Robot Chicken: Star Wars DVD Review
This SD DVD9 has a bold and well-detailed full-frame 1.33:1 image that is actually highly vivid and colourful. The usual DVD bugbears of edge enhancement and compression artefacts aren't nearly in as much evidence as you might suspect for what appears, on the surface, to be little more than a hastily thrown-together animated comedy show. Detail is variable, but this is down to the source material. The figures and sets, themselves, look more than decent, but the mouths and faces can seem quite soft in comparison at times.
Contrast is fine and black levels, which can be quite deep, don't produce any errors. The colour scheme is hectic and neon-splashed, but the disc handles such garish imagery with reassuring confidence. Banding or smearing is not a problem, and those fierce primaries become quite entrancing. Sequences when the screen is bathed in blue and shadow, for the more overt Emperor moments usually, look very good indeed. And the bit with Boba Fett taunting the frozen Solo ( “So-Slow”) brings forth an image that is like looking into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Nice.
It is tempting to say that this could scarcely look any better if it had the full 1080p treatment but, of course, it very probably would. However, this is Robot Chicken: Star Wars on DVD … and it looks bloody good to me.
Revolver's first Robot Chicken: Star Wars episode comes with a DD 2.0 audio mix whereas the second episode gets a full 5.1 makeover. But you would be hard-pressed to find anything to complain about with the presentation that this anarchic debut gets. Loud, clear and decidedly punchy, this hits out with only a cursory thought for placement or positioning across the soundfield and just elects, in the main, to deliver a solid frontal barrage of clean, deliciously articulated vocals, shrill little bleats of score and some effective sound FX. Laser-blasts and other authentic sound-bites and snatches from the original movies are liberally used, but this is a show that thrives on its dialogue and the wonderful characterisations produced. Not a word is missed or fluffed – unless you count those snubbed-out by the bleep-machine – and the audio design is very pleasing throughout.
Forceful (sorry) and consistent, this gets a very strong and pleasing 7 out of 10 despite that lack of surround.
This is where the release comes into its own with a stack of goodies to pad out the meagre running time of the show, itself.
Asides from three Bonus Episodes from Adult Swim – a Robot Chicken episode which is great, and then Harvey Birdman: The Dabba Don and Frisky Dingo: Pimp My Revenue which, to be honest, are rubbish - we get a multitude of commentary tracks for the main feature. Seven chat tracks provide virtually everybody involved with the show a chance to wax lyrical – from writers, actors and animators to George Lucas' kids, Katie and Jett! There's a lot of fun to be had from these, so it is worth ploughing through them.
A nice interactive feature called Chicken Nuggets allows you to view brief making-of snippets when you highlight the animated chicken icon during the main episode that reveal some of the animation tricks and the decisions made behind the scenes.
Running for 6.27 mins is a glimpse at Seth Green, in full lark mode, going through a few animatics and ideas in the misleadingly titled Animation Meeting.
Behind The Scenes lasts for 6.40 mins and provides a decent, though brief overview of how the show came together, who became involved and how the idea was received. It is quick and relatively light-hearted.
Production Design is a little less slapdash than the rest of the featurettes, and spends a lively 19-minutes showing us the work that went into putting the Robot Chicken Star Wars toys and props before the cameras. Seth Green and production designer Jed Hathaway narrate.
We get 13.59 mins of On-Air Bumps and 8.46 mins of Un-aired Bumps – all of which are just the makers sitting for the camera and plugging the show, messing about and providing extremely irreverent intros for what they have created. There is a Play All option.
In the Alternate Audio section we hear introductions from the actors and writers about how certain dialogue originally ran when they were encouraged to just let themselves go. And then, rather obligingly, we are treated to the alternate recordings made for those scenes.
There is a reasonably cool look at the construction and animation of the episode's key sequences in a 3-minute “Light Speed Production Time Lapse” that shows a flurry of animator's arms working on the figures.
Although there are five Deleted Scenes on offer, I'm afraid that my disc has some form of fault on it that denies access to them and does, in fact, lock up any machine that attempts to play them. Not good. So I can't comment on the value of these.
The Panel Presentation is a 6-minute cluster of highlights from a Q & A session with Seth Green and some of his co-creators as they address a conference of primarily Star Wars fans, which could, in theory, have been a lynch-mob.
The Photo Gallery has lots of images from the production with some amusing text descriptions explaining what we are looking at. You can scroll through this, or just allow it to play at its own rather leisurely pace.
There are nine themed promos for the episode, from Boba Fett to Ponda Baba and three versions of differing durations.
Basically, this is a terrific collection of features that more than explores the genesis and the creation of the show, and has a lot of fun doing so. You won't be disappointed.
I love Robot Chicken, and this Star Wars skit is simply gut-busting stuff that actually makes you appreciate the juvenile qualities of the films a whole lot more!
This is the sort of thing that you simply have to replay almost on-reflex because you've been laughing so much you've gone and missed the next joke. The use of action figures is ridiculously simple and allows for all sorts of shenanigans, and the writing is dazzlingly good and effortlessly lunatic. I know dozens and dozens of incredibly devout Force-fans – the type of dedicated nerds I suspected would have been hostile and totally opposed to such apparent sacrilege – and not one of them has had a bad word to say about this crafty, rug-pulling celebration of Star Wars. Like Billy Connelly's uncanny ability to amuse even the most po-faced of grandmothers no matter how crude or rude he gets, Seth Green and Co.'s non-stop exploitation of genre royalty seems specially trained to get away with murder.
Revolver's DVD of the first episode comes equipped with lots of fun extras, making the meagre running time much more palatable. The second episode is far better again, but this is still classic entertainment that feels somehow underground and guerilla even though George Lucas has happily endorsed it. Fantastic and very highly recommended.
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