Robot Chicken: "Unionizing Our Labor" Review

IGN.com

Dating back to their days writing "Twisted Toyfare Theater" for Toyfare Magazine, Robot Chicken's head writers Tom Root and Douglas Goldstein always made great use out of those lovable blue creatures living in the forest known as the Smurfs. And by "great use", I mean they destroyed those blue freaks in every way possible. So it makes perfect sense that the centerpiece of this episode was having the Smurfs wage a bloody war against the Snorks, essentially a less successful version of themselves who lived underwater. Given that Robot Chicken never met a beloved cartoon series it didn't want to shame, the war began when Smurf sewage began to leak into the Snorks' habitat. And given that Robot Chicken never met a beloved cartoon series it couldn't pervert, the war ended when terms of the Smurf/Snork peace treaty hinged on one thing: masturbation.


That sketch was the strongest of the episode, but there were a few quick hits throughout that made this one much better than last week's offering. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Robot Chicken knows just how long to spend on a joke, and the 15-minute running time and rapid-fire format gives them a distinct advantage over other animated or sketch shows. They're not always successful, but when it works, it really works.


Take the CHiPs parody at the beginning of the episode for example. The joke was that CHiPs was replaced with CHuDs, and cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers dressed as cops were eating people stopped for moving violations. That's all it needed to be - quick, funny and to the point. Now compare that to the long, elaborate Jean Claude Van Damme sketch last week that had one weak joke, but spent what seemed like forever to get to it. Things worked much better this time around.


Star Wars is Robot Chicken's bread and butter, but a close second are Marvel and DC superheroes. The comic book-related sketch this week was pretty subtle for Robot Chicken, but it had a great ending. When Clark Kent started stammering drunkenly around Metropolis, Batman assumed the Man of Steel had been exposed to red kryptonite. But eventually the dark detective got to the bottom of the situation by answering the question, "What happens to Superman's civilian clothes when he changes in a phone booth?" The answer: the homeless take them and spout all kinds of crazy while dressed in suits and horn-rimmed glasses. And seeing a carefree Superman drink cocktails on the beach while a homeless man dressed as Clark took his place in a boring Daily Planet meeting was a great tag.


This week's episode was much more successful because the sketches were varied, (classic fables, the Libertarian Party and The Dukes of Hazzard were all included) and the jokes were quick. As I said above, Robot Chicken usually knows when to hold on a joke and when to skip to the next one. This time out, the bits worked because they covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. And what's true for individual sketches is usually true for the shows themselves - even if one episode doesn't quite hit the mark, if you wait a week, it'll usually return even stronger the next.


Rating: 8.0

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