Robot Chicken
Robot Chicken Logo.png
Also known asSweet J Presents (2001)
Genre
Created by
Based onToyFare
Directed by
Voices of(Complete list)
Opening theme"Robot Chicken" by Les Claypool
Ending theme"The Gonk" by Herbert Chappell
Composers
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons11
No. of episodes220 (and 11 specials) (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Alex Bulkley (2005–2012)
  • Corey Campodonico (2005–2012)
  • Whitney Loveall (2019–2020)
  • Laura Pepper (2021–present)
Running time11 minutes
Production companies
DistributorWarner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution
Release
Original networkAdult Swim
Picture formatNTSC (2005–09)
HDTV 1080i (2010–present)
Original releaseFebruary 20, 2005 (2005-02-20) –
present

Robot Chicken is an American adult animated 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, most prominently Green, also provide many of the voices. Senreich, Goldstein, and Root were formerly writers for the popular action figure hobbyist magazine ToyFare.[2] Robot Chicken has won two Annie Awards and six Emmy Awards.[3][4]

Production history

Matthew Senreich
Seth Green

Robot Chicken was conceptually preceded by "Twisted ToyFare Theatre", a humorous photo comic strip appearing in ToyFare: The Toy Magazine.[5] Matthew Senreich, an editor for ToyFare, got in touch with actor Seth Green when the former learned that the latter had made action figures of castmates from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and asked to photograph them.[6] Months later, Green asked Senreich to collaborate on an animated short for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, featuring toy versions of himself and O'Brien.[6] This led to the 12-episode stop-motion series Sweet J Presents on the Sony website Screenblast.com in 2001.[6] Conan O'Brien is voiced by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane in the first episode ("Conan's Big Fun").[6][7]

After continuing the concept of the web series, the show creators pitched Robot Chicken as a television series, the name being inspired by a dish on the menu at a West Hollywood Chinese restaurant, Kung Pao Bistro, where Green and Senreich had dined. (Other ideas for the series' name included Junk in the Trunk, The Deep End, and Toyz in the Attic; some of these would be reworked into episode titles for the first season.)[8] Some television networks and sketch shows rejected the series, including Comedy Central, MADtv, Saturday Night Live, and even Cartoon Network. However, someone at that network passed the pitch along to its nighttime programming block, Adult Swim, around the same time that Seth MacFarlane (various voices, 2005–present) told Green and Senreich to pitch the show to the channel.[citation needed] On February 20, 2005, the series premiered on Adult Swim.

The show was created, written, and produced by Green and Senreich and produced by ShadowMachine Films (Seasons 1–5) and Stoopid Buddy Stoodios in association with Stoop!d Monkey, Williams Street, Sony Pictures Digital (Seasons 1–5) and Sony Pictures Television (Seasons 6–10). 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.[9] 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.[8] The show's creators were inspired by works such as Monty Python's Flying Circus, Pee-wee's Playhouse and The Kentucky Fried Movie.[citation needed]

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).[9] 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.[10] The Star Wars episode was nominated for a 2008 Emmy Award as Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour).

The series was renewed for a 20-episode third season, which ran from August 12, 2007, to October 5, 2008.[6] After an eight-month hiatus during the third season, the show returned on September 7, 2008, to air the remaining 5 episodes.[6] The series was renewed for a fourth season which premiered on December 7, 2008, and ended on December 6, 2009.[6] In early 2010, the show was renewed for a fifth and sixth season (40 more episodes total).[11] Season five premiered on December 12, 2010.[6] The second group of episodes began broadcasting on October 23, 2011. The 100th episode aired on January 15, 2012.[6] In May 2012, Adult Swim announced they were picking up a sixth season of Robot Chicken, which began airing in September 2012.[12] The seventh season premiered on April 13, 2014. Season eight premiered on October 25, 2015.[13] Season nine premiered on December 10, 2017.[14] Season 10 premiered on September 29, 2019, containing the 200th episode.[15] Season 11 premiered on September 6, 2021.[16][17] The twelfth season is set to premiere sometime in 2023.[18]

Following the 2020 cancellation of The Venture Bros., it is Adult Swim's longest running series, both in terms of years and episodes.

