|Tripping the Rift|
Animated series, Science fiction, Sitcom, Black comedy, Blue comedy, Sex comedy
Chris Moeller, Chuck Austen
CineGroupe, Film Roman
Stephen Root, Carmen Electra, Maurice LaMarche, Jenny McCarthy, Gina Gershon
Sci Fi Channel, Space (TV channel), Teletoon
March 4, 2004
Many episodes parody or allude to movies, television shows or novels. For example, "23½" makes reference to the series 24 and Snakes on a Plane. In fact, the opening of each of the series' episodes pays homage to three specific science fiction shows and movies; Star Trek (Whip's remote toy), Star Wars (Gus' vacuum), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (the back of T'Nuk's chair).
In 1997, Chris Moeller, who was working on King of the Hill and who had been producing animation shorts with Dark Bunny Productions, met Chuck Austen and pitched their idea for a science fiction comedy to animation studio Film Roman. In early 1998 they launched the first pilot Love and Darph on the Internet. The Chode character first appeared in the 1994 short, Wisconsin.
In 2002, CinéGroupe acquired the rights to the five minute short Love and Darph and approached animator Bernie Denk to direct the series, which was produced in association with Sci Fi US. Bernie Denk's team worked in Montreal on preproduction (character design, modeling and textures) while both Montreal and Malaysian teams worked on animation, lighting and compositing. Keyframe animation was chosen for its quality and animating control capabilities.
The universe is modeled largely after the Star Trek universe, with references to 'warp drive' and 'transporter' beam technology, occasional time travel, the Federation and the Vulcans. The series also includes elements borrowed from other sources such as Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Battlestar Galactica.
The general setting is that known space is politically divided between two superpowers: the Confederation (led by Humans, and a parody of the Federation from Star Trek) and the Dark Clown Empire (a parody of the Galactic Empire from Star Wars). The Dark Clown Empire is a totalitarian, tyrannical police state, led by the evil Darph Bobo. In contrast, the Confederation is technically a democratic and free society, but in practice, is dominated by mega-corporations and bloated bureaucracies. Ultimately, both superpowers end up exploiting and restricting their inhabitants, albeit in different ways. For example, the value placed on life is so commercialized in the Confederation that clearly sentient robots and androids are reduced to essentially slave-status. The Dark Clown Empire practices actual slavery, and while the Confederation does not, most of its inhabitants (including the Human ones) are openly described as living in wage slavery. The only place that anyone can truly be free is in the border region between the two superpowers, which is directly controlled by neither. This borderland is known as "the Rift", hence those outlaws on the fringes of society who cling to their freedom by moving back and forth around the Confederation/Dark Clown Empire border to evade detection are said to be "Tripping the Rift". The series follows one such group of outlaws led by Chode aboard the Spaceship Bob, taking odd-jobs and usually pursuing various get-rich-quick schemes.
- Chode McBlob (Stephen Root) — Captain of the ship. Chode is a street-savvy, strong scoundrel and a sex hound who typically gets his crew to do what he wants through manipulation and threats. He desires wealth and a better life. His twin brother, Philbrick, is the king of planet Moldavia 5.
- Six (also called Six of One or Six of Nine-a play on Star Trek's Seven of Nine) (Patricia Beckmann and Terry Farrell in the pilot (two versions), Gina Gershon in season 1, Carmen Electra in season 2 and Jenny McCarthy in season 3) — Six is a cyborg that was designed as a sex slave. She acts as the ship's science officer, thanks to a programming upgrade by Chode; much to his chagrin, this upgrade has also given her a conscience and sense of decency, in spite of her openly sexual nature. She often gets the crew out of trouble by using her erotic attributes and skills in bed. The final episode of the second season revealed that she was modeled after a stripper named "Haffa Dozen", who later switched to a life of crime.
- T'Nuk Layor — (Gayle Garfinkle) T'nuk is the ship's ill-tempered, triple-breasted, quadrupedal, amorous pilot and cook. While most of the other characters consider her as grotesquely unattractive as she is unpleasant, she is considered attractive on her (unknown) home planet. She was chosen as the pilot because she is skilled at keeping the Spaceship Bob in check. Her name is based on the word nuclear, while her name spelled backwards says Royal Cunt.
- Whip (Rick Jones) — Whip is a bipedal alien reptile, and Chode's dim-witted nephew. He serves as the ship's foreman, though he is rarely seen working, and is typically an impulsive, libidinous teenager. As a chameleon, he is able to conceal his appearance and cling to walls, as well as regenerate lost body parts.
