Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad
|Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad|
The main character, Servo
|Developed by||James Rowley
Robin Mary Florence
|Voices of||Tim Curry
|Narrated by||Gary Owens (Opening Narration)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||53 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||20 minutes|
All American Television
|Distributor||Cookie Jar Entertainment (previously)
DHX Media (currently)
|Original network||First run syndication (1994-1995)
|Original release||September 12, 1994 – April 11, 1995|
Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad is a US-American television series. It was produced by Tsuburaya Productions, Ultracom and DIC Entertainment, with distribution by All American Television, and ran for one season from September 12, 1994 to April 11, 1995 in syndication, as well as on ABC. It was an adaptation of the Japanese tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman which was produced by Tsuburaya Productions. The series was originally going to be named PowerBoy but was renamed Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad to avoid confusion with Saban Entertainment's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
The series development mirrored the creative construct established earlier with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The master toy licensee—Playmates Toys—funded the series, interpolated American development via toy licensing rights, and did a commercial buy-in on the Fox network, where Haim Saban had established a kids block of time with other programs such as "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers", Big Bad Beetleborgs, Spider-Man, and X-Men. Playmates called upon the development team at DIC (which coincidentally was in league with Pangea Corporation, who assisted in the development of DIC's "New Kids on the Block," and Playmates earlier phenomenon, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"). DIC, Pangea and Playmates' marketing group created an ensemble of character names, traits and profiles, which were spun into a most ambiguous series offering. More than anything else, this was a quick-to-market slam dunk to capitalize on the upsurge in popularity of imported Japanese monster-robot shows which could be adapted with new, regionalized live-action footage.
As revealed in the first installment, "To Protect And Servo:"
High school student Sam Collins is the head of a band called Team Samurai. During a recording session, Sam is zapped by a power surge and disappears only to reappear seconds later with a strange device attached to his wrist (which is at the time unremovable). Later after his friends Amp, Sydney, and Tanker leave, one of his video game programs dubbed Servo is subject to a power surge and zaps Sam again. This time, the zap pulls him into the digital world and turns him into his creation. As Servo, he roams the digital world and fights monsters called Mega-Viruses.
Meanwhile, another student from Sam's school named Malcolm Frink is designing monsters on his home computer when Kilokahn (an escaped military artificial intelligence program who was presumed dead in the power surge) visits Malcolm via computer screen. Kilokahn strikes a Faustian deal with Malcolm and turns his digital monster into a Mega-Virus monster that is not only capable of corrupting electronics, but is also capable of affecting the real world.
Sam (now as Servo) must enter the digital world and stop Malcolm's and Kilokahn's Mega-Viruses. Sometimes, when Servo was unable to handle a virus by himself, he would call on the help of his friends using his Arsenal Programs. The Arsenal Programs could fight the viruses solo, transform (with the help of other Programs) and attach to Servo as armor. Since Team Samurai consisted of only 3 people at any one time (excluding Sam), only 3 vehicles were available at any one time. When Servo linked up with these Programs as armor, he changed his name to either Phormo or Synchro (when he combined with Drago or Xenon, respectively).
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- Sam Collins / Servo (played by Matthew Lawrence): The frontman and guitarist of his band, Team Samurai. He was always willing to help anyone in need or be their friend and often vies for the attention of cheerleader Jennifer Doyle, having been in and out of relationships with her, sometimes even competing with Malcolm Frink for her affections. He has even gone so far as to try to be friends with Malcolm, although Malcolm never returned the favor. He is clever and easygoing. He also loves his (unseen) little sister, Elizabeth, though often felt pestered by her shenanigans.
- Tanker (played by Kevin Castro): Sam's best friend, the band's drummer, and a stereotypical jock. He was particularly adept at school sports, especially football. He had a crush on fellow Team Samurai member Sydney, especially admiring her for her intelligence. He always seemed to have a large appetite, and as evidenced in the episode "A Break in the Food Chain", he would go crazy if he didn't eat anything for a period of time. He also held a particularly strong dislike for Malcolm Frink. In Syberspace, Tanker's uniform was a black biker suit with a black helmet and a see-through visor.
