Despite going on to spawn two sequels, a reboot, two animated shows that ran for one season each, a live-action series and a made for TV miniseries, the RoboCop franchise has never come anywhere close to recapturing the magic of Paul Verhoeven’s classic 1987 original, which maintained the delicate balance between R-rated action, dark comedy and biting social satire.
The movie was a critique of commercialism in the first place, and Verhoeven likely had no idea he was launching a multimedia empire that’s still going strong over three decades later. Even though RoboCop Returns remains stuck in development hell after original director Neil Blomkamp departed and was replaced by Abe Forsythe, MGM are still persevering with the property, and they’ve now announced that a prequel series is in the works.
The catch, and a pretty major one at that, is RoboCop won’t be involved at all. Instead, the project will focus on a younger version of Dick Jones, the nefarious Senior President of Omni Consumer Products played by veteran character actor Ronny Cox in one of his many famous roles as a shady 1980s businessman.
Original writer Ed Neumeier is involved and will also act as one of the producers, and in a recent interview, he offered up some details on why the RoboCop franchise needs a TV show that doesn’t even feature the main selling point of the entire brand.
“I’m working at MGM on it. It has all the cool stuff about RoboCop except no RoboCop. The first time I heard it I knew it was a cool idea because I could see a lot of things you could do with it. It’s such an interesting character. There’s the idea of doing things about business and law enforcement in the city of Detroit a minute-and-a-half in the future, it would be a way to do all sorts of stories about business and tech, Silicon Valley, corporations, snakes in suits, cops, all that. It’s a wonderful rich tapestry. So we’ve been talking about it and I think we have an interesting story. It’s fun to work with a younger version of the Dick Jones we meet in RoboCop. He’s an actualized corporate predator but nobody necessarily starts out being the bad guy. So it’s going to be about the evolution of Richard Jones to Dick Jones, the story of OCP and how the world moves into the future, how the corporate world behaves.”
There’s more than a hint of Gotham about the plans for the RoboCop prequel, but at least that show featured Bruce Wayne as a recurring character to tie it to the wider Batman mythology. Unless they’ve got an incredibly unique idea to separate it from the countless other small screen titles cut from a similar cloth, then the whole thing seems more than a little unnecessary.