Series: As a point of reference, I never saw the entire first season but it was easy enough to figure out based on an episode or two of the boxed set I picked up to review. Set in the distant future, space travel and a merging of alien cultures has been the norm of the universe for as far back as anyone can remember. The planets are governed by a bland group that resembles the Federation from Star Trek although a new group led by a man named Darth Bobo, a cross between Star Wars' Darth Vader and the clown-faced Creegan from Cleopatra 2525, is making headway top taking over. Each group demands conformity of the populace, with the Federation spouting all that crud we've heard a million times before and Bobo essentially being a power hungry emperor wannabe. On the fringes of the two groups are the cheats, knaves, and scoundrels of society that are looking out for #1 (much like the popular book by Robert Ringer in the 1970's), and one such group comprises the main characters of the television show.
The ship is called the Jupiter 42, an homage to Lost in Space and is led by Captain Chode McBlob, a guy that really only thinks about porn, sex, eating, and making a quick buck; some would say he's a universal male in that sense. The ship's computer, Bob, is a cross between Hal (of 2001: A Space Odyssey), the dry-witted computer from Red Dwarf, Orac from Blake's Seven, and at least a couple of other similar ship computers from a variety of series that based theirs on those two. Bob is about as helpful as a sack of dirt, generally pointing things out well after the information is of any use to the crew. The pilot of the ship is T'Nuk, and ugly, foul mouthed, three breasted cow that can best be described as the stereotypical mother-in-law who is not above using physical violence to get whatever it is she wants. Chode's nephew, Whip, is a lizard like creature (of a completely different species than his uncle) is the generic teenage slacker who is as smart as a brick and almost as energetic unless under the immediate supervision of an adult. The engineer is a robot named Gus; who is the butt of all the gay jokes since he's clearly designed as effeminate and just inside the closet. Lastly, is Six of One, the sexy android that is a cross between Xev of Lexx, Galaxina, and of course Voyager's Seven of Nine (I think her original designation was to be Six of Nine if you catch my drift). Six is owned by Chode and is programmed with a complete litany of sexual functions, though she's been upgraded to be the science officer of the ship too. If anything, she's the smartest one on the ship, the most likely to do the right thing, and the most willing to use her body to full advantage.
Okay, so we have a crew of antiheroes flying around the galaxy in search of staying one step ahead of the authorities and those who'd do them harm, much like the aforementioned Firefly but with fewer ethics guiding their course. If played straight (no disrespect to Gus), the series would soon become yet another generic knockoff in a long line of knockoffs but this one was different. Not only was it animated, but it was a dark parody too. Admittedly, the animation used for the show was somewhat dated (remember that it was designed for a niche market on the Sci-Fi Channel after starting out as an internet short); looking like it came out of a mid-level computer game from the late 1990's. The comedic aspects were another matter altogether. The show has been compared to Southpark but in fairness to Trey Parker and Matt Stone's silly show, it stopped being funny years ago so the comparison does more for their show than Tripping. It has also been branded a cheap knockoff of Futurama, the failed Fox effort that also parodies science fiction, pop culture, and other movies but I think that's unfair too since although it tends to take a lower road at the material, it has just as many pointed barbs with a lot less political correctness. In all, the show is designed as a fun look at the genre and it skewers both sides of the political fence and modern topics equally though I can see why it bothers the G&L crowd as much, if not more so, then Basic Instinct, based on the frequent jokes about homosexuals and using Gus as the focal point of the humor.
I haven't seen the entire first season of the show so if I miss something, feel free to email about it but the basic humor of the show seems to be split about 50/50 between sexual references and social commentary, both using the wealth of material available from past movies and other sources as needed. From Chode saying "Geez, you bang a chick twice a day and you think you know her" to Gus (when asked to check a case for a possible explosive device) saying "I just finished watching Jessica Simpson in that moronic Dukes of Hazzard. What's one more bomb?", the playful sense of fun often missing in mainstream shows was offered up in spades. Each episode is replete with similar one-liners but there was a lot of visual humor too. In the opening credits, the C3P0 appearing Gus vacuums the ship with an appliance that looks identical to R2D2 as Whip pilots a smaller version of the Star Trek Enterprise ship about the cabin. Seeing drunken Vulcans, lightsabers, and a plethora of other standards from the movies is so common that it's doubtful that you'll catch them all (even numbers and address if you pay close enough attention). Ultimately though, the animation was good enough to convey the stories and the writing, however hit or miss it might be for some, was far better than average, perhaps best described as a version of Futurama made by a group of men sitting around drinking booze while watching old science fiction shows late at night.