Format

Mad Scientist and Robot Chicken costumes
Mad Scientist and Robot Chicken costumes

The sketch series has an iconic opening sequence involving a mad scientist and a chicken set to theme music by Les Claypool of Primus. On a dark and stormy night, the scientist finds a chicken that has been the victim of roadkill, and takes it back to his laboratory to refashion into a cyborg. Midway through the opening sequence, the titular chicken turns his laser eye towards the camera and the title appears, just as Les Claypool cries (a line from Frankenstein), "It's alive!" 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 grid of television monitors showing different content (akin to imagery from A Clockwork Orange). The sketches are interspersed with static, resembling the act of channel surfing.[citation needed]

While the sketches lampoon various aspects of pop culture quite randomly, they frequently parody DC Comics superheroes as well as many other franchises. Original characters include the Nerd, the Humping Robot, and the show's creators as themselves (often facing potential cancellation at the end of a season), as well as the Mad Scientist and the Robot Chicken.

Alternate opening sequences and related sketches

In the episode "1987", Michael Ian Black claims in the "Best Robot Chicken Ever" sketch that the opening sequence tells the viewers that they are the chicken, being forced to watch the skits. The frame story of the Robot Chicken and the Mad Scientist would not continue beyond the opening sequence until the 100th episode, entitled "Fight Club Paradise", when the chicken finally makes his escape and later kills the Mad Scientist when he takes his hen wife in response, fighting and killing several characters from previous skits (most of them being implied to be the Mad Scientist's henchmen) in the process.

Beginning in the sixth season (after the events of the show's 100th episode), the opening sequence features a role reversal. The Robot Chicken comes upon the body of the Mad Scientist, which has been decapitated. He turns him into a cyborg with a laser eye (this time blue instead of red, reflected by a title background color change). The chicken then straps the scientist to the same chair he was strapped to and forces him to watch the same TV monitors while the chicken and his wife share a kiss.[19] In the seventh-season episode "Chipotle Miserables", the Mad Scientist's son rips out his father's remaining eye to open a door controlled by an optical biometric reader, then creates a posse of reanimated cyborg animals, as well as a cyborg homeless person. The posse then proceeds to kidnap all five then-living US presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. The Robot Chicken and the now-reformed Mad Scientist team up to rescue the presidents, after which, the Mad Scientist punishes his son by forcing him to watch the TV monitors and the Robot Chicken flies away, free.

Beginning in the eighth season, a new opening sequence features the Robot Chicken frozen in a block of ice under snow, being uncovered by robots. Taken to a 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. In an extended version (seen in the Season 8 episode "Garbage Sushi" and the Season 9 episode "3 2 1 2 333, 222, 3...66?"), the sequence begins with a destroyed Statue of Liberty buried in snow (a reference to Planet of the Apes) when two drones are flying together until one scans the frozen Robot Chicken.

In the ninth-season finale, the Nerd dies from a cliff-jump stunt in an attempt to get the show renewed. Beginning in the tenth season, a new opening sequence features the Nerd being turned into a cyborg by both the Robot Chicken and the Mad Scientist and being forced to watch the skits while they high five. The letters "TEN" in the title are highlighted to mark the show reaching ten seasons. In the 200th episode, as the title is shown, David Lynch shouts "Robot Chicken!" in an off-screen voice.

In the eleventh season, a new opening sequence features the Mad Scientist launching the Robot Chicken off a space station in a capsule. The capsule then crashes on the ground where the Robot Chicken meets another cyborg chicken, only in an elderly state (alluding to 2001: A Space Odyssey). The monolith-shaped TVs in the house show a baby Robot Chicken floating through space. Starting with the episode "May Cause a Whole Lotta Scabs", an extended version (set in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio) begins with a tribe of hominids watching the skits on the TVs while a hominid version of the Nerd bites a remote control to turn on the TV monitors. Suddenly, a hominid tries to take the remote, but the hominid Nerd kills it and gets the remote back, segueing into the opening sequence.

