Monday, June 20, 2011

SMCS Companion Piece #17: Road Rovers


Dogs driving cars.  ‘Nuff said.  Good night everybody.



…oh you want a little more than that, huh?  Alright then.  This past weekend on the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show we watched Road Rovers.  If you’ve never heard of this show don’t worry yourself too much over as it’s not exactly a “classic”, though even to this day it has its fans.  Premiering in 1996 on Kids WB! and lasting all of one season Road Rovers was a superhero spoof show during a time when Freakazoid! and Earthworm Jim were on television and probably as a result it’s not nearly as remembered.  In fact it was created by Tom Ruegger who, in addition to creating Freakazoid!, also created Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Pinky and Brain so it may be easy to see how this show was overshadowed by its more popular siblings.   Despite its short run it would continue to re-run for the next few years.

More on Road Rovers after the jump.


Half-man, Half-dog mutant slaves of an insane genius with a god complex
The premise of the show was pretty weird, which isn’t surprising considering the source: Professor Sheppard is a scientist (I guess) who invented a “transdogmafier”, a device whose only purpose seems to be to turn dogs into almost-humans which is of questionable scientific value, but soon has the technology stolen by a villain named General Parvo who left Sheppard for dead.  Later Sheppard, clearly now insane from his ordeal and calling himself “ Master”, kidnaps several innocent dogs and uses a new transdogmafier to turn them into near-human hybrids with dangerous superpowers and unstable personalities and supplies them with cutting age weaponry and vehicles.  He uses them as soldiers in his war on whatever he views as “evil” (IT’S A COMEDY!).

The Road Rovers consisted of Colleen from the UK, a Russian stereotype with ice powers (Exile), a German stereotype who sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger (Blitz), a Swedish character who is a coward and probably neutral (Shag), and Hunter, an All-American dog who is the embodiment of loyalty and friendliness and is clearly the leader with no real personality flaws….you know, because this show was written by Americans for Americans!   Also on the team was Muzzle who wasn’t technically a Road Rover because he was never mutated into a anthropomorphic abomination but instead was an ordinary dog…and by “ordinary” I mean he was a vicious rabies infested killing machine that had to be restrained in a straight jacket and a mask and, once unleashed, would do such horrendous things to whatever he sunk his teeth into that the camera had to pan to the rest of the team as they watched on in stunned horror.  This was a kids cartoon.

Also voiced by Frank Welker
Look, this show wasn’t bad.   It wasn’t as funny or as clever as a lot of its contemporaries but it’s aged fairly well and still can produce genuine laughs so long as you ignore just how much of this show went with the easiest jokes possible or the fact that the team of multinational dogs are mostly offensive and outdated (Outdated years before this actually) caricatures.  It does however seem to bask in its own ridiculousness and is very aware that its premise is really stupid and pokes fun of itself all the time (The team’s headquarters are several giant fire hydrants for God’s sake).  It was like the Deadpool of Saturday Morning Cartoons at the time…except not popular.  I suspect that while Freakazoid! was a parody of traditional superheroes, right down to wearing his long john underwear on the outside, Road Rovers was more into spoofing the old 80s and early 90s cartoons that featured human-like animals and creatures battling each other in over-serious yet depressingly corny scenarios.  Although in this cartoon the heroes fight someone other than their arch enemy every once in a while which make sit superior to about 80% of all action cartoons form 80s.

Street Sharks, on the other hand, played the genre straight
Now we're all dumber as a result
When I was a kid I watched this cartoon a lot but I don’t think I’d say it was “good”.  Looking t it now makes me realize that it was actually pretty decent and probably deserved more than it got.  The show was “officially” canceled due to lousy ratings but it has been suggested to me that the real reason was because executives were pushing for more educational programming and Road Rovers didn’t fit the bill.  If true that wouldn’t be surprising considering the climate of 1990’s after the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers made parents collective piss themselves over worry that their kid would accidentally murder someone after watching it.  Now I’m all for educational programming but only at certain times and places, not all day every day. Canceling perfectly fine shows and replacing them with toons that preach to kids about the dangers of peer pressure or to always obey your teachers can get pretty frustrating when done excessively.  Thankfully the 2000s seemed to have calmed things down a bit (I’m pretty sure Power Rangers became less educational than ever during this time).

Bottom line Road Rovers is one of those cartoons that fell below the radar despite being a pretty decently entertaining show.  It wasn’t a fantastic cartoon and probably it’s premise was a bit too weak to sustain the show for too many seasons but all in all it’s a DVD that I rather have than not have as well as being a DVD that will probably never be made.

Also there's  shockingly large amount of Colleen porn out there
YOU'VE LET ME DOWN AGAIN, INTERNET!!!!
 For more on Road Rovers click here.  For the Saturday Morning Cartoon Show blog and podcast click here and here.

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  2. Just a note: the big shaggy dog is Swiss, not Swedish. Explains his pacifism.

    And his large collection of assault rifles. You know, for kids.

    ReplyDelete