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Wednesday, 3 July 2013

AFICIONADO CLASSIC REVIEW: 'STAR WARS - ROBOT CHICKEN' DVD



ROBOT CHICKEN: STAR WARS – THE DVD

Released in the UK by REVOLVER ENTERTAINMENT

Reviewed by Scott Weller


“YOUR TONGUES CAN’T REPEL FLAVOUR OF THAT MAGNITUDE!!”


I had originally discovered ROBOT CHICKEN through the wonders of YOUTUBE, and their classic sketches lampooning the original, and in my opinion best, STAR TREK-sadly, these were take down from the site due to copyright violations, but if anyone has the chance to see ‘em at some point they’re classic. Then I saw the Emperor talking to Vader parody which I loved (“Oh no, he’s crying!”), but I had no idea that was for ROBOT CHICKEN, either. It was when the first rumbling that further STAR WARS material had been appearing in the programme, and there was an article on STARWARS.COM about RC, that I was able to discover it was on British cable television. When I read that it was from the ever reliable writer/actor/comedienne Seth Green (Scott Evil from the AUSTIN POWERS films!) I was intrigued to find it much funny than I ever thought it would be-in fact, I found much of just laugh out loud funny, with the use of home made and bought in figurines of people on the show being brilliant. Though short and sweet, is was a daring, and often downright naughty, slice of comedy/parody that greatly appealed to my sensibilities (especially when you like things like MAD magazine!)...and with their parodies there was also a feeling and genuine love and enthusiasm for certain subject matters (especially on films/TV/celebs that I had grown up with, as they had, over the years) that I found very appealing, plus the way they managed to find faults in things that we had all been noticing for years and never said anything about. ROBOT CHICKEN has the ability to connect in a great way with its audience, with its subtle winks and playful, often downright brutally funny humour. Now, after its highly successful US airing, the STAR WARS special finally comes to the UK on DVD.

The DVD, which is mostly all new material with a mixture of STAR WARS gags (35 sketches in total) that had appeared in previous RC episodes, is a true winner for any fans DVD collection. Like FAMILY GUY, this STAR WARS tribute affectionately lampoons the film series-but there’s nothing nasty or derogatory-just very funny stuff… In fact, whoever thought that so much comedy gold could be tapped from a film series that was so predominantly serious!

Once past the opening titles, suitably EPISODE III re-imagined so that the illustrious Robot Chicken of the title is turned into Darth Vader (who looks suspiciously like Gonzo as Dirth Nader from the 1980 MUPPET SHOW STAR WARS Special!!) we’re right into the opening scene with Luke and the Walker from EMPIRE, faithfully recreated in almost every detail with models and the puppets (pity any Imperial AT-AT pilot who has to go the lavatory at the wrong time!!), and its comedy gold sketch after sketch for the most part, from the new infamous Emperor’s rant on Vader, “that was soo wrong” (you’ll know what that sketch is when you see it!!), to the dancing Lobot, to Admiral Ackbar’s cereal advert, a day in the life of Ponda Baba, the Death Star orientation day, a wicked what happened next scene linked to THE PHANTOM MENACE with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan trying to break into the command deck of the Neimoidian cruiser, and the now infamous EMPIRE ON ICE-what’s scary about this sketch to me is that, one day with all the film and TV series that have been transformed to ice show spectaculars, I wouldn’t bet it past someone to approach LUCASFILM with an idea of doing it!! And let’s not forget the little running gags like the floor sweeper having to constantly brush away the remains of dead people from the Saga!  Plus, there’s George “Dubyah” fighting Abe Lincoln-a real Duel of the Fates if ever I saw one!

A couple of sketches may run a little bit too long (like the TONIGHT show parody hosted by Zuckuss, and the Han Solo “Boring conversation” gag) but they are still enjoyable and still funnier than a lot of other stuff out there. One of the most consistent characters to appear in the gags is that of the Emperor-I wonder if Ian McDiarmid has seen any of them? I’d love to know what he thinks of it.

Sadly, one of my favourite sketches, which I recalled seeing on either YOUTUBE or STARWARS.COM previously, involving what happened when Han, Chewie, Lando and the Princess had dinner with Vader and Boba Fett at Bespin, didn’t seem to make the episode’s final gag selection. I was so looking forward to seeing it again as well! Perhaps in Volume Two?

Adding to the fun, though, is the fact that it’s great to see (well, hear...) some of the actual STAR WARS actors partaking in the gags, such as Mark Hamill, for his very fun alternate EMPIRE scene as Luke, with Vader on the Cloud City gantry from EMPIRE, where the pair go through a list of revelations that Luke finds more and more implausible, an amusing gag scene with George Lucas (who it’s nice to see being relaxed and having a good time about it all!), playing himself, and being besieged by frenzied fans at a STAR WARS convention, and a stellar comedy moment involving Ahmed Best (nice to have you back-please come back to STAR WARS fandom and do some more signings!) once more as everyone’s favourite (for either love or hate reasons-please tick the appropriate box) gangly Gungan, Jar Jar Binks, in what has to be one of the best STAR WARS comedy sketches ever, in which he is re-united with “Annie” now in his Darth Vader guise-hopefully this sketch will go a long way to healing any wounds that certain fans out there have about Jar Jar, especially when he’s in such a ROBOT CHICKEN sketch as worthy and memorable as this!! And, hey, let’s not forget, Joey Fatone’s in the show as well.

The extras on this disc may not be as comprehensive as those for FAMILY GUY but this is a cheaper release and you kinda get okay value on that front-though they are of a variable quality, and some of them are only there to bolster up the running time and justify the cost of buying it. To me, personally, the deleted scenes don’t work all that well as they are voiceovers to very basic animatics on scenes that were never completed in the first place), the making of is okay (but is pretty brief-you want to hear more from all the people who worked hard at bringing the amazing puppets and sets to life, recreating classic STAR WARS scenes brilliantly in this medium) and Seth Green’s describing the sketches are woefully too short. To compensate, there’s also the bonus of an extra generic episode of ROBOT CHICKEN, which is cool, but I would have preferred an extra two more of the series episodes than the other individual ADULT SWIM programmes that were also included (part of an introduction to the channel as a whole).

On the plus side, though, the edited section of Green and his RC colleagues at the panels of CELEBRATION IV is nice to see, as we at AFICIONADO had missed those due to time constraints- it’s great to catch up on a portion of what we missed. There’s also the obligatory trailers and promotional materials, a stills gallery, a Light Speed Time Lapse of the entire production, and the opportunity to hear an audio commentary with Seth Green on the individual sketches and how they were conceived, which is also good fun and lively to listen to.

The behind the scenes sequence where Seth takes the completed RC episode to SKYWALKER RANCH and meets George Lucas is intriguing but sadly all too brief- I would have liked something along the lines of his FAMILY GUY compadre Seth MacFarlane, when he did that interview with Lucas-that would have been cool, especially as Lucas gave Seth a tour of the companies Archives. Perhaps we’ll get something like that with the next batch of STAR WARS homage madness coming from ROBOT CHICKEN in the near future...

Until then, this disc will keep me thoroughly entertained…


AFICIONADO REVIEW RATING: FOR THE ACTUAL PROGRAMME, 9 out of 10, BUT FOR THE MIXED BAG OF EXTRAS, 7 out of 10

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