Blu-ray/DVD, Reviews, Studios, TV

[DVD REVIEW] Robot Chicken Christmas Specials

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Get your fill of Holiday stop-motion mayhem with Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken Christmas Specials DVD! The disc contains all six Christmas episodes from Seth Green’s Emmy Award-Winning series.

For those who haven’t seen Robot Chicken, the premise is pretty simple: a literal robot chicken is forced to watch television while a mad scientist flips through the channels. The audience sees what the chicken is watching, and it’s all animated in stop motion.

Being a parody show, Robot Chicken features parodies of popular culture, cinema, games, and more. To add to the entertainment value, the show often features the voices of Hollywood stars and celebrities (the rest of the voices are really good impersonations). This DVD features the voices of Ashton Kutcher, Seth MacFarlane, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mila Kunis, Elizabeth Banks, Macaulay Culkin, and much more.

I’ve seen several Robot Chicken episodes from the earlier seasons, so when I cracked open this DVD I had high hopes that I’d be laughing for the entire 66 minutes that the Christmas Specials run (each episode is quite short). I was sorely disappointed, and here are my main reasons why:

1. Overall DVD Set Quality

Normally Adult Swim’s video releases by Williams Street are masterfully designed productions full of Adult Swim personality, from the DVD menus to the packaging. This volume was more than lacking.

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…And that’s it. But hey, at least the DVD case is recyclable (in some states).

Seriously, Adult Swim?! Unless this is some kind of obscure Robot Chicken inside joke that I don’t know about, this just seems like a lack of effort. I mean, when I got Season 1 of Rick and Morty, the Blu-ray packaging was beautiful. And it’s not a DVD vs Blu-ray issue. Anybody who has ever owned an Aqua Teen Hunger Force DVD set knows what I’m talking about.

It is worth noting, however, that the DVD comes with the usual generous share of bonus content that Adult Swim video releases are known for, like commentary, deleted scenes and production animatics.

There are some video format issues as well. The first Christmas episode, released in 2005, is stretched out to a 16:9 ratio, and the transfer is noticeable. At some point the Christmas episodes from the newer seasons display their native 16:9 aspect ratios. The first Christmas Special is also the only episode that censors filthy language and obscenity, which brings me to my second point:

2. The Show’s Content

I remember how much I loved the first Robot Chicken Christmas episode, and I relived the hilarity all over again with this DVD set. The first one was irreverent and outrageous, but I could still watch it with my little sister.

But the other Christmas episodes? Forget it. After the first season the DVD doesn’t filter any of the language. With each later season, the Christmas episodes get more inappropriate with their content and the jokes go lower. I got really tired of sketch after sketch showing Santa Claus brutally murdering people in horrific ways. Am I supposed to laugh at that? The show suffers from the old TV comedy trick of looking like it’s making fun of sacrilege, misogyny and antisemitism, but in the end just simply being sacrilegious, misogynist and anti-Semitic.

Seth MacFarlane is the voice of Santa in most of the Christmas episodes and emerges as the dominant character by the sixth episode. Lack of variety and originality ensues. I don’t know if this is just a “Seth” thing, but the later Robot Chicken Christmas episodes get notably cynical and preachy about society, kind of like recent seasons of Family Guy.

Still, there’s something to be said about the show’s clever stop-motion animation. If you’re a die-hard Robot Chicken fan, this bundle of Christmas specials is sure to tickle your fancy and provide enough extra content to keep you satisfied until next Christmas.

Purchase:

Robot Chicken Christmas Specials: Amazon

Bock bock bock, buh-bock bock bock, bock bock bock, bock-bock, buh-bock-bock bock, bock bock bock-bock-bock. Bock. Do you agree? Sound off in the comments below!

Note from the writer: This DVD is rated TV-MA and is by Adult Swim, so please don’t buy this for your kids or think for a second that Robot Chicken is anything close to wholesome family entertainment.

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About Mason Smith

Mason is a rigger/animator at Triseum Games. He's also a grad student at Texas A&M working on his Master's thesis. He loves talking about animation, watching old Godzilla flicks, listening to 80s music, and drawing cartoons. Bottom text.