Greetings, readers, Bill here with something new, creative, and very, very cool to share with you. First off, I’d like to give a tip of the hat and wave of the claw to my friend Jonathan Wojcik, one of my favorite “Monster Kids” out there. Jonathan made me aware of this beautiful monstrosity via his own site, The Insidious Bogleech. Jonathan and I are cut from much the same cloth, with a fervent passion for both Nature’s wild diversity and monsters both fictional and mythological, preferring disembodied brains and ambulatory slime-molds to modern day slashers and torturers. My “Tooth and Claw” series is largely inspired by him, and will feature many strange and wondrous creatures that I first learned of through his writings. To top it off, Jonathan did all the original art for my personal site, Radiation-Scarred Reviews. In short, he’s a pretty awesome guy, and you should check out his site.
Anyways, on to the guts of this piece.
STARSHIP is the latest brainchild of Team Starkid, the creative powers behind “A Very Potter Musical.” Taking the now-hoary science fiction concept of human space marines versus large, intelligent insect-aliens (familiar from such conflicts as the Human-Arachnid War of Starship Troopers, The Bugger War of Ender’s Game, the debacle on LV-426 in ALIENS, the Terran-Zerg conflict from the Starcraft games, and the Imperium-Tyranid conflict from Warhammer 40,000 and related media) and turns it on it’s segmented, chitinous head.
Standing four feet tall and covered in an orange exoskeleton, “Bug” is a young, well, Bug, native to the Bug Planet. And ever since he first crawled out of the hive, Bug has been enamored with a weird, alien ruin half-embedded in the surface of the planet — a crashed ship of the Starship Rangers, a human exploratory organization dedicated to expanding human presence through the galaxy (and escaping the horrific Robot Wars that are currently consuming the planet Earth). Fueled by the scrambled propaganda videos still playing on the ship’s consoles, Bug dreams of someday joining the Starship Rangers and exploring the galaxy beyond his hive.
Unfortunately, Bug’s race lives by the dictum of “The Greater Good,” and each Bug is drilled with the mantra “The needs of the many bugs outweigh the needs of the few bugs.” So when the Overqueen (who looks like a colossal disembodied vagina with claws and eyes) assigns Bug the task of Egg Planter, he thinks that’s it. All his dreams are being thrown right out like yesterday’s dried prey-husks.
Things take a turn when a Starship Ranger…erm, starship…lands on Bug Planet as a scout for possible colonization. When the buxon, bubbly and blonde Ensign February emerges, she finds a population of nauseatingly-cute mammals which she promptly frolics with…until cornered by a pair of Mammal Wranglers, who cocoon her in carefully-vomited mucus and carry her off to the hive. When Bug, on his first day as Egg Planter, stumbles across her, he recognizes her as a Starship Ranger.
When the Starship Rangers (lead by Solid Snake-lookalike Commander Up and his feisty, Vasquez-from-ALIENS second-in-command Lt. Taz) show up to rescue her, the ensuing culture shock threatens to destroy not only Bug’s hopes, but his entire species as well. However, Bug hopes to bridge the divide between the two species, but will a metaphorical deal with the devil (in the form of a house-sized, jazz-singing scorpion) be the answer?
This. Is. Magical. Starship Troopers, plus a squishy chunk of Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, and a race of alien insects realized by rod puppets and brightly-colored cutouts, and it’s everything I could have ever dreamed such a combination could be, and so much more.
Bug and the rest of the, erm, bugs are, as mentioned, portrayed by an assortment of cartoony cut-outs and muppets, strapped to the torsos of black-clad performers, their limbs operated via rods (much like Kermit the Frog) and their mouths working as hand-puppets, with the performer supplying the voice. The combination is fantastic, with the performer’s own animation and enthusiasm really selling the “life” of the puppet.
As for the other half of my fondness…You see…Much like Jonathan, ever since I was a larva, I’ve had a soft spot for the creepy-crawlies. Insects, arachnids, even myriapods such as centipede and millipedes. I’ve never felt or understood the overwhelming loathing most people feel towards invertebrates (well, maybe centipedes, but they and I have history that colors my opinions). God had a special fondness for beetles, as biologist J.B.S. Haldane famously quipped, and so do I. We’re all part of the vast web of biodiversity on this planet, and every link in the chain, be it a “beautiful” leopard or a “hideous creature” like a tarantula, is equally vital and special. You may shudder in revulsion at a tailless whip-scorpion, also known as an amblypigid (I’m putting that image behind a link for the benefit of those who don’t feel up to seeing it), but with your soft flesh, bulging eyes and freakishly flexible face, you’re no less strange, and no more or less a miracle then it is. And that’s part of the message of the show — that there’s beauty in all life.
The show, I think, runs a little long (something to the tune of 3+ hours, making it a Wagnerian Disney Starship Troopers show), and I wish more of it’s run-time was dedicated to the music, instead of the bantering interactions between the Starship Rangers. But other than that, it’s a brilliant show, and second only to THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO in its perfect encapsulation of my psyche.
And now, for your enjoyment, I submit, free for viewing in it’s entirety, STARSHIP. I hope it stimulates your enzymes as much as it did mine.