The recently released "Robot Chicken Season 5" DVD set has the odd distinction of featuring several episodes from the second half of the fifth season before they have even aired on TV. It's a strange decision if it ends up impacting the show's ratings on Adult Swim. If the DVD set had to be rushed out for the holidays then why make the fans wait seven months between new episodes?
Fortunately, the new episodes are well worth waiting for, particularly the 100th episode which features the Robot Chicken himself taking a leading role as he goes on an epic rampage of revenge against almost all of the series' original characters (pictured above). That sequence also has an impressive tracking shot of the action that makes it appear to happen all in one take; which is expanded upon in one of the featurettes.
As always, the series uses a boatload of celebrity voices, some of whom reprise their signature roles. As a personal favorite, Christopher Lloyd lends his voice to Doc Brown in two "Back to the Future" sketches, one in which he cons the Libyan terrorists out of their plutonium and the other in which he stars in a rap about his attempts to get "1.21 gigawatts" to power his trip home. There's another "BTTF" sketch in which Chuck Berry races to confront Marty McFly over stealing "Johnny B. Goode" after hearing it over the phone.
There are also several skits parodying DC's Superheroes; which I assume is either practice or padding for the eventual "Robot Chicken: DC Universe" special. The highlight is a recurring version of Superman who happens to be a huge dick, especially in the deleted animatic in which his son his mistaken as the second coming of Jesus.
Aside from the episodes themselves, the best feature of this two disk set is the large assortment of deleted animatics; which at times outshine some of the sketches in the show itself. The one downside to this feature is that each scene opens with a lengthy explanation by the show's writers about why it wasn't used. That was entertaining at first, but by around the fifth scene I was fast-forwarding through the commentary to get to the comedy.
The few deleted scenes are actually fully animated, including a darker take on "Modern Warfare 3" and the long awaited Archie/Final Destination mashup and Beavis and Butt-Head on the Teen Titans sketches that are finally available legally.
For a DVD set that has incredibly sparse packaging (the menu for the disk set is on the main DVD cover instead of an inset), the special features are very impressive. Aside from the previously mentioned deleted scenes and animatics, there are also six behind-the-scenes featurettes as well as Adult Swim Promos, commentary on all twenty episodes and a sing-a-long of the "Blue Rabbits" song that parodies the Na'vi from "Avatar."
"Robot Chicken" fans should be very happy with this set, as it provides a lot of bang for the buck. But next time, I hope that Adult Swim doesn't sit on another ten episodes of the sixth season just to make the unaired episodes a DVD special feature.
Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.