Synopsis: Millions of years from now, after Socrates, Shakespeare and the Bible are long forgotten, only two great works will remain: the sci-fi cinema epic Star Wars and Adult Swim’s stop-motion animated, cheap gag extravaganza Robot Chicken. And now, for the first time, they come together for the third time, in this all new hour-long special!
That’s right, all your most beloved Star Wars characters are going back through the comedy meat grinder. Watch Darth Vader fall into a toilet, while Emperor Palpatine rides the endless Death Star escalator! See Gary the Stormtrooper’s speederbike test-drive come to a gruesome, Ewok-splattering end! And witness the firepower of Boba Fett’s fully armed and operational T-Shirt Cannon! Plus much, much more!
It’s Robot Chicken: Star Wars – Episode III. Set your phasers to “fun!” (Oh wait, wrong franchise.)
eyelights: its attempt at creating a vague storyline. its irreverent humour.
eyesores: its failure at creating a vague storyline. its length. its laugh ratio.
“Oh, my God! I look like I have a scrotum for a face! What am I supposed to call myself? Darth Syphilis?!”
For the ‘Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III’ special, which was broadcast on December 19, 2010, the crew behind ‘Robot Chicken’ went all out: they crafted a 44-minute episode (four times the length of a regular ‘Robot Chicken’ episode, and twice the length of its two predecessors) crammed with 44 individual sketches of various lengths.
Further to that, unlike its predecessors, which were a random array of sketches only tied together by their source material, this episode had a concept, which was Emperor Palpatine looking back upon his life as he plummets to his death in the final moments of ‘Return of the Jedi’ – complete with narration and The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”.
It’s terrific idea, however it’s a difficult one to sustain seeing as Palpatine is hardly a central figure in the series (particularly the original trilogy). Within just a few minutes, the episode nearly jettisons the idea and serves up its skits in a semi-chronological order, loosely following the events of the whole series.
Ahem.. with most of them having little if nothing to do with the Emperor.
To me this smacked of laziness, in that the ‘Robot Chicken’ crew probably had 40-something sketches, had no idea how to cut such a large amount together coherently, and simply decided to go chronological because it’s easier. Then they had to explain this unusual structure (for ‘Robot Chicken’) in some fashion and the flashback concept was born.
What’s interesting is their choice of lead. Looking back, the only two characters who were present from ‘The Phantom Menace’ to ‘Return of the Jedi’ are Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader and Senator/Emperor Palpatine. While Vader would make more sense, given how much screen time he gets, Palpatine’s death is much funnier contextually.
Unfortunately, like ‘Episode II‘, this special isn’t quite as funny as the original one was. There are a lot good ideas, but no real home runs. And while the gags are funnier this his time around, the sheer number of them and the overwhelming running time reduce their overall effectiveness and success; it really is a case of too much of a good thing.
Still, there are a few highlights:
- The afore-mentioned sequence that finds the Emperor falling and revisiting his life. It’s done in a flashback style, and felt vaguely familiar in an ’80s sort of way. “Baba O’Riley” was a great choice for this (And I’m not at all a fan of The Who. It’s just that the riff works brilliantly here).
- A raver jumps into the frame during the lightsaber melee in the Genosia arena at the end of ‘Attack of the Clones’ and waves his glow sticks like a maroon. It’s short but silly. I loved the contrast between the intensity of the background and the ridiculousness of the foreground.
- A young Boba Fett tries to play catch with Jango Fett. Or, rather, what’s left of him: his helmet.
- After being saved from certain death by Palpatine, the newly-armoured Darth Vader doesn’t scream “Noooo!”. Instead his first move is… disco dancing. Pure silliness. Overly long but still fun.
- While going to the bathroom in his armour for the first time, Vader has trouble working the functions on his suit and it gets out of control. So dumb, but so funny.
- An aged Obi Wan uses the Force in the mirror to convince himself that he’s still a catch. Nice.
- The Emperor has a hard time getting an elevator on the Death Star and winds up using the escalator instead – only to be greeted by every passing Stormtrooper. You can totally feel his dismay.
- Luke and Ben take the sandcrawler for a spin à la ‘The Duke of Hazard’. It’s pretty much a rip off of a similar gag in ‘Episode II’, with the AT-ATs, but it’s funny anyway.
- Han discovers that Chewy’s been naked this whole time. Eek.
- We find out why Boba Fett was such an easy victim at the beginning of ‘Return of the Jedi’.
- Boba daydreams, from the bottom of the Sarlaac’s stomach, that he came back out to get his revenge on all of the heroes. And you know how satisfying daydreams can be.
It’s not a lot of highlights, I know, especially in comparison with the original episode and the extended length of the episode, but it’s still a good episode; the jokes are more spread apart, and they don’t all hit their intended targets, but it’s amusing anyway. I just wish that they had decided on quality over quantity.
Oh well, there’s always episode IV. And with a bevy of new ‘Star Wars’ films coming, you can rest assured that ‘Robot Chicken’ will strike back.
Date of viewing: November 24+25, 2015