Blu-ray Review “Robot Chicken: Season 6”

Starring: Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Breckin Meyer, Seth MacFarlane, Mila Kunis, Jena Malone
Director: Chris McKay
Rated: TV-MA
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: October 8, 2013
Run Time: 220 minutes

Season: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

Since 2005, “Robot Chicken” has consistently been delivering us with amazing pop-culture parodies in stop-motion animation. When this show first aired, I would not at all thought it would have lasted this long. It is getting better and better though over the years. This Adult Swim sketch comedy series from Seth Green and Matthew Senreich has even won an Annie Award and three Emmy Awards. Season six has been one of the best to date. There hasn’t been word of a seventh season but I am sure that it is not far away from being announced since this show still packs a great punch.

Official Premise: Robot Chicken is back for its Sixth Season of hilariously insane, wackadoodle, totally off the wall stop-motion animation! This season’s 20 brand spankin’ new episodes will flash images across your retinas and flood your brains with an overabundance of mind-melting pop culture spoofery that will most likely cause your head to explode and leave a stain on the couch that will never come out (sorry Mom)!

One thing that “Robot Chicken” is known for is amazing guest stars voicing various characters. Throughout the sixth season, there were some amazing guest stars including Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Chalke, Kat Dennings, Sam Elliott, Ben Foster, Whoopi Goldberg, Lucas Grabeel, Megan Hilty, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Levi, J.B. Smoove, Liev Schreiber, Jon Stewart, Patrick Stewart, Stanley Tucci, Olivia Wilde, and Alex Winter. I just love that this show is able to get such great names and it only makes it more fun trying to pick out who is voicing who while watching.

Like the past seasons for “Robot Chicken”, these episodes are uncut from their original TV airing. The 1080p transfers on these episodes are very impressive. The animation looks great even though it is not meant to be perfect. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track also delivers so well for this series. Also included besides the Blu-ray discs is an HD Digital Ultraviolet copy of the season. I will revisit these episodes quite often via that format, no question.

The special features on this Blu-ray are amazing and worth the purchase of this Blu-ray. There is an extensive episode audio commentaries for each of the 20 episodes.  That’s right there are 20 commentary tracks. Must listen for any fan of the show. There is a great “The Making of Robot Chicken: Season 6” looking into the highlights of these episodes. There are seven amazing featurettes covering all aspects of the season including “They Came to Play”, “Our First Ladies”, “Kirkman on Kirkman”, “My First Time”, “The Dirt on Seth and Matt”, “The Inside Joke” and “Who the F*** is Zeb”.

Those extras would normally be good enough for me and should leave any “Robot Chicken” fan 100% satisifed but wait there is still more. Other great extras include “The Wilson Identity: From People to Puppets”, “The Benefits of Robot Chicken”, “Post-Apolcalyptic Future of Holidays”, “Channel Flips”, “Chicken Nuggets”, Deleted Animatics and Outtakes! Whew! Try saying that in one breath! I really have to commend whoever put this release together because they did it for the fans and really delivered some of the best special features I have ever seen for this show.

Blu-ray Review “Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special”

Created by: Seth Green, Matt Senreich
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Cartoon Network
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Run Time: 23 minutes

Special: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

I will never forget the first time that I saw “Robot Chicken”. I can still watch the first episode and belly-laugh throughout. This Emmy Award winning show has come so far over the last 8 years and 120 episodes. In this latest special no superhero is spared and no one is safe. If you are a fan of this show then this is a no-brainer. But if you have seen this special on TV and wondering why would you purchase this Blu-ray for only a 23 minute episode…well the answer is to get the additional 2+ hours of bonus content! It is easily makes this Blu-ray worth the purchase!

Official Premise: The special, which boasts an all-star cast as well as characters Robot Chicken fans have grown to love, provides a unique take on some of the most iconic superheroes from the DC Comics universe – along with others whose powers can’t really be called “super.” So what happens when Robot Chicken and DC Comics collide — who will survive with their super-dignities intact? NOBODY! In Robot Chicken’s hands, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and even Mr. Banjo could end up dead or naked or both or neither.

Like most “Robot Chicken” specials, this one features an all-star cast including series co-creator and executive producer Seth Green as Batman, Robin and the put-upon Aquaman; Neil Patrick Harris as Two-Face; Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor; Nathan Fillion as the Green Lantern; Megan Fox as Lois Lane; series and special writer/voice talent Breckin Meyer as Superman, plus Abe Benrubi, Alex Borstein, Clare Grant, Tara Strong, series co-creator and executive producer Matthew Senreich, series co-head writer/co-executive producer Tom Root, series director Zeb Wells and Kevin Shinick as co-producer, writer and narrator. This special goes all out and it shows!

Like I said this release really shines with its special features. There are two hours of bonus content created by the special’s producers. We get tons of great deleted sketches and outtakes. There are both writers and actors commentary tracks for the special. ”The Making of Robot Chicken DC Comics Special” is a great behind-the-scenes look. “Robot Chicken DC Comics Special’s Aquaman Origin Story” is a fun look at the most hated DC character. “DC Entertainment Tour” is a cool look into the offices. Lastly there are “Stoopid Alter Egos” and “5.2 Questions” to the creators.

Rachael Ma talks about her role in "Robot & Frank"

Rachael Ma stands at just under 5 feet and can currently be seen in the role of the robot opposite Frank Langella in “Robot & Frank”. If you have seen the film you know that Peter Sarsgaard is the voice of the robot but as Rachael puts it “people…literally think the robot IS a robot”. Thanks to Alterian, which is the company behind the LED helmets worn by the electro duo Daft Punk, Rachael gives wonderful life to this role. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Rachael about the film and what she has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you get started acting, singing and dancing?
Rachael Ma: My mom owns a dance studio in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and was a dancer herself. I was born into it. Being a dancer first, it was very easy to channel physicality into acting and singing. Movement tells a story.

MG: How did you get involved with the role of the Robot in “Robot and Frank”?
RM: The whole process was very quick; from my first casting (interview) to the first day of shooting was, only 2 days. Originally, the robot was supposed to be performed by another girl, a friend of the director, and the suit was specifically built to her body specifications. But the first time she tried it on in its entirety, she had a claustrophobia and refused to go back in it. I was a replacement and was brought in mostly because I fit the costume (and was willing to have claustrophobia).

MG: Tell us about the costume itself; was it different to act in?
RM: The heat, lack of vision and immobility of the parts made bringing the robot to life difficult. The robot is all-encapsulating in two layers: the first layer is a thick, rubber unitard that covers everything- head to toe, and then a delicate, fiberglass shell of body parts, including non-ventilated helmet lined in mesh and foam. No breathing room, no A/C, no fans. Just sweat. And wow, it was hot! We shot 12 hour days, outdoors, during a heat wave in the summer for 5 weeks. I was constantly dehydrated, nauseous and fainting. The helmet was another challenge because it was lined with a thick mesh and decreased my vision by about 70%. When we shot at night, I did everything in the blind. The robot joints are clunky and bulky which also made mobility a challenge. As a dancer, I have a fine understanding of controlling movement and to deliver a robot that appeared smooth, grounded and with precise comedic timing in its gestures, was no easy task. I rehearsed and analyzed its walk, its head quirks and wanted to develop certain nuances that made the robot lovable.

MG: Was there any particular scene that sticks out to you?
RM: In one scene I was supposed to catch a mimosa flute that falls off a table- it was no movie magic- I caught that glass out of thin air 13 takes in a row! Clunky robot hand and all! It was miraculous.

MG:Tell us about taking the show “Nutcracker: Rated R” to Tokyo?
RM: I’m in my 4th season of “Nutcracker: Rated R” and am so excited its going to Tokyo. My friends tell me Tokyo is like being in a city in the future, which is kind of funny because I feel like I’ve already been to the future with “Robot and Frank”.

MG: How do you feel that stage differs from film and TV?
RM: Acting for the stage is a whole different beast. Its film/TV acting on steroids. Shifting between stage and screen takes adjustments in my mindset and body, but I always approach whatever work I’m doing thinking of the audiences perspective. It helps me focus on what needs to be seen.

