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Tripping the Rift

Viewers no longer have to pay premium channel prices for soft-core porn. Sci-Fi Channel gives it away with "Tripping the Rift," an appallingly graphic animated series featuring the voices of Stephen Root, Gina Gershon and "The Howard Stern Show's" Stuttering John Melendez.

Viewers no longer have to pay premium channel prices for soft-core porn. Sci-Fi Channel gives it away with “Tripping the Rift,” an appallingly graphic animated series featuring the voices of Stephen Root, Gina Gershon and “The Howard Stern Show’s” Stuttering John Melendez.

The space-age comedy, a “Stars Wars” spoof-meets-“Futurama” via the Playboy Channel, is based on an award-winning four-minute Web short created by “King of the Hill’s” Chuck Austen and Chris Moeller. Skein has a 13-episode commitment from Sci-Fi Channel.

Fans looking for the biting satire of the Web-isode won’t find it in the show’s premiere, “God Is Our Pilot.” They will however, get an eye full of jiggling animated breasts and shiny robotic penises.

Indeed, CineGroupe’s first-ever primetime series is a computer animation marvel. The action is disturbingly vivid and tangible — and anything but a Saturday morning cartoon.

Series revolves around the crew of the Free Enterprise, a smuggling space ship helmed by the three-eyed purple alien named Chode (Stephen Root). The crew includes, as Bob the agoraphobic ship computer succinctly puts it, “a bitch, a whore, a slacker, a wimp and a thief.” And that’s the understated portion of the show.

Script by William Rosenthal and Andrew Borakove is so over-the-top that any attempt at satire is lost amid the animated sexuality. Most viewers will miss the few genuine laughs as the characters contemplate the existence of God and airport security, and instead remember the graphic mile-high-club-initiation sequence.

Given the uproar Janet Jackson’s bosom caused on network TV, it will be interesting to see the reaction, if any, to the risque animation of “Tripping the Rift.” Producers push the taste envelope with lines like “she’s got no tits” and “I’ve been part of so many big bangs that if anything actually started a universe, I’d know.”

At one point, captain Chode wonders how his crew, a group of mostly man-made cyborgs, could believe in God. The alternative, according to buxom crew member Six, would be to worship the engineering dweebs that designed them. “The God I worship doesn’t use acne medicine and chronically masturbate,” she says.

Perhaps she’s describing the show’s target audience.

Future episodes, such as “The Devil and a Guy Named Webster,” featuring a guest voice byEmmanuel Lewis, appear to tone down the sex somewhat and get back to the comedy for which creative consultants Terry Sweeney and Lanier Laney of SNL are renowned.

Tripping the Rift

Series; Sci-Fi Channel,Thurs. March 4, 10:30 p.m.

  • Production: Filmed on location in Los Angeles and Canada by CineGroupe in association with Film Roman. Executive producers, Jacques Pettigrew; Michel Lemire, Peter Schankowitz; producer, Daniele Joubert; creators, Chuck Austen, Chris Moeller; director, Bernie Denk; editor, Thomas Gill; writers, story editors, William Rosenthal, Andrew Borakove. 30 MIN.
  • Crew:
  • Cast: Chode - Stephen Root Gus - Maurice Lamarche Six - Gina Gershon Bob - John Melendez T'Nuk - Gayle Garfinkle Whip - Rick Jones Darph Bobo & Adam - Terrence Scammel
  • Music By: