Robot Chicken: Season One (2005)
By: Michael McQueen on June 22, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 4:3 English DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 221 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Directors Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Tom Root, Douglas Goldstein
Starring: Seth Green, Dan Milano, Breckin Meyer, Chad Morgan, Jamie Kaler, Adam Talbot, Seth MacFarlane, Victor Yerrid
Screenplay: Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Tom Root, Douglas Goldstein, Mike Fasolo, Charles Horn, Pat McCallum, Jordan Allen-Dutton, Erik Weiner, Breckin Meyer, Dan Milano, Hugh Davidson, Ross Shuman
Country: USA
Ever wondered what would happen if a bunch of guys got together and started making a sketch comedy puppet show that appealed to the immature 15 year-old boy stuck inside all of us? Want to see what would happen if Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Hulk, Aquaman and Catwoman had to live together? Ever wanted to see Jesus fight the Easter Bunny Kill Bill style? Or a movie of The Diary of Ann Frank starring Hillary Duff and Chad Michael Murry? One-sided fist fights? Puppet porn? Behind-the-music with muppet band Electric Mayhem? Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Ghostface and Michael Myers in the Big Brother house? Have you lied awake in bed at night praying that one day this show would be made? Pray no more…Robot Chicken is here, and it's alive!

Essentially the brain-child of Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, Robot Chicken is sketch comedy that comprises of stop-motion animated action figures, puppets and claymation; a kitchen-sink approach where anything that works is thrown into the mix. The style of humour is expectedly quirky; a generally outrageous take on the sort of pop culture parodies and spoofs popularised by South Park, albeit slightly less focused and minus the social conscience. Almost every sickening bodily secretion features at some point: blood, vomit, urine, faeces, pus etc. There are too many sketches to go into much detail – what's more, it's funnier when you don't know what to expect – but some prime examples of the comedy gold being mined are: Alien and Predator on dating show; the Olsen twins get super powers; what really happened to Walt Disney; the fat guy from N'Sync fights in a martial arts tournament; a smurf parody of Se7en…the list goes on and on. Most episodes feature celebrity cameo performances, either as puppets or as guest voices. This could have resulted in a whole lot of Hollywood ego-tripping and circle-jerking, but thankfully, the effect is quite the opposite; most of the cameos are reflexively parodic and such good fun that they never feel contrived or out of place in the irreverent mayhem.

Sketch comedy is generally a hit-or-miss affair, but I'm happy to report that Robot Chicken goes a long way to skewing the balance in favour of hits. Episodes typically run fifteen minutes, so there's very little flab: no jokes are drawn out or laboured and skits are short, punchy and frequently hilarious. Like a sugar-rush to the head, viewing is dangerously addictive; you can probably watch all twenty episodes in one sitting without getting bored and, thanks to the sheer abundance of material, repeat viewing is essential to further enjoyment. Furthermore, both discs are bursting with extras and bonuses: everything from deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes, alternate voice takes, pilot episodes, failed sketches, animators meetings and commentary on the episodes.

Quite simply, Robot Chicken is side-splittingly hilarious. If you think that South Park or Drawn Together are a neat bag of tricks, this is highly recommended viewing…hell, even if you aren't a fan of those shows, I still recommend Robot Chicken. If you don't laugh, you have no sense of humour.
Video
Stop animation rocks! Admittedly, Robot Chicken employs a cheap low-budget aesthetic complete with paper cut-out mouths and bulging play-dough eye effects, but it only adds to the shows goofy off-beat appeal. That said, when the production team go all out, the stop motion is baby's-bottom smooth: check out the flawless You Got Served style dance-off between Voltron and a space alien! Even at its exhausted-budget thriftiest, Robot Chicken is still innovatively hilarious; there's an inspired re-enactment of Debbie Does Dallas using popsicle stick puppets. Presented in 4:3 aspect ratio – do you really need widescreen for this?
Audio
Dolby 2.0 that's crisp and clear every episode. The audio's a little off on some of the extras, though: some scenes are mixed too quietly, others are mixed too loud. But I'm just nit-picking.
Extra Features
The actual twenty episodes account for only a fraction of what's available on these DVDs: deleted scenes; deleted animatics (incomplete storyboards); footage of Seth Green's videotaped instructions to the animators (watch him dance!); alternate audio takes; a behind-the-scenes feature that's actually enjoyable to watch; original pilot episodes and previews; animatic-to-episode comparisons; promos for the show; pre-episode bumps *gasp* AND audio commentary on the episodes! I don't think I've ever been so spoiled; it's almost too much material…well, for one sitting, anyway. Finally, special features that live up to the qualifier 'special'.
The Verdict
One of the most worthwhile purchases of the year; there's so much material stuffed into this package that it practically bulges out of the cover. Of course, the show itself is worth the price of admission, but this much gravy only sweetens the deal. Go buy this NOW! Ba-Bawk.
Movie Score
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