Over the last few weeks, I've received a ton of e-mail regarding the scheduling situation of Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles. People asking and asking: "Why are they showing the same five or six repeats over and over again!?!?!?"
The answer to this question is both extremely comical and profoundly unfortunate. In layman's terms: it is a "cluster f**k" pure and simple.
Turns out, some genius sold Roughnecks episodes into strip syndication before the show was ready to go on the air. Usually, strip syndication isn't a bad thing. In T.V. terms "strip" means a show has been sold into syndication to air on multiple, consecutive days in a week (four, five, six, even seven days a week in some instances). Strip programming is fairly commonplace, and happens all the time with shows like Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Star Trek, etc.
Trouble is: all of the titles cited above have a great many episodes in their history, so it would take any station quite a bit of time before cycling through & repeating the syndication package they've purchased. In Roughnecks' case, however, the series was sold into strip syndication with only five or six episodes completed.
In other words, stations expecting to receive roughly two months worth of Roughnecks programming (which would have accounted for just about the entire limited run series) actually received less than a week of Roughnecks programming from the outset. While The Powers That Be assured stations that fresh episodes of the series would be put into rotation as soon as the episodes were out of post-production, the newer episodes were few and far between (and were very slow in arriving - an expected byproduct of time-intensive CGI work) - leaving stations with no alternative but to re-air Roughnecks episodes in tight rotation, ad nauseum - or to drop the show altogether.
At this point, it does appear that some stations have dropped Roughnecks due to lack of new programming - what (if any) legal ramifications this will have for the series' production entities remains to be seen. Other stations are indeed re-airing episode after episode of Roughnecks, occasionally integrating new episodes into the mix whenever they are received.
On a related note, it appears the Bohbot Kids Network, a partner in the Roughnecks endeavor, improperly sold Roughnecks to The Sci Fi Channel (they did not have the authority to do so) - infuriating Roughnecks' home company (Sony) to no end. So, for those of you asking why Roughnecks no longer appears on SFC's schedule(effective late September or early October, I believe), this is why: it was sold to SFC by folks who didn't have the right to sell the series to them, and the deal was rescinded.
Okay - so all of this is bad. Can it be worse? Oh, yeah.
There were two visual effects companies handling the CGI animation on Roughnecks. One was Foundation Imaging (I kneel before them in humbled awe and reverence), the other was Flat Earth (of Hercules and Xena fame). Well, somewhere in the midst of all this, Flat Earth dropped out of the project. I have heard two rumors about why Flat Earth left Roughnecks: 1) Flat Earth was thrown-off the project because they fell too far behind on their Roughnecks animating duties. A more accurate assessment re: Flat Earth's departure from the show is likely something to the effect of: 2) Flat Earth backed out of the series because Sony held up a delivery check beyond acceptable limits, forcing Flat Earth to finance their Roughnecks work (and staff) out of the company's own coffers. This was hurting Flat Earth, so they had to back out of the project to protect themselves.
Either way, Flat Earth is off of the project, and Foundation seems to be going it alone for the moment. PLEASE NOTE: I have heard NO indication whatsoever that Foundation is...in any way... responsible for the mess Roughnecks has become.
The fate of Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles seems to be a question mark at the moment. I have heard everything: "the series will be pulled until all required episodes are completed - then re-aired in sequence"; "the series will continue this funky rotation - adding new episodes into the mix until it's done"; and finally, "the series will go on for a bit longer, but the whole enterprise may become straight-to-video fodder somewhere down the line - and only then will we see the Roughnecks story completed."
Which brings up, perhaps, the greatest Roughnecks tragedy of all: the series is not unfolding the way it was designed to be told. There is some indication that, because of time pressures generated by having sold the series into syndication before its completion, the original arc of Roughnecks (a progressive, linear arc of about 44 episodes which would have followed the lives and deaths of the Roughnecks as the Bug War drew them towards a finale on Earth) has been significantly compromised.
In order to speed the production process along, some newer episodes are being turned into "flashbacks" to earlier episodes - to allow for the utilization of previously existing footage, etc. Other elements of the series will now seem incongruous in the bigger picture. For example, several main characters were to die on the show - but with all the schedule flip-flopping, their deaths may now seem disjointed and incongruous with what is happening on either side of these specific "impact" episodes.
So there you have it folks. Hope this answers some of the questions sent in by many concerned viewers of this show. If all of this sounds like chaos it's because...well...the making of Roughnecks is chaos. 'Twill be fascinating to see what happens from here, and I'll be sure to let you know as more information becomes available...