September 14, 2009
Normally, Robot Chicken sticks with what they know: superheroes, blockbuster movies and videogames. Because everyone is familiar with those references, they can get to the jokes quicker and we can enjoy them without a lot of backstory. It's when they start going outside popular culture that things aren't as automatically funny. Luckily, there were a few strong sketches in this episode that required no previous knowledge of any movie or comic book, but were just simply funny on their own.
Anytime Robot Chicken sets a sketch in a little boy's bedroom, bad things happen. Very bad things. There's a famous sketch in season one where the camera locks onto a little boy sitting in bed as we hear his parents fighting in the other room. As the argument progresses, it gets louder and more violent and the boy's eyes slowly become more shocked until the fight culminates in admissions of infidelity and finally, gunfire. The creators talk about this as their darkest sketch and it's easy to see why. The brain can imagine so much more violence and horror than Robot Chicken could ever put on film, (although they try very hard,) that the simple visual of a little boy alone in bed becomes the most twisted thing you can think of.
Which brings us to this episode's sick and twisted sketch with a similar set-up. A little boy's father is fed up with his son getting scared of the imaginary boogieman in the closet, so before the boy goes to sleep, he hides inside to understand what all the fuss is about. Bad idea. As we once again lock on to a close-up, the father quickly discovers there's no boogieman, just the angry, excited sounds of a boy sexually abusing his stuffed animal. Dad, there are some things you can never un-hear.
You'd think that the boogieman sketch would win for darkest sketch in this episode but there was a solid contender in the form of a quick, three-second channel-flip. An advertisement for the Epilepsy Research Center featured one of those inflatable wavy-armed balloonmen found atop most car dealerships. Just when you think Robot Chicken has crossed the line, they go further.
On a lighter note, there were a few goofier sketches in this episode including a mash-up of Beauty and the Beast and The Bachelor. It's always fun to see how they can take a beloved children's fairy tale and turn it into a reality show featuring fame-whores with names like Fantasia, Atlantis and Glycerine. It's clear that Walt Disney would not approve.
Sticking with the theme, the final sketch of the night didn't include any famous characters or celebrities, but they created one of their own: "Montage," a Jamaican superhero with the power to speed up time using the classic, cliched film technique. Need to build a barn before the storm hits? Call Montage. Need to learn Spanish in 4 seconds? Call Montage. Need to chase down a villain who's impossibly far away? Call Montage. Once again, they managed to accomplish something in this episode that has been hit-or-miss over the life of the show, namely, creating funny sketches that don't all rely on pop references. In that regard, this episode was a success.