Robocop: The Series (TV, 2007)
From SFX 143.
TWO AND A HALF STARS
1994/ 960 mins approx
Director: Mario Azzopardi, Timothy Bond, J Miles Dale, Allan Eastman, William Gereghty, Alan J Levi, Paul Lynch, Paul Shapiro and Michael Vejar
Starring: Richard Eden, Yvette Nipar, Blu Mankuma, Andrea Roth, David Gardner and Sarah Campbell
If you like the film, buy that, not this.
Like Murphy, the cop who dies and becomes Robocop, a similarly drastic transformation has been undergone by Paul Verhoeven’s violent classic; its cold, dead cinematic body refitted to become a family friendly TV show, its original personality wiped out in the process.
The Robocop franchise has suffered many indignities, and this, to be fair, is far from the worst of them. Like Terminator or Alien, Robocop was one of those 80s films for adults that every kid in the world saw. Although it was never intended for such an audience, some exec saw the potential and, in a move worthy of OCP itself, started selling the character directly to children (ironically, this kind of marketing is mocked in the series). Who can forget the woeful 1988 and 1994 cartoons, or the arse-numbingly tedious 2000 mini-series? But just because the TV show is not as bad as these other Robo-offerings, it doesn’t mean it is any good.
The live-action show is as bereft of the film’s merciless satire and hilarious violence as the cartoons, though in this case the gap is filled not by giant robots but by a shallow examination of Murphy’s plight. It introduces two characters to highlight his twilight existence, a sympathy-grasping moppet by the name of Gadget and NeuroBrain, a murdered secretary’s brain wedded to a computer, who serves as a female mirror to Robo. (These characters debut in the pilot, an adaptation of a rejected script for Robocop 2 – that it was rejected should tell you all you need to know).
In the end, it’s just all rather flaccid, the broad performances failing to capture the original’s wit, though occasionally the script raises a smile. One for completists only.
Did you know?
Total Recall is another Verhoeven offering that made it to a TV series. Also made in Canada, Total Recall 2070 was even more divergent from its inspiration than Robocop, and actually looked more like Bladerunner.