What started out as some action figures’ talking dirty has blossomed into…well, multiple seasons of action figures talking dirty. Seth Green and Matthew Senreic’s mad creation, Robot Chicken, has caught on with millions of fans and become a staple of the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network. The show also caught the attention of one George Lucas which eventually led the cast and crew of Robot Chicken to create an entire special centered on the billion dollar Star Wars franchise. Now the boys are back again with another round of hilarity as they return with Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode II.
Robot Chicken: Star Wars 2 brazenly combines the satirical sensibilities of Seth Green and Matthew Senreich’s (Stoopid Monkey Productions) Robot Chicken with the unforgettable moments and favorite characters of the Star Wars universe among them, its creator himself, George Lucas. Transformed into the stop-motion animated characters that are the hallmark of Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, and in conjunction with ShadowMachine Films (Alex Bulkley/Corey Campodonico), the Star Wars galaxy takes on an entirely different attitude.
Three things you should know about me: up until a few years ago, I had quite a large collection of Star Wars crap. Up until recently I watched Adult Swim quite religiously. And I still buy the occasional action figure, depending on how nice it looks. So my bias going into anything Robot Chicken related is already heavily skewed and as such, take everything I say about this DVD and special with all of that in mind.
So just how awesome was this special? Very. The twenty-two minute version that made it to air and on the Adult Swim website was already hilarious in of itself, but the new “Extended Edition” on this DVD release is also quite enjoyable, with an added sixteen minutes worth of sketches. Some are quick and last only a few seconds, but other newer sketches can go on for a bit—but nothing quite as long as some of the more “epic” ones that were already in the television airing. In short the newer sketches are funny and worth watching the extended cut over the broadcast version.
The skits themselves mostly revolve around Vader and the Emperor (at least the more popular ones), but there are quite a few gems in here as well which are a lot more understated. The “My Little TaunTauns” sketch especially was a riot to watch and I honestly think my favorite bit was the one with Mon Mothma and Ackbar at a dinner table. It lasts all of ten seconds but the reaction from Ackbar when Mothma orders calamari was just priceless in every sense of the word.
There are a ton more little skits in there that are either just as funny; whether it’s something that’s laugh-out-loud or something a bit more subtle. Obviously these skits are skewed toward the fans of the six sci-fi films, what with the obscure references made at times, but overall it’s just a ton of fun to watch regardless. Whether it’s Palpatine’s constant cursing and finger flipping (courtesy of Seth MacFarlane, who plays Palpatine like Stewie most of the time) or Boba Fett having a break down in the Sarlacc Pit, there’s plenty here to laugh at, fan or not. Highly Recommended.
My only complaint about this release (and the previous Star Wars release) was that there isn’t much to these discs. The run time on the back claims sixty minutes worth, but that’s the runtime of both broadcast and extended cuts together, which isn’t a really worthwhile runtime to count (to me, at least). The extras however…well, those more than make up for any other area that is lacking…but more on that in a bit. The packaging is your standard Eco Amaray case with disc art that’s a still from the “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” skit and an insert advertising Stoopid Monkey and Adult Swim merchandise. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and, like the video itself, is presented in 4×3. Rather curious why they didn’t shoot this in widescreen, as some of it appears with matted bars on top and bottom, but oh well—not a huge issue. Video is also interlaced, which is slightly disappointing but, again, not a huge deal. Audio comes in the form of an English 2.0 track…although there’s a little notation below it on the back of the packaging about there being 5.1 Surround audio as well…and sure enough, on the Setup menu you’ll find it hidden away. Strange. In any case it all sounds and looks as you’d expect.
Extras start out with Chicken Nuggets, which is scene specific commentary on certain sketches (you activate it by hitting a button on your remote; this is on the broadcast version). Next up is a series of featurettes that are pretty self explanatory:
The Making Of (6:00)
Animation Meeting (6:28)
Skywalker Ranch Premiere (4:27)
501st Visit (2:37)
Behind the Scenes: Sneak Peek (2:40)
Time Lapse (7:12)
Production Design (9:18)
Video Blogs (11:12)
Deleted Animatics (0:27)
Alternate Audio (8:34)
On-Air Bumps (2:12)
A single note about the above list—the deleted animatics…there actually aren’t any! Seth Green and crew just take the time to note that Cartoon Network let them make everything they had planned out, so there was nothing deleted. Hooray!
So is that all? Well, if it was, I’d be content. It’s not much, but it’s a pretty thorough coverage of the thirty-eight minute special. Fortunately, however, while poking around looking for that 5.1 Surround track I stumbled upon a menu option that led me to an entire submenu of commentary tracks. Not an easter egg, obviously, since it was in plain sight but why it wasn’t linked off of the extras menu I don’t know. In any case, the commentary breakdown is as such:
Actors Commentary (Donald Faison, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Adrianne Palicki, Matthew Senreich, Billy Dee Williams)
Actors Commentary #2 (Abraham Benrubit, Ahmed Best, Rachel Leigh Cook, Seth Green, Matthew Senreich)
Writers Commentary (Hugh Davidson, Mike Fasolo, Doug Goldstein, Dan Milano, Tom Root, Kevin Shinick, Zeb Wells)
Crew Commentary (Jeff Gardner, Shannon Gold, Ethan Marak, Chris McKay, Rob Ronning, Ross Shuman)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars Special Guests Commentary (Dave Filoni, Matthew Wood)
Frank Oz Commentary (Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Tom Root)
Yup…six freakin’ commentaries. Absolutely awesome and they’re all on the extended cut as well. Plenty of jibber jabber from everyone involved with the production and it’s really just an entire collection of awesome from start to finish.
Overall this is a Highly Recommended release. Menu design is a bit wonked, but hey…it’s a nice surprise to find six commentaries tucked away.
Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode II is now available on DVD.