Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles TV Series Overview (1999-2000)


Introduction

Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles is a 1999-2000 CGI animated television series, based on the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein and the 1997 film adaptation.

It follows the exploits of the Mobile Infantry squad, “Razak’s Roughnecks,” during the SICON–Bugs War between a newly united humanity and an extraterrestrial race, known as the “Bugs,” also sometimes referred to as Arachnids.

The show focuses mainly on the Roughnecks’ missions, rather than addressing the larger war.

The series aired for one season in the syndicated BKN Kids Network block beginning in August 1999 in the United States and Canada.

It was later picked up by the Sci-Fi Channel in the US (along with the rest of the BKN block) and Teletoon in Canada.

The entire series is available to be streamed on Crackle in the US, along with several Minisodes.

The show combines elements of Verhoeven’s film and the original novel, such as the extraterrestrial race known as the Skinnies, powered armor suits and drop pods. The series also adds some original elements (e.g. the war starts on Pluto), while omitting the political aspects of the original work and film.

Outline

When the Mobile Infantry defeats an infestation on Pluto, the world is united as the Strategically Integrated Coalition of Nations (SICON) declares war on the insectoids.

The main story focuses on a group of troopers known as Alpha Team – otherwise known as Razak’s Roughnecks – who are headed back to Pluto after Operation Pest Control.

After destroying Bug City on Pluto, SICON sights a giant Transport Bug. This reveals that the Bugs are not native to Pluto. They track it to the planet Hydora, which orbits a star in the Constellation Virgo and encounter a Brain Bug, an intelligent Bug that controls the other castes so they won’t go insane and destroy each other. The Bugs are planning to take control of the entire universe and won’t stop until the human race is extinct.

SICON attempts to set up a base on the planet Tophet, inhabited by a species nicknamed Skinnies. The Skinnies, however, have been enslaved by the Bugs to mine Xylon, a precious mineral used for Transport Bugs. The Mobile Infantry are able to destroy the Control Bugs overseeing the Skinnies and free Tophet, but the victory costs them their comrade Carl Jenkins, who has been put into a state of mental trauma. The Skinnies soon enlist in SICON to fight the Bugs, mainly due to their lack of interstellar travel technology.

SICON soon discovers the existence of the Bug homeworld Klendathu. They attempt to destroy the Bug Queen but she escapes, headed for Earth. Her Transport Bug is destroyed before she reaches the human homeworld, but she nevertheless makes it to Earth. With numerous battles on the home front and the arrival of Bug reinforcements, the battle had only just begun.

You can gain a very good, in-depth outline of the series @ Misterhook.net/roughnecks.

Trivia

  • The show was produced by Columbia TriStar Television and Sony Pictures for daily television syndication and ended its run of a single season with a cliffhanger instead of a proper series finale.
  • Though originally planned for 2-D animation, Sony contracted Foundation Imaging to produce the episodes with 3-D computer animation.
    • Since Foundation was unable to keep up with the production schedule, Flat Earth Productions were involved with creating episodes 12 and 13, Hyper Image with 20 to 22, and Rainbow Studios with 23 to 25.
  • The series was to end with a titanic battle (on a larger scale than any previous episode) against the Bug forces on Earth, but production halted before this story arc was fully developed.
    • Of the 40 episodes originally scheduled, only 36 were completed due to the production problems.
    • Each week was to be a separate campaign with five daily episodes.
  • In the Homefront Campaign only five episodes were completed, with the last three episodes (“Gates of Hell,” “Circle of the Damned” and “Final Inferno”) left incomplete, along with “Homefront,” a key episode in the campaign. “Homefront” was to show the destruction of Buenos Aires, referenced in later episodes.
    • Summaries of two of these episodes are available at the TrooperPX website.
  • The missing episodes had their dialogue recorded and some of their animation completed.
    • This existing material was not included in the series’ DVD release. Some of that material leaked online.
    • A version of the lost episodes was performed once in 2000 as an audio play at the annual Gathering of the Gargoyles fan convention.
  • In order to fulfil Sony’s 40-episode order, four clip shows were produced, reusing footage from previous episodes along with snippets of new material.
    • “Pluto and Beyond” and “Propaganda Machine” can be thought of as coming near the beginning of the Tophet Campaign.
    • These summarise the events of that the preceding Pluto Campaign and a few Tophet events, without adding new material.
    • In “Marooned,” one of the main characters becomes lost alone in space and has flashbacks about events from the Pluto through Zephyr Campaigns (in no particular order); it appears intended to take place in the midst of the Klendathu Campaign.
    • “Court-Martial of Lt. Razak” also takes place during the Klendathu Campaign (specifically, day 165), with various characters giving testimony (shown as previous-episode flashbacks from the entire series); of the four clip shows, it is the only one to introduce significant plot points.
    • All four have been released on DVD.

Starship Troopers Series

The series is divided into eight story arcs or “campaigns,” with five episodes each. Each campaign takes place at a different location. In the DVD release, each campaign is on a single disk.

  • Trackers (5 episodes): 1st takes place on the journey from Klendathu to Earth. The others are recaps. 4th has Rico floating through space. 5th investigates Razak.
  • Episode 31 takes place just prior to the Homefront Campaign, but it is NOT included on the Homefront Campaign DVD.
    • It has been released (along with the four Clip Shows) on a separate DVD simply called “Trackers.”

You can find a full index and overview of the Starship Troopers franchise here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Developer(s): Richard Raynis, Duane Capizzi, and Jeff Kline.
  • Director(s): Sean Song (10 episodes, 1999-2000), Alan Caldwell (9 episodes, 1999-2000), David Hartman (9 episodes, 1999-2000), Vincent Edwards (8 episodes, 1999-2000), Sam Liu (7 episodes, 1999-2000), Jay Oliva (6 episodes, 1999-2000), Andre Clavel (5 episodes, 1999-2000), Michael Chang (4 episodes, 1999-2000), Christopher Berkeley (3 episodes, 1999-2000), and Audu Paden (3 episodes, 1999-2000).
  • Producer(s): Marsha F. Griffin, Greg Klein, Tom Pugsley, Scott Thoelke, Paul Verhoeven, Richard Raynis, Jeff Kline, and Audu Paden.
  • Music: Jim Latham and Wayne Boon.
  • Cinematography: John Allardice.
  • Editor(s): Michael T. Smith.
  • Production: Verhoeven-Marshall, Flat Earth Productions, inc., Foundation Imaging, Hyper Image, Rainbow Studios, Adelaide Productions, and Columbia TriStar Television.
  • Distributor(s): BKN International.
  • Original Network: BKN Kids Network.
  • Release Date: 30 August 1999 to 03 April 2000.
  • Running Time: 30 minutes (per episode).
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

 

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