Robot Chicken is an American stop motion animated television series created
by Stoop!d Monkey and Sony Pictures Digital and produced by ShadowMachine Films,
currently airing in the US as a part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim line-up, in
Britain as part of the Bravo's Adult Swim line-up, and in Canada on Teletoon's
Detour nightly adult programming. It premiered on Sunday, February 20, 2005.
Seth Green and Matthew Senreich are the creators and executive producers of the
show. They are also on the writing team, and have even directed some episodes.
Seth Green provides many voices for the show.
Robot Chicken is a Sketch show that parodies a number of pop culture conventions
using stop motion animation of toys, action figures, dolls, and claymation
(usually for special effects) and various other objects, such as tongue
depressors. The show's name was inspired by a dish on the menu at a Chinese
restaurant, Kung Pao Bistro, where Green and Senreich had dined.[citation
Robot Chicken performed a 30 minute parody dedicated to Star Wars on June 17,
2007 featuring the voices of George Lucas and Mark Hamill.
According to Adult Swim's website, Robot Chicken has been renewed for a
20-episode third season, which will start on August 12th.
The frame story, seen during the show's opening credits, recounts the life of
the eponymous Robot Chicken, a regular chicken who was run over by a car
(presumably while crossing the road) and was brought back to life in cyborg
form, inadvertently resembling a Borg from "Star Trek", or possibly as an
allusion to Terminator. Its "creator" is a mad scientist named Fritz Huhnmorder
("Hühnermörder" is German for "chicken murderer"). He forces Robot Chicken to
watch a random selection of television shows as an act of 'torture' using
something similar to the Ludovico technique from "A Clockwork Orange". The main
focus of the show is the "TV shows" Robot Chicken watches; the chicken story is
usually not relevant to the sketches. However, in one episode a character yells
out (apparently in desperation) that anyone watching the show "is the robot
chicken". Another instance is on the last episode of the first season when
random characters come out of lockers and tell jokes (during an homage to the
frequent gag used on Canadian children's show "You Can't Do That on
Television"), and the chicken and the scientist do a parody of ,"Why did the
chicken cross the road?": Scientist: Hey chicken. Robot Chicken: bawk?
Scientist: Why did the chicken cross the road? Robot Chicken: bawk? Scientist:
TO DIE IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE! The scientist then chases the chicken away with a
The show's theme song was composed and performed by Les Claypool of Primus, and
he sings the song's only lyrics, "It's alive!", in typical Frankenstein fashion.
The ending theme of the show is a portion of the famous Muzak named "The Gonk"
(famously used in George A. Romero's 1978 horror film "Dawn of the Dead")
clucked by a chorus of chickens.
In the episode, 1987, Micheal Ian Black in doll figure says "The opening credit
sequence tells you [that] you're the chicken forced to watch this s**t".
When Robot Chicken first started, it was rated TV-14, often for all four
sub-letters--suggestive dialogue [D], offensive language [L], sexual situations
[S], and graphic violence [V], often depicting violence against women and
children. When Cartoon Network began rating more shows TV-MA like Venture
Brothers, Moral Orel, The Boondocks and Metalocalypse, Robot Chicken (both past
and present episodes) got rated TV-MA for strong violence, dark (sometimes
sexual) humor, and profane language (though the stronger curse words "fuck" and
"shit" and use of "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" as an oath are always bleeped out).
A scene from Robot Chicken featuring a toy Arnold Schwarzenegger and a doctor
informing him that "It's not a tumor"The show was inspired by the comedy antics
of Twisted Mego Theatre (now called Twisted ToyFare Theater), which appears
monthly in Toyfare Magazine, published by Gareb Shamus' Wizard Entertainment.
The segment "The Aussie Hunter" on FOX's MAD TV is an early work of the group.
Matthew Senreich worked in various capacities with Wizard Entertainment prior to
working on the show. Some of the first shorts were originally on the now-defunct
Sony ScreenBlast website under the name "Sweet J Presents"; this website also
hosted the animated Lenore shorts. The show is similar in appearance to the many
shared internet videos created using toys and household items. Many figures and
sets are custom built, or adapted from commercially available toys such G.I. Joe
or Barbie, or vehicles such as the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard are
also sometimes used.
Besides Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Chad Morgan, and Dan Milano, a number of
celebrities have done voice acting for the series (often portraying themselves),
including the entire casts of That 70's Show (Kurtwood Smith, Ashton Kutcher,
Topher Grace, Debra Jo Rupp, Danny Masterson, and Wilmer Valderrama), Family Guy
(Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Mila Kunis, and Mike Henry) and the Scooby-Doo
films (Matthew Lillard, Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Linda
Cardellini), as well as "Weird Al" Yankovic, Jon Heder, Ryan Seacrest, Lance
Bass, Wayne Brady, Emma Caulfield, Christian Slater, Joey Fatone, Donald Faison,
Michelle Trachtenberg, Mark Hamill, Phil LaMarr, Roger L. Jackson, Scarlett
Johansson, Macaulay Culkin, Hugh Hefner, Peter Gallagher, Don Knotts, Burt
Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Rachael Leigh Cook, Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Bruce
Campbell, Phyllis Diller, Conan O'Brien, Alfonso Ribeiro, Amy Smart, Melissa
Joan Hart, Jenna Jameson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend,
Kelly Hu, David Hasselhoff, Elijah Wood, Dave Coulier, Abraham Benrubi, Pat
Morita, George Lucas, Dana Snyder, and George Lowe. Also, Williams Street
executives Mike Lazzo and Keith Crofford lended their voices to this show on one
occassion. Many of these are people that Seth Green has worked with in the past
on other projects or that he knows personally.
Robot Chicken often uses extremely outrageous and twisted humor. One recurring
theme is the "Hilarious Bloopers" guy, a parody of the Bob Saget era of
America's Funniest Home Videos, but is more reminiscent of Ray Combs of Family
Feud. Whenever he is featured, he commits suicide at the end of his skit using
various household methods. The show tends to avoid political issues, instead
mocking pop culture, referencing toys, films, television, and popular fads. When
political figures are depicted on the program, the focus of their appearance is
usually only tangentially-related to recent news or their positions in world
affairs (such as Fidel Castro's Dance Dance Revolucion video game competition
from Season Two). One particular motif often involves the idea of fantastical
characters being placed in a more realistic world or situation (such as Stretch
Armstrong requiring a corn syrup transplant or Optimus Prime contracting
"There are other characters who are well known, including a parody of Grand
Theft Auto, featuring Mario and Luigi from Nintendo. Calvin and Hobbes, the
Flintstones, and Trix cereal are also parodied.