Preview draft of the animated series "Starship Troopers", from October 14, 1997.
Note: Current images from the show have been added for spice :- )
Written by Duane Capizzi
(Click on image for a larger view.) Stay tuned as details become available!
The series is a loose retelling of the movie's / novel's events -- NOT a sequel. Juan, Dizzy, and Carl are the central trio of characters we will be concerned with (supplemented by Lt. Razak, Carmen, Zanier -- with an unexpected twist, see more below -- and a photojournalist grunt named Higgins in major support roles).
Juan, Dizzy and Carl are the GRUNTS in Lt. Razaks squadron -- "Razaks Roughnecks."
A typical episode of the series will depict a particular MISSION of the squadron (be it a reconnaissance, rescue, or search-and-destroy mission), sometimes against the backdrop of a larger battle. However, it is NOT the goal of the typical episode to fully develop or depict said BATTLE: clashing armies are not animation friendly (and besides, we'll shore our resources for a likely final five-parter depicting the ultimate earth vs. bugs battle which will determine the tide of the "first interstellar war").
During any episode we will likely hear ongoing results of any given battle ("score keeping"), sometimes catch glimpses of the battle, and on occasion involve our squadron in a portion of the battle itself. But it is best to think of each episode along the lines of 'The Dirty Dozen' or 'Where Eagles Dare ': special missions involving our elite team against a specific bug installation.
The nature of each particular "mission" will also be what keeps each episode's content blurring into that of the next -- be it the geography of the particular planet they're on, or the incidental race they encounter on that planet, or the specific powers of the particular breed of bug they're dealing with that day. And speaking of "bug" ...
No matter WHAT incidental alien species Razak's Roughnecks come into contact with (friend OR foe), the episodes will ALWAYS depict some aspect of the campaign against the BUG INVASION of the universe. For like the novel and feature film before us, EARTH vs. THE BUGS is what our series is about.
That, and our featured players of RAZAK'S ROUGHNECKS ...
Reason for enlisting with the troopers: "why not?" It was something to do. Besides, a two-year stint with the troopers promises space travel -- "Any world's got to be better than this one." Juan feels his options on earth are limited by his socioeconomic status. Street smarts can only get you so far.
Juan's cynical front hides the humane soul of a romantic, though; his friend CARL knows the truth: Juan has it BAD for CARMEN, their mutual high school classmate (not that Juan has ever divulged his intense crush on Carmen to anyone; Carl happens to be PSYCHIC -- more on that-later). After graduation, decidedly without focus, Juan decided to enlist because Carmen was enlisting. He's in love with a girl from the other side of the tracks. . . though SHE doesn't know it. For unlike in the feature film, Juan and Carmen aren't "dating" before they enlist. Rather, they're acquaintances: they've talked, shared some classes, maybe flirted. . . but never kissed (the unrequited love will play better from a kid standpoint). Carmen winds up assuming almost mythic proportions during the series -- basically, Juan's in love with -Amelia Earheart.
Despite Juan's lack of conviction, he possesses innate - soldiering ability (granted, he'd HAVE to be a trooper -- having gone through Sgt. Zim's boot camp). Said ability is related to his street smarts; in fact, Juan has a basic mistrust of TECHNOLOGY. It' s a rare day that finds him climbing into a "marauder" (heavy duty power suit: see below) . Juan calls them "death-traps" -- despite that they're one of the most efficient war machines ever devised. He probably wouldn't even bother wearing a "scout" (lightweight power suit), were it not for the fact that you can't breathe most foreign atmospheres without it. In fact, when the other soldiers are having tactical information "downloaded" into their brains books-on-tape-style while they sleep, Juan can be seen wearing ear plugs, reading a dog-eared manual by flashlight. He'd rather handle things his way: with fists and-street know-how.
Juan's somewhat anti-establishment: he has a "me and them" attitude towards his squad-mates (whereas DIZZY wholly embraces her identity as a soldier). Juan marches to the beat of his own drummer. HOWEVER, Juan's arc during our series will see his growing conviction and belief in what he's doing; essentially, he will BECOME Razak by the time of the final battle with the bugs -- Juan will BECOME the great hero of the "first interstellar war."
If Juan could see the future, he wouldn't believe it: he just sees himself as a guy who's doing is part -- definitely not hero material. But to most everyone else, the parallels between Razak and Juan as a "junior Razak in the making" are clear. Juan would readily deny that, though. From a charisma standpoint, Juan's innocent humility is his most admirable quality -- aside from his heroism,
Despite his at times cynical attitude, Juan is very humane -- perhaps best evidenced in his tendency to play big brother to Higgins (see below). Juan has a natural sympathy toward underdogs -- after all, he's something of an underdog himself, Joining the troopers hasn't changed that: the military has its own class structure, and Juan 's at the bottom of that one too: he's a "grunt."