- Sydney "Syd" Forrester (played by Robin Mary Florence): The band's keyboard player and the brains of the group. She is also a good singer, as shown in "His Master's Voice". She is one of North Valley High's brightest students, and often displayed a caring personality. She is the object of Tanker's affection, and the two enjoy being together. Sydney's Syberspace uniform was a pink biker suit with a gold helmet and a see-through visor.
- Amp Ere (played by Troy Slaten): The team's so-called "space cadet" and the band's bass player. He became the band's bass player after revealing to the gang that his brother (who was originally intended to join them instead of Amp) was going back to college. His intelligence was curious, as he was either clueless to his surroundings or displayed some unusual intellect. He had an unorthodox way of performing tasks, such as writing in a notebook using his toes or studying by eating book pages with milk and sugar. To enter Syberspace, he always used a different phrase to be humorous. Amp's uniform consisted of a helicopter helmet and leather jacket. It is later revealed that Amp is really an alien and returns to his own planet with his parents offscreen.
- Lucky London (played by Rembrandt Sabelis): A surfer and Amp's replacement in Team Samurai. His attitude was often laid-back, sometimes to the dismay of Principal Pratchert. In Syberspace, Lucky's uniform consisted of a red and white Jet Ski helmet with a black visor and lifejacket.
- Kilokahn (voiced by Tim Curry): Short for Kilometric Knowledge-base Animate Human Nullity, Kilokahn is a military artificial intelligence program who unleashes computer viruses to attack major computer systems. He derisively refers to humans as "meat-things". Kilokahn considers himself the ruler of the digital world and also wishes to take over the real world starting with the world's computer network.
- Malcolm Frink (played by Glen Beaudin): A loner who dresses in black garb and also attends North Valley High School. He only finds companionship in Kilokahn. Using a special program, he designs the Mega-Virus monsters which are brought to life by Kilokahn and sent into a specific electronic object. Sam sees that Malcolm is alone and tries to strike up a friendship with him, but Malcolm rejects his offers stating that he likes being alone. The only exceptions to that rule are in His Master's Voice when Malcolm was touched by Sydney's apology and in Kilokhan is Coming to Town when he finally realizes that his selfish nature nearly cost Sam, his life. Malcolm has a very strong dislike of Tanker and is intimidated by Mrs. Starkey. Malcolm derives enjoyment out of hurting other people with his computer viruses, which he creates and Kilokahn brings to life. In spite of Kilokahn regularly betraying him, lacking any other 'friends' Malcolm always comes back to him. He even purposely restores Kilokahn to his sociopathic self after he is temporarily rendered harmless. In the alternate universe version, Malcolm is a generous and caring person who likes to help people, unlike the Alternate Yoli who takes pleasure from harming others.
- Jennifer "Jen" Doyle (played by Jayme Betcher): Sam's on-again/off-again girlfriend and a cheerleader at North Valley High School. Malcolm tries to compete for her affections. In the alternate version, Jen is a genius who like Malcolm befriended and helped Sam get back to his normal universe.
- Mrs. Cha-Cha Rimba Starkey (played by Diana Bellamy): The cafeteria lunch lady who often cracks jokes relating to the poor quality of the food she serves, such as enjoying her hobby of riding her motorcycle and being married multiple times. She also seemed to have an affinity for Dennis Quaid, as mentioned in a few episodes. Mrs. Starkey is the only faculty member in North High School that doesn't like Malcolm. When Prachett was depressed over Yolanda refusing to talk to him, Starkey wisely suggested he does the right thing and recount the votes and admits her suspicion that the voting was rigged.
- Principal Pratchert (played by John Wesley): The school principal who is usually strict, particularly when dealing with Sam Collins and Malcolm Frink. When his daughter lost the student council presidency to Malcolm, he initially refused to recount the votes when Malcolm commented it would make the Education Board suspect he was playing favorites and only could do so when he agreed that Malcolm could use his parking space should he remain victor. Prachett would reconsider recounting the votes when Mrs. Starkey wisely suggested he does so not for the sake of his job, but also his daughter, Yolanda. In "Pratchert's Radical Departure", it was revealed that Pratchert used to be a hippie when he was younger. Malcolm used this to his advantage by creating a Mega-Virus monster that made Pratchert think he was a hippie again, much to the delight of Lucky London (at least until the Mega-Virus monster was destroyed by Servo).
