If you’re interested in picking up your very own copy of RoboCop: The Series, then you can follow the link right here for more details. It’s available in either Blu-ray or traditional DVD.
The script from Michael Neumeier and Michael Miner balances just the right ingredients of SciFi, Fantasy, comedy, drama, and horror consistently while maintaining a focus on each character’s identity. The performances by all of the onscreen players (Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, and Kurtwood Smith in the biggest roles) have their respective moments and end up playing exceedingly well off one another in the film’s eventual payoff. And the effects work certainly pushed the bar on what was achievable, combining some practical work with some post-production trickery in ways that also complemented the other, evening garnering a Saturn Award nomination for his craftsmen.
Given the fact that the wider landscape of television has focused for so very long on police officers, crimefighters, and the like, I suppose it was only natural (at some point) for some studio executive to realize this character might do very well in its own weekly procedural. TV dramas – after all – allow storytellers to utilize both static players and guest stars in ways that support character development over time; given officer Alex Murphy’s slowly awakening memories regarding his past and the gradual rediscovery of his human potential, I’m actually a bit surprised that RoboCop didn’t happen on TV well before it became a movie franchise!
The truth is: it did … but in a vastly different presentation. ABC TV’s popular and long-running The Six Million Dollar Man saw astronaut Steve Austin return to work in a devastating crash. But we had the technology, so we rebuilt him better than before. Better. Stronger. Faster. Like that bionic man, it was going to be great having RoboCop back in the guise of weekly adventure program; I’m disappointed that the Detroit cop was only given a single season.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the series’ IMDB.com profile:
“Alex Murphy is RoboCop, a cybernetic policeman. A creation of a vast corporation, he fights crime and occasional corporate conspiracy in the near-future of Old Detroit.”
Given that I’m somewhat new to the property, I’m going to withhold any true judgment on it at this point; but I’m going to say – as I did above – that the concept of RoboCop is perfectly conceived for television. Culturally, we’ve always enjoyed programs centered on justice and good deeds, and this fact alone makes this cybernetic crime fighter ideally suited for the serialized format. He’s certainly enjoyed a share of success on the silver screen, along with the assorted comic books and even an animated incarnation (heavily geared for the youngest among us). His central programming calls out for these stories, and I’m thrilled to spend time in this ride-along on behalf of the DVD set’s distributors.
RoboCop: The Series was produced by Robocop Productions Ltd., Rysher Entertainment, and Skyvision Entertainment. DVD distribution (for this particular release) is being coordinated via Liberation Hall. This Blu-ray set contains five discs and boasts a runtime of approximately seventeen hours.
As for the technical specifications? Well, I’ve read online that some longtime fans of the show are a bit upset with this release: the episodes have all been formatted 16:9 for widescreen televisions but the show was original broadcast in standard 4:3. My expertise is certainly not in the technical areas covered by some who do reviews, but I can say – after viewing a few episodes – there are some hiccups regarding cropping. It’s nothing glaring – only a handful of scenes ended up looking shot with a person’s head out-of-frame – so I’m not inclined to make a big deal out of it. However, there are also a few scenes of obvious grain I suspect are a result of the increased focus; again, it’s nothing ‘tragic,’ but it is what it is. (I’ve seen other shows broadcast on HD channels reformat older programming that looks vastly worse than this.)
As for the special features? The set provides a handful of the typical behind-the-scenes whatnot including extras kinda/sorta repackaged from the show itself. Cast profiles are also a nice touch, along with some other documentary-style shorts about the show, some of its props, etc. For what it’s worth, I thought it a nice assortment for folks either casual or die-hard enthusiasts of the greater RoboUniverse. Well done.
Recommended. I’m only starting to make my way through the pilot and the subsequent twenty-one one-hour episodes, so it’d be uncouth of me to render any massive judgment on the series as a whole. However, I’m a Science Fiction junkie who likes what he’s seeing thus far, so I’m definitely looking forward to spending a fair amount of time getting to know an incarnation that completely passed me by on its original airings. While much of it ‘feels’ authentic to the first movie, it’s clearly been toned down – maybe even a bit too kid-friendly in a few places – yet that’s the nature of serialized television.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Liberation Hall provided me with a complimentary Blu-ray box set of RoboCop: The Series by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.