MG: What else do you have planned for 2013?
RM: In 2013 you can expect to see me in New York City’s Broadway/off-Broadway shows, in Tokyo with the raucous ‘Nutcracker: Rated R’, and the occasional film/TV/commercial stint.

DVD Review "Robot & Frank"

Directors: Jake Schreier
Actors: Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Peter Sarsgaard, James Marsden, Liv Tyler
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: February 12, 2013
Run Time: 89 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

When I saw the trailer for “Robot & Frank”, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.  Frank Langella gives a wonderful performance as Frank, an aging thief, who gets a second life with the help of his robot. The story is very simple but really keep you on your toes.  I loved the futuristic aspect but without really needing to show too much of the future. If you are wondering who Peter Sarsgaard plays in the film, he is actually the voice of Frank’s robot. He really delivers a great vocal performance. This is a rare little gem and really deserves some attention.

Even though the film is set in the future, I like the fact that their are only a few subtle differences including snazzy cars, transparent phones and, of course, robots. Not to different from now, yes even the robots, have you ever seen what Japan is doing? The phone and TV displays were designed by Justin Ouellette, who works at Tumblr. Most importantly, the robot’s costume was designed by Alterian, which is the company behind the LED helmets worn by the electro duo Daft Punk. All very impressive since the film was very low-budget at $2.5 million, so don’t expect any major special effects.  This film is all character and story driven. The little touches just add the charm to the film.

Official Premise: Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and heartwarming story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment only released this film on DVD, which is a little disappointing since I would have loved to see this film on Blu-ray.  Still though, the film looks great with its 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The special features on the DVD are a bit of a let down but worth checking out.  There is a commentary track from the director Jake Schreier and the writer Christopher Ford. Lastly there is a photo gallery included for the Robot posters created for the film.  I would have loved to see a feature on the Atlerian’s robots and Justin Ouellette’s designs.

Seth Green & “Robot Chicken” Team Reveal New Show “Star Wars: Detours” with Trailer & Clips

Star Wars Detours™ is an animated comedy that explores what daily life is like in a galaxy far, far away. There are no Empires striking back or attacking clones here. Instead, Star Wars Detours focuses on the universe’s regular folks and their everyday problems… which, to be fair, do frequently involve famous bounty hunters, crazed Ewoks, and even a Dark Lord of the Sith.

Welcome to Star Wars: Detours: the other side of the stars, between the wars.

Star Wars Detours™ was revealed during Star Wars Celebration VI last month in Orlando, FL. The new animated series is from the team behind “Robot Chicken”. There is amazing line-up for voices on this show including Seth Green, Catherine Taber, Dee Bradley Baker, Joel McHale, Donald Faison, Breckin Meyer, Seth McFarlane, and Jennifer Hale. The show should be hitting Cartoon Network in 2013.

Check out the trailer and various clips from this show:







Kevin Shinick talks “MAD”, “Robot Chicken” and “The Avenging Spider-Man”

Kevin Shinick is the known best for being the showrunner/writer/main voice talent/voice director on the animated TV series “MAD”, as well as the writer/voice actor/creative director on “Robot Chicken”. He has been nominated for an Emmy on this work for two shows. He also recently co-produced and narrated the “Robot Chicken DC Comics Special”. Kevin took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about those two roles and also what else he has planned like releasing this first issue of “The Avenging Spider-Man” with Marvel.

Mike Gencarelli: How does it feel to be nominated two years in a row for the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program Short-format, last year for Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken and this year MAD?
Kevin Shinick: I couldn’t be more excited. Especially since this is our first Emmy nomination for MAD and I know how hard we all work on the show to keep it funny and topical. It’s also surreal, because the last time I won it was for working with my friends on Robot Chicken and this year I’m up against them. But to prove how familial it all is, Seth is actually the main voice in the MAD episode that’s nominated for the Emmy and I just got finished doing more voices for them for their next season. So there’s good blood all around. Although that being said, please vote for MAD.

