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The Under Appreciated “Road Rovers”

 

 

Road Rovers is admittedly a very goofy and absurd cartoon, even for the studio that gave us “Animaniacs,” but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to sit through. It’s exactly the kind of series you’d expect from the makers of “Freakazoid!” where the studio experimented with new and original premises, even when they didn’t always take off with kids. I enjoyed the premise of specially-trained dogs from Earth’s most important, international politicians becoming anthropomorphic man-sized soldiers who engaged in all kinds of wacky and action packed adventures.

Led by Hunter, an inept but well meaning American mixed breed, the team consisted of Colleen, a frisky Collie from London; Exile, a blustery Siberan husky; Shag, a Chewbacce-like sheepdog with super strength; and Blitz, an egomaniacal German soldier with a chicken heart. Usually they fought terrorists and other criminals while their owners do the work of the government. The centerpiece of laughter in is definitely Blitz (voiced by scene stealing Jeff Bennett), who scares easily and is prone to screeching like a girl whenever he’s frightened or met with a horrifying obstacle. There’s also the running gag of another teammate named Muzzle, a very angry and violent dog kept restrained in a Hannibal Lecter type get up for most episodes.

Only when the team really needs him is he unleashed, and most of his vicious attacks are left comically off-screen as the team watches and reacts with cringes and groans of disgust and horror. To round things out, they’re all coordinated and guided by the mysterious Professor William F. Shepherd who holds the group’s technology at hand and sends out to missions. Road Rovers never made much of a ripple in the Warner animated universe, and that’s a darn shame considering the series was so damn good. It supplied consistent laughter, and garnered a bang up voice cast of nineties heavyweights including Kevin Michael Richardson, Jim Cummings (who voiced probably every single series in the late eighties to early aughts), and even Sheena Easton. The show only lasted half a season on Kids WB, but I did at least get to check out the entire season on Cartoon Network where it played in repeats for a while there.

Thankfully the series plays well on repeats, so I never really minded rewatching the whole series over and over again. Once “Pokemon” and the big 4Kids anime wave came to America, the odds of “Road Rovers” being given a second shot were just out of the question. No one really talks about “Road Rovers” anymore, even when talking about the legacy of Warner animation in the nineties, and it’s probably because maybe it was too bizarre? Or too weird? Or maybe it was better suited for older audiences like “Freakazoid!”? Who knows?

In either case, it at least had a ton of substance, which inevitably fell by the wayside with Saturday morning cartoons before the death of the Saturday morning cartoon ritual. In either case, I think it warranted so much more love, as it’s tough to hate on patriotic crime fighting dogs that get in to all kinds of wacky scifi adventures.

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pikachulover Posted on Feb 06, 2020 at 07:27 AM

I remember this show. I used to watch it. It wasn't my favorite but I liked it. Another short lived talking dog series I liked was The Secret Files of the Spy Dogs. I think I just really like talking crime fighting dog cartoons.

Benjanime Posted on Feb 01, 2020 at 04:43 AM

i'm just thankful dalmatianlover isn't here to see this, he'd be posting a mile long paragraph about "the good old days" of disney and how it's all corrupt now with CG.

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