, the look turned ugly... and it was still flat. While it was far from excellent, I was really getting into this show at the start, but it turned on me. It's like the people making it either stopped caring, or it was suddenly swapped into the hands of people who just weren't capable, so I can totally see why it didn't make it to series.

That said, I still think it handled the "headmasters" idea of human/robot interfacing better than the revised concept in Transformers ever did, and the unique transformations that come as a result, and the inventive ways they're used in battle and other scenarios, remains the true hallmark of the show. Too bad they couldn't get everything else to work around it.


“Bob, it’s late in the 4th quarter here at Zanadon stadium, but there’s still time for team Robotix to pull this one out.”

“That’s right, Jim. They came out early with some really strong animation and a simple, yet solid, story line, but it’s really gone down hill from there.”

“Well, Logic has certainly gotten a good pass rush on Quarterback Exeter Galaxon the last few drives, sending the Blonde Bomber hard to the turf.”

“I was actually worried he’d gotten a severe concussion on that last drive, but I’m told that glassy eyes and a blank expression are normal for him.”

“Bob, we can only hope that coach Argus has a few tricks left up his sleeve.”

“Jim, Argus doesn’t have sleeves.”

“...They’re screwed.”

Sorry, Noel. I’m just really exited that football is back (but check back with me in November when the Browns are 0-10).

I have to disagree with Bob. It’s a bit too late in the game for them to pull this one out. There’s just not enough razzle-dazzle to overcome all the fuzzy logic, forgotten threads (seriously, where is that vessel that was attacking Galaxon’s ship?), and suddenly slack animation. I’ll give them credit, they do rally a bit at the end, but it’s too little too late.

The action starts to pick up steam in the last ten minutes, and I actually found my self squirming a bit as the battle raged aboard the Terrastar. Like Noel, I really wish it had all felt a bit more personal (not to mention been more extensive), but maybe that’s asking too much from a show in this type of format. The fact that I actually let out a sigh of relief as Argus, Exeter, and Compucore escaped the Terrastar is good enough for me. Well done. Unfortunately, like I said before, it wasn’t enough of a rally to pull out a win. What Robotix did was go from mediocre to sub-par, and then back to mediocre. That’s a push, at best, and that’s not gonna win you any money with the bookies in Vegas.

I really wanted to like Robotix more than I did, but it just wouldn’t let me. From the deteriorating quality and detail of the animation, to the shoddy and uninspired writing, to the dispassionate voice acting, this whole show was flatter than a 12th century globe. It all just felt so damn half-hearted. A workaday, punch the clock effort by people with no personal investment in it. If they don’t care, how are we supposed to?

I get a bit miffed when people casually dismiss 80s cartoons as being nothing more than 30 minute toy commercials. Yes, many of them were created with the intention of helping to sell toys, but the men and women charged with producing them weren’t toy salesmen. They were talented people who were trying to craft stories that entertained, and at times even educated. They took hunks of plastic and breathed life into them, giving them a voice and a personality. Worlds that didn’t exist suddenly sprang to life, covered in unique flora and fauna, populated by bizarre creatures not of this Earth. Art and commerce need not be mutually exclusive, and more than a few of those series proved that. Sadly none of that passion is in evidence here. Robotix is everything critics of such cartoons claimed: an attempt to sell toys.

Tune in next Sunday for a special bonus surprise!

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