Robot Chicken: Season Two (TV)
R1 - America - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (13th September 2007).
The Show

Some of my fondest memories as a kid included playing with my action figures and creating elaborate storylines, I spent hours with my friends setting up what would take an entire day of make-believe with our figures and vehicles in hand. Some days it would be saving Princess Leia from the Death Star, or April O'Neil from Shredder, we thwarted numerous terrorist plots from Cobra Commander and his endless amount of Cobra villains and the Earth was always safe when the Autobots came to kick some Decepticon ass. Many toys were sacrificed but I like to think it was for a good cause. I'm sure I'm not the only one that blew up a Tie Fighter with a cherry bomb just to see a spectacular ending to a battle, I get the feeling that Seth Green and his cohorts shared the same endless summers in action figure heaven making stuff up in the back yard, and it's must have left an impact, otherwise how else do you explain "Robot Chicken"?
In actual fact the premise is very simple, the series consists of sketches, much like a comedy series like "Chappelle's Show" (2003-2005), but instead of actor acting out the scenes which often poke fun at pop culture, classic movies, celebrities and TV shows from yesteryear they use action figures and plasticine figures to act out the scenes, just like when you were a kid only with much more violence, a ton of swear words and some TV network money behind them. It's every kids dream come true! The result is insanely funny bits that take off classics films such as "Star Wars" (1977) and "E.T." (1982), TV shows like "Rainbow Brite" (1985), "Thundercats" (1985-1987) and "Pee-wee's Playhouse" (1986-1991), video games like "The Super Mario Brothers" as well as popular toy lines such as "Micronauts" and "Go-Bots", and many more segments that have nothing to do with movies or TV but are simply just plain side-splitting funny (ridiculous, over-the-top...but funny), some of my favorites include two businessmen on a seesaw, a mime that causes a car accident and a little girl who rescues the mythical Pegasus caught in a trap only to enslave and torture him. Each segment is animated a frame at a time in the traditional stop-motion way (only each frame is snapped by a digital camera) and appears on Adult Swim.
Cartoon Network's Adult Swim can be traced back to the mid 1990's when they launched the series "Space Ghost Coast to Coast" (1994-2004), the popularity opened the door for other adult-themed cartoons which included amine such as "Cowboy Bebop" (1998) through to comedies such as "Home Movies" (1999-2004). In 2001 Adult Swim moved on from it's home at Cartoon Network to it's own channel, and features such programming as "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law" (2000-Present), "The Brak Show" (2000-2004), "Mission Hill" (1999-2002), "Sealab 2021" (2000-2005), plus classic anime such as "Neon Genesis Evangelion" (1995-1996) among others which include the near-brilliant and incredibly addictive "Robot Chicken".
The humor ranges from low-brow to just plain violent, appealing to the college crowd each episode flies by at around 10-11 minutes long, so even people with attention deficit disorder can appreciate the show! In fact one of the show's early working titles was "A.D.D. TV". Not all the skits are great, for every two or three insanely funny ones there's one that's not as good, passably funny or occasionally nonsensical. You'll also find a few celebrities popping up throughout the season, such as Mila Kunis, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Scarlett Johansson, Macaulay Culkin, Christian Slater, Hulk Hogan and Sarah Silverman among others that lend their voices to characters or sometimes they play themselves.
Seth Green and crew have created a fun show for grown up kids, if you enjoy most of the programming on Adult Swim, then you'll more than likely enjoy "Robot Chicken", if you haven't seen it and have a twisted, slightly warped sense of humor then it's definitely for you otherwise give it a miss because it's not for everyone.

Video

Presented in the show's original broadcast ratio of 1.33:1 this full screen transfer is very good and probably slightly better than when they appeared on television. The image is clear and sharp for the most part, a few sketches appear a bit soft, but that's mainly intentional depending on the look of the sketch rather than the transfer. Colors are rich a vibrant, sometimes the deep reds bleed a little mainly in backgrounds but this doesn't happen often. Blacks are deep and I could not find any edge-enhancement or dirt, some minor compression artefacts are seen but overall it's a serviceable transfer.

Audio

Audio on this release is included in English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, this show doesn't necessarily require a 5.1 track and this 2.0 surround does the trick. Dialogue is clean and distortion free plus the series music comes across well as do sound effects and other sound elements. Overall it's a very competent track.
Optional subtitles are included in English, French and Spanish.

Extras

DISC ONE:

First up on this disc are a series of audio commentaries on the 10 episodes featured here, the track include key crew members and cast. Each track remains screen-specific as each member comments on what they do on the show, they talk about trying to achieve a cinematic scope in this season, occasionally talk about how the sketches materialize but mainly on who came up with a funny sketch or scene, they discuss their favorite scenes and segments from the season and also add some behind-the-scenes trivia whenever possible. Each participant goes into detail as to their responsibility on the show and the viewer is able to understand the level of dedication, patience and time invested in each and every sketch created for the show. The crew is easily entertaining and provides an informative track that's simply fun to listen to as they obviously have developed an incredible friendship while making this series. For fans of the show these tracks are a definite bonus and worth checking out.

