Robot Chicken is a dream come true for any child of the 80’s or 90’s. Using all manner of toys and action figures, writers lampoon and lambaste every cartoon, pop culture icon, meme, movie, and whatever else pops into their heads. If there’s ever been a show suited for the Adult Swim format, it’s this. The show’s premise is simple and ingenious. Viewed through a television, each segment is on another channel, with the station flipping at the end. This allows for all manner of gags. Some are quick one liners, others are more involved segments, taking up the bulk of the 11 minute run time, all mocking pop culture.
The origins of the show date back to Toyfare magazine, published by Wizard Entertainment. Matthew Senreich, Douglas Goldstein, and Tom Root all wrote for the publication. One of their contributions was a comic strip featuring the action figures in humorous situations. Eventually Senreich teamed up with Seth Green, with Goldstein and Root in tow, making the comic strip into a stop motion show called “Sweet J Presents.” This ran for 12 episodes in 2001 on Sony’s website Screenblast.com before being cancelled. Fastforward to 2005 and the show returned to Cartoon Network as Robot Chicken.
Thanks to Seth Green knowing everyone in Hollywood, they’ve all voiced characters on the show. I couldn’t even begin to list them here. Kevin Bacon, Weird Al (It’s Weasel Stomping Day!), Hulk Hogan, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Milla Kunis, Mark Hamill, and omnipresent Seth McFarlane are just a few. Chances are characters are portrayed by the actors who made them famous. Or Breckin Meyer.
While not every joke is a home run, the rapid fire format usually moves things long at a brisk enough pace before a gag overstays it’s welcome. Golden Girls done in a Sex in the City style, the origin of Captain Planet’s creation, Beastmaster redone as a musical, and a Storm Trooper participates in take your daughter to work are a few examples of some of the best sketches. Robot Chicken has had 6 half hour specials to date, with two Christmas centric ones, three based on Star Wars, and one on DC Comics.
With 120 episodes across 6 seasons under their belt (with a 7th on the way), the show as gotten a little long in the tooth. Almost every episode had one dud sketch early on, but that’s to be expected given the format. As the show’s gone on, more and more jokes began to fall flat. While I was a rabid fan for the first 4 or so seasons, I couldn’t be bothered with the show now. Seeing Buzz used as a bong in a Toy Story 4 sketch or when a little girl asked Oprah if she could make her dad stop touching her at night were a few of the sore thumbs that stuck out for me. Between these poorly conceived jokes and sketches that resurrect obtuse, long deceased zeitgeists made me drop out.
Robot Chicken certainly had great moments and is a novel concept, but it’s become stagnant. I think the joke has run its course. How many times can we see a robot humping something and still think it’s funny?
What was your favorite Robot Chicken sketch? Worst? Comment below!
I like tacos.