Robocop has fought crime in four movies and a slew of comic books — but meanwhile, he's also had a pretty wild ride on television. The cyborg lawman starred in a "family friendly" 1990s TV show and a 2001 miniseries, which pushed him to places the movies never contemplated. Here are Robocop's craziest moments on TV.
The 1994-1995 Robocop TV series featured a much more lovable crew of misfits around Alex Murphy, including a scrappy young cyber girl named Gadget, who had a habit of exclaiming "Cool!" and getting underfoot just when the crew was trying to catch bad guys:
Here's the core cast, including the lovable Chairman of OCP, Robocop's partner Lisa Madigan, the Sarge, and Gadget. Almost every episode of the TV show involves someone at OCP doing something evil, and when the lovable Chairman finds out about it, he puts a stop to it and sets things right — because his heart is in the right place, he's just easily hoodwinked by his underlings. Or something.
There's also Diana, a hot babe who's been digitized and turned into an A.I. — she now lives inside the OCP computers and talks to Robocop. And sometimes, she helps the OCP Chairman learn an important lesson about being nicer. And Charlie, the bumbling but lovable geek who fixes Robocop up.
The show also features some recurring villains (because Robocop is less likely to use deadly force on television.) There's the super-genius, Dr. Kray Z. Mallardo, the inventor of NeuroBrain. And the sleazy corporate weasel Chip Chayken. And finally, the scarred gangster "Pudface" Morgan.
So here are some of the wackiest moments from the TV series:
In the episode "Prime Suspect," an evil televangelist is using religion to try and discredit Robocop, by claiming Robocop has no soul. But meanwhile, someone who has a beef with the televangelist steals some of Robocop's gear and shoots him, making it look as though Robocop did it. And this crime takes place while the televangelist guy is in a hot tub with one of his angels:
There's a running storyline where Robocop bonds with a little kid who needs a lung transplant, or he's going to die. Unfortunately, in the episode "What Money Can't Buy," there's an evil organ-thief named Ardo whose girlfriend Louise dresses up in fetishwear to sneak into the hospital and steal the new lungs that the innocent boy is going to receive in a life-saving operation.
Here's Louise's "stealing lungs from a dying boy" outfit:
And here's the part where she tells Ardo that they should use the money from the stolen lungs to build themselves a new dungeon:
Because she used to be a cheerleader.
Later, Robocop ties Louise up, but she escapes — telling Ardo that Robocop doesn't tie her up nearly as tight as Ardo does. Also, Louise calls their main henchman "worm." And at the end, Robocop captures the two of them by imprisoning them with a kind of expanding latex cushion — and Louise says that it's too bad their schemes have been foiled, but at least their latex prison "feels fantastic."
To her credit, Robocop's partner is resourceful, and almost every episode features her going off on her own and solving crucial parts of the mystery while Robocop stomps around and lifts trucks. She drives the story in most episodes, at least as much as Robocop does. But she does have some wardrobe issues.
Usually, Detective Madigan dresses sort of like this:
But in the episode "Zone Five," she decides to go undercover and infiltrate the gang that's selling the deadly drug FUN, which takes away all guilt and inhibitions. In which case, she dresses like this:
The Robocop TV series was not afraid to pack a bit of a gut punch from time to time, in spite of its "family friendly" mandate. In the episode "Provision 22", Alex Murphy's wife is among the protestors holding a demonstration against OCP's new corporate-controlled welfare program in which people are brainwashed and stuff. And Robocop is stunned to realize that since he died, his family has had to go on welfare:
That's right. It's an episode about secret messages telling kids to buy stuff and obey authority — and those messages can only be seen by someone wearing special glasses. And the only one who knows about it is a superhero, played by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Sadly, he does not say anything about bubble gum or ass.
In "Robocop vs. Commander Cash," we finally learn the origins of Commander Cash, the weird OCP mascot who turns up in every episode shilling steroid-laced candies and other strange items to kids. Turns out he's the creation of Tex (Piper), who wanted to create a superhero kids could believe in. And Tex also came up with a way to embed secret messages so they could only be seen with special glasses — but his colleague Simon combined those hidden messages with brain-controlling chemicals, and used them to control children's minds.