This first disc includes the following commentaries:

- Episode 1: by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, head writer Tom Root, writers Doug Goldstein, Mike Fasolo and Breckin Meyer
- Episode 2: by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green and animator Sarah Meyer
- Audio commentary on episode 3 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, voice actor Seth MacFarlane and animator Chris Calvi
- Audio commentary on episode 4 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, head writer Tom Root and animator Sihanouk Mariona
- Audio commentary on episode 5 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, animation supervisor Seamus Walsh and animator Kelly Mazurowski
- Audio commentary on episode 6 by executive producer Seth Green, writer Doug Goldstein and animator Matt Manning
- Audio commentary on episode 7 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, head writer Tom Root, writer Mike Fasolo and producers Corey Campodonico and Alexander Bulkley
- Audio commentary on episode 8 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green and writers Erik Weiner and Jordan Allen-Dutton
- Audio commentary on episode 9 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, puppet coordinator Rosa Tran, writer Ross Shuman and animators Chris Calvi and Sarah Meyer
- Audio commentary on episode 10 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, animator Misha Klein and Sihanouk Mariona, production assistant Alex Kamer and production coordinator Megan Powers

Next up is "The Making of a Sketch" a featurette that runs for 12 minutes 50 seconds and takes a closer look at the making of the "Inspector Gadget" sketch and covers the writing process and fleshing out the script and polishing the dialogue, getting approval from the legal team, storyboarding the sequence, casting the voice actors, creating animatics for the animators as reference, videotaping an acting reference, next is a department head meeting as they break down the sequence and what each department has to do in order to produce the sketch, then looks at the production design process, scenic design and building props, character fabrication, technical department delves into lighting and animation as well as visual effects, music, sound design and editing before the final sketch is sent to the network for final delivery.

Following that is the "Robot Chicken Christmas Special" a bonus episode that runs for 11 minutes 5 seconds and feature all the Christmas fun including random holiday sketches and the best of Santa.

A series of 10 deleted scenes is included, these scenes include intros from the crew and can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function. The scenes included are:

- "Beanie Propeller" runs for 58 seconds, a black and white sketch about the beanie propeller hat made famous in the 1950's.
- "Army Firecracker" runs for 48 seconds, a G.I. Joe suicide.
- "Pubertis" runs for 1 minutes 3 seconds and is a series of Harry Potter sketches.
- "Malibu Fire" runs for 1 minute 37 seconds and is a Barbie Malibu dream house sketch.
- "Mrs. McNally's" runs for 1 minute 59 seconds, this is a sequel to a sketch from season one and is Mrs. McNally's 3rd grade class presents "The Corpse Bride".
- "Laundry Commercial" runs for 1 minute 20 seconds and is an "Action Jackson" laundry detergent ad.
- "X-Academy" runs for 50 seconds and is more from the "Police Academy" crew as "X-Men" sketch.
- "Bear Alarm Clock" runs for 1 minute 3 seconds, this is a surreal dream sketch.
- "Moses Life Guard" runs for 38 seconds and is a sketch where Moses saves a drowning kid in a swimming pool.
- "Channel Flips" runs for 58 seconds, these are series of unused gags.

Following that are a series of 5 deleted audio clips, these can be listened to individually or with a 'play all' function and include:

- "Hal Sparks" which runs for 1 minute 2 seconds as Sparks comments on the show and some recording outtakes.
- "Michael Ian Black" runs for 1 minute 54 seconds, Black waxes poetic about hating the show and on playing various roles.
- "Master Shake" runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds, and is more "Robot Chicken" hating by the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" character.
- "Breckin Meyer" runs for 2 minutes 29 seconds and is some outtake audio.
- "Michael Winslow" runs for 2 minutes 15 seconds as he does some improv work.

Rounding out the extras on this first disc are a collection of 8 "Adult Swim" promos, which are essentially commercials advertising the show and new episodes, these are all animated like the series and include some funny material. The clips can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function and include:

- "Anti-Drug Ad" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Checkout Promo" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Vacuum Promo" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Channel Flip Promo" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Humping Robot" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Cracked China" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Can I Play?" which runs for 32 seconds.
- "Sausages" which runs for 32 seconds.

