Last time I visited the States in 2006, both my girlfriend and my best buddy had recorded some "Robot Chicken" episodes for my enjoyment. And enjoy them, I did! This show is the brainchild of Seth Green (y'know, Scott Evil from the "Austin Powers" films, Oz from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and Chris Griffin from "Family Guy") and a bunch of guys from the hilarious and informative but largely unknown-outside-the-USA magazine "ToyFare," which is geared towards the adult collectors of action figures, toys, and other pop-culture memorabilia . . . with the appropriate sense of humour.
"Robot Chicken" (apparently named after a dish from a Chinese restaurant's menu) is a sketch show done entirely in stop-motion animation (with just a little CGI assistance) using toys both off-the-shelf and custom-made. The basic idea, told in the opening credits, is that a mad scientist finds a road-killed chicken, turns it into a cyborg, and forces it to watch lots and lots of television with frequent channel-changes. (We don't know WHY he decided to do this; he is a MAD scientist, after all. Probably following up Dr. Forrester's work from "Mystery Science Theater 3000.") We see what the chicken sees, staticky channel-flips and all.
The show relentlessly mocks pop culture for the most part, but just about anything seen on television is fair game. One particular nature documentary, about lemmings, had me doubled over, unable to catch my breath, and crying with laughter. Each of the 20 episodes lasts 15 minutes, and the sketches range from 2-second "channel flips" to drawn-out masterpiece parodies of "Kill Bill," illegal race-rally movies, the "Karate Kid" films, and tributes to the cartoons of the 1970s and 1980s. And, of course, Reality TV and Blooper Reel shows also get it squarely and repeatedly in the neck (and deservedly so). If you're a fan of "Family Guy," or "South Park" you will also love this. It's got the same quick-fire, edgy, push-the-envelope-to-see-what-we-can-get-away-with feel to it. And it succeeds wonderfully.
While a lot of the voices are done by Seth Green and his small cadre of close actor buddies, Seth has used his celebrity pull to get some other big-name stars onto the project, including Scarlett Johansson, Mark Hamill (playing both himself AND Harrison Ford in an "Armageddon" spoof, amongst others), Sarah Michelle Gellar, Burt Reynolds, Dom Deluise, and half the casts of "That 70's Show" and "Family Guy" as well . . . amongst many others too numerous to mention.
If I go into much more detail, I'll spoil the best gags. Suffice it to say that the quick-fire sketches, which range from the occasional "Aawww! Cute!" kind to the "Holy Cow! Did they just do that on TV and get away with it?!!" variety will keep you entertained, if not gasping for air as your lungs leak out the splits in your sides. Some familiarity with American TV helps, including those cheezy Rankin/Bass stop-motion Christmas and Easter specials they broadcast for over 20 years, and the Canadian-imported "You Can't Do That On Television."
There are a good number of DVD extras, including outtakes, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes stuff, and several sketches from the prototype show, "Sweet J Presents." The sound on some of these extras is quite low, so you'll have to turn up the volume on some of them. I've also looked for DVD Easter Eggs, but didn't find any.
This is incorrectly billed as "The follow-up to 'Robot Chicken: Star Wars'". "Robot Chicken" had been going for YEARS in the States before they got the go-ahead to do their "Star Wars" special. It's only because our version of Cartoon Network over here doesn't carry any of the good [adult swim] stuff that these DVD releases are bass-ackwards, as the Americans would say.
So, gentle viewers, I give this release my highest recommendation: I own it and love it, and I'm fairly certain you will get a kick out of it as well.