|Tripping the Rift|
|Directed by||Bernie Denk|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||39|
|Running time||20 minutes|
|Original network||Sci Fi Channel|
|Original release||March 4, 2004 –|
December 13, 2007
Tripping the Rift is an adult CGI science fiction comedy television series. It is based on two short animations published on the Internet by Chris Moeller and Chuck Austen. The series was produced by CineGroupe in association with the Syfy network. Following its cancellation by that cable network, CineGroupe continued producing the series for the other North American and International broadcasters. The series aired on the Canadian speciality channel Space in 2004. Canada's cartoon network Teletoon has been airing the series since August 2006. Teletoon participated in the production of the third season, and aired it in 2007. A feature-length movie version was released on DVD in 2008.
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 Jupiter 42, taking odd-jobs and usually pursuing various get-rich-quick schemes.
In 1997, Chris Moeller, who was working on the animated TV series 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 2001, Film Roman released the Oh Brother teaser for episode 2, and Chris claimed the full version was made, but its release was left up to Film Roman.
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 the Malaysian studio Shanghai Cartoon worked on animation using Autodesk 3ds Max software, lighting and compositing. Keyframe animation was chosen for its quality and animating control capabilities.
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 Australia the show appears on the Sci Fi Channel.
In Latin America it appeared on Adult Swim. In Russia, a music television channel Muz TV aired season 1 & 2 in 2007, and season 3 in early 2008. Later it aired 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.
Re-runs of the show aired in Canada on SPACE. In 2006, the series was picked up for rebroadcast on Razer and The Comedy Network.
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 nemesis Darph Bobo to dispatch a time-traveling killer clown android to assassinate 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". A Best Buy exclusive featured a second DVD with three episodes of the series centered on Six.