Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III
Robot Chicken, like Family Guy, with whom the show shares a number of writers and voice actors, has made a small cottage industry out of mining the Star Wars universe for jokes (although, to be fair, Robot Chicken was on it first). And it's easy to see why: what other series combines a rich world with such fervent and widespread fans? But unlike Family Guy, whose three Star Wars spoofs emphasized a faithful following of the source material's narrative, Robot Chicken's anarchic style leaves the field wide open for exploitation, be it plot holes or imagined situations, such as Darth Vader's first attempt to use the bathroom in his robotic suit (spoiler: it doesn't go well). That's why Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III still feels fresh, where Family Guy's It's a Trap was simply a going through the motions to finish the trilogy. Besides Robot Chicken's usual grab-bag of jokes and sketches, Episode III is noteworthy for taking a more narrative approach, loosely following the Star Wars universe through the eyes of Emperor Palpatine, who narrates his rise to power and eventual downfall, thanks to the betrayal of his "intern," Vader. Gary the Stormtrooper makes a welcome return, as does his daughter, Jessica, and an insolent Boba Fett, expertly voiced by Breckin Meyer. The actual episode is only 52 minutes long, but the Blu-Ray is absolutely packed with extras. Like too many releases, there are several "making of" features, but the handmade nature of the series makes these quite worthwhile and enjoyable. A writers' feature is similarly illuminating, given that most of the premises for the various sketches feel like late-night bathroom break bolts of inspiration. Few sketches that make it to animation get cut, but storyboards have been animated together to present some pretty hilarious outtakes. There's no denying that Star Wars has been franchised and referenced to death, but Robot Chicken continues to find new laughs buried in the series' ever-expanding world. (Warner)