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Reviewed by Will Harris
or those of us who eat, drink, sleep, and breathe pop culture, there’s no greater comedic gift than the one offered up by the guys behind Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken.” Even after four seasons, the show continues to dig deep into our memories and pull out almost-forgotten TV series, movies and commercials, and make as much of them as possible. Better yet, Seth Green isn’t afraid to break out his rolodex and call up some of the people who were actually in these things, giving them the opportunity to join in the fun.
In the fourth season premiere, however, Green managed to corral a couple of guys who are best known as series creators rather than onscreen talent: Joss Whedon and Ron Moore. Okay, so it was probably a little easier to secure Whedon, given that Green was a regular on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” for a couple of years, but both Whedon and Moore have a blast during their appearances: the former plays it pompous, even going so far as to refer to his work as taking place in the “Whedon-verse,” while the latter goes on a Cylon-killing spree. Moments later, Green’s “Family Guy” boss, Seth MacFarlane, turns up and mocks his shows’ tendency towards interstitials, and by episode’s end, we’ve heard Katee Sackhoff’s voice as well.
The biggest surprise of the season premiere – and, arguably, the entire season – comes when Tila Tequila turns up to voice herself in a parody of “A Shot of Love” that reveals her to be a robot. You wouldn’t expect that she’d have such a great sense of humor, but not only does she let them refer to her as having a “pre-pubescent alien whore appearance,” she also offers up a legitimately hilarious delivery of her robotic lines. Other folks willing to poke fun at themselves during the course of Season Four are Joey Fatone, Billy Dee Williams (who defends Lando Calrissian’s actions in “The Empire Strikes Back”), Hulk Hogan, Triple H, and David Faustino from “Married with Children.” As for the aforementioned role reprisals, my personal favorite comes when Lee Majors shows up to voice Col. Steve Austin, who decides that since Jamie Sommers is getting a bionic upgrade, anyway, she might as well get a boob job, too. It’s also pretty classic when Soleil Moon Frye steps back into Punky Brewster’s shoes and reveals what happened to Glomer (surely you remember him from Punky’s animated series) after young Ms. Brewster grew up.
It’s an all-star cast throughout Season Four, with vocal contributions from James Marsden, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens (“High School Musical”), Clark Duke and Spencer Grammer (“Greek”), Simon Pegg, Neil Patrick Harris, T-Pain, Rachael Lee Cook, Jon Favreau, Christian Slater, David Hasselhoff, and Jean Claude Van Damme…playing Rhett Butler, no less. Insofar as the pop culture targets go, they’re as all over the place as you’ve come to expect from the series, including Little Orphan Annie on “My Super Sweet 16,” the bloody battle between the Smurfs and the Snorks, some fun at the expense of “Yellow Submarine,” and an unabashed mockery of the awful cartoon that was “M.A.S.K.” Obviously, there’s much, much more to be had, but why spoil the fun? After all, seeing what comes next is half the fun of watching “Robot Chicken.”
Special Features: As with the previous “Robot Chicken” sets, Season Four has been tricked out with an almost obscene amount of bonus material. Disc One offers up the show’s panels from San Diego Comic-Con ’08 and New York Comic-Con ’09, six “Day in the Life” segments which detail the daily goings-on of various behind-the-camera folk on the show, and four episodes worth of “Chicken Nuggets,” which find various writers from the show giving on-camera tidbits about what we’re seeing on the screen. (All things considered, it’d be a lot less annoying if we just got proper audio commentaries, but so be it.) Disc Two, meanwhile, features several video blogs, footage from the show’s Australian press barrage, some alternate audio tracks, and a ton of deleted scenes and animatics, most of which include introductions from the creators).