Both of these shows premiered tonight. I watched them both. And they were like night and day.
GI Joe: Renegades has some minor issues with the character designs. They're abstract, but in a way that's a bit jarring at first. But you get used to it quickly, and the animation is top notch.
Overall, the show was excellent. It's a worthy update to the original, with plenty of homages thrown in. (I caught the line "got to get tough" briefly in the theme music, two background characters looked remarkably like Junkyard and General "GI Joe" Colton, a nod to Flint and Lady Jaye's relationship in earlier incarnations, and, of course, the "Now you know" line in Cobra's TV ad.) But it's definitely something new, and unlike GI Joe as we've seen it before. And Hawk's eyepatch is the tip of the iceberg. Mindbender is a nerdy young fellow, the Joes are on the run from Flint (and I can't tell you how odd it feels to root for Duke over Flint), and Cobra is a seemingly benevolent super-corporation. I'd seen stuff on the Bio-Vipers in some promotional material and was worried about that angle, but it's handled really well. I especially love the origins of the code names.
Some bits that could have been blown, like Cobra Commander's reveal or the twist with Tunnel Rat smelling bad were handled pretty masterfully. This shouldn't be a great shock, given that the writers have Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, and several other classic series on the resumes (and, yes, even The Clone Wars). I think it's safe to say that reports of Ripcord's demise have been greatly exaggerated, however.
Transformers: Prime was almost the opposite. It almost seemed like casting Cullen and Welker as Prime and Megatron was the only thing they got right. I wish Hasbro would get over the sudden weird fetish with making Bumblebee be this silent, deadly warrior. It's too fundamental a change to the character, not to mention it seems like a major knockoff of Snake Eyes when the show airs right after a superior Joe cartoon that features Snake Eyes prominently. (And don't say that I'm being hypocritical because I don't mind Renegades Ripcord being black. That's just a cosmetic change.)
Animation was downright bad throughout Prime, and the color palettes so monochromatic, it got hard to watch. I almost dosed off; if the show wasn't boring my daughter so much she got up and was loudly playing something else, I would've slept. The writing was just bad (and, really, what should we expect from the writers of the movies?), and it seemed to culminate in the human kids. A stereotypical loser guy, an insanely bizarre Japanese exchange student, and a nerdy little kid who looks like he just stepped out of the Disney flop Meet the Robinsons and can understand Bumblebee's weird chirping for reasons that make no sense and the script doesn't even try to explain. I don't know which of them was worst.
Strangely, as bad as the show was overall, I actually liked the parts that were solely focused on Decepticons. Aside from everyone but the main three being what appeared to be generic Battlechargers or Stunticons (and mindless, mute, and identical) and Soundwave's being essentially a Decepticon Bumblebee (mute and talking in recorded clips from other characters), the Con parts were quite good. The dark palette and abstract designs worked on them, and there had clearly been a lot more work done on their dialogue and voice acting.
There was a lot of potential, and it was blown. It's a concept that should have worked, and never clicks except the relatively short bits with Megatron and Starscream. It would take a full-on G1 Grimlock takeover to save this mess. By contrast, GI Joe: Renegades was so insane a premise, it should not have worked by any stretch of the imagination, and it's, so far, second only to Resolute as the best Joe series yet.