Take the stop-motion animated toy action of Kablam!
and the pell-mell-paced gag barrage of, say, Laugh-In
and you've got the fast and furiously funny Robot Chicken
, the addictive addition to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim late-night lineup. Co-created by geek-God Seth Green and filmmaker Matthew Senreich, Robot Chicken
episodes run a scant 12 minutes or so, which invites repeat viewings to catch what you missed during the channel-flipping mayhem through TV, movie, and commercial parodies, and non-sequitur blackouts, all acted out by dolls and action figures. To truly appreciate this series, it helps to have a Family Guy
grasp on pop-culture trivia, although you need not remember the failed TV series Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place
to enjoy "Two Kirks (Admiral James T. and Cameron), a Khan and a Pizza Place." Suffice to say, if you grew up with the Transformers, Voltron, He-Man, and the Care Bears, you'll cackle loudly at Robot Chicken
. Each episode is hit and miss, with moments that border on mad genius, such as The Diary of Anne Frank
re-imagined as a vehicle for Hilary Duff, or a sketch involving the Tooth Fairy and a little boy whose happiness is short-lived as his parents brutally bicker off camera. It may just live up to its billing as "the darkest sketch in television history."
Other moments to remember: actress Rachael Leigh Cook (voiced by herself) gets carried away during a "This is your brain on heroin" PSA; the shape-shifting superhero adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen; a popsicle-stick adaptation of Debbie Does Dallas; and a Behind the Music devoted to Muppet house band the Electric Mayhem. Robot Chicken's coolness cache extends to its voice cast, including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, Mark Hamill, and Macauley Culkin. This two-disc set hatches a wealth of archival goodies, including deleted scenes and "animatics," behind-the-scenes footage of animation meetings, and alternate audio takes. Robot Chicken is a fowl ball! --Donald Liebenson