Robot Chicken celebrates its 14th year of existence, and 10th season this Saturday on Adult Swim, and that’s something to crow about. The stop-animation, pop culture sketch series co-created and executive produced by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich has stayed the course over the last decade, in equal measures skewering, mashing up, and profoundly influencing how fans look at the properties that are most beloved to them.
In its decade of existence, the show has attracted A-list pop culture voiceover talent from Sarah Michelle Geller to Charlize Theron. From the start, Green has been a constant voice in the sketches. Behind the scenes, he was also the guy getting a lot of those voices to play on the show despite the odd premise.
“A lot of that in the very first season, really was just pulling favors, because no one had seen it,” Green tells SYFY WIRE about the how he multi-tasked in those early seasons. “I was trying to explain the concept of it: ‘a stop-motion, animated, sketch comedy show starring action figures that airs at midnight on a late-night block of a cable division that people don't even understand exists.’ That's a hard sell.”
But the stars signed up and never stopped, allowing Green and Senreich to collaborate, often repeatedly, with some of their heroes. “Being able to get Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise in a scene together, having Charlize Theron come in and do a sketch for us, it’s really significant,” Green explains. “And then I've got people like Don Knotts that came in the first season, and it was such a big deal to get to work with him.”
The show’s 200th episode will come at the end of this 10th season, and Green says Robot Chicken has lasted this long because its evolved with new generations of pop culture enthusiasts. “We definitely always try and use our own sense of humor, or our own sensibility as a North star, but we have over the years continued to bring in younger writers, or modern points of view because what we're talking about is pop.”
With its continued success, Green has been able to executive produce more as a supervisor, coming in for voice sessions and reading scripts, and reviewing edits. He admits that he’s happy the show has evolved as an incubator for new talent. “For the first several seasons, we were essentially defining a new format. Nobody even knew what we were talking about and required that much firsthand attention just to keep it seamless. But in the years that we've been on, several people have come on and been able to evolve what we were originally trying to do. The audience itself has continued to evolve, and I find it's very healthy to let other people come in and apply their own point of view to it, apply their own creativity to it, expand it beyond what I can do by myself.”
But with the landmark milestone coming, Green says he made sure he made time to help make the episode as epic as possible. “Going into the 10th season, we put a lot of thought into what we wanted it to be, and especially going into the 200th episode, put a lot of consideration and time into making it something fitting of the milestone. Since our last season ended with our Nerd exploding into pieces and being unceremoniously buried in an unmarked grave, we felt we owed some kind of resolution to that. So, we got to do an opening sequence that ties up those questions. But the 200th episode, we just wanted to do something new. It does something different that still is Robot Chicken, but without spoiling anything, we did something that I really like and I think it's a really good episode.”
In keeping with the nostalgia that's core to the show, Seth gives us his Top 10 Sketches (in no particular order):
Palpatine and the Escalator
Green: "It just makes me laugh. It's one of those sketches that feels very perfect because it is the juxtaposition of a larger-than-life character with an incredibly mundane situation, and a very human reaction to the circumstance. That always makes me laugh."
Green: "It just about a guy who thinks he's awesome, but his defining characteristic amongst his team is that he's clumsy. That's a great one."
Green: "There is a sketch about the origin of the Starbucks logo that I really love where these two guys are right on the verge of making mermaid porn, but they decided to get into an artisanal coffee business instead. And it just that question, why is this the logo that Starbucks uses on all their cups?"
Star Wars: Cantina
Green: "We just supposed a backstory for him where he's an architect and he's got a bad friend that gets him into trouble and he winds up getting his drafting arm cut off. I love that. I love that one. Implying a backstory for some very famous situation is one of our favorite things."
Baby Needs a Name
Green: "There's a Bitch Pudding sketch about baby needs a name, which is one of my favorite appearances of her. The animation is incredible, the performances are all great and the sketch feels kind of perfect."
Nerd Loves Knight Rider
Green: "We have a sketch where the Nerd wants to be in Knight Rider and he wakes up not in the original David Hasselhoff version, but in the reboot of it. He is so upset that he's not in the original version that he goes to sleep inside his dream. Inception had just come out, so it posits this is entirely possible for someone to sleep inside their own dream and have a secondary level of dreaming. It's just such a goofy, silly thing. And that's what the Nerd character is all about for me, just that pure joy. But also that angry fandom. There's something very funny about how passionate fans are with their pop culture, how much ownership they feel over it."
Thursday the 12th
Green: "There's a sketch called Thursday the 12th, which is Jason Voorhees waking up on the day before Friday the 13th and just preparing himself for what will come tomorrow. Super excited. You see his home life, you see him sharpening machetes and stuff, practicing his stabs. I love that."
Green: "It's a seminal sketch for several reasons, because it was nearly rejected by Adult Swim. This was the incident that we could point to and said to [Adult Swim], 'You have to trust us. We have an idea and you need to give us enough rope to hang ourselves.' That's because they didn't think it was funny. And what I love about that sketch is it plays out with audio. Creating sounds from behind the door and letting the audiences imagination run wild. That's something I love to explore."
Green: "The TV show that inspired us the most was Super Friends. It's called Super Friends, and so we feel like we need to highlight the fact that they're all pals in one way or another. They're not just friends, their Super Friends. So, Batman and Green Lantern have to travel somewhere and Green Lantern can fly. He can make magical constructs with his cosmic power ring and Batman is just a dude. Just a ripped dude who's crazy, and this really highlights that because Green Lantern's going to put Batman in a bubble, and Batman doesn't want to be in a shape as embarrassing as a bubble. It's a very silly sketch, but it makes me really happy."
Voltron Dance Battle
No explanation necessary.
Robot Chicken Season 10 premieres Sunday, Sept. 29 at Midnight ET/PT and 12:15 a.m. ET/PT on Adult Swim.