There’s a lot to be said for 80s animation and children’s entertainment. It was a time where pretty much nothing was off limits and studios spent an odd amount of resources trying to tailor adult properties to kids. Violent characters and cult films like Rambo, The Toxic Avenger and Conan the Barbarian were turned into lovable PG-friendly superheroes. Robocop was eventually added to the chopping block, and remains something of an animated oddity to this day. As we all know, Robocop is the 1987 classic sci-fi film that skirted an X-rating for scenes like its titular hero shooting a rapist in the private parts in an effort to keep him from murdering a female victim in cold blood.
And yet, miraculously, RoboCop became an animated superhero for a PG-rated animated series. Sadly, the de-evolution of RoboCop didn’t just stop there and while anti-heroes like Rambo and Chuck Norris had their day as cartoon characters before reverting back to their respective adult properties, RoboCop only descended further into becoming a Saturday monrning children’s mascot along the lines of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers.
Animated by Korean animation studio, AKOM Productions, the 1988 animated Series is a noticeably flimsy production headed by Marvel Productions that really suffers from a lack in quality. It’s a loud, fast paced, and often irritating spin-off that chooses to completely side step the original film. Released a year after its gory predecessor, RoboCop: The Animated Series features Alex Murphy as a somewhat lovable superhero with a perpetual smile on his face, so as to welcome young viewers. In the movie Murphy looks like a corpse’s head sewn into machinery… suffice to say that Murphy’s appearance in the animated series is much easier on the eyes.
RoboCop is even a public figure now, spending his time driving around and making appearances at local restaurants. Murphy’s hard boiled partner, Anne Lewis, is turned in to a whiny and annoying love interest of Murphy’s who does more to badger her partner than to help him fight crime. Her attitude is still kept intact (for the most part), but half the time she seems to be trying to get romantically involved with Murphy. At one point she even invites him to dinner and gets angry when he has to leave to stop a criminal called “The Scrambler.”
Could RoboCop even eat? I figured he had to be fed his food through tubes or whatnot. Anyway, most of the series revolves around OCP trying to halt RoboCop’s efforts to stop crime and end the corporation’s reign on Detroit. All the while, they enlist a new series of foes with every new episode including the ED-260, who appears in one episode. Like many of the series adapted for kids from adult movies, RoboCop: TAS didn’t last long, only managing to run for twelve episodes total before being launched into syndication and eventually lingering on home video as part of the Marvel Video home label before being cast into obscurity.
The series would later be resurrected on DVD in 2008 in the UK, but has yet to find a Region 1 release, quite shocking since I think even the most forgiving RoboCop fans might find this oddity worthy of viewing. As it stands, the series is a hackneyed and rushed attempt to bank on Verhoeven’s film and fails pretty brilliantly.