Robot Chicken: Season 4 (2008)
By: Captain Red Eye on March 2, 2010  | 
DVD
Madman | Region 4, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 225 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Directors: Chris McKay,
Voices: Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Matthew Senreich, Dan Milano, Tom Root, Mila Kunis
Writers: Hugh Davidson, Mike Fasolo, Seth Green, Tom Root, Matthew Senreich(
Country: USA
External Links
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Touted by creator Seth Green as "an animated version of the conversations nerds are having behind closed doors", Robot Chicken was the perfect fodder for those of us with short attention spans and a legion of irreparably damaged neurons; tiny chicken-nugget sized snippets of mayhem presented in rapid-fire succession, requiring little more than the occasional Beavis and Butthead-style guffaw by way of digestion. No Hollywood sacred cow was too consecrated to be skewered in one of the show's trademark stop-motion animation sketches, and the fact its writers were able to mesh an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop culture with a sardonic and wilfully lowbrow wit seemed a match made in heaven.

Thus it is that when Season 4 of Robot Chicken works it's brilliant, defying political correctness and mocking convention with all the wild-eyed abandon of an excited child let loose in a lolly shop. Green, writing buddy Matt Senreich & Co all clearly love what they do and when they hit their mark, as on a sketch in which Daredevil tackles logistics or in an audacious little ditty about homophones, it's as funny as anything they've ever done.

But the show also falls flat often, possibly more often on this season than any other. Sometimes its targets are needlessly (not to say wilfully) obscure, and other times they are patently, pointlessly easy. I know this is part of the appeal for many, but poking fun at the morbidly obese or pseudo-celebrity and part-time rugmuncher Tila Tequila comes across this time around like shooting fish in a barrel, when the barrel is stuffed to the brim with fully grown mackerel and the gun in question is a bazooka. And speaking of firearms, there are only so many times a sketch ending in gunfire can be considered edgy or shocking. This quota is filled in the first five minutes of episode one; that the random blasts of machine gun fire continue so frequently throughout smacks of comedic lethargy.

A diverse array of guest appearances from the likes of Hulk Hogan, Zac Efron, Nathan Fillion and Seth McFarlane keep the series from degenerating entirely into an insular geekfest, and it's refreshing to hear the odd celebrity voice intermingled throughout. The guests also feature on the commentaries, which is a nice touch, but these appearances can't disguise the fact that the show still seems at times to have become worrisomely derivative. What used to be sly nods to comedy forbears like Monty Python now border on appropriation, and once-clever punchlines have been replaced with a lazy volley of bullets or the equivalent. Robot Chicken started out as a bold and irreverent satire; now it's in danger of becoming a parody of a parody, wrapped in a fart joke.
Video
Shot on a higher budget than its predecessors, Season 4 of Robot Chicken is, if not the funniest, at least the best-looking outing thus far. Colours are sharp, as is the picture quality, and the animation is of an excellent standard.
Audio
The 2.0 mix is as big as could be hoped for, and remains clear and consistent throughout.
Extra Features
The creators of Robot Chicken have always distinguished themselves in the special features department, and the current season is no exception. Audio commentaries with the cast, crew and special guests feature on all 20 episodes, and there are audio outtakes from several celebs including Breckin Meyer and the Hulkster. There are five video blogs which take a BTS look at the writing and recording processes, nine deleted sketches with introduction from the writers/creators and several dozen deleted animatics. Also included are cast and crew panel discussions from the San Diego '08 and New York '09 Comic-Cons, and 'Day in the Life' featurettes on several crew members such as costume designer Jeanette Moffat and 'scenic painter' Laurie Olsen. Lastly the R4 edition contains two short featurettes on the promo tour undertaken by Green and Senreich in our fair land in 2008. Their appearances on various radio shows are quite amusing, and a nice touch for the local release.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
This latest offering from the RC crew features strong, clean visuals and uniformly excellent special effects. The 'by nerds for nerds' aesthetic is still very much in evidence, and longtime fans of the show will likely find this current offering meets most, if not all, their expectations. Guest voices abound in both the episodes and audio commentaries, and the bonus feature selection is as expansive and satisfying as ever. Still funny and worthwhile, but where former seasons were alternately shocking, scathing and silly Season 4 all-too-often comes across as merely puerile. If only the 'Just the Good Parts' device mooted early on in the piece actually existed...

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