Sylvester Stallone is revisiting Rocky IV with a director’s cut, which will edit out a robot maid. Cartoon Network’s J. Christopher Arrison is sad, and explains his feelings to NPR’s Scott Simon.
September 5, 20207:59 AM ET
TRANSCRIPT | SCOTT SIMON, HOST
(Imitating Rocky Balboa) Yo, Paulie, kiss that birthday gift goodbye.
This week, Sylvester Stallone announced he’s concocting a new director’s cut of “Rocky IV,” the 1985 installment of the film franchise in which America’s heavyweight hero heads to the Soviet Union – that’s a country that used to exist just below Finland – to fight the fearsome Ivan Drago and avenge the death of Apollo Creed. Spoiler alert – another beloved character won’t make it – not B.J. Leiderman, who does our theme music – no, SICO, the robot that Rocky gives as a birthday present to his brother-in-law Paulie. Mr. Stallone says SICO will be edited out of the new cut.
J. Christopher Arrison is already in mourning. He’s a writer and producer for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim and joins us now. Thanks so much for being with us.
J CHRISTOPHER ARRISON: Oh, thanks for having me.
SIMON: We’re going hear a bit of SICO’s performance, if that’s what we’re going to call it. But why don’t you remind us, tell us about this robot?
ARRISON: Well, this robot appears in “Rocky IV” out of the dark. A song accompanies SICO rolling into the room. And he actually says, happy birthday, Paulie.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “ROCKY IV”)
ROBERT DOORNICK: (As SICO) Please make a wish.
ARRISON: Paulie is at first kind of miffed by this gift, kind of perplexed. But by the end, he programs it from its gender setting from normal, as he says, to female. And in a – with a modern lens, it’s maybe not the most tasteful thing or a dignified end for SICO’s journey because SICO, in real life, is a very useful robot at the time. It was a robot that helped kids with autism. And that’s part of the reason why Stallone put SICO into the movie.
SIMON: So this was a real-life robot. Why did I not know that?
ARRISON: Yes, yes. That’s how – so SICO was introduced to his son. And Stallone was so taken by it that he put him in the movie. I’m calling him SICO, but SICO is genderless obviously.
SIMON: I’m impressed by the fact that SICO was invented to help people.
SIMON: I find that very moving, and maybe SICO should have been in there to help someone, not just, you know, serve Paulie his beer.
ARRISON: The robot is very much a punchline. It’s been parodied many times over the years. Probably the most famous one is in the show “Family Guy.”
ARRISON: You sound sad about this.
SIMON: I am a little – well, let’s just put it this way. I’m very uncomfortable with people trying to rewrite history.
ARRISON: Right (laughter). Right. Yeah. I’m curious what he’ll do about the rest of the movie because it’s such a American, jingoistic – you know, he fights the Russian – who is very much the Terminator with blond, spiky hair. And Rocky bests him on his home turf on Christmas Day, no less, and delivers this very stirring speech – (imitating Rocky Balboa) like, if you guys are like this and we’re like this, then maybe together we’re like this.
SIMON: You know, I just want to point out, Mr. Arrison, that Rocky delivered that speech, and four short years later, the Soviet Union fell apart.
ARRISON: You’re not wrong. I think, you know, Reagan, Gorbachev and Stallone should all take a bow.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, “ROCKY IV”)
DOORNICK: (As SICO) Happy birthday, Paulie.
SIMON: Writer and producer J. Christopher Arrison. Thanks so much for speaking with us.
ARRISON: Thank you so much for having me.
(SOUNDBITE OF FREE NATIONALS AND SHAFIQ HUSAYN’S “OBITUARIES”)
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1. WANT A PAULIE’S ROBOT COLLECTIBLE? click here
2. Working in collaboration with a UK group, SICO is presently in development for a computer animated sequel to his character as the Rocky Robot. He may disappear from the Directors Cut, but is still in the hearts of many.