In 1987, “RoboCop” hit theaters and took them by storm. Director Paul Verhoeven‘s satirical take on violence, gore, corporate greed, and the American criminal justice system was met with wonderful critical and financial success. It would seem though that the message of the film got lost along the way due to, ironically enough, corporate greed.
All of the social commentary got thrown out the window when “RoboCop” got turned into a Saturday morning cartoon show in 1988. It also became a live-action Canadian television series in 1995, which you’ll soon be able to own on DVD and Blu-ray.
Orion Pictures, the rights holders to the “RoboCop” franchise, were not doing very well for themselves as the 90s rolled along. Despite some high profile successes in “Dances With Wolves” and “The Silence of the Lambs,” the end of the 80s had hit them hard with a number of high profile losses.
So in 1993, an opportunity came along to license the “RoboCop” rights to Canadian company Skyvision Entertainment. At this point, “RoboCop 2” and the animated series had already come out, and “RoboCop 3″ was set for release. Anyone familiar with the franchise would tell you that the quality of these productions was going downhill, fast.
One could easily view “RoboCop” the series as another step down, or it could be more generously seen as a product of its time. A bit of a novelty. In order to make the show suitable for airing on primetime television, the violence had to be neutered to a staggering degree. In the pilot episode, RoboCop dispatches two bad guys by shooting the chandelier above one of their heads, and shooting out the leg of a bookcase to make it fall on another henchman.
It’s also not Peter Weller in the suit but Canadian actor Richard Eden. Also, for better or worse, you get a theme song sung by Joe Walsh and Lita Ford, because why the hell not? They even go up to RoboCop and serenade him while he looks at them incredibly confused by their presence… and presumably their singing to him.
The show lasted for a total of 23 episodes (21 singular and a double-episode length pilot), and ran from the spring to the late fall of 1994. At the time, each episode cost close to $1.5 million to produce, an astoundingly high cost that could’ve been partially offset by Canadian tax laws. The series never made it to a second season, and has only had a limited lifespan on home media. An Amazon listing exists for a series boxset that was released in 2010, but the only releases beyond that aren’t in Region 1.
Thanks to Liberation Hall, it’s finally coming to America on DVD and Blu-ray.
Look, we can’t tell you that this is worth watching if you like the original film. This doesn’t even follow the events of the original storyline exactly and it certainly has a completely different tone. To me, this ranks right up there with other ’90s syndicated fodder like Hulk Hogan‘s “Thunder in Paradise,” “Mortal Kombat: Conquest,” and “Conan: The Adventurer.” You could make a legitimate argument that the cartoon, “RoboCop: Alpha Commando” was better than this. And you can almost certainly say that the mini-series, “RoboCop: Prime Directives” was the best thing to come out of the franchise since the original film.
Basically, you have to have some very specific expectations before you go into “RoboCop” the series. It is VERY 90s syndicated television, with all of the inherent faults therein. Put it this way; if you can enjoy “Walker: Texas Ranger” either ironically or unironically, you can get a kick out of this.
The DVD and Blu-ray sets will be releasing on May 10th, 2022. We’ll let you know when/where you can purchase them. More details about what each set will contain is listed on the official announcement’s description here.
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