Saturday, 8 October 2011

Yet another unexpected turn of events

Like a lot of you, I spent a reasonable amount of time in front of the TV when I was young. I didn't exactly plaster myself in front of the glowing box 24 hours a day, but nevertheless I seem to remember a huge number of shows. Power Rangers for example. I loved that as a child. But looking back, it's plain awful. The action is pathetic, the costumes are silly and garish, and the dialogue would make a wheel of Gouda blush. Not to mention the questionable costume colour choices (the Asian ranger gets the yellow suit, and the African-American ranger gets the black suit. Come on now, really?) And there are countless others. X-men, Dragonball Z, Pokemon - some stand up well to the test of time, others fall like Gordon Brown's political career. And even with the shit ones, it's hard for me to criticize when the familiar theme tune plays and nostalgia runs up my legs like a bad case of rickets.

So what I've decided to do is look at a show I'd never so much as heard of in my childhood. An opportunity like this came up recently in the form of 'Road Rovers'. Airing for one season in 1996-1997, it would have caught me in my cartoon watching prime, had I heard of it. The way I found out about it is decidedly dodgy, so we won't go into that, but the important thing is that the hesitant calamari is geared up for a no holes barred, non biased review.

Had to always turn the volume down really low when
 watching this while my parents were asleep, Goku and co
always spent half the episode screaming 
So we'll start with a brief overview of what the show is actually about. Road Rovers follows the adventures of six crime fighting anthropomorphic dogs (one is technically feral but let's not get fussy) that go out and save the world, following orders from a scientist know as 'Master' a la Charlie from Charlie's Angels.

The introductory theme song is made up of maniacal xylophone and a chorus of voices giving sung descriptions of the characters. Very similar to other Warner Brothers cartoons of the time, but nowhere near as good. Taz-Mania had a wonderfully upbeat and entertaining theme song, as did the likes of Animaniacs and Freakazoid. But the Road Rover's one is just instantly forgettable. It may seem harsh to judge the theme song so critically, but where would the likes of Inspector Gadget be without it's fantastic theme? Regardless. In the first episode we are introduced to dastardly villain General Parvo, who tricks a scientist into handing over a formula or something that transforms traditional dogs into 'cano-sapiens' (essentially an anthropormorphic dog with superpowers). The scientist expects his dog back in return for the formula. But instead he gets a bomb, lol. The show fast forwards 1 year (or 7 in dog years, har har) where we find that the scientist is still alive. He uses the formula to create the Road Rovers, while the mean old General uses the formula for more evil purposes.

His balls finally dropped/looks like he loves his balls
pick one
The concept doesn't seem too awful until the dogs transform and open their mouths. Some characters, particularly Blitz, the Doberman, have both irritating voice-actors and a weak script. Many of the reasonable jokes are lazily turned into running gags throughout the series. A good example is Hunter, the leader of the Rovers who often proclaims "I could not have predicted this!" whenever there is a plot twist of sorts. Rather than using it as a clever, self aware one-off joke, it is milked constantly, usually multiple times in one episode. That said, Hunter is one of the more likeable characters in the show. His witty lines often break the fourth wall and are usually pretty amusing. He also has a decent voice actor behind him him, and his friendly personality makes the show a little more watchable. The only other saving grace for the show is Colleen, who is voiced by the talented Tress MacNeille (Mom in Futurama being one of the hundreds of characters she has given her voice to), and Muzzle. Muzzle doesn't have any dialogue, which is probably partly why he is one of the better characters. The only feral dog out of the six, muzzle is muzzled, wrapped up in a strait jacket and attached to a trolley, much like Hannibal Lecter. It's always amusing to see him bounce from place to place in his little trolley like a demented kangaroo trapped inside a tent. But even 'unleashing muzzle' eventually turns into a running gag, which is sad, but not unexpected.

Road Rovers had an 'adult' moment similar to the Animaniac's
fingerprints/finger-Prince joke, where a song featuring
'sonofabitch' was cut from the show. Nowhere near as
good as Animaniacs though.
The show has to get by on the few decent moments it has. Joke after joke is unleashed, and only about 20% of them are original or humorous in any way. There are many plot holes, continuity errors, and any kind of emotional moments in the episodes are quickly killed off with cheesy music and a running gag. There's no point in dwelling on things like why the dogs risk their lives for practically nothing, how 'Master' has the means to supply these dogs with multi-billion dollar aircraft, or why dogs were even chosen to sort out the world's problems, because it's a kids show at the end of the day.

Still, that's no reason to give it too much slack. Watership Down, Batman: The Animated Series and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? are all classed by most as 'kids' stuff, but none of them get worse as you grow up. I didn't expect too much from Road Rovers though, and I have seen worse. Hell, I'd rather watch it than Family Guy. Fart jokes, half arsed political rants, and 'remember that time when I...' jokes that go on for 10 minutes annoy me more than a Siberian husky impatiently saying "Quit Russian me".

I'm so inconsistent with this blog now, but I'm blaming it on my 'muse'. I write when I feel like it. And can someone let me know what they prefer me writing about? A couple of people have complained that the review parts of my blog are boring, which is worrying because it takes up about 80% of the blog. So yeah, let me know.

What I'm currently watching > \Watership Down, forgot how good it was/

Thanks for reading.


  1. Can't say that I've seen these, but oh gods did I spend some time in front of the tv as a kid. Who needs a babysitter when the telly is free, amirite?

  2. I remember Goku. :D