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Western Animation / Road Rovers

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"Let's hit the road, Rovers!"
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Road Rovers (1996-1997) was a short-lived Kids' WB! animated series (1 season, 13 episodes), which told the story of "The Road Rovers". They were (stop us if you think that you've heard this one before) a group of ordinary animals who become anthropomorphic superheroes and use their special abilities and gadgets to fight crime.

Specifically, the Rovers were a group of stray dogs who are temporarily turned humanlike by a mysterious scientist known as "The Master". They save the world from villains including General Parvo, who was trying to take over the world by turning dogs and other animals into monsters, while in their free time acting as the beloved pets of world leaders (such as Queen Elizabeth II and President Bill Clinton). The fact that the dogs were all pets of world dignitaries at least added an interesting twist, as they sometimes had to work in their 'civilian' identities to convince their owners not to go to war.

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After more than ten years, Road Rovers was finally given a DVD release, as of February 11, 2015, much to the delight of longtime fans of the show during its' original run; like Hanna-Barbera's rough equivalent series, SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (though that series predated Road Rovers by 4 years), it was released through Warner Home Video's "manufacture-on-demand" program, Warner Archive. The show is also available on VRV.


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Tropes:

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: It somewhat resembles Hanna-Barbera's SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron, though there are obviously major differences; ironically, by the time Road Rovers premiered, Time Warner had merged with Turner Broadcasting and gained H-B.
  • Animal Superheroes: The Road Rovers are humanoid dogs that fight crime.
  • Androcles' Lion: Save one wolf, the heroes get an army of them as a Deus ex Machina.
  • Aside Glance: Colleen, so often that she borders on a Fourth-Wall Observer.
    • Hunter does it too, usually when delivering one of his catch phrases.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Never make the Rovers mad. Especially not Hunter, Colleen, or Shag.
  • Big Bad: General Parvo is the series' main antagonist.
  • Big Good: The Master, since he created the Road Rovers and sends them out on their missions.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Exile is very jovial and powerful.
  • Brainy Brunette: Colleen has her moments of this.
  • Catch-Phrase/Running Gag: Several.
    Blitz: [insert statement involving his desire to bite the rumps of his enemies]
    Exile: Don't be a weird boy.
    • More running gags involve Shag pointing weapons backwards. Subverted when he has it right to begin with and someone tells him to turn it around, which he blithely does.
    • And when they release their Ax-Crazy friend, Muzzle, on the bad guys with a shout of "Let's Muzzle 'em!" Cue Gory Discretion Shot.
    • Colleen pretending not to know Blitz's name and instead calling him other more amusing B names until the last episode.
      • B names were the least of his worries. "Lord Stuffington Fluffypants", anyone?
    • "Yet Another Unexpected Twist!... Bummer."
      • Hunter had a ton of catch phrases, the above is just one of them. Other's include "I would not have predicted this!" and "[X], Cool."
    • The show pretty much runs on running gags. Some more include Colleen saying completely random and nonsensical things when doing her martial arts, Exile completely butchering several idioms at once, and the Russian Exile complaining about people always "rushin'" him.
    • And then there's General Parvo...
      Parvo: [Coughing uncontrollably] Lozenge!
  • Cats Are Mean: The Groomer's uplifted cats are pretty nasty. General Parvo is also an uplifted cat.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Many characters qualify for this, but Hunter and Colleen specifically stand out in this area.
  • Crossover Punchline: "Take Me To Your Leader" ends with Captain Zachary Storm being incarcerated in an insane asylum for megalomaniacs. Storm and the other inmates end up yelling at each other from their cells, arguing about who is going to rule the world, until at the end a familiar voice is heard...
    The Brain: No, it is I who shall rule the world! YES!
    [the closing theme of Pinky and the Brain is heard as the episode fades to credits]
  • Designated Girl Fight: The only time Colleen and the Groomer fight each other is in "The Dog Who Knew Too Much".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Shag and Exile are at one point looking elatedly at a magazine fold-out, with Exile remarking "Look at those two". They turn out to be looking at a picture of two pine trees, but the scene is still played as if they were looking at porn.
  • Dog Stereotype:
    • Dogs Are Dumb is averted though, if anything it's more like "Dogs are little weird."
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The theme song is sung by the main cast.
  • Elaborate Underground Base