Characters

While Robot Chicken uses a variety of famous real people and fictional characters, it also has original characters created exclusively for the show.

Episodes

Main article: List of Robot Chicken episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
120February 20, 2005 (2005-02-20)July 18, 2005 (2005-07-18)
220April 2, 2006 (2006-04-02)November 19, 2006 (2006-11-19)
320August 12, 2007 (2007-08-12)October 5, 2008 (2008-10-05)
420December 7, 2008 (2008-12-07)December 6, 2009 (2009-12-06)
520December 12, 2010 (2010-12-12)January 15, 2012 (2012-01-15)
620September 17, 2012 (2012-09-17)February 18, 2013 (2013-02-18)
720April 13, 2014 (2014-04-13)December 7, 2014 (2014-12-07)
820October 26, 2015 (2015-10-26)May 15, 2016 (2016-05-15)
920December 10, 2017 (2017-12-10)July 22, 2018 (2018-07-22)
1020September 30, 2019 (2019-09-30)July 27, 2020 (2020-07-27)
1120September 7, 2021 (2021-09-07)April 11, 2022 (2022-04-11)

Voice cast

Besides the celebrities and many famous voice actors that have contributed to this show, main and major recurring actors/writers are:

Syndication

All Robot Chicken episodes from seasons 1 through 11 are available on HBO Max.

