Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
Return Of The Roughnecks
I should probably be embaressed to admit that I liked Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. And not because I subscribe to the POV that it was a deliberately stupid satire on politics and the media and the military. I just found it tremendously fun and enjoyable and just the right amount of scary (not a fan of spiders so those warrior bugs freaked me right out). But in my defence, it came out when I was in the middle of university and may have been the first film I saw in many many months, so my frame of reference wasn’t at its zenith.
I’m not so embaressed to say that I also really enjoyed the Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles animated series which came out around 1999. Completely CGI and state of the art for its time (though the animateion now looks a little dated and clumsy, on par with a contemporary video game), it was far more faithful to Robert Heinlein’s novel, at least in terms of setting the scene and the tech (the power suits, drop ships, etc). Pretty much ignoring the film completely (probably for the best), it continued on where the novel left off and followed SICON’s battle with the invading bug armies away from Earth and through the galaxy. The writing was far better and each of the characters within Razak’s Roughnecks, the unit the show chronicled, had more human and nuanced personalities than you’d expect from an animated series. Plus the action sequences and tech design kicked some serious ass.
So why am I writing about an under-the-radar animated show that stopped running years ago? They’ve finally compiled all produced episodes into a single DVD set, Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles – The Complete Campaigns. All five episodes in each of the seven campaigns have been edited together into a single, full-length feature. Of course, the narrative is still distinctly episodic, but it’s a nice touch to not have to sit through the opening credits five times per and they even edited the wipes and soundtrack to be more seamless. What’s not so nice – and I didn’t realize this because I never saw the whole thing on TV – is that the final three episodes of the series, which wrapped up the entire bug war, are missing. Not because they didn’t include them, but because they don’t exist.
The show was plagued by production difficulties from the get-go, airing before they had enough completed episodes to allow for a good run of repeat-free showings. As a result, they ended up in reruns after like two or three weeks and new episodes were slow to get into rotation. This caused real problems with following the larger story and probably cost them much of their potential audience. While they managed to get through 36 episodes (including four “special” clips episodes), the plug was pulled before the final three episodes could be produced. Which is a goddamn lousy thing to discover after you’ve watched over ten hours of the show and are pretty eager to see how it all wraps up. Extra irony points for ending the final episode with one character saying, “It’s over!” and another – upon realizing the bugs are still invading – saying, “No – it’s just beginning” (paraphrased). Actually, it was over.
Since the show wrapped up production some years ago now, there’s pretty much no chance we’ll ever see those last eps in any shape or form. I’d settle for scripts from those final shows, but I doubt those exist anywhere. This fansite has synopses of how the last three shows were supposed to go down, and it helps a little bit, but it also worsens the sting – “Final Inferno” sounds like it would have absolutely owned. There’s a couple more fansites here and here.
Bloody shame, wot. And let us never speak of the back-alley abortion of a sequel to the film, Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation.
VH1 is pretty much the last place I’d expect to find a treasure trove of Ride videos, but there you go. Sadly, they only work in IE and Windows. Mac folks will have to wait until the DVD comes out sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Swedish psychedelic rockers Dungen are at Lee’s Palace on October 11. I’ve heard these guys highly recommended, but haven’t heard any of their stuff. Is there a decent (legit) sample floating around anywhere? Also, Death Cab For Cutie bring Plans to the Kool Haus on October 15. I expect I’ll pass on this one – I’ve seen them three times and will always have the memories of their barely-attended show at the Horseshoe back in the Fall of 2001.
np – Crooked Fingers / Red Devil Dawn