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23/07/2018    

23/07

Robot Chicken

Robot Chicken is an American stop motion sketch comedy television series, created and executive produced for Adult Swim by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich along with co-head writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root. The writers, especially Green, also provide many of the voices. Senreich, Goldstein, and Root were formerly writers for the popular action figure hobbyist magazine ToyFare. Robot Chicken has won an Annie Award and five Emmy Awards.

Production history

Robot Chicken is based on "Twisted ToyFare Theater", a humorous photo comic-strip appearing in ToyFare: The Toy Magazine. The show's name was inspired by a dish on the menu at a West Hollywood Chinese restaurant, Kung Pao Bistro, where Green and Senreich had dined; the series originally was intended to be called Junk in the Trunk.

The show was created, written, and produced by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, and produced by Stoopid Buddy Stoodios (ShadowMachine Films Seasons 1-5) in association with Stoop!d Monkey, Williams Street, and Sony Pictures Television (Sony Pictures Digital Seasons 1-5). The series first appeared as Sweet J Presents on the Sony website Screenblast.com in 2001. In the first episode ("Conan's Big Fun"), Conan O'Brien was a featured character, voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane (2005-present). Sweet J Presents ended after 12 episodes and moved to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in 2005 as Robot Chicken, premiering on Sunday, February 20, 2005.

Some television networks and sketch shows rejected Robot Chicken, including Comedy Central, MADtv, Saturday Night Live, and even Cartoon Network. However, someone at Cartoon Network passed the pitch along to Adult Swim, around the same time that Seth MacFarlane told Seth Green and Matthew Senreich to pitch the show to Adult Swim.

The show mocks popular culture, referencing toys, movies, television, games, popular fads, and more obscure references like anime cartoons and older television programs, much in the same vein as comedy sketch shows like Saturday Night Live. It employs stop motion animation of toys, action figures, claymation, and various other objects, such as tongue depressors, The Game of Life pegs, and popsicle sticks.

One particular motif involves the idea of fantastical characters being placed in a more realistic world or situation (such as Stretch Armstrong requiring a corn syrup transplant after losing his abilities because of aging, Optimus Prime performing a prostate cancer PSA for the humans, and Godzilla having problems in the bedroom). The program aired a 30-minute episode dedicated to Star Wars which premiered June 17, 2007, in the US, featuring the voices of Star Wars notables George Lucas, Mark Hamill (from a previous episode), Billy Dee Williams, and Ahmed Best. The Star Wars episode was nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award as Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour).

The show airs in the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of Fox and TruTV's Adult Swim block, in Canada on Teletoon's TELETOON at Night block, in Australia on The Comedy Channel's Adult Swim block, in Russia on 2x2's Adult Swim block, in Germany on TNT Series' Adult Swim block, and in Latin America on the I.Sat Adult Swim block (after the Adult Swim block was cancelled from Cartoon Network Latin America in 2008). Many of the show's sketches from Sweet J Presents were redone for Robot Chicken.

The series was renewed for a 20-episode third season, which ran from August 1, 2007, to September 28, 2008. After an eight-month hiatus during the third season, the show returned on August 31, 2008, to air the remaining 5 episodes. The series was renewed for a fourth season which premiered on December 7, 2008, and ended September 20, 2009. In early 2010, the show was renewed for a fifth and sixth season (40 more episodes total). Season five premiered on December 12, 2010. The second group of episodes began broadcasting on October 23, 2011. The 100th episode aired on January 15, 2012. In May 2012, Adult Swim announced they were picking up a sixth season of Robot Chicken, which began airing in September 2012. The seventh season premiered on April 13, 2014. Season eight premiered on October 25, 2015. Season nine premiered on December 10, 2017.

Opening sequence

On a stormy night, a mad scientist finds a road-killed chicken, which he takes back to his laboratory to re-fashion into a cyborg. Midway through the opening sequence, the titular chicken turns his laser eye towards the camera, and the title appears amidst the "laser effects" as Les Claypool of Primus can be heard screaming "It's alive!" à la Frankenstein. Claypool also composed and performed the show's theme song. The mad scientist then straps the re-animated Robot Chicken into a chair, uses calipers to hold his eyes open, and forces him to watch a bank of television monitors (with allusions to A Clockwork Orange and Watchmen); this scene segues into the body of the show, which resembles someone frequently changing TV channels.

In the episode "1987", Michael Ian Black claims in the "Best Robot Chicken Ever" sketch that this sequence tells the viewers that they are the chicken, being forced to watch the skits. As a result, the show does not actually focus on the Robot Chicken until the 100th episode, when he finally makes his escape and later kills the mad scientist when he takes his hen girlfriend Cluckerella.