- Gus (Chris Moeller in the pilot, Maurice LaMarche in the series) — Gus is Chode's robot servant. He is the ship's engineer and is implied by the others to be homosexual (a running joke, he frequently denies his sexuality, often while engaging in stereotypical homosexual behavior). Though smarter than those around him, he is forced to serve them, as silicon organisms like him don't have the same rights as carbon-based life. He has a cynical and sarcastic attitude, resulting from the many failures he has experienced due to his less intelligent carbon-based bosses' actions. His appearance and voice is a parody of C-3PO (in the opening credits, as he uses a vacuum cleaner shaped like R2-D2).
- Spaceship Bob (John Melendez) — Bob is the A.I. that controls the ship Jupiter 42. He suffers from agoraphobia, and often has panic attacks at inconvenient times. Only T'nuk's insults can snap him out of his panic attacks. He also desires Six, even though she says they're just friends. Bob is a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey's Hal 9000. In fact, in one episode Bob takes over the spaceship, impeding their actions as he is a computer program that "refuses to do anything".
- Darph Bobo (Chris Moeller in the pilot, Terrence Scammell in the series) — Darph Bobo is the supreme leader of the Dark Clown Empire. He wants to take over the universe because he was teased as a child (mostly by Chode). He attended high school with Chode, and the two also spent time in prison together. He has a belittling wife, Bernice, and two daughters, the teenager Babette and an unnamed younger child. Bobo is often seen with his "clown trooper" guards - a parody of Storm Troopers, while the name is a play on clone troopers. Both his name and outfit are a parody of the Darths from the Star Wars movies, as is his desire to construct a "Death Orb", a deadly battle station, which is a parody of the Death Star.
- Captain Adam Francis Shatner (also called Commander Adam) — Captain Adam is the captain of a Confederation ship. He has a domineering wife, Nancy, and a cloned son named Adam 12. He has been known to blackmail Chode into doing his dirty work. Adam's halting and exaggerated speech pattern is a parody of William Shatner's portrayal of James T. Kirk. Adam 12 is a reference to Adam-12, the police-themed television show. A running gag throughout the series is that he and his son each have a very small penis.
- "Love and Darph" (1998) (two versions with differing dialogue for Six)
- "Oh Brother" (Teaser) (2001)
- "God is Our Pilot"
- "Mutilation Ball"
- "Miss Galaxy 5000"
- "Sidewalk Soiler"
- "The Devil and a Guy Named Webster"
- "Totally Recalled"
- "2001 Space Idiocies"
- "Power to the Peephole"
- "Nature vs. Nurture"
- "Aliens, Guns & A Monkey"
- "Emasculating Chode"
- "Love Conquers All...Almost"
- "Android Love"
- "Cool Whip"
- "You Wanna Put That Where?"
- "Honey, I Shrunk the Crew"
- "Ghost Ship"
- "Benito's Revenge"
- "All for None"
- "Extreme Chode"
- "Santa Clownza"
- "Chode and Bobo's High School Reunion"
- "Chode's Near-Death Experience"
- "Six, Lies and Videotape"
- "Chode Eraser"
- "To eBay or Not to eBay"
- "23 "
- "The Need for Greed"
- "Chuckles Bites the Dust"
- "Hollow Chode"
- "Raiders of the Lost Crock of */@?#!"
- "Witness Protection"
- "The Son Also Rises"
- "Extreme Take-over"
- "Battle of the Bulge"
- "Tragically Whip"
The show aired on Space in Canada and the Sci Fi Channel in the United States in March 2004. Sky One began airing the show in the United Kingdom in early 2005. Space and the Sci Fi Channel aired the second season in the fall of 2005. In Latin America it appeared on Adultswim. In Australia the show appears on the Sci Fi Channel. Re-runs of the show air in Canada on SPACE. In Russia, a music television channel Muz TV aired season 1 & 2 in 2007, and season 3 in early 2008. Currently episode airs on channel 2x2. In Germany, DMAX (TV channel) is showing season 1 & 2 starting in March 2009. In Bulgaria, PRO BG is airing season 1 & 2 starting in September 2009 and season 3 in October 2009. Other major territories include France, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, and Central Europe.
Anchor Bay released the 75 minute unrated Tripping the Rift: The Movie on DVD on March 25, 2008. The story revolves around Chode's birthday party and the events that occur during and after it, all of which prompt his arch nemesis Darph Bobo to dispatch a time-traveling killer clown android to dispatch Chode.
The movie consists of footage from the season three episodes "Chode Eraser", "Skankenstein", "Raiders of the Lost Crock of *@#?!" and "Witness Protection" with new bits of additional footage stitching them together into a loosely cohesive whole.
While the movie was promoted as uncensored, only dialogue was left uncensored, with nudity still obscured by "censored" balloons.
The main DVD extra is "Captain's Log: Making of Tripping the Rift: The Movie".
All three seasons and the movie are currently available on DVD in North America. Neither version of the original short film has, to date, been officially released to DVD.