Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cartoon Profiles: Roswell Conspiracies

Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths, and Legends was a very good series that blended numerous disparate elements smoothly and fluidly into a beautiful whole.

Just about everything in the show reeks of quality and/or fun. (My sister complains that the main character's employer carried a villain ball of epic proportions, but what ya gonna do?)

Some things about this series that are good:

They manage to attain a rather adult vibe despite censorship.

They create a synthesis of legends and modify them into interesting alien species. (Sure, it tended to be cartoony, but hey, it's a cartoon.)

They had all kinds of cool transforming vehicles that could hide in plain sight, including a battlemech that could be disguised as a VW Beetle-like car. (Hm...)

And last but not least, the production crew included Bob Forward (who cut his teeth on the classic He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, producing several of the best episodes, and went on to Beast Wars Transformers, another good series-and now has his own low-budget film company), Tom Tataranowicz (worked on the same episodes of He-Man that Bob Forward did as director, and is generally agreed to be the best director that Filmation had), and Susan Blu (who did voice work for G1 Transformers, but probably is more notable as a voice director for a number of series, including every post-G1 Transformers series produced in the US). (There's also Scott McNeil, but I can't figure out what voices he did. Not that anybody ever can.)

It's an interesting series to watch if only because it does many things rather differently than would be expected. As one example, the aforementioned transforming vehicles are treated as being much more advanced and sophisticated than normal vehicles, but this doesn't mean they're more durable. In fact, the number of random high-tech vehicles that get blown to itty-bitty action movie fodder bits by ordinary weapons or less than super-powerful ones is far greater than the number that get obliterated by big, heavy weapons. Even the huge headquarters used by the MIB-style organization is no tougher than a relatively ordinary building.

Then there's the real charm of the series, "Detail." Detail is the department in the Alliance (the MIB) that helps keep things on the down-low. Rather than using the cheap mindwipe tech found in the Men In Black movies/cartoons/comics, Detail comes up with absurd conspiracy theories and misleading stories and evidence to throw truth-hunters off the trail.

The series is a lot of fun, one of the best nearly forgotten series of Western animation. You can probably find parts of it on Digiview DVD. On the one hand, this is nice, as Digiview is essentially the bargain bin company for DVD releases, selling almost everything for a dollar; on the other hand, it's pretty unlikely that the entire series will be released this way.

Which is a darned shame.

-Signing off.

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