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maryann johanson | watching movies at home

Robot Chicken: Season One (review)

Geek nirvana doesn’t come any sweeter or weirder than this mad amalgam of toy abuse and pop-culture spoofing: it’s like the entire shared childhood of Generation X ripped to shreds and scotch-taped back together again, with all the seams showing and all the entertainment mojo leaking out of the wounds. Crammed into each of these 12-minute episodes are more rapid-fire sendups than you can count of stuff we Xers hold dear (like James Kirk and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown) and stuff we love to hate (like Kirk Cameron and this-is-your-brain-on-drugs PSAs), often at the same time, and it’s all stop-motion-animated with Barbie dolls and action figures that become the objects of intensely silly violence that all of us who mistreated our playthings as kids will recall with a kiddy glee. But there’s real wit and some very clever commentary behind the goofiness, too: This is the staccato internal psyche of an entire generation made plain and brought to life. This is your brain on the speed that is contemporary junk vulgarity. And it is hi-fuckin’-larious. The 20 episodes here constitute the first season of this mainstay of Cartoon Network’s late-night Adult Swim programming, and this set is a fantastic example of what TV-on-DVD can do: the stuff that aired is so jam-packed that it demands re-viewing, sure, but all the extras here are like finding that Red Rider BB gun behind the tree on Christmas morning. Creators Seth Green (The Italian Job) and Matt Senreich provide commentary on every episode, and there’s a ton of deleted scenes and making-of crap (and I use the word “crap” as the highest compliment, which I think Green and Senreich would understand without the disclaimer) for animation nerds to revel in.

MPAA: not rated

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