Beginning in the sixth season, a new opening sequence has been featured with a role reversal. The Robot Chicken comes upon the body of the scientist, which has been decapitated. He decides to do to the scientist what the mad scientist did to him: add robotic parts to him, turn him into a cyborg, and give him a laser eye (although he gives the scientist a blue eye instead of a red one, which necessitates a change in the title's background color), then strap him to the same chair he was strapped to and force him to watch the same TV monitors while the chicken and his girlfriend share a kiss.

Beginning in the eighth season, a new opening sequence has been featured with the Robot Chicken being uncovered in snow, frozen in a block of ice by cyborgs. Taken back to the futuristic laboratory, the Robot Chicken is taken out of suspended animation by a masked scientist, revealed to be a descendant of the mad scientist who first reanimated the Robot Chicken. The descendant mad scientist then proceeds to force the Robot Chicken to watch a wall of projected images with different shows, as his ancestor did before him. This new opening was necessary following the plot of last season's episode "Chipotle Miserables" in which the mad scientist's son rips out his father's remaining eye to open a door controlled by an optical biometric reader, and then creates a posse of reanimated half-cyborg animals, as well as a cyborg homeless person. The posse then proceeds to kidnap all 5 living Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The Robot Chicken and Mad Scientist then team up to rescue the presidents, after which, the Robot Chicken flies away, free.

Recurring sketches

The show features several recurring sketches. Some of the more predominant ones include:

  • Bloopers - A parody of the Bob Saget-era of America's Funniest Home Videos, featuring a host with exaggerated spastic mannerisms who commits suicide in different ways at the end of each show.
  • DC Comics parodies - Including, but not limited to, three "Robot Chicken DC Comics Specials" DVDs.
  • Disney parodies
  • G.I. Joe parodies
  • Masters of the Universe parodies
  • Nickelodeon parodies
  • The Nerd - The Nerd is an awkward high school or college student with broken glasses who lisps. Although his name was mentioned as "Gary" in an early episode, commercials for some later episodes give his name as "Arthur Kensington, Jr." The Nerd imagines what it would be like to live in various well-known fantasy worlds. He also has a major fondness for nudity.
  • Robot Chicken Has Been Cancelled - Four of the eight season finales of Robot Chicken perpetuated a running gag in which the Presidents of Adult Swim announce that Robot Chicken has been cancelled.
    • Robot Chicken Has Been Renewed - At the start of season premieres, there was a running gag of events of the previous Robot Chicken is cancelled season finale would be shown and shows Robot Chicken somehow getting renewed.
  • Peanuts parodies
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! parodies
  • The Smurfs parodies
  • Strawberry Shortcake parodies
  • Star Trek parodies
  • Star Wars parodies - Including, but not limited to, three "Robot Chicken Star Wars" DVDs.
  • Tales from the Crypt parodies - Different parodies featuring the Crypt Keeper as he does things like not telling a story about someone he knows, coping with his show's cancellation, telling stories involving the Robot Chicken characters, and having issues with the Monster High characters "stealing" his puns.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles parodies
  • Thundercats parodies
  • Transformers parodies
  • Unsolved Case Files - A parody of true crime shows like Unsolved Mysteries which feature investigation of crimes involving fictional characters such as the murders/deaths of Santa Claus or George Jetson. The sketch ends with a promo for the next episode.
  • Where Are They Now? - A sketch in which Michael Moore investigates past media celebrities (often stars of old television programs that produced toylines) who have fallen into obscurity.

Home releases

Revolver Entertainment have released the first four seasons and all three Star Wars specials in the United Kingdom. A box set including the first 3 seasons and a box set including all three Star Wars specials have also been released.

Madman Entertainment has released all Robot Chicken seasons and specials to date in Australia and New Zealand.

International

  • Robot Chicken premiered in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Bravo as part of the Adult Swim programming block. The series, along with other Adult Swim shows, moved to FX and ran from 5 June 2010 to 27 November 2010. The block did not air in 2011, but returned in 2012 on TCM 2. The channel ceased broadcasting in 2013. Syfy currently airs the DC Comics and Star Wars specials. Adult Swim, along with Robot Chicken, returned to UK television starting with a new block on the FOX channel in the fall of 2015. In late 2016 TruTV UK began airing Robot Chicken episodes.
  • Robot Chicken premiered in Australia on The Comedy Channel on March 11, 2008, after the Group Programming Director Darren Chau secured The Comedy Channel as the Australian home of Adult Swim. The Comedy Channel brought both Seth Green and Matt Senreich to Australia to conduct a promotional tour to support the launch.
  • Robot Chicken premiered in Portugal on the channel MOV in February 2013.
  • Robot Chicken premiered in Brazil on Adult Swim
  • Robot Chicken premiered in Germany on the pay TV channel Sat.1 Comedy on December 5, 2007 and on the free TV channel VIVA Germany in January 2014.
  • Robot Chicken premiered in the Netherlands on the channel Comedy Central Netherlands in February 2014.
  • In Canada, the series airs on Adult Swim Canada and Teletoon at Night, the nighttime programming block on Teletoon.

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