STUDIO: Cartoon Network
MSRP: $29.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 225 minutes
•Chicken Nuggets
•San Diego Comic-Con ’08 Panel
•Day in the Life Featurettes
•New York Comic-Con ’09 Panel
•Video Blogs
•Australia Visit Featurette
•Alternate Audio
•Deleted Scenes and Animatics
•Audio Commentaries on all 20 Episodes

The Pitch

Every cartoon and pop culture reference of the last 25 years is skewered mercilessly through the magic of stop motion animation.

The Humans

Seth Green, Matt Senreich, Doug Goldstein, Tom Root, Breckin Meyer, and a slew of guest stars including (but not limited to) Seth MacFarlane, Billy Dee Williams, Tila Tequila, Rachel Leigh Cook, Joss Whedon, David Hasselhoff, Nathan Fillion, and Neil Patrick Harris.

This is the weirdest damn Last Supper ever.

The Nutshell

The Robot Chicken (you) is subjected to more television insanity as the show stretches to find new pop culture references which include everything from a Smurfs/Snorks war to a hip-hop retelling of The Dark Crystal. In Season Four creators Green and Senreich are stretching the limits of finding new things to parody while continually stretching the limits of good taste.

The Lowdown

By Season Four you should know about Robot Chicken and either love it or hate it. The irreverent humor, the quick “channel flip” gags, and the endless references to some cartoon from your childhood that no one has thought about in years will either have you in stitches or wondering what the hell this thing is. Whatever your opinion, the show taps into some sort of adolescent subconscious that always imagined the toys you owned coming to life and being totally absurd.

“You’re telling me the Mayor from Fish Police is Papa Smurf?”

Sometimes they point out things that those of us who spend too much time watching movies and TV wonder about, like “who built the cave traps that Indiana Jones faced at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark?”Who would win in a Snorks/Smurfs war? And why didn’t anyone ever notice that Skeletor’s He-Man clone was so obviously blue-skinned? Each skit usually has an overly violent ending, which never feels over the top when it is all done with stop motion figurines. The show as presented on these DVDs is uncensored, so any expletives that were bleeped out or nudity that was blurred is there in its full glory here. Every once in a while it detracts from the joke, but usually something like seeing The Wicked Witch of the West’s off-set nipples as she gets into the shower and promptly melts is too funny to be offended by.

Some compare the show to Family Guy because of the references and jokes. Some may see it as competition, especially when both shows are putting out (two of ) their own Star Wars parody specials. But ultimately there seems to be a friendly overlap of the shows. Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane is a frequent voice contributor, while Robot Chicken creator Seth Green does voices for Family Guy. In this reviewer’s humble opinion however, Robot Chicken has the edge because it has no overall plot to compete with. They can give you quick cutaway gags or a several minute long skit on any topic and then just flip to the next one. In eleven minute doses, this format doesn’t get too tired and leaves you wanting more.

I always knew telemarketers were slime.

Each episode is titled with a piece of a greater sentence, so that when you read the titles of the 10 episodes of Disc One it reads:
•    Help Me
•    I’m Trapped
•    In a DVD Factory
•    They Took My Thumbs
•    Two Weeks Without Food
•    Tell My Mom
•    I Love Her
•    But Not In That Way
•    Love, Maurice
•    P.S. Yes, In That Way

Disc Two continues the trend with:
•    Dear Consumer
•    We Are a Humble Factory
•    Maurice Was Caught
•    Unionizing Our Labor
•    President Hu Forbids It
•    Due to Constraints of Time and Budget
•    The Ramblings of Maurice
•    Cannot Be Erased, So Sorry
•    Please Do Not Notify Our Contractors
•    Especially the Animal Keith Crofford!

It’s a good gag, but it makes it impossible to remember off hand what episode you just watched or what is next. Overall the show is still running full steam ahead, with no sign of stopping (unless Cartoon Network cancels it in between seasons, a running gag at the end of every season).

Getting kicked in the crotch will put you in T-Pain.

The Package

All episodes are presented in their original 1:33:1 full screen ratio with Dolby Digital audio. The package is a two disc digipak inside a slip cover. Special Features abound to a ridiculous level here. The guys making this show are the type of geeks who would want a stacked DVD package, so they give back to their own community. Every show has audio or video commentary, which on the whole are useless and consist solely of further joking around which seldom is that entertaining. Condensed Panels from the San Diego Comic-Con ’08 and New York Comic-Con ’09 give a sense of the close interaction the creators and writers have with their fans. They supply a few anecdotes about the behind the scenes of the show, but mostly make jokes and make the barrier between themselves and the fans seem as thin as possible.

Video Blogs and the Day in the Life short featurettes show the inner workings on the show, from the perspective of various people in differing departments and jobs. Some treat the show like the best job in the world while others seem to try to keep the ship afloat amid the craziness of a bunch of immature nerds running around making a TV show. We’re also treated to seeing guest stars in the recording booth as they do their (sometimes surprising) parts. Who knew David Hasselhoff came in just to voice a frog? Both have a ‘play all’ option. The Australia Visit Featurette shows creators Green and Senreich travelling to the land down under to sell the show on the international market. It is humorous and shows them having a good time on the company’s dime.

The limited edition Comic-Con Barbie.

Alternate Audio is a few different people taking stabs at voicing characters that didn’t work out. They’re not that interesting. Deleted Scenes are skits that were excised after production, and Deleted Animatics are the ones that never made it past storyboarding and voice recording. All have sometimes lengthy (compared to the skits themselves) introductions from the writers behind them, who either accept or deflect blame for why the bit wasn’t funny enough or got cut. All in all, these deleted sequences run almost two hours and taking them all in in a single sitting is pretty grueling, even if some are hilarious. Look for Teen Wolf (and comic book) writer Jeph Loeb stopping by to comment on the cut Teen Wolf skit.

8.5 out of 10