- Yolanda "Yoli" Pratchert (played by Kelli Kirkland): The principal's daughter and Jennifer's closest friend. She's North Valley High School's student council president, a position she temporarily lost in "The President's a Frink" when Malcolm cheated his way into office (with the help of a virus) but she regained it when Principal Pratchert recounts the votes after Servo defeats the virus sent to change the results. In the episode "What Rad Universe!," an alternate dimension version of Yolanda found companionship in Kilokahn making her that dimension's version of Malcolm Frink while the Malcolm Frink of that dimension was a good person much like the real Yoli and Sam.
- Elizabeth "Liz" Collins (voiced by Kath Soucie): Sam's "unseen" kid sister who communicates with her brother off screen through a laundry chute connected from the upstairs. She always plays pranks on her older brother, usually dropping things on top of him through the chute. Liz has shown she does care for Sam and drops a ton of cookies to share with him.
- Xenon: A powerful humanoid robot created when Vitor, Tracto, and Borr combine. Its fists can be fired as missiles, as in the battle against, which it almost singlehandedly defeated on its own.
- Borr: An orange and black tank with twin drills that can fly or burrow underground. Its driver is Sydney. Also, a famous basketball player—Charles "High Jump" Johnson—was dragged along to fight a Mega-Virus monster as a temporary driver for Borr when the band used the vehicles to escape the locked high school (in the episode "Syber-Dunk"). Borr forms Synchro's gauntlets and shoulder armor; and Xenon's torso and upper legs.
- Tracto: A blue mini tank with lasers. Its driver is Tanker. Tracto forms Synchro's boots and Xenon's legs.
- Vitor: A red fighter jet armed with lasers, missiles, and a rig to restrain monsters. Its pilot is Amp, and later Lucky. On one occasion it was piloted by Sydney, who had trouble flying it. Vitor forms Synchro's helmet and body armor; and Xenon's head, arms, and chest.
In an odd occurrence, Xenon fought Servo in "Que Sera Servo" when a Mega-Virus monster put Servo under a spell and the latter obeyed only Kilokahn, until Amp was able to break the virus' hold by using Syd's belt to reboot him
When Borr, Tracto, and Vitor combine with Servo, they form Servo's upgrade known as Synchro, which is armed with a pair of shoulder drill missiles.
- Drago: A mechanized Dragon formed when Jamb and Torb combine. It was almost always piloted by Tanker, and occasionally by Sydney. Later in the series, Jamb and Torb would just appear as one single jet fighter and was piloted by either Sydney or Tanker and eventually just transform into Drago. Neither Amp or Lucky have piloted Drago during the series run. While Tanker and Syd were the default pilots for the "Drago Jet," Mrs. Starkey did pilot the vehicle in one episode ("Starkey in Syberspace").
- Jamb: A dragon head mini-jet which also acts as a bazooka type flame thrower, known as the Dragon Cannon, which is used by Servo. Its main pilot is Sydney.
- Torb: A giant jet with various weaponry. Its main pilot is Tanker.
When Drago combines with Servo, they form Servo's upgrade known as Phormo, which is armed with a pair of laser gauntlets.
Home Media release
In 1995, Buena Vista Home Video (under the DIC Toon Time Video label) released the series on three VHS cassettes each containing two episodes. On February 19, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment released Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad- Volume 1 on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The 3-disc set features the first 28 episodes of the series. On October 1, 2013 Mill Creek Entertainment released Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad- Volume 2 on DVD containing the remaining 25 episodes.
Currently five episodes of Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad were available on Jaroo (new episodes were added and old episodes were removed on Wednesdays), which was an online video site that was operated by Cookie Jar Entertainment, whom DIC has since merged with. Since 2013, Cookie Jar has been taken over by DHX Media. The Jaroo site has since closed down, but they mention that they plan to re-locate the site and their shows for online distribution.
- "DIC, Saban in 'Power' struggle". Variety. Feb 4, 1994. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- "Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad". jaroo. Retrieved 2010-07-09.
- "Schedule". jaroo. Retrieved 2009-11-06.
- Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad at DHX Media Ltd.
- Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad at the Internet Movie Database
- TVShowsOnDVD.com, vote for Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad to be released onto DVD.