Robot Chicken Star Wars Special
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So what’s the funniest thing to ever happen to the Star Wars universe? If you said the 1978 Holiday Special, please abandon all hope of ever forging a relationship with anyone in this life. The correct answer involves a certain famous ‘Seth’ and his team of animators and writers.
Some fans are gonna take the ‘McFarlane’ route with Family Guy’s Blue Harvest special, but my personal pick is the ‘Green’ Robot Chicken route, released today on DVD. The disc features the uncut (though still censored) 22 minute special and 2+ hours of bonus materials that should appeal not only to Star Wars fans, but animation geeks (like me) as well.
The special itself flips through over two dozen parodies and uses nearly every character from the 6 movies as a target, though focused primarily on the original trilogy. It stars the stop-motion series’ usual voice actors in addition to Mark Hamill, Ahmed Best and even George (Lucas, not Bush) himself. The shorts are fast paced and nothing short of hilarious.
The disc itself is a treasure trove of special features. The aptly named ‘Chicken Nuggets’ feature throws up a robotic chicken icon in the corner of your screen for each skit during a viewing when activated. Pressing enter interjects a video commentary clip (often longer than the skit itself) hosted by co-creators Seth Green and Matthew Seinreich, casually sitting on a couch watching the special alongside and offering up insights to the clip’s origins or trivia behind everything from the writing to design to execution. I gotta say though, as funny and fascinating as some of this stuff was, Seinreich kept staring blankly at the camera while Green talked. It was creepy. He was like a deer in headlights and never blinked. Just weird.
Deleted Scenes shows off a few of the skits ultimately cut from the special either for time or in some cases, as introduced by the writers, just plain sucked enough for all involved to choose its cut without question. Similarly Alternate Audio plays expanded voice recordings for skits that made it, but highlighted additional takes. Breckin Meyer’s voice session for Boba Fett’s lust session with Han in carbonite is particularly funny/disturbing.
When the special aired on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, the writing and acting staff hosted a night of Robot Chicken episodes culminating in the Star Wars special. These snippets, or ‘bumps’, introduced the various episodes, but boiled down to a bunch of fan-boys being silly on camera… and it’s riotous. Robot Chicken fans might already know of the Nerf Wars conducted regularly in the studio and these bumps are just a glimpse into that chaos.
Special Features are rounded out with time lapse photography for some of the scenes, a photo gallery (with twisted captions), your standard behind-the-scenes documentary and an abbreviated panel discussion with Seth Green, Matthew Seinreich, Breckin Meyer and Keith Crawford at the Star Wars Celebration (man, I was there, how did I miss this?!?).
The final piece is on Production Design, a 20 minute “How we do what we do” featurette that gives a near step-by-step on the design and creation of miniature sets, stop motion puppets and props. It’s unusually informative for this type of production and entertaining to boot, thanks to audio commentary from Green and Jed Hathaway (Production Designer).
I do have a couple of small beefs with the disc though. Right from the get-go, you’ll notice there’s no chapter menu. I realize that the individual skits often last only a few seconds, but there’s no way to jump to a specific bit and hitting skip will fly over a half dozen skits at a time. A minor, but obvious annoyance. Secondly, the show is presented in its censored form. To review, this show airs on Adult Swim (not child swim…), not to mention this is DVD where rating makes little difference. Why are those bleep-outs still in there? Finally, the photo gallery has background music, but it changes tracks for each photo and repeats on every fourth pic. Granted, you’re probably not going to give the gallery a lot of repeat viewings, but take my advice and kill the audio anyway.
Like I said, small beefs. Flat out, this disc is funny, the extras are more than plentiful and the whole package goes for about 10 bucks. Just try to make an excuse not to buy it. Even if you saw it’s original airing or are able to catch the frequent reruns of the show, Robot Chicken and Star Wars fans alike will be hard pressed to find an excuse not to own this disc. Here’s looking to a third season of the series and a hinted at second special. May the farce be with you!