  • Expository Theme Tune: Tells us how the dogs all got here, tells us what all their names are, what their super powers are, where they are from, and their personality all at INCREDIBLY rapid speed. Seen here.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Extremely obvious in the second episode, where two attack helicopters are fitted with rocket pods. Guess what they shoot? Lasers. Mildly subverted in episode 6 when three F/A-18/Su-25 lookalikes open fire on our heroes with regular machine guns. They're about as realistic as a potato in a root beer factory, but they're there.
  • Five-Man Band: Enforced
  • Freudian Excuse: "Dawn of the Groomer" has General Parvo shoot down the Groomer's idea to mutate cats, resulting in her leaving him. After the two villains reunite, it is revealed that Parvo himself is actually a mutated cat and he apparently didn't want other felines to suffer like he did.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It worked only once (and is said to be one of the factors behind the show's cancellation). While discussing Russian names, Blitz, Colleen, and Exile used the example of "Sonov". Add that to the patronymic suffix "-ovich" and you'll see why that song got cut for later airings. See the video here. To be fair, the dogs probably wouldn't see this as much of an insult, as they all are.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Thankfully used almost all the time. We say "thankfully" because it's heavily implied that most of the Road Rovers' enemies are killed in the most grisly ways possible, usually involving explosives or animal attacks.
  • Gratuitous German: Averted with Blitz, who most of the time just talks like The Ahnold, but the chancellor of Germany in "Take Me To Your Leader" ordered his men over the phone to "stop the Blitzkrieg!".
  • Groin Attack: In "Where Rovers Dare", Hunter kicks a goon between the legs.
  • Hermit Guru: The Road Rovers consult one on how to cure werewolves in "A Hair of the Dog That Bit You".
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath:
    • Muzzle is completely crazy and will not be very merciful towards the dogs' enemies when he has a chance to attack them.
    • Also Hunter and Colleen in "Still a Few Bugs in the System".
      Hunter: Let's Muzzle 'em!
      Colleen: Why, that would be mean, sadistic, and cruel!
      Hunter: Is that a problem?
      Colleen: Nope. Works for me! (Hunter proceeds to release Muzzle on the enemy)
  • Heroic Dog: Well, obviously yeah.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In "Storm from the Pacific", Shag cooks food for the rest of the Road Rovers. After asking him about his secret, Hunter informs the other dogs that Shag cooks his food with toilet water, grossing them out.
  • Inside Joke: In "Where Rovers Dare," it's not obvious until the map is shown in full at the end of the episode that the three countries are named after three Disney bigwigs and the three countries together form Mickey Mouse's head.
  • It's Personal: Exile interprets Shag as saying this when the Road Rovers speculate that aliens could be after their food in "Take Me To Your Leader".
  • Lampshade Hanging: Used liberally; arguably Better Than a Bare Bulb.
  • Leaving Audience: "Still a Few Bugs in the System": The wacko of the week talks about how bugs have lived for millions of years, and people leave as he talks about humans becoming bugs to allow for longer life.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Hunter usually sticks with Colleen and makes Blitz go with Exile...possibly to get rid of him.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Eugene Atwater, who had the insane belief that humanity is better off being like bugs. Thankfully, he doesn't go any further than mutating three of his insect test subjects.
  • Magic Pants: Used in "A Hair of the Dog That Bit You" when Colleen becomes a werewolf. When we first see her transform onscreen, she tears through her uniform, yet she somehow still wears it when she returns to normal after being cured.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Colleen frequently trolls Blitz by deliberately getting his name wrong.
  • Mandatory Twist Ending: Expect Hunter to call out "Yet another unexpected twist! Bummer!" or "I would not have predicted this!" every single time there is a plot twist.
  • Military Mashup Machine
  • Mistaken Declaration of Love: Happens in "Where Rovers Dare". The Rover's plane is about to crash, and Blitz grabs the hand next to him and declares his love for Colleen. The hand was Exile's. His response?
    Exile: Please seek therapy.
  • Most Common Card Game
  • Multinational Team: The Rovers came from the US (Hunter), the UK (Colleen), Germany (Blitz), Switzerland (Shag), and Russia (Exile). The Space Rovers (who are Exactly What It Says on the Tin) had a member who may have been from Sweden.
  • No Fourth Wall: Hunter especially, but everyone gets in on the act — most frequently to complain about a running gag.
  • Oblivious to Love: Hunter, it is hinted at throughout the series, but in the last episode it is made quite obvious that Colleen has a crush on Hunter. She asks him if he would like to go for walk on beach to which he responds with an enthusiastic "You bet!" Cut to Hunter as a regular dog with Colleen holding his leash.
    Colleen: Not exactly what I had in mind.
    • In the episode The Dog That Knew Too Much, Hunter points out that flirting while on missions is against the rules. He reciprocates somewhat toward the end of the episode, when Colleen is riding on his hover bike with him.
      • He also invites her to chase/chew on tennis balls with him at the end of Hair of the Dog.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Well, for one, even humanoid canines can become werewolves (if that sounded like it didn't make any sense, don't think too much on it).