DISC TWO:

This second disc includes the following commentaries:

- Audio commentary on episode 11 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, writer Doug Goldstein and animator Tennessee Reid Norton
- Audio commentary on episode 12 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, editor Garret Elkins, post-production supervisor Lori Slomka, production assistant Andrew Racho and visual effects supervisor Shannon Gold
- Audio commentary on episode 13 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, animator Tom Smith and dialogue mixer Jeremy Balko
- Audio commentary on episode 14 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, writers Breckin Meyer and Dan Milano and toy wrangler Hugh Sterbakov
- Audio commentary on episode 15 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, guest voice actor 'Weird Al' Yankovic and writer Dan Milano
- Audio commentary on episode 16 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, head writer Tom Root and writer Mike Fasolo
- Audio commentary on episode 17 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, guest voice actor Bill Ratner, head writer Tom Root and writer Mike Fasolo
- Audio commentary on episode 18 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green and writers Dan Milano and Breckin Meyer
- Audio commentary on episode 19 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, production designer Jed Hathaway and writer/art director Ross Shuman
- Audio commentary on episode 20 by executive producers Matthew Senreich, Seth Green, head writer Tom Root and writers Doug Goldstein and Mike Fasolo

Also featured on this disc are 4 animation meetings which basically Seth Green in front of a camera acting out the sketches for the animators to use as a reference, these slips can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function and include:

- "Bush Twins" which runs for 59 seconds.
: "News Riot" which runs for 1 minute 19 seconds.
- "Giraffe" which runs for 2 minutes 24 seconds.
- "Subway Monster" which runs for 1 minute 13 seconds.

Much like the deleted scenes on the first disc there are some scenes that never made it past the animatic stage, this stage consists of written sketches whose storyboards are scanned and cut together to the recorded voice audio, this provides the producers a chance to see the sketch, it's flow, beats and jokes before the animation is completed. The following are a series of 20 deleted animatics that simply where not good enough or funny enough to make it to the next stage and include intros from the series producers explaining why they were not good enough to make the cut, they can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function and include:

- "Movie Theater Nerd" which runs for 1 minute 17 seconds.
- "When Clowns Attack" which runs for 50 seconds.
- "Summer Pet Games" which runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.
- "Relatively Famous" which runs for 2 minutes 20 seconds.
- "Jump the Shark" which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds.
- "Newscast" which runs for 1 minute 4 seconds.
- "Affleck Vs. the Duck" which runs for 1 minute 46 seconds.
- "Bloopers" which runs for 1 minute 39 seconds.
- "In Memory Of..." which runs for 31 seconds.
- "Creative Suicide" which runs for 1 minute 5 seconds.
- "Scientology" which runs for 18 seconds.
- "Vampire Bite" which runs for 1 minute 44 seconds.
- "Wilbur" which runs for 1 minute 49 seconds.
- "Baseball on the Radio" which runs for 2 minutes 29 seconds.
- "Skeleton Late" which runs for 1 minute.
- "Frankenstein's Cat" which runs for 1 minute 45 seconds.
- "Marco Polo" which runs for 50 seconds.
- "I Think We Should Be Friends Fairy" which runs for 1 minute 58 seconds.
- "Atlantis" which runs for 43 seconds.
- "Channel Flips" which runs for 3 minutes 47 seconds.

Next is a "PS3 Contest" commercial, this promo runs for 1 minute 15 seconds and is a ad that ran last year to promote a contest where one viewer can win a PS3 and appear as a cameo on the show.

Following that is "Slide-show", a featurette that runs for 2 minutes 12 seconds and takes a look at a series of slide-show images that were created as part of a promotional item that never got made.

A series of 15 original video blogs are also include that were featured on the web, these can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' function and include:

- "The Couch Epic" runs for 1 minute 30 seconds, Seth buys a new couch for the production office but it doesn't fit through the door.
- "Writer's Room" runs for 1 minute 41 seconds and takes a look inside the writer's room.
- "Animation" runs for 1 minute 38 seconds and takes a peek at the animation process.
- "Character Fabrication" runs for 1 minute 59 seconds and takes a look at the creation of some of the characters.
- "Lighting the Mood" runs for 1 minute 31 seconds and takes a look at the lighting design for the sketches.
- "Technical Stuff" runs for 1 minute 25 seconds and takes a look at the technical department's role.
- "Set the Scene" runs for 1 minute 40 seconds and focuses on the set department.
- "Staff War" runs for 1 minute 36 seconds and focuses on the Nerf war.
- "An Intern's Day" runs for 1 minute 39 seconds and takes a look at what an intern does during a day.
- "Wrap Week" runs for 1 minute 44 seconds and looks at what each department is doing during the final week of production on the season.
- "DVD #1, Release Party: Part 1" runs for 3 minutes 11 seconds and is the red carpet interviews at the release party for the Season One DVD which was held at the Playboy Mansion.
- "DVD #1, Release Party: Part 2" runs for 3 minutes 4 seconds and includes yet more interviews.
- "DVD #1, Release Party: Part 3" runs for 4 minutes 2 seconds and is on trying to get celebrity interviews.
- "Adultswim.com Behind the Scenes Part 1" runs for 3 minutes 9 seconds and is a promo that checks out the behind-the-scenes of the show.
- "Adultswim.com Behind the Scenes Part 1" runs for 2 minutes 43 seconds and is a promo that reveals more from behind-the-scenes of the show.

The final extra is "Freedom Rock" a soundtrack infomercial that runs for 1 minute 47 seconds advertising the best music from "Robot Chicken"...order now!

Packaging

This 2-disc set is packaged in a fold-out digi-pack house in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Show: B+ Video: B Audio: B Extras: A+ Overall: B+

 


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