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Robot Chicken Star Wars:
Look, If You're Not Going To Take This Seriously...

As legend has it, this all started a long time ago on a network far, far away. In reality, just a few months ago, a sketch from Robot Chicken made its way onto George Lucas' radar. And the Master laughed.

Why shouldn't he? Any and all criticisms are mitigated by his still being one of the most successful filmmakers in history. Yet the sketch that made him laugh wasn't making fun of him - it was Emperor Palpatine playing Bob Newhart to a stranded Darth Vader after the first Death Star blew up. "What do you mean, you've been flying around for three weeks trying to get a signal?"

That irreverence that comes from clearly knowing the source way too well has been the hallmark of Seth Green and Matt Senreich's baby. It resonates with us, too, because Robot Chicken consists not so much of sketches as short re-enactments of stupid conversations we've all had about the giants of our childhood. For a certain age, no giant gets bigger than Star Wars.

With Lucas' permission and cooperation, Robot Chicken now devotes an entire show to the Star Wars mythos. Appropriately enough, the Adult Swim show gets its first broadcast on Sunday, June 17 at 10 p.m. In case you haven't noticed, that's (Luke, I am your) Father's Day.

According to sources at Cartoon Network, three sketches on Sunday night's show have appeared before, including the Emperor Newhart piece. What's new are hilarious looks in the nooks and crannies of Lucas' universe, including an appearance by Lucas himself in what has to be one of his recurring nightmares. Let's just say it involves a lot of inappropriate costuming.

Even when done with action figures, such jokes work. Thecoup de grace involves the Hoth sequence of The Empire Strikes Back done as an ice show, and there's just way too much thought put into it. These aren't action figures of Star Wars characters doing an ice show; they're action figures of ice skaters dressed as Star Wars characters doing an ice show. If you can't see the subtle, hilarious distinction, then you just won't appreciate the brilliance of Robot Chicken.

There's more, lots more, including Conan O'Brien guesting as himself, sort of, as alien bounty hunter Zuckuss, and of course, Mark Hamill gets involved. He has been from the beginning, voicing the Emperor in early sketches and reprising his role as Luke Skywalker in a terrific confrontation with Darth Vader as they hash out the secrets of Lucas' plotting. At the time, it seemed traitorous; now it's clear he was just ahead of the curve.

Finally, Robot Chicken proves something we learned back in the seventies with "In the Mood:" all music is funnier when clucked by chickens.

So tune in Sunday night. Join Robot Chicken and together you shall rule the airwaves, for at least half an hour. It will be glorious.

Derek McCaw

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