Tuesday, August 9th, 2005

Return Of The Roughnecks

I should probably be embaressed to admit that I liked Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. And not because I subscribe to the POV that it was a deliberately stupid satire on politics and the media and the military. I just found it tremendously fun and enjoyable and just the right amount of scary (not a fan of spiders so those warrior bugs freaked me right out). But in my defence, it came out when I was in the middle of university and may have been the first film I saw in many many months, so my frame of reference wasn’t at its zenith.

I’m not so embaressed to say that I also really enjoyed the Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles animated series which came out around 1999. Completely CGI and state of the art for its time (though the animateion now looks a little dated and clumsy, on par with a contemporary video game), it was far more faithful to Robert Heinlein’s novel, at least in terms of setting the scene and the tech (the power suits, drop ships, etc). Pretty much ignoring the film completely (probably for the best), it continued on where the novel left off and followed SICON’s battle with the invading bug armies away from Earth and through the galaxy. The writing was far better and each of the characters within Razak’s Roughnecks, the unit the show chronicled, had more human and nuanced personalities than you’d expect from an animated series. Plus the action sequences and tech design kicked some serious ass.

So why am I writing about an under-the-radar animated show that stopped running years ago? They’ve finally compiled all produced episodes into a single DVD set, Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles – The Complete Campaigns. All five episodes in each of the seven campaigns have been edited together into a single, full-length feature. Of course, the narrative is still distinctly episodic, but it’s a nice touch to not have to sit through the opening credits five times per and they even edited the wipes and soundtrack to be more seamless. What’s not so nice – and I didn’t realize this because I never saw the whole thing on TV – is that the final three episodes of the series, which wrapped up the entire bug war, are missing. Not because they didn’t include them, but because they don’t exist.

The show was plagued by production difficulties from the get-go, airing before they had enough completed episodes to allow for a good run of repeat-free showings. As a result, they ended up in reruns after like two or three weeks and new episodes were slow to get into rotation. This caused real problems with following the larger story and probably cost them much of their potential audience. While they managed to get through 36 episodes (including four “special” clips episodes), the plug was pulled before the final three episodes could be produced. Which is a goddamn lousy thing to discover after you’ve watched over ten hours of the show and are pretty eager to see how it all wraps up. Extra irony points for ending the final episode with one character saying, “It’s over!” and another – upon realizing the bugs are still invading – saying, “No – it’s just beginning” (paraphrased). Actually, it was over.

Since the show wrapped up production some years ago now, there’s pretty much no chance we’ll ever see those last eps in any shape or form. I’d settle for scripts from those final shows, but I doubt those exist anywhere. This fansite has synopses of how the last three shows were supposed to go down, and it helps a little bit, but it also worsens the sting – “Final Inferno” sounds like it would have absolutely owned. There’s a couple more fansites here and here.

Bloody shame, wot. And let us never speak of the back-alley abortion of a sequel to the film, Starship Troopers 2: Hero Of The Federation.

Reuters reports that Sufjan Stevens – good, practicing Christian he may be – just ain’t Christian enough for the Christian Music Trade Association. Via Largehearted Boy.

VH1 is pretty much the last place I’d expect to find a treasure trove of Ride videos, but there you go. Sadly, they only work in IE and Windows. Mac folks will have to wait until the DVD comes out sometime in the not-too-distant future.

JAM! has an AP piece on Richard Thompson and his new solo acoustic album, Front Parlour Ballads, out today.

Swedish psychedelic rockers Dungen are at Lee’s Palace on October 11. I’ve heard these guys highly recommended, but haven’t heard any of their stuff. Is there a decent (legit) sample floating around anywhere? Also, Death Cab For Cutie bring Plans to the Kool Haus on October 15. I expect I’ll pass on this one – I’ve seen them three times and will always have the memories of their barely-attended show at the Horseshoe back in the Fall of 2001.

And some other shows of interest to people who are not me – KMFDM at the Phoenix October 4 and The Bravery (again) at the Kool Haus October 11.

np – Crooked Fingers / Red Devil Dawn

By : Frank Yang at 8:34 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this postNo Responses.
  1. Sean says:

    You can download a legal mp3 of ‘Panda,’ the first song on the most recently recorded Dungen album at http://www.kemado.com or try the link at http://…/ if that won’t work

  2. Janet says:

    You can download "Panda" on <a href="http://…/ as well.

  3. suckingalemon says:

    my friend who is on the deathcab mailing list told me that Stars are opening for them for the american dates. we get youth group. darn.


  4. angryrobot says:

    I’m a huge fan of Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers (as well as Robocop), although I do believe it was intended as satire. It certainly takes aim at blind patriotism, military and government propaganda, fascism, and youthful naivite. I certainly wouldn’t say Verhoeven is a great director, but when he works with screenwriter Ed Neumeier, he’s on form. Can’t say the same for his work with Joe Eszterhas, although I caught Basic Instinct on TV a while back and it suddenly struck me as a campy, tounge-in-cheek take on Hitchcock. I’m not convinced that was intentional, though. All this compelled me to watch Showgirls the other night. I found it completely fascinating as a film that goes so far beyond just being bad (and it is totally horrible) that it becomes surreal.

  5. Chris says:

    you can grab the 4th song off my blog


  6. Thierry says:

    Having seen the Youth Group play a couple of months ago in Toronto, I wouldn’t be too disappointed with getting them as an opening act for Death Cab – they were quite good live (excellent drummer).

  7. david says:

    You can download a live version of Deerhoof’s "Panda, Panda, Panda" at:


  8. Karl says:

    There may still be Dungen samples at <a href="http://…/ Sounds</a> and <a href="http://…/ Industries.</a>

  9. matzohball77 says:

    Starshiptrooperlove is nothing to feel guilty about.

    Lengthy appreciation at Salon


  10. bozairzere says:

    if i see another pantene commercial and not the ride video i’m supposed to see…..eff vh1!

  11. jh says:

    vh1 link don’t work dude.

  12. Frank says:

    yeah it does. Windows/IE only. I was just watching the Like A Daydream video.

  13. Frank says:

    Thanks for all the Dungen pointers – it’s interesting stuff, will take some more listens to really form an opinion. I’ve put the show on my calendar for now, but if October gets too unwieldy, it’s on the bubble.

  14. Gary Campbell says:

    So, is that Jeanie Garth of Beverly Hills 90210 fame in the "Taste" video?

  15. Carl Abernathy says:

    Thanks for sharing the link to the Richard Thompson story. And thanks for promoting Thompson’s album "1000 Years of Popular Music."

    His cover of "Oops! I Did it Again" is one of my favorite cover songs. It’s even better in concert.