Toon Zone Talks to Greg Weisman, Part Three: "Roughnecks"
Toon Zone would like to welcome readers to the third installment of our four-part Greg Weisman interview. The previous two focused on Gargoyles and The Batman. The fourth and final installment will be posted in August.
As if working alongside the Roughnecks soldiers themselves, Weisman says he became very close with the crew behind the Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles animated series. Even as the budget and production were completely falling apart, he enjoyed working on this ultimately doomed cult CGI animated series.
For the uneducated, Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles followed a group of mobile infantry soldiers dubbed the “Roughnecks,” led by Lieutenant Razak. The series focused on Rico, Carmen and Carl, three ordinary teenagers fresh from training camp and thrust into an interstellar war. While it seemed like the characters could hold their own against a deadly bug army, production costs proved their deadliest foe, scuttling the Roughnecks’ mission just before it reached completion.
“We wrote the end of the Bug War and it kills me that we will never be able to see it,” says Weisman, recalling the economic and budget problems that would befall the sci-fi CGI series.
In short, the series was originally set to have 40 episodes, but due to resource problems, the project would be cut short at Episode #37, leaving out the final war between humanity and the Bug aliens. A series of clip episodes were made to fill the remaining episode slots and complete the 40-episode order.
“One of the CGI companies declared bankruptcy,” says Weisman, “And the money lost really cut into our budget.”
Weisman says that due to the nature of production on an animated series such as this, a long and costly endeavor, the money simply couldn’t be recovered. Since the last three episodes of the series were the furthest from completion, that meant they had to be scrapped.
Fans have for years wondered how the Bug War was set to end. Since Sony is unlikely to revisit this property with new installments, Weisman was willing to drop a few hints.
Retaking Hawaii was going to be a vital part in winning the campaign, Weisman emphasizes. But it wasn’t going to be easy.
“With Hawaii being the headquarters for the military, it was a devastating loss,” says Weisman. “And there’s a good reason why they lost it in the first place.”
Two words: Bug Central.
According to Weisman, when the Roughnecks attempt to take Hawaii they stumble upon something that turns the odds against them. During battle, the ground collapses and the entire team tumbles into a giant bug hive, coming face to face with the Queen.
“That’s only the set-up,” teases Weisman. “There’s more.”
But what that is fans may never know. Weisman said that not only was a story written in case a second set of episodes were made, but these episodes actually exist in rough form, even now waiting to be put into production.
“The material still exists – scripts, voice recordings, rough breakdowns.” says Weisman. “It’s a shame, it’s a great property.”
While the show may have had a rough time hitting the airwaves, it found new life when it was released to DVD. First released in a series of single volume DVD releases collecting all the episodes, Sony is now re-releasing the entire series in a handsome four disc box set on July 5th (Click here for more information and here for Toon Zone’s review of the set).
While Weisman admits the DVD releases haven’t really helped in getting new episodes made, it’s great to see them out there and accessible to anyone willing to take a chance on the animated series.
“I was pleased with the single DVD releases, but I am looking forward to this new one,” says Weisman. “With any luck it might spark some new interest in the show.”
In the end, Wiesman is more than pleased with how the series turned out and who he worked with despite all the setbacks and hardships. The crew included his brother Jon Weisman, and the show even featured Greg Weisman’s favorite part of the live-action Starship Troopers feature, the adaptation that led Sony to greenlight the CGI animated series.
“Clancy Brown [Sgt. Charlie Zim in both the movie and the animated series].” says Weisman. “How can you not like working with this guy?”
Next: W.I.T.C.H. – August 2005
Be sure to visit Greg Weisman’s official website for the latest updates from Weisman himself and discuss Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles here.