Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special Blu-ray Review: Aquaman's Identity Crisis

Robot Chicken focuses on the DC Universe for laughs.
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Originally premiering on Sept 9, the Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special pokes fun at heroes and villains from DC Comics universe, but the material isn't limited to in-jokes, allowing casual viewers to enjoy it as well.  For those that don't know the show, Robot Chicken parodies pop culture with stop-motion animation of toys, dolls--er, I mean action figures, and other assorted objects.  This double-length episode of adult swim's sketch-comedy show has amusing moments, but it runs only 23 minutes, which may dissuade some from adding it to their collection. 

The special has a main story about Aquaman being mistreated by his fellow heroes of the Justice League of America and joining the villainous League of Doom to seek revenge.  Throughout, there are numerous one-off sketches, like the RC nerd character becoming a Green Lantern, and running gags, such as Bane repeatedly sneaking up behind Batman to break his back, and "Real Characters from the DC Universe," spotlighting B'dg the space squirrel and Mr. Banjo.  Solomon Grundy appears but I would guess it's really a painted Hulk figure in disguise.

The producers assembled a very good cast with co-creator Seth Green providing his typical numerous voices alongside Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern and Mr. Freeze; Megan Fox as Lois Lane; Neil Patrick Harris as Two Face and Black Manta; Breckin Meyer as Superman and Mirror Master; Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor, Firestorm, and Mr. Banjo; Aaron Paul as JLA mailroom work Glen, and Paul Ruebens as the Riddler

If comic book characters in ridiculous situations remind viewers of the magazine feature "Twisted Toyfare Theatre," that's because co-creator Matthew Senreich and co-head writers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root used to write for it.  Oddly enough, DC filed a cease and desist order against "Twisted Toyfare Theatre" to stop them from using their characters and through a bit of Time Warner corporate synergy they worked together to create this special.

The Blu-ray video has been given a 1080p/ VC-1 encoded transfer displayed at 1.78:1.  Colors are extremely bright and bold and blacks are deep, like a comic book.  Great detail can be seen on the objects.  There is some minor aliasing and banding, but not enough to distract from the presentation.  The audio comes in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround back is a front-heavy presentation with limited surround and low frequency.  Dialogue and effects are clear. 

The bonus features run longer than the special itself, so fans of the special and Robot Chicken get quite a bit behind-the-scenes material.  All the video features are in 1080i. 

"The Making of The RDCD Special" (10 min) offers a brief look at how the special was made.  "RCDC's Aquaman Origin Story" (1 min) is an even briefer as writers determine whose idea the Aquaman story was. 

There are three commentary tracks.  The Writers' track features Geoff Johns, Tom Root, Zeb Wells, Mike Fasolo, Matt Beans, and Kevin Shinick.  The Actors' track features Matthew Senreich, Abraham Benrubi, Alfred Molina, Seth Green, and Tom Root. "Chicken Nuggets" offer scene-specific commentary that can be accessed when an icon appears on screen, which seems almost constant.  They should have just made a PiP track because one cutaway was as short as three seconds.

"DC Entertainment Tour" (7 min) tales fans to heaven as Green and other dig through the archives of books, toys, games.  "Stoopid Alter Egos" (4 min) finds some crewmembers dressing up and going to Hollywood Blvd. before hitting the wrap party.  The actors can be seen blowing lines in "Outtakes" (2 min) and the writers discuss 13 "Cut Sketches" (15 min).  Green, Senreich, and Johns answer "5.2 Questions" (2 min) for the DC website.

If found at a good price, I'd recommend the Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special for fans of the show and comics.  But it's not essential, so waiting to see what it's going to be repackaged at a later date might not be a bad option either.

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