Monday, March 14, 2011

They Made A Cartoon Out Of...That?! Part II: Robocop

Rated R: Dead or alive, you're coming with me
Rated're coming with me

Part man, part machine, all cop. Robocop, Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 masterpiece, could have easily been geared towards kids. The premise fits within the standard superhero formula and the concept of a cyborg police officer battling criminals and renegade robots would seem no more out of place than on a Saturday morning cartoon. Well, that would be logical, had Robocop not been an R-Rated film, with a strong emphasis on ‘R’. 

Detroit's finest
Within the first fifteen minutes of the film, before becoming Robocop, Alex Murphy is practically blown to pieces, one body part at a time. Accompanied with the graphic visuals, the film contains an onslaught of curse words and a toppling body count. And that’s only the R-Rated version - Verhoeven’s unrated Director’s Cut surpasses the theatrical release in bloodshed and gore! In fact, Robocop nearly received an X rating (X ratings weren’t changed to NC-17 until 1990), before it was toned down.

Robocop was really a cylon all along
Despite this, it seemed that Robocop was destined for a wider audience. Marvel Productions, the budding television division of Marvel Comics, set out to bring Robocop to the small screen in animated form. They succeeded in the late 80s, producing a total of 12 episodes of Robocop: The Animated Series.

Like most cartoons at the time, everyone fired lasers instead of bullets, yet Robocop basically retained his on-screen persona, except for a Battlestar Galactica-ish cylon visor with scanning red light. Robocop’s cartoon counterpart also moved a bit faster than the live-action version. 
ED-209, the future home security watchdog
ED-260, the animated version's upgrade, in toy form

Can ya fly, Bobby?
Of particular note is the title sequence, which shows a brief version of Murphy being gunned down by Clarence Boddicker and his gang of thugs.

Robocop: The Animated Series was a show that could appeal to both children and adult, filled with sophistication, notable themes, and fleshed-out characters – something unfortunately many 'toons of today are missing. 

As can be expected, Robocop spawned a toyline of his own. 

Beep Buzz Whirr - apparently the sounds of Robocop being repaired

 Along with an action figure and accessory line, Robocop received the comic book treatment from Marvel. They must have figured, heck, we've given him a show - why not a comic?

Robocop and dinosaurs. At least they didn't go that route in Robocop 3

 The comic was a hit or miss - though the artwork was pretty fantastic.

By the late-90s, after Robocop 3 flopped at the box office and after the Robocop Live-Action TV series was canceled, a new cartoon hit the airwaves, titled: Robocop - Alpha Commando. It reached a total of 40 episodes, which was surprising, considering it was inferior in every conceivable way to the original animated series.

The 'Alpha Commando' Robocop
With talks of a new live-action reboot to the Robocop franchise, maybe another animated series isn't too far away.

No comments:

Post a Comment