Fanboys can trace the evolution of Robot
Chicken back to the page of Wizard Magazine.
As it turns out from watching the just-released DVD, that's
a direct line of descent with co-creator Matthew Senreich,
who apparently worked on "Twisted Mego Theater" for that
magazine. Okay, some of you knew that, but I didn't.
I did know was that Robot Chicken is brilliant, reminding
us that Seth Green deserves his reputation as a talented
creator. Let's forget Four Kings if we can. That's
just a paycheck. Robot Chicken is a passion.
The show pokes sharp fingers at a lot of
sacred cows. Certainly the writers' attack on Peanuts
seems both so wrong and so right. While some sequences like
the Schultz parody run quite lengthily, Robot Chicken
also dares to keep its comedy short and fresh. If a joke
only needs ten seconds, that's all it gets.
While you might consider that a side-effect
of a short attention span, it actually serves the comedy
well. Better, at least, than Saturday Night Live,
even on a good night. In fifteen minutes (less, really),
Robot Chicken will have you reeling from its imagination.
Sure, it often leaps off from cartoons
and action figures of the eighties. In its first season,
we saw Voltron get served and both the Thundercats and G.I.
Joe hit hard times. Maybe the show went back there once
too often, as Cobra Command met The Office. Still,
that segment, called "The Terrordome," worked extremely
well. And the show also did a strange public service by
chronicling Optimus Prime's death from prostate cancer.
The bit was ridiculous, sure, but actually got strong approval
from doctors around the country.
Just think, though - do you want a guy
that watches Robot Chicken to be milking your prostate?
Many sketches reach back further, though.
If you grew up in the seventies, you will notice a curious
amount of Action Jackson figures and Mego World's Greatest
Super-Heroes toiling away in the service of toilet humor.
The brilliant artisans of Robot Chicken sculpt many
more themselves, though, creating whoever is necessary for
a given sketch.
Celebrities abound on this show, as it
parodies pop culture with deadly accuracy. What's more surprising,
though, is that often the actual celebrities do the voices
of their animated action figures. On one level it makes
sense that Green and Senreich have buddies like Topher Grace
and Sarah Michelle Gellar making cameo appearances. You
could even stretch that to include young starlet Scarlett
But when Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise
drop by in "Gold Dust Gasoline," you know this show has
had an impact. Even Mark Hamill reprises his role as Luke
Skywalker because, let's face it, George Lucas was never
going to get around to it anyway.
Aside from collecting the complete first
season, the DVD set includes deleted scenes and alternate
voicework, as well as a lot of behind the scenes features.
Wisely, only a few episodes from the Sony website prototype
show, Sweet J Presents, are included. I say wisely
because already I'm eager for Season Two, and Adult Swim
is going to need more extras.
Having them all laid out in one package
is about the best gift I could have gotten (this month -
if you count the Justice League and Batman Beyond
season sets as being in a different month), as every episode
has something that just gets funnier and funnier with each
viewing. Then you can share them with unsuspecting friends.
While searching online, I've also discovered
that the end theme is the same as the music playing in the
mall during the original Dawn of the Dead, only clucked
by chickens. Thanks, Seth Green, for making me laugh unknowingly
at the undead. Now they'll get me for sure. But at least
I'll die having seen "the Darkest Sketch Ever."
Robot Chicken, Vol. 1