The most revered franchise in movie history. $141.8 quadrillion worldwide gross. Seven billion fans, spanning the entire globe. The pinnacle of cinema.
A rinky-dink cable show where toys crash into each other and fall down. College students sometimes glance at it in between keg stands and laugh beer through their noses.
Together At Last!
Witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational half-hour special, as the nerds behind Adult Swim’s stop-motion trainwreck thoroughly violate the Star Wars universe! Wow. If someone wasn’t fired for this, it’s like a freaking miracle.
eyelights: its twisted takes on the Star Wars universe.
eyesores: its random, scattered, ADD quality.
“Yo momma’s so stupid, she thought Jar Jar came with pickles pickles!”
I first heard of the stop-motion ‘Robot Chicken’ show when the first season was released on DVD. I had become a tremendous fan of ‘Space Ghost, Coast to Coast’ and ‘Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law‘, the Adult Swim programmes, and I started to seek out other shows by the network. The artwork for the DVD was eye-catching and appealing to me, so, since it was affordable (and, let’s face it, it was called “Robot Chicken”!), I bought it.
I became a fan instantly!
I loved all the pop culture references, its irreverence, its style, and the fact that these were clearly geeks playing with their figurines and dolls – likely as they would have when they were younger, except now as grown ups, and with a grown up sensibility. I had no idea that Seth Green was behind it until much later, when I watched the special features. It was one of those “holy $|!t” moments, and my fandom was sealed.
So, naturally, when I discovered that ‘Robot Chicken’ had produced some ‘Star Wars’ episodes, I was intrigued. Scratch that: I was excited. What these guys had done to other pop culture legends was so outrageous, so out there, that I desired more than anything else to see what they had done with the mother of all iconic figures, ‘Star Wars’. My only problem was that the DVD held just one episode, and it lasted all of 22 minutes.
So I waited it out. I figured that there would be a special edition. Or it would be included with a full season.
That didn’t happen.
When a second ‘Star Wars’ episode was produced, I half expected them to sell the two together, repackaged at discount.
Not even when the third episode came out did they put together a nice little set with all three in them. What a rip off.
So I waited until I could get them for dirt cheap, second-hand (I mean, seriously, 20$ for a single episode? Forget it…).
But I did get them.
Broadcast on June 17, 2007, this one-off special followed the same formula as its regular episodes: a sort of stream-of-consciousness mishmash of small bits and bites taking shots at its targets from unusual angles. There’s no linear story and the bits are not in any chronological order; it’s really just a fast-paced array of gags. The only notable difference with this episode is that, at 22 minutes, it is twice the length of a normal one.
It’s nearly impossible to review the content of such a programme, so here are some highlights:
- I love the mashup of the original ‘Robot Chicken’ intro with ‘Star Wars’, which leads the scientist (dressed vaguely like Palpatine) into making a Darth Vader chicken. Nice. You’d almost think the original intro was inspired by the ending of ‘Revenge of the Sith’, but the first episode aired well before the movie came out. Maybe it was the reverse: maybe Lucas was inspired by ‘Robot Chicken’ (kidding). Either way, it’s a match made in heaven.
- The mashing of the ‘Robot Chicken’ theme and the iconic “The Imperial March”. Sweet.
- A stormtrooper is casually reading a newspaper on the toilet, when Luke uses his lightsaber to open the hatch in the underbelly of the AT-AT the former is in and tosses in a grenade (Surprise!). Ever wondered where that hatch led to? Well, now you know…
- In a scene that is shown only from the receiving end, Vader interrupts the Emperor’s meeting to tell him that the Death Star has been blown up. It’s overly long, but there are a few good exchanges in there (ex: “What the hell is an “aluminum falcon”?”).
- Surely someone must keep the Empire’s facilities tidy, right? Well, imagine the frustrations of the Imperial sweeper who keeps having bodies (Jedi and Sith) plummet down on him while he’s passing by, nearly crushing him (“What are they doing up there all the time?”)!
- As they try to break out of the Trade Federation ship, Qui-Gon passes his lightsaber to Ben for a moment, but it drops and burns through layers of the ship. The sounds of the chaos that takes place on the decks below are pretty funny.
- It’s Orientation Day on the Death Star, in which an Imperial officer shows the new recruits how to pretend to choke so that Vader gets the satisfaction of killing them without actually doing so – after which they are given a new identity (with mustache/beard/glasses) and carry on their duties. Ha! Nice!
- George W. Bush discovers that his midi-chlorian count is very high – so he uses it to act like a jackass. Then he wakes up from what turns out to be a dream and tries it to get his assistant to believe they’d found weapons of mass distraction – using his “Jedi mind tricks”.
- Han chops open his tauntaun to hide Luke in, but there’s already someone in there.
- The Emperor and Luke have a verbal duel that begins with “yo mama” jokes. It’s not especially funny but it was quite a sight.
- Han tries to BS his way out of prison control but it gets completely out of hand as the person on the other side double checks everything he says, going so far as getting Vader on the line.
- Darth and Jar Jar are reunited. Jar Jar annoys the crap out of Vader, but he can’t get rid of him – no matter how hard he tries. Yes, I can imagine Jar Jar being that grating, and Vader’s reactions are priceless.
- Darth reveals to Luke that he’s his father. And Leia’s. And that the Ewoks will defeat the Empire. And that he built C-3P0. And… Luke becomes more incredulous as it goes on and just walks away. Yeah, we’re with you Luke.
- The Emperor tries to talk to Luke over the noise of the construction of the second Death Star. It’s too long, but I love the idea. It should just have been a quickie, a glimpse; the point would have been made.
- We find Luke and Leia in bed, post-coital (“That was so wrong.”). Oops.
What’s great about the ‘Robot Chicken: Star Wars’ special is that Seth Green and company are massive ‘Star Wars’ fans but, unlike the ‘Family Guy’ crew (more on that in a week), aren’t @$$kissers and bootlickers: they tackle the material with the same irreverence that they would anything else. And that’s why it’s funny. For all the adulation (if not flat-out worship) that it receives, the series is not without its flaws.
“Look, if you’re not gonna take this seriously, I’m outta here!”
The fanboys at ‘Robot Chicken’ know this. And they know we know. So why tiptoe around it, when you can have some twisted fun instead?
Date of viewing: November 8, 2015