Okay, with the previous material helping bring newcomers up to speed, let me say that I greatly prefer having all the episodes in a single multi-disc package (especially since I haven't seen any of the episodes, when last I looked, the show had been summarily cancelled). So this movie version was merely a cheap way of enticing a future season set from what I can see, combining episodes Chode Eraser, Skankenstein, Witness Protection, and Raiders of the Lost Crock of */@?#!. All of them refer to mainstream classics that are parodied, given the "Tripping" treatment in terms of sexually spicing them up and then edited together in a rather clumsy fashion. That one episode, Skankenstein is even in black and white (Chode remarks that the producers ran out of fucking money), is part of the silliness the movie embraces, the minimal additional footage to put the Arnie Robot into each skit kind of funny as well as creative.
See, the basis of the entire movie is that the Bobo family sends a robot three months back in time to kill Chode so he won't get their daughter Babbette pregnant. The Terminator 2 references were heavily played, like the naked robot apparently well hung to the point that the gay bar he stumbles into makes for swell sport with the lines of the original flick. The Raiders of the Lost Ark parody was a bit weaker and less well tied in but Witness Protection played out as much like an episode of Desperate Housewives as several movies and Chode's antics trying to boink the neighborhood ladies were really funny. In all then, this seemed to be a show best suited for holding fans over until the third season set was released, adding in some additional language heavily using words like "fuck" and its derivatives, and keeping the censored private parts while trying to assemble something resembling a movie. The movie wasn't bad but I want the whole series so until that is an option, I felt obligated to rate this one as a Rent It whereas the season set would have likely been at least a recommended, my biggest curiosity revolving around how Jenny McCarthy was brought in to play Six after Carmen Electra filled in on the second season so well.
Picture: Tripping The Rift: The Movie was presented in an enhanced anamorphic widescreen color 1.78:1 ratio it was shot in for cable last year. Having seen a few episodes of the first season and reviewed the second season, it looked like the production company updated the look of the show but still retained the general type of computer generated imaging (CGI) that was reminiscent of Shrek and somewhat more advanced than the wonderfully hilarious Mr. Stain on Junk Alley (an extra on most of the FUNimation releases a few years ago). Without going into a multitude of technical terms, the characters had an internal consistency with all the usual shading techniques and other tricks used to make it look pretty good, if somewhat dated. It also reminded me of an adult animation The Princess Has Come of Age I watched awhile back, although the voice acting was substantially better with this series. There were some uncaught technical glitches where the animation seemed to distort but I only noticed it a few times, again reminding me of my earlier computer game analogy. There was also the weirdness of the episode Skankenstein where the footage was done in black and white, brushed off as the result of cheap producers but more likely due to a rushed production altogether.
Sound: The audio was presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround stereo English using a 448 Kbps bitrate (the 2.0 version having almost as much separation but a 192 Kbps bitrate). The music was often a sly imitation of other genre music, even going out of the way to come close to commercials and sound effects employed elsewhere. The vocals were supplied by a number of popular character actors, Jenny McCarthy taking over the role of Six that Carmen Electra and Gina Gershon had previously). In large part, the synchronization between the animated mouths moving and the spoken words was accurate and after a few episodes, they seemed somehow fitting in the roles. As an experiment, I turned off the screen and listened, noticing no unnatural pauses or parts that seemed out of place. Some of the dialogue was a bit rushed but the nature of the material was such that it didn't matter much.
Extras: This time, there was a short feature called Captain's Log: The Making of... where the voice actors had the chance of discussing their love of the show. It did not amount to much nor did they give a lot of detailed commentary about the show (it was a fluff piece) but at least it was better than the trailer. The paper insert mentioned nothing about the third season this was culled from (nor did the cast) but it was written as though coming from Chode McBlob so it had some cute moments. Lastly, there was a cardboard slipcase for the DVD case.
Final Thoughts: Tripping The Rift: The Movie (Unrated) combined parody, social satire, and an obvious love of movies with a somewhat darker brand of humor than most of us are used to from an animated series but did so in a manner that typically made me laugh out loud. The problem with a "best of" collection of episodes like this being marketed as a newly commissioned movie is that fans will inevitably find out and want the entire season, not downloaded off the internet but in a full package like previous seasons were. The addition of minimal new material might have been fun as an added extra for the season set but not enough to merit a new release, making even a show that is as much about movies and gross humor only a place holder for the real deal. Feel free to let me know when the season three set comes out as I'm sure I'll appreciate it just fine as I did with the earlier stuff but my appreciation of Stephen Root's Chode McBlob characteronly goes so far.