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Old May 11 2013, 04:43 AM   #1
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Location: The Enterprise's Restroom
RoboCop: The Series

I knew about this from back in the day but never actually watched it. Recently dabbled a bit with it, curious what it was about.

So far I've only watched the series pilot, "The Future Of Law Enforcement". Several things occured to me. On the plus side, I think the production design did capture the look and (broad) feel of the movies. It was believable that this was the same Metro City as we saw in the films, and there were parts of it which were suitably dark and gritty looking. Toronto does a good job of things here. The actual mechanics of the franchise were all in place too. The Robo-Suit was movie-accurate, and Richard Eden did a pretty good job filling Weller's shoes as RoboCop, even if he obviously wasn't quite as effective. I liked the idea of Metro City being controlled by a centralized computer system. And actress Andrea Roth was HOT as the manifestation of this Super Computer, the holographic Diana Powers.

Having said all that, the attempts to tone down the movies' predeliction towards violence in order to make The Series more palatable for children became stupidly comical at times. RoboCop himself still has his iconic gun, but repeatedly uses it for Non-Lethal takedowns, something which rankled me compared to the bloodbaths seen in the movies. Is it believable for somebody to aim his gun at a bad guy and then suddenly decide that, no, I'm going to shoot the cupboard next to him and make it fall down? It'd just be more effective to make Robo take everybody on in hand-to-hand combat, surely? Yeah yeah I know, they didn't want to give the kids anything they could copy in real-life. I do appreciate why they did it, but by the fifth or sixth time it happened it really started to look silly. Especially in context of how over-the-top violent the movies are.

One thing which occured to me while watching this was how many parallels it had with the story of RoboCop 2. Only later did I discover it was actually pitched as an early draft script for that movie. If the pitch meeting for RoboCop 2 was along the lines of "Okay guys, we've got this idea for a story: OCP is looking for the 'Next Big Thing' to market after RoboCop, and they're using the underclass of Old Detroit to test out concepts", I can see how both this script and the one used in RoboCop 2 would have come about. The Sergeant character is an obvious replacement for the Warren Reed character seen in all three movies, and Madigan is maybe too much like a cookie-cutter replacement for Nancy Allen's Officer Lewis, right down to her relationship with RoboCop and the fact that she's chewing gum when we first meet her. I'd have almost have rathered if the comparisons were less obvious, although I understand the series itself changes this by making her a Detective instead of a beat cop, at least differentiating her a little bit more from Anne Lewis.

Despite the 'kid friendly' tone of proceedings, RoboCop's trademark dark humor (and some pretty uncomfortable allusions) are still undercurrents in the script. Though its undoubtedly played more for laughs, the OCP executives kidnapping homeless people for use in their latest experiments (because "no-one will miss them") is just the kind of thing the movies would have played with, as is the idea of a home for orphaned children which gives out the public perception of being a charitable organisation, but whose chairwoman is in fact exploiting those who are in her care to her own means. So while the execution of these ideas definitely plays down the more sinister aspects of them, those sinister undercurrents are definitely still there. Again, I could totally see a more 'adult' version of this script working quite well as the official RoboCop 2.

On the whole I didn't think it was too bad really. I found it quite enjoyable and am looking forward to seeing a little bit more of the series that follows.
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