The Robot Chicken series has unleashed the sadistic monster in all of us that likes to do strange things with our toys. Corrupting our innocence by desecrating our beloved childhood memories, the original television series was was inspired by the Twisted Mego Theatre/Twisted ToyFare Theatre, taking established toys and real-world characters and putting them in alternatively bizarre and mundane situations. Imagine Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as an Italian opera, or a comedy back-story to the construction of the temple from the opening sequences of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Since 2008, Robot Chicken has been running an annual special dedicated to all things Star Wars.
Unlike the first two specials, Robot Chicken – Star Wars Episode III takes a narrative approach. Rather than being a series of non sequiturs, the third chapter gives us the untold story of Emperor Palpatine, from a time before Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace to his untimely demise at the end of Return of the Jedi. Spoilers? “Nooooooo!”. Using a freeze-frame motif that would sit nicely in a 1980s comedy, Palpatine tells us of his entry into politics, his regrets over choosing Anakin Skywalker as an apprentice and life in the Empire. We also get some extended universe stories, including the further adventures of Boba Fett in the pit of the Sarlacc and tertiary characters like Prune Face. Apparently, he had his own action figure.
The sequential Robot Chicken works surprising well, perhaps due to the last few seasons failing to have the impact of the outrageously funny originals. When one begins to expect the unexpected, the only fallback seems to have been toilet humour. Not so with this special, which clearly pours a lot of love for the franchise into the 44 minutes of special goodness found here. Unlike the Family Guy parodies, also from Seth MacFarlane, Robot Chicken does not simply replace Star Wars scenarios with different characters. Rather, it re-imagines the entire universe if George Lucas had created it on the drugs that he has clearly been on since 1997. For every Star Wars geek who will die defending George Lucas’ every change to the Trilogy, there are those of us who just enjoy mocking our own hopeless love of a series that may never cease to be enjoyable. This is the target market of Robot Chicken – Star Wars Episode III.
As one would imagine from a disc of the fairly recent origin of 2010, the HD video does a great job of translating from the small screen to exactly the same size screen. You can see every bit of cloth and plastic that were used, but not harmed, in production.
The list of bonus features is quite extensive, starting with four audio commentaries covering the actors, the directors, the writers and the technical crew. Chicken Nuggets is a branched feature that doesn’t work entirely, and would have been much better served by a PiP track. If that’s not enough, there’s also about 22 minutes worth of featurettes, the Skywalker Ranch Premiere, the panel from the Star Wars Celebration V convention, 26 deleted scenes that run for about a minute each, a special appearance by George Lucas (who seems to have dedicated far too much space to parodies on his own Blu-rays) and of course, some Madman trailers.
Robot Chicken – Star Wars Episode III was released in Australia on 3 August 2011 from Madman.