Battle Protocol is the first episode of Transformers: Robots in Disguise. It first aired in the United States on September 08, 2001 on Fox Kids.
A trio of fire vehicles head towards a house fire. But instead of following them, we linger on a house they pass, the house of Koji Onishi. Koji is awakened by his alarm clock, realizing he’s late. He falls out of bed in his haste, grumbling that this always happens. He throws on his robe and rushes out the television. He wants to catch his father on TV! While it’s the middle of the night in Japan, it’s day in America, and New York is hosting the first International Scientific Symposium, for the world’s most brilliant minds in all their fields to meet and share their research to benefit the whole human race. The first speaker is Dr. Onishi, noted archaeologist and the world’s foremost expert on energy and natural resources. Dr. Onishi believes that the greatest danger facing the Earth today is the inefficient and improper use of energy. However, he may have to eat his words because just then, a building explodes, raining debris upon the crowds celebrating the opening ceremonies, and Megatron appears! The Predacons, Megatron explains, want energy. And since Dr. Onishi is the world’s foremost expert on different energy sources, they want him! Koji tried to call his father on his cell phone, but the call is cut off as Dr. Onishi tried to tell Koji something important. Instead, a mysterious robot appears on the phone, telling Koji to meet him at Metro Park, and they’ll rescue his father. Back at the house fire, hearing that the fire is now under control, one of the firetrucks pulls away under its own power, without a driver! Minutes later, it's this empty firetruck that arrives to pick up Koji. Once inside him, Optimus Prime explains that he’s a robot from the planet Cybertron. He swears Koji to secrecy before showing him the secret of the Global Space Bridge, the high-speed transport network that will allow them to drive from Japan to New York in minutes. Arriving in New York, Optimus Prime transforms and fights Megatron. Seeing that his friend is a robot just like Megatron, Koji fears they’re the same. Optimus Prime explains that though they may seem the same, Autobots and Predacons could not be more different. Megatron summons the trio of Predacons, Slapper, Gas Skunk and Dark Scream to handle Optimus while he goes after Dr. Onishi. Optimus activates T-AI back at the base, who initiates a Battle Protocol, summoning the Autobot Brothers, who’re in the same quadrant. X-Brawn is serving as the car for a woman named Kelly, who is driving to New York for breakfast. He apologizes, but he’s gonna need to make this trip on his own- and fires an ejection seat. Side Burn is flirting with red sportscars, and being chewed out by his brother Prowl. All three of them make their way to the Global Space Bridge. X-Brawn emerges just in time to save Koji from a crumbling building. He and his brothers pair up, Prowl fighting Gas Skunk, Side Burn fighting Dark Scream, and X-Brawn against Slapper. Optimus slips away in the fray to fight Megatron. Megatron transforms into his bat mode, attacking Optimus Prime, greatly weakening the Autobot Leader. Koji emerges, calling Megatron a coward, which distracts him long enough for Optimus to target him with the weapons in his trailer. Megatron tries (half-heartedly) to appeal to Optimus Prime’s logical side. They could share the planet’s resources. But Prime refuses to see the Earth transformed into a lifeless husk, as Megatron has done to so many other worlds. Megatron transforms to jet mode, finally grabbing Doctor Onishi in the process, and escapes. The Predacon trio rushes to follow, still pursued by the seeking missile Side Burn launched after Dark Scream. Koji is left holding his father’s broken glasses. Optimus Prime tells Koji he will keep the promise to rescue his father- they will get him back.
In the episode
English dub changes
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Original airdate: Japan: Wednesday, April 8, 2000 America: Saturday, September 8, 2001 Written by: Tom Wyner
"Optimus Prime, as I live and breathe!"
- —Megatron, when Optimus Prime arrives.
"I'd forgotten how ugly the Predacons are!"
- —Side Burn, upon seeing the Predacon trio.
"42 feet, 3 inches, that's impressive!"
- —Slapper, measuring his own tongue.
"It's amazing how a nice day can turn into such a bummer."
- —Gas Skunk, on fire.
Megatron: "Haha! Poor Optimus! Surely you did not think you could defeat me?! Optimus Prime: (Emerges from rubble.) "As a matter of fact I never doubted that for a second."(Proceeds to deck Megs)
- —Optimus gets the best (and only good) lines in this God-forsaken dub.
"Well, what d'ya know? Someone left the door to the petting zoo open."
- —Prime, as he sees the Predacons, and also showing that he's the only one who gets the good lines.
- This is easily one of the most boring episodes of Robots in Disguise (to the point of being physically painful). So much so that even the dub’s producers commented on it; there was a limit to how much they could do with such a boring episode. The entire episode takes place over a period of about 10 minutes, so very little actually... happens. For most of the second half, Megatron is walking down the street towards Dr. Onishi, who is about 100 yards away.
- The producers also said it took them about 10 hours to figure out how to get the explanation for the Global Space Bridge into a form that would be contextually and grammatically correct, and brief enough to fit into the allotted time.
Animation and/or technical glitches
- In Japan, this episode took place around the year 2000 celebrations in New York. The American episodes (which aired a year later) re-cropped the shot which included the year to obscure it, and the millennial merry-making is reimagined as a scientific symposium.
- Koji’s alarm clock is shaped like the time-manipulating Maximal Heinrad from Beast Wars Neo. This is an in-joke, as Heinrad’s toy was actually a functioning clock.
- Reporter Dorie Dutton makes her first of several appearances.
- Though Megatron professes to kidnap Dr. Onishi for his expertise on energy, in actuality, it is later revealed in the series that he specifically abducted him for the knowledge he had amassed on Fortress Maximus. In Japan Professor Onishi was an anthropologist rather than an energy scientist.
- Optimus Prime is Unit Six in the Metro City Fire Department. He promises to return to the station after his mission is done.
- Kelly, the ill-fated recurring character for Robots in Disguise, first appears here as X-Brawn’s owner. She is never named onscreen - her name comes from a Robots in Disguise casting list shown online shortly before the series premiere.
- The spunky kid sidekick's father is kidnapped by the Decepticons. This is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. Clearly, hanging out with giant warring robots is not good for the ol' family life.
- This episode first aired September 8, 2001, shortly before terrorist attacks would render it (featuring collapsing buildings in New York) in bad taste. It later re-aired in an edited form. The UK DVD set has the original version.
- In a casual piece of humanization, Megatron claims that he breathes.