Home media

DVD title Release date Ep # Discs
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season March 28, 2006 September 29, 2008 April 4, 2007 1–20 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 1 in production order. While it contains many sketches that were edited from the TV airings, several of the original Sony Screenblast webtoons, and the words "Jesus" and "Christ" as an oath unbleeped (though "fuck" and "shit" are still censored out), the episodes are not all uncut. One particular segment that featured the Teen Titans meeting Beavis and Butt-Head was omitted from the DVD because of legal problems. The Voltron/You Got Served sketch shown on the DVD has a replacement song because of legal issues over the song that was used on the TV version. At a performance of Family Guy Live in Chicago, during the Q&A session that ends each performance, Seth Green was asked how they came up with the name Robot Chicken. He explained that the title of each episode was a name Adult Swim rejected for the name of the show. A Region 2 version of the set was released in the UK on September 29, 2008.[20] Three edited shorts from Sweet J Presents were included on the Robot Chicken Season 1 DVD boxset.[7]
The Complete Second Season September 4, 2007 September 28, 2009 November 11, 2007 21–40 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 2 in production order and uncensored, with the words "fuck" and "shit" uncensored (except for one instance in the episode "Easter Basket" in the Lego sketch). It is currently available for download on iTunes (though the episode "Veggies for Sloth" is absent because of copyright issues involving the "Archie's Final Destination" segment).[21] Seth Green stated at Comic-Con 2006 that the second DVD set will contain the "Beavis and Butt-Head Join Teen Titans" sketch, which had been removed from the first DVD set because of copyright issues. However, the sketch is absent from the DVD (although it is available on iTunes). Bonus features include the Christmas special. A secret Nerf gun fight can be found on the disc 1 extras menu and pushing "up" over the extras and set-up items on the menu reveals more special features.
Star Wars Special July 22, 2008 August 11, 2008 August 6, 2008 1 1
This single DVD features the Star Wars special in its TV-edited version (i.e. with bleeps in place of profane words) and several extras about the crew and their work on the special, including a photo gallery, alternate audio, and an easter egg demonstrating the crew's difficulty in composing a proper musical score for the sketch "Empire on Ice". It also features various audio commentaries, featuring members of the cast and crew.
The Complete Third Season October 7, 2008 January 25, 2010 December 3, 2008 41–60 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 3 in production order. This DVD is uncensored, except for the "Cat in the Hat" sketch from episode 7 on Disc 1. It also intentionally censored in episode 5 in the "Law and Order: KFC" sketch. This DVD has special features such as deleted scenes and animatics. It also includes commentary for all of the episodes and has "Chicken Nuggets" commentary for episodes 1 and 3–5. The bonus features also include a gag reel and audio takes.
Star Wars Episode II July 21, 2009 July 27, 2009 August 5, 2009 1 1
This single DVD features the main Star Wars special extras, including normal Robot Chicken episodes and common DVD extras; "The Making Of"; and deleted scenes.
The Complete Fourth Season December 15, 2009 August 30, 2010 December 2, 2009 61–80 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 4 in production order. The special features include "Chicken Nuggets", a San Diego Comic-Con '08 panel, "Day in the Life", a New York Comic-Con '09 panel, video blogs, "Australia Visit", alternate audio, deleted scenes, deleted animations, and commentary on all 20 episodes.
Star Wars Episode III July 12, 2011 July 4, 2011 August 3, 2011 1 1
Interview with George Lucas, "Chicken Nuggets" (sketch by sketch video commentary), Behind the Scenes, Voice Recording Featurette, Star Wars Celebration V Robot Chicken Panel, Skywalker Ranch Premiere Trip, Writer's Room Featurette, Deleted Animatics w/video intros, Audio Commentaries.
The Complete Fifth Season October 25, 2011 TBA November 30, 2011 81–100 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 5 in production order. Nine of the episodes were previously unaired before the DVD release. The set includes commentary on all episodes, "Chicken Nuggets" on a few episodes and a featurette on episode 100. Deleted scenes and deleted animations are also included. Among the deleted scenes are the sketches "Beavis and Butt-Head Join Teen Titans" (deleted from Season 1 due to copyright issues) and the "Archie's Final Destination" sketch (deleted from Season 2 sets).
DC Comics Special July 9, 2013 TBA September 18, 2013 1 1
The Making of the RCDC Special, RCDC's Aquaman Origin Story, Chicken Nuggets, Writers' Commentary, Actors' Commentary, DC Entertainment Tour, Stoopid Alter Egos, Outtakes, Cut Sketches, 5.2 Questions.
DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise October 14, 2014 TBA February 18, 2015 1 1
The second set of specials parodying DC Superheroes. Special features include the making of RCDC2VIP, "Bad Hair, Musical Numbers and Sequels", "The Ones That Got Away", "20 Questions", "Chicken Nuggets", cut animatics, cut sketches, actors' commentary and writers' commentary.
The Complete Sixth Season October 8, 2013 TBA November 20, 2013 101–120 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 6 in production order. Special features include commentary on every episode, deleted animatics, featurettes, deleted scenes, channel flips and "Chicken Nuggets".
Christmas Specials November 18, 2014 TBA TBA 6 1
This DVD contains 6 Christmas-themed episodes: "Robot Chicken's Christmas Special", "Robot Chicken's Half-Assed Christmas Special", "Dear Consumer (Robot Chicken's Full-Assed Christmas Special)", "Robot Chicken's DP Christmas Special", "Robot Chicken's ATM Christmas Special" and "Born Again Virgin Christmas Special". Special features include commentaries, deleted scenes, deleted animatics and "long-forgotten" promos.
Star Wars Trilogy TBA December 4, 2015 February 4, 2015 3 3
The Complete Seventh Season July 21, 2015 December 11, 2020 September 16, 2015 121–140 2
This two-disc boxset includes all 20 episodes from Season 7 in production order. Special features include commentary on every episode, featurettes and cut sketches.
Robot Chicken DC Comics Special (collection) March 2018 December 2, 2016 June 20, 2018 3 3
The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking March 27, 2018 TBA August 15, 2018 1 1
Inside the Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who's Walking, Cut Sketches, Commentary, Sketches to Die For, Bawkward, Behind the Screams.
The Complete Eighth Season TBA March 26, 2021 April 17, 2019 141–160 2
The Complete Ninth Season TBA March 15, 2019 May 22, 2019 161–180 2

Revolver Entertainment have released the first four seasons and all three Star Wars specials on DVD in the United Kingdom.[22] A box set including the first 3 seasons and a box set including all three Star Wars specials have also been released.[23]

Madman Entertainment has released the first 9 seasons of Robot Chicken and specials on DVD in Australia and New Zealand.

