When it comes to a show like Robot Chicken, you’d be hard pressed not to love it. Well, unless you detest juvenile humor being acted out with action figures. The show has stretched on for four seasons now (along with two Star Wars specials) and the show has continually proven that it is a viable force to reckon with…if only for the ingenious nature in which it is executed. I’m sure many would admit that they’d have forgotten about the show by now if it didn’t use stop motion and when it’s combined with the geek wit and charm that the show has exhibited on so many occasions, it’s hard not to find yourself entertained endlessly by it.
Here we go again! It’s time for 20 fresh episodes of soul-pummeling, mind-blowing, Emmy®-winning stop-motion sketch comedy funneled from the colon of ADULT SWIM’s late-night hypno-hellacious sock hop! Who’s up for some tasty little nuggets of Emmy-nominated stop-motion sketch comedy? Why…YOU are! For instance: Dick Cheney dons the Iron Man armor! Star Trek II gets boiled down into a two-minute opera! And Tila Tequila’s sexy secrets – like the one where she’s a murderous android – are revealed! So get ready to watch a season’s worth of insanity!
It’s easy to forget that this show exists when it falls into reruns and obscurity. They’re short, eleven-minute episodes and considering it’d been over a year since the last season set, it’s even easier to forget what’s going on with this show. But it’s not an easy show to make—as has been mentioned in various interviews now, the shows twenty-episode season takes a full year from start to finish to be completed and when you throw in the Star Wars specials into the mix, it’s quite a feat for the cast and crew to be able to do this much.
But enough excuses for the delay…was it worth the wait? Well considering the only show on adult swim that I keep up with now is Venture Bros., this entire season was new to me. So while I blew through 225 minutes of material in…well, 225 minutes, watching an entire season of this show in the span of two days is really just a ton of fun. There’s obviously no continuity (or real point to any of the show) to be had, but just to know that, for two days, you can pop in a disc and watch some all-new Chicken, it’s a real treat. Of course not everyone will have that opportunity, but for those that did watch it all as it aired originally, there’s the commentary on every episode as well so there’s no shortage of goodness that this DVD offers.
One neat thing about the twenty episodes this season is that when you look at the episode titles in production order, they spell out a message about some mystery man named Maurice trapped in a DVD factory. While the episodes weren’t aired in production order (so the flow and sequence of it wasn’t kept), once the production list was unveiled the secret message was spelled out and…well, it’s not much of a secret message, but it’s a cool little bonus. If you can’t tell I’m struggling to find things to talk about with this show…not because it’s not highly enjoyable, just because it’s such a random mess of a show to try to criticize. I mean I laughed at every episode, what more is there?
Well there were a few observations I was able to make, at least. It seems to me that this season was loaded with quite a few more pop-culture and movie references. Maybe the show has been given clearance to branch out with frequent usage of licensed characters, but before it seemed to focus more on random skits…now there’s a bit more grounding for the lengthier ones in pre-existing characters. For me this actually makes the show more enjoyable to watch as the characters are instantly relatable in some fashion so the jumping-in point is a lot more abrupt and the jokes can fire faster. Or maybe it’s just been so long since I’ve watched a season of this show that I’m completely forgetting it.
Overall this season of Robot Chicken was a blast to watch. From the randomness of seeing the aftermath of The Adventures of Pluto Nash to Billy Dee Williams going shopping, this season was overflowing with funny. Sure, there were still a few dead skits here and there, but by and far the good outweighed the bad and I went to bed with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face (both of which were caused by Robot Chicken, I swear). Highly Recommended.
Per usual the packaging for Robot Chicken is overloaded with characters from the show. While there’s no central character on the cover this time around, we do get a ton of individuals circling the logo of the show and while the back cover art may be tame, the interior art is another explosion of toys from the show. The interior of the digi-pak foldout is a little less impressive (it’s got plain pink and blue backgrounds behind the discs), the disc art itself is a set of nice shots from the show. Insert includes the usual adult swim advertisement and menus for the set are given in the same 4×3 aspect ratio as the show. Video is clean and clear and looks great, although it’s a bit of a shame that all of the stop-motion work isn’t being recorded in high-definition and/or widescreen. But that’s a minor quibble, really. Audio arrives in the form of a DD2.0 track which is more than enough for this comedy driven show.
Extras are plentiful once again with the Audio Commentary across all episodes leading the pack. I apparently suck at navigating DVD menus because I can’t figure out where you turn the commentary on and off via the DVD menu, but a quick toggle of the Audio button on the DVD remote turned it on and off without problem anyway so I’m not too concerned about the option tucked away on the menu system somewhere. While the majority of the extras time will be spent on the nearly four hours worth of audio commentary, there is a handful of other extras spread across the two discs of the set. Included:
Chicken Nuggets – Scene Specific Commentary
San Diego Comic-Con ’08-Panel (10:38)
Day in the Life (10:34)
New York Comic-Con ’09 Panel (7:31)
Alternate Audio (3:34)
Australia Visit (5:30)
Deleted Animatics (1:05:41)
Deleted Scenes (7:14)
Video Blogs (22:09)
Yes…that’s over an hour worth of deleted animatics. Each of the deleted skits has an intro by the writers of the show, so you get some behind-the-scenes information on how it came about and why it wasn’t included in the show itself. The same goes for the deleted scenes, although those were fully completed in most cases (which is why there’s only seven minutes of them…this isn’t the easiest show to delete finished material from).
Overall the season four set is Highly Recommended. As a fan of the show I greatly appreciated the commentaries across all episodes as that is where you get the greatest wealth of information from, although the comic-con panels were great as well (although the audio/video of the SDCC panel was questionable, especially when compared to the general clarity of the NYCC one) as brief as they were. If you know someone who is even remotely a bit of a geek, be sure to pick up this set to stuff in their stocking this holiday season. There’s even a Christmas special that closes out the set, so it’s even fitting for the season!
Robot Chicken – The Complete Fourth Season is now available on DVD.