Robocop: The Animated Series
This short lived 1988 offering may very well have been Robocop's only decent telivision interpretation
In 1987, Robocop, a distopian future thriller about a mortally wounded Law Enforcer rebuilt and reborn as a cyborg enforcer to serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law, hit theaters. The audience it attracted praised the movie for it's concepts of duality, how far cybernetics could go to create the "perfect human", how much of a man is in the machine, and the extent of corporate greed and malice.
It was also praised for how brutally violent it was, a high body count, a whole scene with the officer, Alex Murphy, being ripped apart literally by gunfire, and other memorable scenes of incineration, decapitation, mutilation, and assassination.
We should know, most of us saw this at age eight, and don't once deny you didn't.
Come on, we ALL saw this film at a young age, Robocop's popularity resonated across the globe at the time, we saw it at a friend's house, tricked our grandparents into acquiring it, snuck into theaters under the pretense of watching a Disney movie, we ALL saw Robocop, and it became clear to Marvel Animation that we did...because they made a cartoon out of it.
And in spite of being the first nail in Robocop's coffin as far as being regarded as an R-Rated cult icon, it wasn't that bad.
Robocop: The Animated Series was the first cartoon to ever be based on a movie never intended for children. (Aliens is another franchise). This show is excellent, it's a crime this series lasted only thirteen episodes (probably because the "Ultra Police" line bombed, and parents weren't quite keen on an R-Rated character so quickly becoming a cartoon on the heels of a movie franchise barley
To start with, the title sequence retained the scene where Murphy is shot down by his assailants, all retaining their appearances from the movie. The scene only lasts a good three or four seconds into the sequence, but it's there. The title sequence is, itself, not very long, a linking narration continues through it, and after Murphy is reborn, the sequence pretty much ends
Murphy's death isn't the only thing retained from the movie, this is the only series I think that retained EVERY element from the original movie. Everyone is in here, Anne Lewis, ED-209, The Old Man, Dr. McNamara, you name it, it can be found here.
McNamara, the shows recurring nemesis, also used more than just Ed-209 in this series, locked in a bidding war with Robocop's operators for the services of OCP's CEO, McNamara would create new weapons and machines to try and outshine Robocop, but they would always lack the one competent Murphy had, human instinct.
That is, until the classic episode "The Man In The Iron Suit", an episode that only proves this series is overlooked tremendously
Aside from fighting enemies on the opposing side of the law, Robocop had an opponent on the Detroit Police Force, a snide condescending hateful street lieutenant called Hedgecock. Hedgecock saw Robocop and all robotic functions in Detroit as ticking time bombs that could doom Detroit to destruction.
He would treat Murphy with sheer disdain, and every time Robocop was either tampered with, used against OCP, and his weapons use manipulated to endanger civilians, Hedgecock would be the first to pursue Murphy, hoping to eliminate him.
Seeing an opportunity to embarrass Robocop, Hedgecock agrees to pilot a new Iron Suit devised by Doctor McNamara, and to test it out in a "friendly exchange" with Murphy in a "safe" Police training environment at a junk yard. Hedgecock nearly kills him, thanks in part to upgrades McNamara "neglected" to tell Robocop's team. So Anne takes it upon herself to enter the training program unarmed and warn Murphy. The bitter Hedgecock promptly brushes her aside, too busy concentrating on eliminating the only threat to his use fullness as a mere flesh and blood police officer, and she is wounded in the effort.
The enraged Murphy, who was on the verge of defeat, promptly snaps and breaks Hedgecock's Iron Suit apart, his most repressed emotions finally brought to the surface, one of the few times it occurs in the series and so naturally in the franchise. He is on the verge of killing Hedgecock when Anne manages to convince him she's only slightly bruised, and that Hedgecock will be pressed with charges.
For some reason or another, episodes followed this that featured none of the repercussions that came out of the episode, but hey, many episodes in the 80's that HAD continuity often had to face the wrath of networks that didn't give a damn what order they aired them in, so this came off as a series finale more than a traditional episode. Things happen in it that can't be brushed aside, Hedgecock went too far, Robocop regained a great deal of his emotions in a fit of rage, basically reclaiming his humanity...strange network decisions.
The series had other milestones, "The Brotherhood" sees a Ku-Klux-Klan style breed of anti-Machine demonstrators resorting to staging "malfunctions" of assorted cybernetics around the city with the aid of a scrambler, opening up Robocop to a variation on the racism theme
Robocop would eventually return to the small screen with a live-action series that followed up on the childish Robocop 3, and in 1999, another Robocop animated series was aired "Robocop: Alpha Commando", neither of which were a success, even a series of TV Movies "Robocop: Prime Directives", a throwback to the classic, violent days of the character, was marred by bad acting and a low budget.
If you ask me, Robocop is better being animated on a network that allows Robocop to be ROBOCOP, and stop presenting him as a Children's icon. We get it guys, you knew we watched Robocop way before we should have...that doesn't make the character one that can rival Pokemon, that makes us very naughty. And we got spanked.