Every episode will see Juan take a baby step toward becoming the "great hero" of the Bug War -- which we will know, because every episode is book ended with a NARRATOR VOICE OVER -- introducing the episode/event, and ending with the pronouncement that Juan became the "great hero of the first interstellar war" (see more below).
Our adrenaline junkie. She's tougher than most guys twice her size -- troopers included. She enlisted with the troopers because she's patriotic to a tee and wanted to serve her planet -- and now that she gets to blow up bugs in the process, all he better. However, her tendency to dive into situations headlong -- shoot first, think later -- gets her into some pretty hot water.
Though intense, fast, and strong, Dizzy is also fun-loving and surprisingly feminine -- when she "lets her hair down" (this is what will set her apart from the butch Hispanic marine character from 'Aliens '). But Juan, of course, doesn't see Dizzy this way; Dizzy's one of the guys -- at most, like a sister. Dizzy, however, sees Juan otherwise; she longs for Juan like Juan longs for Carmen -- though Dizzy won't show it. She's a soldier first; love, courtship and marriage will come AFTER her tour of duty.
Think Stephen Lack in 'Scanners.' Carl's NOT a brainiac; didn't even graduate near the top of his class. Rather, Carl is an ordinary Joe who happens to be equipped with and is coming to terms with his psychic powers. Carl was recruited OUT of Sgt. Zim's boot camp and into the "Special Abilities" section of the troopers when his "talents" were discovered; it was there that he underwent "enhancement" training to boost his psychic powers [NOTE: Carl is not alone: there are others like him, graduates of "special abilities" who are peppered among the various starship platoons].
Carl is able to read minds , telepathically communicate, cloud thoughts, and -- upon occasion and with great strain -- send a "thought bomb." The use of his powers takes great effort which can leave him spent. Accuracy and reliability are also greatly affected by the pressure of any given situation. Also, much like an animal, the particulars of any given magnetic field on a planet can either help OR hamper Carl's psychic abilities.
Most of the other soldiers in the squad keep their distance from him; he creeps them out. The recent development of Carl's "special abilities" has even affected his relationship with Juan; they were best buddies early in high school, before either of them knew Carl was psychic. Now, there's a mysteriousness to Carl that makes Juan slightly uncomfortable: partly due to the fact that Carl is sworn to secrecy, and thus evasive about his specialized training. Juan is also concerned that Carl knows his deepest secrets -- which Carl of course insists he doesn't . . . but does.
Think Furillo from 'Hill Street Blues,' or Lee Marvin from 'The Big Red One.' Mid-30's, and already legendary. The "bug war" is relatively new when our series begins, but Razak was among the first out there in the trenches, fighting it. Razak's a career soldier: has turned down numerous promotions in order to stay in the field. Bigger than life, a man of few words, he cares deeply about his men -- though you might not necessarily know it, by the way he will take them to the edge of the abyss.
But he always brings them back alive -- if the war is about the survival of the earth, Razak realizes earth's survival is dependent on the survival of his guys. But which is not to say he doesn't put them through their paces: anyone on Razak's squad comes out harder, meaner, wiser. That's why they're called his "roughnecks."
While we will ignore the "high school teacher" angle from the feature up front, he may do the career switch late in the series, when he retires after being wounded in battle -- and passes the mantle to Juan.
Razak's Roughnecks fly out of the Valley Forge -- a starship upon which Carmen and Zander are pilots.
Smart, beautiful , cool: one of the best pilots on the force. In school, she was always an overachiever: enlisted with the Troopers both to advance herself in society, AND to help it -- she has her eye on politics. She also has a liberal heart, and chooses to ignore class distinction: that's why Juan thinks he has a fighting chance with her. NOW if he can only get her to notice him.
At the start of our series, Carmen will pilot both DROP SHIPS (smaller craft which delivers a squadron to its drop) and RETRIEVAL SHIPS. By series' end, she will be the Captain of the 'Valley Forge.'
As in the movie, the main obstacle between Juan and Carmen (though in our series, this is more in Juan's head -- since Carmen and Juan won't have had a prior relationship). Juan always saw Zander as a rival in high school: the handsome football star from an upper class family who had everything going for him. Now, he's REALLY a rival to Juan: Zander's a pilot in the troopers, and is stationed with Carmen -- and a romantic involvement develops between them.
