A Universe of Evil Parody
Robot Chicken returns to the world of DC Comics for a new special, followed by the lucky seventh season of the Adult Swim hit. By Thomas J. Mclean
Adult Swim’s long-running stop-motion parody series Robot Chicken is on its way back to the air, with Robot Chicken DC Comics Special II: Villains in Paradise set to air April 6, and featuring everything from villain office politics, Lex Luthor’s daughter coming to work with dad and a big villain vacation to the beach.
It’s followed one week later by the premiere of the show’s seventh season. Still running the show are co-creators and executive producers Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, who gave us the lowdown on all things Robot Chicken.
Animation Magazine: Even villains have origins. What are the origins of this special?
Matthew Senreich: In our first special, we focused on the heroes and really focused in on Aquaman, and from doing that we realized the villain characters from the DC special were popping a lot more than we thought. Alfred Molina brought so much to Lex Luthor that we went diving into the second special wanting to do something that was villaincentric. So we brought them to the forefront and wanted to follow their path from working at the Legion of Doom to going on vacation in some capacity.
Do you find you can do more things in a special with these characters than in a regular episode?
Senreich: When we have more time to find character arcs and get into their personality a little bit, it allows us to explore who they are and how they interact with every other character out there. If you’re just doing a sketch on our regular show you’re in and out and done in probably less than two minutes. Seth Green: And you can focus on jokes.
What were the animation challenges on this show?
Green: There were a lot of characters on the screen at the same time. We wanted some very complicated things. We have a couple of elaborate dancing sequences where several characters are dancing and singing at the same time. But the biggest challenge is that the third act of the episode takes place all at a beach environment that there were a lot of sketch requirements for but we had to be able to shoot it. We had to shoot it on multiple stages, we had to shoot it without exposing the limits of our sets — make it look like there was a convincing horizon line. So we did a lot of things in forced perspective, we did a lot of fore- ground elements, we did a lot of tight composition to make them look and feel bigger than they actually are. Hopefully, no one will notice that our largest set is 10 by 10.
Any DC characters you wanted to get in the show that didn’t make it?
Green: I always like to see Apache Chief on camera, but we just didn’t have a place for him. We could have stuck him in the end battle, but we were focused on other things.
What’s going on in season seven?
Green: We don’t have a new opening sequence, but the opening sketch is an Eyes Wide Shut parody. And then, just to tease the end of the season, we evolve the chicken mythology a little further.
What are you excited about in this season’s batch of shows?
Senreich: We have a George R.R. Martin sketch, kind of a Hitchcockian thing with him.
Green: We have a good Game of Thrones thing.
Senreich: Chris Pine and Patrick Stewart are in a Star Trek sketch together.
Green: Oh,yeah. “The Star Trek Night Crew.” That’s the question: The crew can’t be a 24-hour crew, so at some point there’s got to be a night crew in there.
Has your process for creating the show changed much now that you’re on season seven?
Senreich: I think, if anything, it’s just gotten more efficient. We’ve known this process for so long it’s just streamlining it and making it get easier each season.
Green: And we continue to hire people that are exciting to us, that are new that are still sort of discovering their talents and we work with them and give them a safe place to find themselves and do their best work.
Do you expect to do season eight? Do you foresee the show ever ending?
Green: We’ll definitely take a break before we start writing again, but I think we’re still really having fun doing this. Matt at one point hypothesized Robot Chicken as a Saturday Night Live, something that could just keep going that uses a specific format and if we continue to bring in new writers and old experts and all continue to work together ... I don’t know! As long as it’s fun to make, I think we would.
Senreich: It’s always got to feel like playing with friends.