International broadcast

The series airs in the United Kingdom and Ireland as part of E4's Adult Swim block, in Canada on Adult Swim (previously Teletoon's Teletoon at Night block from 2006 to 2019) and also in Quebec on Télétoon's Télétoon la nuit block, in Australia on The Comedy Channel's Adult Swim block, in Russia on 2x2's Adult Swim block, in Germany on WarnerTV Comedy's Adult Swim block (previously TNT Serie's Adult Swim block from 2009 to 2017), and in Latin America on the I.Sat Adult Swim block (after the Adult Swim block was canceled from Cartoon Network Latin America in 2008). Many of the show's sketches from Sweet J Presents were redone for Robot Chicken.[6]

References

  1. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (December 2, 2011). "'Robot Chicken' Duo Launch Animation Studio: Seth Green and Matthew Senreich pact with Buddy Systems to create Stoopid Buddy Stoodios and will produce tribute episode to DC Comics universe". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "R.I.P. ToyFare Magazine 1997–2011". Actionfigures.about.com. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "Emmys – Robot Chicken". Emmys – Official website. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  4. ^ "Annie Awards: 'Wreck-It-Ralph' Wins 5 Including Feature, Robot Chicken 'DC Comics Special' TV, 'Paperman' Best Short Awards Winners 2013". Deadline. February 3, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  5. ^ Burlingame, Russ (September 9, 2012). "Before Robot Chicken: Twisted ToyFare Theatre Takes on DC Comics". Comicbook.com. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Itzkoff, Dave (September 17, 2006). "Big Boys' Dream Job: Getting Paid to Play With Toys". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 21, 2022.
  7. ^ a b "Robot Chicken: Sweet J Presents (Summary)". Archived from the original on May 30, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Video Games, Game Reviews & News". G4tv.com. February 16, 2005. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Seth Green Interview". askmen.com. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
  10. ^ Mike Snider (June 13, 2007). "'Robot Chicken' digs its satirical talons into 'Star Wars'". USA Today. Retrieved November 2, 2008.
  11. ^ "Robot Chicken Gets Unprecedented Two-Season, 40 Episode Pick-Up – TV Ratings, Nielsen Ratings, Television Show Ratings". TVbytheNumbers.com. January 21, 2010. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  12. ^ "Breaking News – "Robot Chicken" Season 6 Kicks Off on Sept 9th at Midnight!". TheFutonCritic.com. August 16, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  13. ^ "Robot Chicken Season 8 begins writing". League of Buddies. Stoopid Buddy Productions. 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  14. ^ Deckelmeier, Joe (September 26, 2017). "What Fans Can Expect From Robot Chicken Season 9". screenrant.com. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  15. ^ "Seth Green on Season 10 of 'Robot Chicken', Their 200th Episode, and Upcoming Special". Collider. September 20, 2019.
  16. ^ @swimpedia (May 24, 2021). "Robot Chicken season 11 premieres this September!" (Tweet). Retrieved June 27, 2021 – via Twitter.
  17. ^ "ROBOT CHICKEN Returns Sept. 6 to Adult Swim". BroadwayWorld TV & Film. August 10, 2021. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  18. ^ Matthew Mahler (June 21, 2022). "Exclusive: Breckin Meyer Discusses The Enormity of Life and Robot Chicken". MovieWeb. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  19. ^ "Robot Chicken Opening – Robot Chicken – Adult Swim Video". Video.adultswim.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  20. ^ "Robot Chicken – Season 1 Box Set (Region 2) (Pal): DVD". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  21. ^ "Robot Chicken – Season 2 Review". TVShowsOnDVD.com. August 31, 2007. Archived from the original on December 8, 2009. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
  22. ^ "sitcomsondvd.co.uk". sitcomsondvd.co.uk. Retrieved April 27, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "sitcomsondvd.co.uk". sitcomsondvd.co.uk. Archived from the original on September 14, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2010.