I wanted to take a second and point to a new-ish podcast that a couple of friends of mine just launched called 4 Million Years Later. The show is an episode by episode breakdown of the original 1984 Transformers cartoon, which in an of itself is not a novel concept for a podcast I grant you. There are a ton of podcasts breaking down animated series like this, and specifically a few that have already are in the middle of or have discussed the ’84 Sunbow Transformers series. Most of these podcasts though, are created from the point of view of the lapsed fan. Folks who loved the cartoon and toys as a kid and are now rediscovering the series 30 years later and are documenting their feelings. There is certainly plenty of space for shows like this in the crowded podcast landscape, but I have a really hard time getting into these shows. Part of this is that I’ve taken a deep dive into nostalgia over the past decade and a half while creating this website and these podcasts never tend to drill down into the series much farther than plot synopsis and the most surface level visual or audio gaffs. Again, there is plenty of space for shows like these, they’re just not getting into the cartoons anywhere near the level that I’d hope for a series that spends hundreds of hours investigating them. More importantly, I feel like the lapsed fan perspective leans heavily, way to heavily, towards cynicism. There’s always a discussion that almost always evokes the four words I most hate seeing strung together, “Does It Hold Up?” I’ve already written about why I hate that phrase, so I won’t belabor the point here, but I will say that this is where I tend to divorce myself from a lot of folks who are “into” 80s era nostalgia these days. I’m a purist I guess. The past is what it is and I do not require that it age up in order to appeal to or fulfil some fantasy of an adult variation that is for the me now..
So this is why I feel my buds, Jerzy Drozd and HooveR are doing with their format is a novel approach. Their discussion of the Transformers is an extension of a conversation they’ve been having about the show for the past 25 years. Jerzy and Hoov are similar to me in that they never gave up their love for the cartoon or the toyline, and they love it for what it is and what the writers, artists, voice actors, and animation departments were attempting to do back in the day. So the new podcast is the exact kind of deep dive into the material that I’ve been craving. They’re digging into all sorts of aspects of the series that I find fascinating from visual design theory and character motivation, to the economical storytelling and inspiration for the voice work. And yeah, they’re also hitting on things like the potential for mistakes in the animation (miss-colored characters, misplaced voices), but they’re leaving most of their adult cynicism out of the conversation. And when I say they’re been having this conversation for 25 years, I mean that literally. Jerzy and HooveR have been friends since their 20s and made a lifelong friendship over their shared love of stuff like the Transformers and G.I Joe franchises of the 80s. I also feel very lucky in that I’ve also know them for the last decade and a half as they were a couple of the first folks who really responded to and encouraged the my work on this website. When I found out that they were planning on launching a podcast about their specific Transformers fandom I felt like they were finally letting the larger nostalgia community in on something amazing that I’ve had the honor of witnessing from a tertiary perspective for a long time.
This is a Transformers podcast for folks who adore 80s era animation and toys, for folks who never fully grew up and who loved chatting with their childhood friends about the latest episode after it originally aired, but who can now articulate and process ideas about the medium that we never could as kids.
If you want to get a taste for the type of show and observations that these guys are creating, Jerzy recorded 30 mini episodes as a part of an introspective art challenge (and part primer for the new podcast) where he spent the entire month of last November discussing Tranformers characters from the various series that have been released over the past 30 years. These are all in the 4MYL podcast feed before the show’s proper start.
You can also hear Jerzy, Kevin Cross and I discussing episodes of Masters of the Universe and the G.I. Joe cartoon when we were taking a deep dive into the cartoons on the Saturday Supercast show (that I think are in a very similar vein to this new 4 Million Years Later podcast.) I was very proud of the work we did on the Saturday Supercast and I am absolutely loving the conversations and breakdowns that Hoov and Jerzy have already done with the first 13 episodes of the Transformers series.
The new podcast officially launched a few months ago, and as of today they’ve already made their way through the first season of the show, the original 13-episode Saturday morning version that aired back in 1984. They just launched into the first episode of the syndicated series this past week. If you dig Transformers or 80s era animation along with a large dose of childlike enthusiasm mixed with the keen observations of a couple of really smart guys, I think you’ll really enjoy the show.