Cancelled Before It Began: Robotech II: The Sentinels

By | April 19, 2019

Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.

1985’s Robotech adapted three unrelated anime series (Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross, and Genesis Climber Mospeada) and re-dubbed the dialogue to link them together into a multi-generational epic sci fi story.  And even though the series took plenty of liberties with its source material, it still remained closer to the spirit of the originals than prior “kiddified” dubs like Battle of the Planets and Voltron and helped introduce anime to a broader U.S. audience as more than just cartoons for younger viewers.  The success of Robotech lead Carl Macek (who helmed the U.S. adapation) to pursues a sequel series with new animation that would carry on the story of Rick Hunter, Lisa Hayes, Lynn Minmei, and the rest.  It was intended to follow their expedition on the SDF-3 which began at the end of the Macross segment, and would take place in deep space while the events of The Robotech Masters and The New Generation where unfolding back on Earth. Unfortunately, only three episodes were produced before the project was cancelled.

Macek blamed the demise of the sequel series on the collapse of the dollar/yen exchange rate which resulted in Matchbox bowing out as the show’s partner on the toy end.  Animated series in the United States at that time needed toy sales to support their production costs, and producers Harmony Gold did not have the money to fund the show themselves.  The three episodes produced were eventually strung together for a VHS release (and also a limited theatrical run), but no additional episodes of the The Sentinels were ever released (and unfortunately they have not yet been collected on DVD in the U.S., but you can find them on YouTube).  The story was carried on, though, in novels and comics that drew from the original scripts produced for the series.  There were numerous attempts to produce other sequels (Wikipedia gives a full rundown at this link), but none ever made it to series (Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles did produce a film that received limited theatrical run and a DVD release).  Currently there are talks of a live-action reboot of the franchise on the big screen with Sony pictures recently picking up the rights and looking to move forward into production.  But many who loved the original series lament the fact that we never saw Robotech II: The Sentinels realized as the anime epic it could have been.

Aired: 1988, VHS Release Only

Starring: Tony Oliver, Melanie MacQueen, Rebecca Forstadt, Tom Wyner

Created By: Carl Macek

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