ROBOT CHICKEN created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, airs daily at 9 pm and midnight on Teletoon. Rating: NNNN
Robot Chicken. The title -- simple, vaguely iconographic in a faux- vintage-T-shirt kind of way and sorta stupid - smacks of the self-congratulatory smartassery of the slacker geekgeist that hatched it.
It conjures up gleefully juvenile images of mechanical foul running amok in an Orwellian barnyard full of sentient ninja farm animals.
It's the kind of title that could only be improved upon by adding the word "zombie," either at the beginning or the end. (And by adding more cowbell, of course.)
Although a chicken android, cyborg, replicant or otherwise rarely figures in the show, there is something distinctly and disturbingly mad-scientisty about it.
Like the twisted Red Bull-fuelled fantasy of a comic-book-loving Xboxer, each episode is a stream of pop culture mashups.
The gang from Police Academy joins the X-Men. A Thundercat gets adopted from the pound. Skynet transforms Inspector Gadget into a terminator. The Golden Girls share their sexcapades á la Sex And The City. A Cuban youth plays Castro in Dance Dance Counter-Revolution. A Behind The Music send-up features washed-up members of the Muppet Show house band. Lindsay Lohan enters the world of Highlander and decapitates Amanda Bynes and Hilary Duff (cuz there can be only one annoying teen drama queen).
Robot Chicken is the brain-on-drugs brainchild of Seth Green (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and pal Matthew Senreich, a couple of jokers who get off on punking, bloodying and occasionally debasing their childhood icons Cobra Commander, Super Mario Brothers, He-Man, Daisy Duke.
It's all brought to life using jerky stop-motion animation and old A-Team and Star Wars action figures. And despite the onscreen skewering of characters and celebrities, many actors and stars are willing to provide the voices Mark Hamill for Luke Skywalker, say, or the Coreys (Feldman and Haim) for themselves.
Clips last anywhere from five seconds to three minutes, just enough time to get the laugh and get out. Call it ADD comedy.
It's one of the few comedies that leaves you wishing for more.
It's been compared to the equally shocking South Park, which is very much a reactionary socio-political satire in crude cartoon wrapping paper. Robot Chicken, on the other hand, is purely about juvenile fun without needing to make a point or deliver a message.
You don't have to be 20 or a nerd to get the jokes, but it helps to know your Autobots from your Gobots or your Wookiees from your Ferengis.
Oh, yeah, about the title. Turns out Green stole it from the name of a Chinese dish he often ate while he was writing the pilot episode.
What to watch this week
Friday-Saturday, July 6-7
LIVE EARTH (eco concert)
From Live Aid to Live 8, what would the summer be without a huge televised rock concert? And while last week's Diana tribute was fine -- watching Ricky Gervais lead a stadium singalong to fill dead air was a humorous highlight, if not exactly galvanzing -- it didn't exactly scream "must-see event."
Mouth-marbling name aside, Live Earth: The Concerts For Climates In Crisis could prove to be such a spectacle. Aimed at focusing attention on global warming, the 28-hour music marathon will see hundreds of performers take to the stage in eight cities around the globe. You'll see Crowded House and Wolfmother headline in Sydney, Australia, Linkin Park and Rihanna in Tokyo/Kyoto, Anthony Wong and Sarah Brightman in Shanghai, Enrique Iglesias and Snoop Dogg in Hamburg, Angélique Kidjo and Joss Stone in Johannesburg, Lenny Kravitz and Macy Gray in Rio. London's bill includes the Beastie Boys and Black Eyed Peas, David Gray and Duran Duran, Madonna and Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Spinal Tap, while New York has Alicia Keys and Akon, Bon Jovi and Fall Out Boy, Keith Urban and Kelly Clarkson, Ludacris and the Police.
Live coverage begins Friday at 10 pm on CTV, with 66 hours of additional coverage on MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic, Bravo! and Star!