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Back to the Oven with "Robot Chicken"

by on February 18, 2005

Toon Zone staffers got an advance peek at Robot Chicken, Adult Swim’s latest animated series. Here are four brief reviews:

Oz parodyIf you’ve seen the ads or caught Seth Green on one of his innumerable recent talk show appearances, you pretty much know what Robot Chicken delivers. For those of you still in the dark: It’s Adult Swim’s latest original offering, a fast-paced, pop culture-ridden sketch comedy with Action League! NOW!-esque animation.

The premiere episode, for instance, offers a Transformers parody in which Optimus gets some bad medical news; a “Bloopers!” sketch mocking both regular TV shows and blooper specials themselves; “World’s Most One-Sided Fistfights”; and tiny fillers featuring everything from George W. Bush endorsing tacos to a five-second skit of a Teletubby taking a puff off a cigarette.

With jokes coming from all angles, the show manages to stay fairly funny. Problems arise, though, when the pace starts to drag. Though a few of the fake clips in the “Bloopers!” sketch get a chuckle, most of the gags just fall flat and the joke gets old really fast. This badly timed idea, which would be funny for about thirty seconds, is dragged out over six minutes. But even the shorter sketches in Robot Chicken would be funnier if they had been trimmed just a bit.

The series should deliver for those who know what to expect, and it will likely pick up quite nicely with the general Adult Swim audience. If the show can fix the pacing problem, it could be great.

—The Landstander

Robot Chicken is a brisk-moving sketch show that crams more jokes into its fifteen-minute running time than an entire episode of Super Milk-Chan. True, some parts of the premiere episode drag: “Bloopers,” one of the longer sketches, just doesn’t know when to save material for the next episode and should have ended a little early. But the voice actors perform well. While it would have been nice to hear Peter Cullen returning to his Transformers days for a sketch that has Optimus Prime dying of a painful disease, Rachel Leigh Cook does reprise her “brain on drugs” bit. Macauly Culkin, Seth Green, and others fill out the cast.

For the most part, the humor is very low-brow, but hey, I loved it. The show is very reminiscent of the classic Liquid Television mixed with Action League! NOW! and Adult Swim raunch.

I love the show, and can’t wait to see more of it. Also, I am intrigued by the prospect of fast food tie-ins. Who wouldn’t order “Robot Fried Chicken?”

—Knux Five

Robot Chicken, the brainchild of Seth Green and Twisted Toyfare Theatre writers Doug Goldstein and Tom Root, is scatological and irreverent but only occasionally funny. Many of the sketches must have sounded absolutely hysterical on paper, but too often they fail in execution. Sometimes it’s due to bad timing—sketches that go on and on and on long after they have ceased to be funny. Other times, as in one gag that depends on a character “pooping his pants,” what must have seemed brave and mordant on the page is revealed to be simply crude and tactless when animated.

The animation is pretty well done, and the figures move as you’d expect if you’ve ever seen Twisted Toyfare Theatre. Playdough eyes are added to make faces more expressive, which can be hilarious in their own right. Some of the toys featured are very obviously customs, however, and at times they clash with the “normal” toys.

There are plenty of hilarious moments, as when a drunk Superman destroys the set of his TV show, and the concept does show some overall promise. If Green, Root and Goldstein can tighten the sketches up a bit, unify the organization of the segments, and lose the more tasteless “jokes,” it could be a winner.


Robot Chicken premieres Sunday, February 20, at 11:30pm (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network.

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