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Road Rovers

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Road Rovers is an American animated television series written and produced by Warner Bros. Animation that premiered on Kids' WB on September 7, 1996. It lasted just one season, with the final episode airing on February 22, 1997. Reruns continued to air until September 6, 1997. The series then aired on Cartoon Network from February 7, 1998 until 2000. Much of the humor contained in the show was derived from popular culture of the mid-1990s.

Plot

In the town of Socorro, New Mexico (one year prior to the formation of the Road Rovers), Professor Shepherd is attacked by a man named General Parvo, who demands the professor's experimental transdogmafier (a play on the term transmogrifier) technology in exchange for his lost dog. Shepherd gives in but is tricked by Parvo, who gives him a bomb that destroys his laboratory. The next year, as normal dogs begin to mutate into monsters, Shephard, who miraculously survived the attack, realizes it is Parvo who is behind it and decides to stop him.

Shepherd selects five dogs from around the world to combat this new threat. Once they arrive at his new, secret underground lab, he uses his new transdogmifier on the five, turning them into "Cano-sapiens", humanoid dogs that look like normal clothed humans except that they have retained all the trademark aspects of the dogs they came from, such as a tail, fur, distinctive ears and head, etc. Their personality before the transformation also remains intact. They can also speak English and possess super abilities that normal humans do not.

When not fighting crime, they revert to their original dog form, and reside in the homes of the leaders of their country of origin; Hunter goes to the President of the United States, Colleen to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Blitz to the Chancellor of Germany, Exile to the President of Russia, and Shag to the President of the Swiss Confederation.

It is later discovered that many of the events in the past were caused by Parvo's time machine. These include Parvo's appearance in the past (as a cat named Boots), Parvo's failed attempt at constructing a transdogrifier causing Scout to become Muzzle, Boots becoming Parvo with Groomer's help, Muzzle meeting Hunter, and Shag saving Shepherd's life by informing him of the bomb that will blow up his lab.

Characters

Hunter (voiced by Jess Harnell) — Hunter is a Golden Retriever mix from the United States; Hunter is the leader of the Road Rovers. He possesses super speed, and is prone to listing a range of other "powers" such as super-loyalty, super-trust, and super-luck. He and Colleen have romantic feelings for each other, though Hunter's oblivious nature prevents it from progressing. He also really likes dog toy balls. Hunter is also noted as being the only Rover whose relatives appeared during the season; he visits his mother in "A Day in the Life."

Colleen (voiced by Tress MacNeille) — Colleen is a rough collie from the United Kingdom, and the only female in the group; Colleen is skilled in martial arts and is a trained medic. Colleen is known for being cheerful with a rapier wit, and is also calm under pressure. She has a lively sense of humor, and is quite close to most of her teammates, the exception being Blitz.

Blitz (voiced by Jeff Bennett, impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger) — Blitz is a Doberman from Germany; he is a team player but shows no proper respect to anyone but himself. Formally a junkyard dog, his razor sharp teeth and claws can cut through anything. Though he puts on a brave face, he has many bouts of cowardice. He has romantic feelings for Colleen, often met only with feigned obliviousness and often followed in short order by physical violence on her part. The running gag is she can't remember his name until the last episode. When he says something weird Exile says to him "Don't be a weird boy." He often exhibits a desire to bite the behinds of his enemies, and keeps track of all the buttocks he bites, claiming he'll get a new flea collar should he reach one thousand.

Exile (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) — Exile a Siberian husky from Siberia; he is the master of fixing and unfixing things. His superpowers are heat, freeze and night vision, along with super-strength (though not as much as Shag). He also frequently mixes up common English phrases such as referring to the term "May Day" as "April Day". His real name is "Exilo Michalovitch Sanhusky".

Shag (voiced by Frank Welker) — Shag is either a Polish Lowland Sheepdog or an Old English Sheepdog from Switzerland; Shag is a kind of fluke as far as the transdogmafier process goes. Instead of becoming a complete cano-sapien, he is stuck at someplace in between, able to walk on two legs and having human dexterity, but is unable to speak English (though the others can still understand him). Shag was selected for his bravery, but is actually the biggest coward out of the team. He is the team's weapon specialist, most often using a bazooka which he invariably aims the wrong way. His fur also has seemingly unlimited storage capacity which has on various occasions housed food, articles of furniture (some bigger than himself), and fellow Road Rovers. Unlike the others he tends to still run on all fours. He's the only Rover who drinks out of the toilet and uses the water for his cooking.

Muzzle (voiced by Frank Welker) — Muzzle is a Rotweiler; he was "Scout", Professor Sheperd's dog that was kidnapped at the beginning of the first episode. Though he was subjected to the transdogmafier, Scout's exposure to its energies did not mutate him, instead it rendered him insane, unstable and horribly ferocious. Rescued by Hunter prior to his recruitment, the two became close friends. Muzzle is often physically restrained to a cart wearing a straitjacket and mask. He is typically called in to assist the team in desperate situations. Action involving Muzzle is done off-screen, and it is implied by the other Rovers that Muzzle is doing rather gruesome deeds that horrify even Blitz. He is always seen with a bloated stomach and heard belching at the end of his rampages, indicating that he has eaten most, if not all, of his victims.

Professor William F. Shepherd "The Master" (voiced by Joseph Campanella) — The geneticist behind the transdogmafier and the Road Rovers. He is the team’s boss and supplier for all their gear.

General Parvo (voiced by Jim Cummings) — Parvo is the Road Rovers' main antagonist who is out to destroy Professor Shepherd and conquer the world. He has a permanent cough. It was later discovered in the series that General Parvo was at one time a Cat before being transformed into a "Feline-sapien", which resemble humans a great deal more than Shepherd's Cano-sapiens. He shares a very similar appearance to wrestler Hulk Hogan. The name Parvo derives from a canine disease which often kills puppies.

The Groomer (voiced by Sheena Easton) — The Groomer is the "mostly" loyal assistant to General Parvo. She's generally armed with a portable hair clipper, though she uses other equipment when appropriate. She also provides Parvo with throat lozenges to calm his coughing fits.

Episodes

Road Rovers has a total of 13 episodes that aired on Kids' WB from September 1996 to February 1997. A multi-region DVD of the entire series was announced on February 4, 2015 by Warner Archive and was released on February 10, 2015.

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