December 12, 2022 RoboCop: The Series (Blu-ray Set Review)
Back in the 80s the Science Fiction sub-genre of film was booming with compelling material. More colorful and less ominous than ’70s Sci-Fi films, the ’80s era produced favorites such 1982’s more family-orientated E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1984’s dark, violent The Terminator, 1985’s more hopeful Cocoon, and of course, 1987’s powerhouse Robocop. Released in July of 1987, the original Robocop film was action-oriented, bloody, and is arguably one of the best Sci-Fi films ever made.
Ground-breaking and highly successful, Robocop became a futuristic superhero that unified the idea that technology cannot trump human compassion. Because of great special effects, a compelling storyline, and strong direction from Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall 1990, Showgirls 1995), Robocop’s impact superseded the success of the original film. Leading the way for the 1990 sequel, RoboCop 2, and then under-appreciated 1993 follow-up from Fred Dekker (Night of the Creeps 1986, Monster Squad 1987), RoboCop 3. Additionally, even with the original film’s excessive violence absolutely not for children, somehow Robocop as a figure became beloved by younger audiences; spawning the 1988 animated series RoboCop, video games, and a series of toy lines. All things in mind, RoboCop was decade-defining, so rather than let the character fade away, 1994 came a television series entitled RoboCop: The Series.
A piece of television history that some even forgot existed, RoboCop: The Series was born when original RoboCop rights owners, Orion Pictures, received monies for TV licensing rights by Canada’s Skyvision Entertainment. Being purchased by a Canadian company, there were hopeful plans for it; this included plans of bringing back Peter Weller (RoboCop 1987, Leviathan 1989) to portray Robocop for the first time since RoboCop 2, as well as plans to bounce back with a quick release months after the unsuccessful Robocop 3. That said, neither of these plans panned out because instead Richard Eden (Santa Barbara series) came on as Robocop/Alex Murphy and the television series did not initially air until March of 1994. Nonetheless, the series moved forward, was filmed in Toronto, and included a 2-part 89-minute plot followed by 21 one-hour episodes for one season. Unfortunately, the series ended after just one season, and this could be for various reasons. For one, it was not cheaply made and cost a bit of money to make as it used some practical effects including pretty impressive explosions. The other aspect is that the series really toned down the violence in order to appeal to a family audience; which is really odd because every Robocop film, with the exception of Robocop 3, was R-rated.
Essentially a footnote in history at this point, there of course are those dedicated fans who do remember RoboCop: The Series and have had a heck of a time trying to find it. Released on DVD in the UK in the early 2000s, until recently, few American viewers could get a hold of it. However, on May 24, 2022 Liberation Hall put the series out on DVD and Blu-ray. A pretty cool flash from the past for dedicated fans, the Blu-ray set comes with 5-discs and offers the series in its entirety. Originally shot on 35mm film, the transfer is pretty solid for both the imagery and sound quality. Furthermore, the set includes some nice featurettes like behind the scenes looks, analyzing the jump from feature film to television series, and more.
Features that are something physical format collectors adore, for everyone else, this set is pretty cool because it gives you the opportunity to rewind to a past and consume something you may have never known about. This in mind, the series is not terrible and does have its solid points. The cast is good enough, the stories are not boring, and the effects are pretty darn good for a television series. If anything, this set might provoke you into wondering what might have been had Robocop 3 not been developed into a PG-13 film; we might have seen a very different television series, right? No one will ever know, but either way, there is no shame in investing in a Blu-ray or DVD copy of Robocop: The Series. Put together nicely and bringing lost history to those who want it, Cryptic Rock gives Robocop: The Series Blu-ray or DVD sets 4 out of 5 stars.