Zander is a little bit Frank Burns, a lot 'Top Gun'-style yuppie trooper: talented, yes, but he enlisted for the glory, pure and simple. Not a hair or crease out of place, Zander is all about style and flash: being a good soldier's all about looking good. Zander also rubs Juan the wrong way because given half the chance, he'll abuse the privilege of his status -- being a member of the "fleet" is higher on the pecking order than the "mobile infantry" Juan belongs to.
HOWEVER, things turn complex 'round mid-series when Zander is captured and presumably killed by the bugs. But he turns up later -- having survived, but with the cells of his body slowly MUTATING. He is half man, half bug. Now, Juan's hostility toward Zander becomes sympathy -- despite the fact that Zander, in constant inner turmoil with his bug nature, cannot fully be trusted. Yet the military wants to use Zander as a tool; through him, they may come to a greater understanding of the bugs, and how to defeat them. Think "Brundlefly " in the "Dr. Smith" role: is he more bug or more human? The balance of power within Zander seems to be in constant flux . . .
The Narrator's voice. He's the journalist/grunt -- not cut out for the front-lines of war. Sensitive, bespectacled, a man of words. He looks up to Juan: believes in him. In a sense, he's like the kid in 'Shane' -- Juan is the only one who gives Higgins the time of day. Aside from providing our narrative bookends, we may insert "documentary footage" during any episode -- a soldier as interviewed by Higgins (think the news crew sequence from 'Full Metal Jacket').
Second in command in Razak's Roughnecks: he's the guy we love to hate. Think a less criminal version of the Tom Berenger character from 'Platoon' (i.e., he may disagree with Razak's methods, begrudgingly follow and covertly despise him -- but he'll stop short of putting a bullet in Razak's back).
Brutto' s a self-preservationist, motivated solely by fear and survival -- his own, at the expense of everyone else's. In this sense, he's also part Bill Paxton from 'Aliens': it's no surprise he's one of the two "Marauder" power suit specialists on Razak 's squad (another schematic way of looking at the Roughnecks: imagine the balance of power between Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger in 'Platoon' being reversed - if Dafoe were the superior, and Berenger begrudgingly reported to him). Brutto, however, can be more than a squeaky wheel; he can sometimes be a thorn in Razak's side -- particularly when he's better able to get the ear of Razak's superior, SKY MARSHALL SINYAR, than Razak himself (i.e., Brutto's a little more by the book than Razak, which on the surface of things puts him in a better immediate light. Razak, of course, gets better results).
However, when the chips are down, the other Roughnecks will always follow Razak's lead: he' s earned their respect, their blind trust even. [NOTE: the remaining two or three Roughnecks -- other than Razak, Brutto, and our quartet of grunts -- can be relatively faceless, professional soldier types in the aggregate for now. We'll single out personalities in the squadron as the need arises].
MISCELLANY - items of departure, etc.
1,The "first interstellar war" as we now know it was NOT in progress when our trio enlisted. At the time, the BUGS have taken over a human outpost on "Planet X." The ongoing victory of the Troopers over the bugs on this planet is a well-documented advertisement for the "adventure" of enlisting in the Troopers. It's not until halfway through Juan's stint in boot camp that it's discovered bugs have infested half the known universe, like a cancer. Then, a bug meteor lands on Earth -- the occasion of our bug "Pearl Harbor." The bug threat is literally driven closer to home. Though victory is ours, a sobering point is made: the bugs can make our planet theirs, at any time. Earth must go on the offensive .
2,Juan's parents are NOT killed (presumed or otherwise) in the Buenos Aires attack. Seems to conflict with his more naive "grunt" status; perhaps this event will be saved for LATER in the series, a crucial development in Juan's growth -- or best saved for a character we want to turn into a hardened instrument of vengeance.
3,The series will end with a final five-parter which will BEGIN as the attack on the bug planet Klendathu. However, after battling bugs on various planets for 35 episodes, the BUG PLANET ITSELF might seem anti-climactic. Thus, victory will seem imminent for our troopers who are about to defeat the planet, when they discover that. . . the QUEEN is nowhere to be found. That's because. . .
. . . the QUEEN is on Earth, which the bugs have taken over (more emotional investment). The finale involves the campaign to liberate earth from the bug stronghold.
During the final five-parter Sgt. Zim (boot camp instructor) has joined "Rico' s Roughnecks, " under "Lieutenant" Rico's command.
THE TERRAN FORCES (EARTH)
Throughout the series viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at how the Terran forces are organized: we'll get clips from training films, official war updates, as well as first-person POV battles footage (usually supplied by Higgins).
