Out on July 9 is the home video version of the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special, a 23-minute animated parody of how the classic superheroes would act if they were frat boys.
The opening sequence, which plays the old-school Super Friends cartoon theme as we watch a robot humping the Bat-signal, sets up the blend of crudeness and nostalgia to follow. I haven’t before seen any of the Robot Chicken specials, but they seem to be to comedy what podcasting is to investigative journalism — a distinctly individual point of view that you’ll either enjoy or not, but there’s not a lot of compromise in appeal. Watching it definitely feels like sitting in with buddies having fun.
The fast-paced content involves lots of making fun of Aquaman (voiced by Seth Green), done with action figures whose mouth animation consists of different paper expressions pasted on top of their faces. Sketches include Two-Face using his decision coin while going to the bathroom and Superman (Breckin Meyer) deciding his “amnesia kiss” power (from the original movies) should be used on his villains.
“Real Characters From the DC Universe” reminded me of Keith Giffen’s Ambush Bug issues and the stupid, forgotten guest-stars they’d have. I’d like to have seen more of these inserts; three weren’t enough. The “geek joins the Green Lantern Corps” segment is probably funnier if you already know the character, who is apparently a Robot Chicken mascot.
The special was worth it for me just to see figures of Pig Iron, Yankee Poodle, and Rubber Duck at Captain Carrot’s funeral with Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern losing it. It’s a rip-off of the famous Mary Tyler Moore Show funeral episode, but it IS funny seeing the animal heroes. Additional notable voices include Alex Borstein as Wonder Woman; Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor, Firestorm, and Mister Banjo (who?); and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn.
There are over two hours of extras, or four times the special itself. (Note that bad words are bleeped on the special but not on the extras.) Three of those features involve watching the show again:
- A writers’ commentary.
- An actors’ commentary with Matt Senreich, Abraham Benrubi, Alfred Molina, Seth Green, and Tom Root. It begins with Benrubi and Molina discussing their fan bona fides, talking about reading comics and their collections.
- The “Chicken Nuggets” feature pops up an icon during the special to access video commentary by Seth Green, Geoff Johns, and Matt Senreich (series co-creator). A picture-in-picture would have been less tiring to click.
Additional extras are
- “The Making of the RCDC Special” (10 minutes), which includes images of row after row of dolls ready to be abused. Plus, there’s footage of some of the voice talent, and information on how the figures are prepared for filming.
- “Aquaman Origin Story” is a short 1 1/2 minutes with Geoff Johns and the crew talking about why the special features Aquaman.
- “DC Entertainment Tour” (7 minutes) is what it sounds like. I was freaked out by the constant live-video link to the New York office visible in a conference room. Hank Kanalz appears, and we hear lots of “can I have this?” as the crew visits the toy and video game libraries. (Comics come much later. I was shocked to see that they’ve apparently either moved the DC historical archives to California, or duplicated it.)
- “Stoopid Alter Egos” (4 minutes) involves the crew making costumes for themselves. I really wanted to know why, but there was a notable lack of background or explanation. There’s one title card that says “wrap party”, but do they dress up in costume every time they finish a special?
- Outtakes (2 minutes) of vocal mess-ups.
- Cut Sketches (15 minutes total), 13 of them, illustrated with sketches or described by the writers. Many of them involve lesser-known characters, such as Deadman, Booster Gold, and Hourman.
- “5.2 Questions” (2 minutes) is a repurposed web promo, I think, with Green, Senreich, and Johns talking about their favorite heroes, villains, etc. briefly.
I’m not sure anyone needs to own this, but it’s amusing to watch at least once, if you’re a comic geek in a mood for stupid funny. (The studio provided a review copy.)