MG: Out of all the hats you where on “Robot Chicken”, as a writer/voice actor/creative director, what is your biggest challenge?
KS: Being Creative Director over at Robot Chicken meant following a sketch from its inception all the way until you saw it on TV. This meant making sure the costumes, sets and designs all matched what we were thinking about in the writer’s room, so that was the most time consuming, but it also prepared me for running my own show over at MAD. There I’m a producer, writer, director and voice talent and everything in between. In the end I’d say the writing is still the most fun, although also the most demanding. And doing voices is always a blast no matter what show I’m on.

MG: Tell us about working on “Robot Chicken DC Comics Special” on Adult Swim, where you are the co-producer and voice the Narrator and other characters?
KS: As I mentioned before, the Robot Chicken guys and I are really like family so despite the fact that I’ve left to create my own show, I always keep at least one foot in that world. And because my schedule is so tight with MAD it doesn’t leave me time to work on the actual series, but I do make time for the RC specials. And in this case, it was even more rewarding because it also meant working with another great friend of mine, Geoff Johns. It was his idea to do an all DC Comics special and so when we all came back together it was like the perfect storm. And I think you’ll definitely get a sense of the fun we had doing it when it airs tonight. Also, the chance to play the narrator which was originally played by the great comedian/actor Ted Knight was a dream come true.

MG: How do your tasks of showrunner/writer/main voice talent/voice director on “MAD” differ than your work on “Robot Chicken”
KS: It’s very similar, but the tone is different. Essentially the network was looking for a show like Robot Chicken that wasn’t so dark and could air during prime time hours. So right off the bat we’re aiming for a younger demographic. Second, Robot Chicken has a great time focusing on retro things like He-Man and such while MAD tries to stay topical and poke fun at things that are out there currently.

MG: Tell us about MAD’s upcoming Halloween & Christmas Specials and what are we in store for?
KS: Last year’s MAD’s Halloween special is the episode that is nominated for an Emmy this year and it was definitely an awesome episode. So this year I wanted to top it. So far I’m really excited with the bits we came up. Starting off of course with our movie parody, FrankenWINNIE. A spoof of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, only Christopher Robin has to reanimate his beloved Pooh after a horrible accident had destroyed him. It’s coming out great and is some of the finest stop motion I’ve seen.

MG: Not only animated cartoons, tell us about your comic work as well with releasing your first Avenging Spider-Man #12 comic for Marvel?
KS: Again, it seems to be a superhero September for me. Yes, my Avenging Spider-Man #12 comes out this Wednesday, September 12th. I’m incredibly excited for this because I think it’s something that’s going to blow your mind. Not only is Spidey teamed up with everyone’s favorite mercenary, Deadpool, but you’ll also see Spider-Ham and a few other crazy characters from Spidey’s past who will probably not lend the help the webhead is hoping for.

MG: Tell us how you ended up guest staring on NBC’s Grimm and tell us about your experience?
KS: I’ve always been an actor as well, but with so much going on in my writing world there’s not always time to do both. But lately I’ve tried to make time for each because I’m equally passionate about my acting. The Grimm episode was just an audition I got, but when I read the role and saw that this guy was secretly a Porcupine Man I thought, “I have GOT to get this role.” Luckily the universe felt the same. And the cast and the crew were really great so it was a fantastic experience from top to bottom.

MG: You are also planned to guest star with Alfred Molina, Ving Rhames and Jamie Bamber on David E Kelly’s medical drama pilot for TBS, “Monday Mornings”, tell us about that?
KS: I can’t talk too much about that now, but it will air in January and it’s a great medical drama from the wonderful mind of David E. Kelly.

MG: Lastly, what’s the deal about this date with Angelina Jolie?
KS: Ha! This is one of those things that’s surreal in hindsight, but at the time was just a lovely evening. I was performing on Broadway in a production of The Seagull with Jon Voight ages ago and he and I had become close, so when he said to me, “My daughters coming to town. How would you feel about taking her to dinner?” I said, “Sure.” Not knowing this was the same woman who would later become People Magazine’s Sexiest Woman Alive, let alone a great actress. So the moral is, never say no to Jon Voight 🙂