So Tex dresses up as his made-up superhero, Commander Cash, to foil this scheme. Here's a snippet where he uses cartoons to explain his origins to Robocop:
In this episode, written by Diane K. Shah, OCP has a problem with feminists — after OCP is accused of pervasive sexual harrassment, a bunch of women show up to protest at OCP headquarters. (Including Alex Murphy's wife Nancy, who manages to be involved in a lot of storylines one way or another.) Most of the women of WOMB are peace-loving and constructive, but a handful of "radfems" want to resort to violence. Here they are, calling Robocop a "chauvinist machine":
Eventually, the "radfems" are subverted by a man, Chip Chayken, who just wants to take over OCP via a proxy vote. He uses the "radfems" to get the OCP Chairman out of the way so he'll miss the crucial vote and lose control over his company.
In this scene, the evil yuppie Chip Chayken disguises himself as a woman, and dresses the two "radfem" leaders up in sexy outfits, so they can get inside the OCP Chairman's office under the guise of talking to him about sexual harrassment. They then overpower the Chairman and force him to disguise himself as a woman so they can sneak him out of the building:
This leads to an absolutely amazing sequence where the two "radfems" force the OCP Chairman to make them breakfast, and announce that he's going to be doing all the cooking and cleaning and scrubbing and scouring around their house. Note that the Chairman is wearing an apron and a shirt that says "MEN ARE PIGS" on the back. In later scenes, the Chairman is forced to figure out how to work a vacuum cleaner, which causes him great distress.
And in the end of the episode, the Chairman has learned a valuable lesson, and announces that all OCP products will henceforth be 15 percent off for ladies.
Forget Lawnmower Man — the Robocop TV show has the absolute best "entering cyberspace" sequence. At one point, Charlie the lovable geek has to find some information inside the NeuroWeb — so he turns himself into a virtual reality icon and goes inside. Only to meet Diana, Robocop's friend who lives inside the computer:
The rest of the episode "Heartbreakers" includes several sequences where Charlie tries to romance Diana, not realizing she only exists in virtual space. There is a long "virtual ballroom dancing" sequence that has to be witnessed to be appreciated fully.
The OCP Chairman's evil ex-girlfriend Tessa is one of the millions of evil money-grubbing scumbags who populate this series. She was caught embezzling money, but got off scott free by sticking her hand in a paper shredder. (Just run with it.) Now, she has a cyborg hand, which can interface with computers directly.
Here's a wonderful scene where she has a "Harry Met Sally" orgasm from accessing insider-trading information and then doing some illicit stock trades — and then delivers an electric shock to one of her minions:
Later in the episode "Corporate Raiders," Tessa seems about to menace one of her younger minions with her cyborg hand — only to have it whip out a tube of lipstick, which she uses to fix her face. Awesome.
The Robocop TV series really tries to continue the "social satire" tradition of the movies. There are lots of wacky news segments in which they toss off references to selling Puerto Rico and other crazy shit. There's the televangelist. There's lots of weird OCP schemes. It's never quite as biting as the movie's satire, but they try.
And in the penultimate episode, "Midnight Minus One," we learn that there's a new Kevorkian-ized execution system. Any inmate who wants to die can commit assisted suicide on television, in a special show:
You can't really celebrate Robocop: The Series without mentioning the totally badass end credits tune by the Eagles' Joe Walsh and Lita Ford:
We're going to skip over the animated Robocop TV show here — but there was a 2001 miniseries, Prime Directives, that had some truly extreme scenes. Prime Directives is generally well-regarded for its higher levels of violence and grimness, as opposed to the somewhat cozier 1994-1995 series.
Here's a great bit where Robocop's programming is subverted so he has to murder his former partner Cable — but he manages to slaughter the evil serial killer Bone Machine at the same time, in the bloodiest possible fashion:
And here's a great bit where the entire OCP board gets murdered by turning up the barometric pressure in their boardroom to 30 atmospheres:
Someone gets murdered by being sliced by like a dozen lasers at once, and meanwhile Robocop has a superviolent showdown with his former partner Cable, who's now been turned into the cybernetic Robocable:
But probably the most famously over-the-top scene in the miniseries is when Robocop's brain is being operated on by a technology thief named Ann R. Key (say it out loud — it's pretty subtle) and her radical friends. They offer to unlock all of Robocop's hidden memories, and he tells them to go ahead. Then we hear the classic line: "This is your brain. This is your brain on... whatever."