After Dr Who there is one other franchise I have loved since my youngest days, one I loved so long it’s one of the first things I actively remember watching (repeats obviously, a few years too young to have seen it when first came out… I think, that was the American release). We are going to look at one of the very first animated episodes of anything I can remember watching.
Call of the Primitives is a late season 3 episode of G1 Transformers. So that means it’s set after the movie meaning Rodimus is in charge of the Autobots and Galvatron the Decepticons (yes this means I encountered Rodimus Prime before Optimus).
Anyway we start off with some odd animation showing some blue atoms while an unseen narrator called Primacron talks to his new born creation Tornedron. We see it is energy yet feeds on energy as after feeding on a flame it’s sent flying out to consume a comet growing larger.
We then move to a usual sight, the Decepticons and the Autobots fighting each other both sides have coincidentally all their members that either have beast modes or are naturally bestially. While they fight Tornedron attacks Cybertron completely draining it of energy killing everyone (this is a rather dark episode… and I watched it before I was 5). A strange signal tells all the bestial transformers referred to here as primitives away from the fight just before Tornedron shows up and kills everyone there, then kills the earth too. Before revealing that his creator Primacron created UNICRON!
It’s rather underwhelming that this is how we find out the origin of Unicron in this episode. The episode is dark with a universe-ending threat but a single episode to reveal the origin of the villain from the movie? The Quintessons got a 5 parter at the start of season 3 and appeared multiple times throughout.
The Primitives were summoned by the disembodied spirit of Primacron’s old assistant to stop Tornedron and… well they don’t do well, Grimlock only surviving by being stuck under defeated Trypticon (he’s the Decepticon Titan, or City Bot) who then flies off and saves the universe just as Tornedron turns on Primacron like Unicron did before him.
The episode is noted (other than for the origin of Unicron in the animated series) for its considerably improved and stylized art style, leading some people to think the animation was by a different studio. It is also noted to have very few animation errors as well so it’s clear given the big stakes and lore that a lot of work was put into this one. Though as mentioned the villain basically is unstoppable so fights don’t last long (though everyone is brought back to life at the end, even all of Earth somehow) so I can’t really say the battles are anything to thrill at seeing, more stylish and detailed but not as mobile.
This is a must see for anyone who is a fan of Grimlock and is one of the more notable episodes in season 3 and Generation 1 as a whole. It does feel odd that such major elements and threat was left as a single episode that is soon ignored. This was the Dinobot and A LOT of fan favourite characters final appearance in the show (they wisely realized killing them off permanently was bad for business after the movie, as said everyone is fine at the end). Unicron’s origin here has not been used in other media with his comic’s origin as a dark god and nemesis to the creator god of the Transformers being the preferred one.