Mobile Infantry - armed with power-suits (discussed later), they're the foot soldiers who infiltrate alien worlds and battle aliens face-to-face, one-on-one. Juan Rico, Dizzy Flores, and Carl Jenkins are in the Mobile Infantry.
The Fleet - technically they are the Navy, but everyone refers to them lovingly as "The Fleet". These are the ships and crews which get the Mobile Infantry where they're going. Carmen Ibanez and Zander Barcalow are two of the top fleet pilots.
Games & Theory - the intelligence branch of the Terran forces. It includes the Special Abilities units, which recruits Carl Jenkins out of boot camp to develop his psychic powers before placing him in the Mobile Infantry.
Sky Marshall - These three branches fall under the command of the Sky Marshall: The highest military post of the Terran Forces.
In battle, Troopers are protected/armed with Power Suits. When wearing a lightweight power suit (or "scout"), a soldier can leap great distances, move at superhuman speed, and launch a variety of tactical weapons. The suits are bulky and make the soldiers look like gorillas, but are highly maneuverable (they are lined with pressure receptors which enhance muscle movements). They allow battles to be fought in environments and atmospheres which would otherwise be deadly to humans. When suited up, troopers refer to each other as "apes."
Heavy duty power suits ("Marauders") give each individual more firepower than a battalion of 20th-century tanks. A marauder is a 10 ft. tall mechanical exoskeleton, moves slightly faster than a human can, and houses extreme weaponry (e.g., nuclear missiles). Though all soldiers are trained to operate Marauders, only TWO are assigned to each squadron, and are generally manned by specialists. This is no doubt due to their specialized nature: each one requires 26 hours of maintenance to go from "cold" (storage) to "hot" (operational) -- yet possesses only about an hour of active fight time before winding down. Thus, Juan's opinion that they're "death traps" -- get caught in one of these if it winds down during a bug skirmish, and you're like a turtle on its back. .
[NOTE: Most warrior bugs can easily tear through a "scout" with its pincers; "marauders" are clearly a bit harder for the average bug to take down].
THE ARACHNID FORCES (THE BUGS)
The Bugs are subterranean aliens which exist in hive-like communities. They're big, ugly, vicious, and want all humans dead. The Bugs can invade other planets by launching their spores into space; upon landing on a foreign planet the spores quickly gestate and infest the target planet. The Bug empire had already spread through more than a thousand planets before humans ever encountered them.
Bug defenses and offensives are all biologically based. Different sub-species of bugs have different abilities. Here are some:
Workers - no attack abilities. They build tunnels and carry cargo.
Warriors - very similar to workers. The main way to tell them apart from workers is that a warrior is the bug who is already attacking you when you first see it. Warriors are armed with huge pincer-claws which, we learn, can scissor right through a lightweight power-suit.
Tanker Bugs - bloated bugs which biologically manufacture their own poisonous and acidic fluids, which they can then spray at their targets.
Hoppers - huge flying bugs with razor-sharp stingers.
Plasma Bugs - have the amazing ability to generate huge plasma-blasts within their bodies. A plasma-blast has a limited range, but can easily destroy a starship in orbit.
Brain Bugs - a thriving bug hive eventually develops a Brain Bug. That's when the hive turns especially dangerous as all the bugs fall under the control of the super-smart Brain. Brain Bugs are bulbous and cannot really move around under their own power; for this reason they are transported by Chariot Bugs.
These are only a handful of the many species and sub-species of the Bug empire (we will devise more as the need arises during our series). Battle Plan estimates there could be as may as 10,000 different species and sub-species of Bugs; a series-long goal is to discover as much as possible about Bug biology and the hierarchy of the hive-complexes.
It is believed all Bug Species/Hives answer to one Bug Queen; to date, that Queen has not been found.
The Bug Empire covers thousands of worlds in hundreds of solar systems. Many of these worlds are inhabited by strange alien races; some of which have been unwillingly enslaved by the Bugs; while others freely work in conjunction as Bug allies. Thus, our troopers are often faced with hybrid weaponry which uses the advanced technologies of alien races combined with the natural weaponry of the Bugs themselves.
The bottom line is: we live in a big galaxy with a lot more life-forms than just humans and bugs. This isn't a peaceful period of human history, and new alien races are either our allies or our enemies. But before plopping a new alien race into the mix, answer the following questions:
1)What natural abilities do these aliens have which can help us fight the bugs; or conversely, help the bugs eradicate us?
2)What kind of personality can individual alien characters have which will mesh with our humans to create enthralling drama?
3)What makes these aliens different from any other alien we've ever seen on any other show?
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