    • Considering that lycanthropy can typically act normally upon both humans and wolves, and that dogs are just mutant wolves, it's not much of a stretch that it could work normally on mutant dogs.
      • The Rovers, themselves could also be considered a type of lycanthrope.
    • Should perhaps be more noted for the fact that it made Colleen a better pilot.
  • Please Keep Your Hat On:
  • Prophecies Rhyme All the Time: In "A Hair of the Dog That Bit You", the instructions given on curing werewolves are said in rhyme.
  • Recycled INSPACE: The short-lived toy line (and dropped TV show) K9 Corps, and BBC's ongoing Pet Squad, took the show's premise and shoved it all the way to either side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism.
  • Relative Error: In the last episode, Hunter tracked down and went to visit a female dog from his past. Everybody, particularly Colleen, thought she was an old girlfriend. Turns out she was his mother.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: The Groomer is Parvo's right-hand and very attractive.
  • Ruritania: The fictional nations Eisneria and Katzenstok in "Where Rovers Dare".
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Blitz.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Muzzle, pretty much 24/7, except when he was needed.
  • The Slow Path: When Professor Shepherd's past self receives the letter from Shag that saves his life, he keeps it, and in the present, he reveals that Shag's plan worked by presenting the now-tattered letter.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Colleen is the only female of the group.
  • Stable Time Loop: In "Reigning Cats and Dogs", General Parvo is turned (back) into a house cat and sent back in time, with his memory implicitly erased. He's adopted and renamed by Professor Shepherd, who at the time was working on the Transdogmifier. Shepherd's colleague Otitis tries to kidnap Shepherd's dog, but settles for the cat instead, and uses Parvo to test his knock-off Transdogmifier. Parvo is changed back into his humanoid form (though to his memory it's for the first time). He then kidnaps Shepherd's dog, Scout, and accidentally mutates him into Muzzle. The Groomer appears, having followed him through time, gives him the name General Parvo and his signature helmet, and swears loyalty to him. The two of them try to ransom Scout/Muzzle back to Shepherd for the real Transdogmifier blueprints, when the Road Rovers appear, having followed the Groomer. During the ensuing chase, Shag sends a letter to Shepherd to warn him that Parvo will double-cross him at the ransom exchange, just before the present Master/Shepherd (somehow?) pulls the Rovers back to the present. The events of the series proceed from there unchanged, with Shepherd's survival of Parvo's double-cross now explained by Shag's letter.
    • Logically, this means Parvo and the Groomer only exist because they went back in time, having no origin point outside of the loop, and they should not be able to exist outside it, though they appear in later episodes. Also, the Groomer should have, or have had, foreknowledge of all the events of the series that she's already lived through. Neither point is ever addressed.
  • Stock Superpowers:
  • Take Our Word for It: Whenever the Road Rovers sic Muzzle on the bad guys, we always cut to the rest of the team witnessing the carnage and making remarks about how grisly things are getting.
  • Take That!: In "Dawn of the Groomer", Hunter fires a bazooka at the Groomer and ends up hitting a billboard advertising Cats by mistake. He and Colleen simply smile and make a remark about how they like it when things work out.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The theme song rapidly introduces and describes every member of the team.
  • Time Skip: A one-year time skip occurs in both "Dawn of the Groomer" and "Still a Few Bugs in the System".
  • Token Minority: Oso's South American owner in "Gold and Retriever". He was also blind, which was probably to make him even more endearing and helpless.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Exile frequently says "bolshoi" in place of a certain swear word that sounds very similar.
  • Uplifted Animal:
    • The main characters are dogs who have been given humanoid forms.
    • Nearly all of the goons used by Parvo and the Groomer are also dogs, cats, or even bugs who have been transmogrified, but not quite to the level of the Rovers.
    • Parvo himself is actually a transmogrified house cat.
  • War for Fun and Profit: The conflict of "Where Rovers Dare" was revealed to be because of the villain planning to profit from the war between Eisneria and Katzenstok.
  • Who's on First?: Hunter and Blitz do a funny bit in "Where Rovers Dare" when Blitz sees enemies approaching and Hunter offers him a doggy treat:
    Hunter: Hey Blitz, you want a biscuit?
    Blitz: Tanks.
    Hunter: You're welcome.
    Blitz: No, tanks.
    Hunter: Are you sure? It's tasty. Try it.
    Blitz: Tanks!
    Hunter: You're welcome.
    Blitz: No, tanks!
    Hunter: What's with you? Do you want it or not?
    Blitz: TANKS!
    Hunter: You're welcome!
    Blitz: NO, TANKS!
    Hunter: WELL MAKE UP YOUR MIND!
    (The enemy tanks bust in at that moment)
    Hunter: (Giggles) Oh, tanks. Now I get it. Funny.
  • Witch with a Capital B: In "The Dog Who Knew Too Much", hostage Olivia Peru calls the Groomer a witch.

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