The first thing you notice when you watch the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special DVD is the menu has the original theme from CHALLENGE OF THE SUPERFRIENDS (debut: Sept. 9, 1978) playing in a loop, which was the first time the Legion of Doom was introduced in the Saturday Morning Cartoons we all loved as kids. If you didn’t have the chance to see the RCDC Special when it debuted on Adult Swim last September, the menu immediately identifies which version of the JLA/Superfriends they are lampooning on the DVD. Thank GOD! Thankfully, we weren’t put through the ringer with Marvin, Wendy, Wonderdog, the Wonder Twins or Gleek. In “Challenge of the Superfriends”, we weren’t distracted by lame characters thrown in for comic relief, and we were able to focus on the fact that Robin and Aquaman really don’t contribute a whole lot to the Justice League’s successes.
The next thing you’ll notice on the RCDC DVD, if you take a look at the Special Features Section, is this disc is chock full of extra stuff that you won’t see anywhere else. Over two-hours of Robot Chicken DC extras is featured on the disc. Before we talk about the RCDC Special, which we can already quote in our sleep, we HAVE to talk about everything you get in the Special Features. Let’s break it down:
The Making of the RCDC Special
Before we go any further, you should know that NONE of the language is edited in any way on any of the special features of the DVD, so these are for the adults, not for the kiddos. Now, having said that, as an adult, I really appreciate that everything they do to make this special has some air time, so you can see the massive amount of work it takes to make a 23-minute stop-action animation show. And since the creators of Robot Chicken (Seth Green and Matthew Senreich) were working closely with Geoff Johns (Chief Create Officer, DC), they wanted it to be authentic, from the Mego Retro-Action Figures and Kenner Superpower Collection Action Figures that were used to film all the DC Characters, to the props used to make all the miniature sets.
When you are watching this, you can’t help but feel that everyone involved in the making of this RCDC Special were really having a blast, from the writers, to the set technicians, to the voice artists, and everyone in between. Rarely do you get to see ALL the people that were involved in a production, getting their credit on the “Behind the Scenes” clips. You know, from watching this, we can tell these people are appreciated for all the hard work they do.
It’s fun to see the animatics and final version interlaced with the actors doing the voice over at the same time. Capturing the stop-motion animation is an excruciatingly long process, which is why there could be up to 30 different scenes being worked on simultaneously within the walls of Stoopid Buddy Stoodios.
RCDC’s Aquaman Origin Story
This short featurette describes how it came to be that Aquaman was the theme that tied this whole special together to make it a complete story. It was initiated by Doug Goldstein (Head Writer/Exec Producer), where it was suggested that Aquaman gets picked on one too many times from the other members of the JLA, and what happens when he acts on that. The story grew, organically, from there, with all the other writers pitching in to complete the episode.
This is my new favorite way to watch the RCDC Special. There are so many little “nuggets” of information thrown into the story every time you see the white silhouette of the robot chicken character in the top right of the screen. For instance, you find out why the #RCDC Hashtag was used on the title screen of the opening sequence. Seth Green described how they wanted to make fun that hashtags were being put on everything on TV, magazines, etc., where it really wasn’t an interactive experience for the viewer, but it was being called that anyway.
Another nice nugget talks about how the recurring “That’s Bane” scene had been put into the special, and how they did it before the Dark Knight Rises movie had been released, where Bane does the same move on Batman.
You’ll appreciate all these little “nuggets” of information, and once you’ve seen them all, you’ll want to go back and see them again.
Yes, you get to hear all the writers of the RCDC Special talk about the show as they watch it with you. Sure, sometimes you can’t hear the dialogue of the actual show, but that’s not the point of watching it this way. Here, you get to hear how Kevin Shinick is the one from the group who channels Ted Knight the most. The writers know Ted Knight was the narrator of the original Superfriends cartoon and theme song. The writers know so much about this because they have all lived long enough to have seen the original Superfriends cartoon when they were kids, and they grew up reading DC comic books, and they researched before they brainstormed for 2 weeks prior to writing the script for this episode.
The writers that you will get to hear on the DVD are (in no particular order): Matt Beans, Michael Fasolo, Geoff Johns, Kevin Shinick, Zeb Wells, Tom Root. This does not include all the writers that received writing credit for this RCDC Special. You’ll get to hear how writers will write a bunch of stuff that never makes it into the final cut. You’ll also hear whether the writers pitched anything that was out of context of the Justice League vs. Legion of Doom story. I just find it funny how these writers Geek out over getting big name stars like Alfred Molina, Paul Reubens, and Nathan Fillion to do the voices in their special. They also talk about what DC characters they’d love to see in RCDC 2.
Matthew Senreich, Alfred Molina (Fred), Seth Green, Tom Root, and Abraham Benrubi all come together for the Actor’s Commentary, which makes this the 4th full version of the RCDC Special on the DVD. If you don’t watch these special features, you are REALLY missing out on all the information that comes from the making of this RCDC special. It is priceless.
The main thing that struck me from listening to the actor’s commentary is that this is the first time in Alfred Molina’s long career that he has ever done any DVD commentary for anything. Who would have ever guessed that after his appearances on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spiderman 2, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Maverick, that he would lose his DVD commentary virginity on Robot Chicken?!
Alfred Molina also talked about his love of comics. He used to buy them once a week, and he lived by the collector’s code, where you buy 3 copies; 1 for reading, 1 for trading, and 1 for saving as a mint collectible for the future.
The actors all agreed that the thing that encapsulates the entire theme of this special is when the armed robber is firing a machine gun at Superman’s chest, and then moves his aim to the crotch region of Superman’s costume. It’s that type of simple juvenile humor that makes the whole special.
DC Entertainment Tour
This is the kid-in-the-candy-store featurette. It just seems like every room that the Geoff Johns shows to Seth Green and Matt Senreich, Seth ends up taking a stash of toys with him. Seth calls it, “raiding the closets.” They get to see the West Coast archives of every DC Comic ever made! Obviously, there are lots of toys and action figures, and they end up in the writer’s room, where all the DC “magic” happens. As we watch this, we can only drool and pretend we wouldn’t want to be in Seth’s and Matt’s shoes. Ok, Yes! We are supremely jealous!
Stoopid Alter Egos
This segment has a bunch of the set designers and costume artists from the RCDC Special making their own costumes of the Zoo Crew and other DC villains and heroes, and heading down to Hollywood Boulevard to show them off where they can mingle with all the tourists. Then, they wrap it up at the RCDC Wrap-Up Party, where everyone is costumed, and enjoying the spoils of this wonderful special they created. Seth Green is dressed as The Joker, Kevin Shinick as Clark Kent, Geoff Johns has a Green Lantern look, and there are plenty of Aquamen to go around.
These are the funny moments that go on in the recording booth in between and during takes of the scenes from the RCDC Special. This segment captures the voice recordings of Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris, Alex Borstein, Alfed Molina, Abraham Benrubi, Tom Root, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Zeb Wells, and the sexiest belcher of them all, Tara Strong. These are extremely talented people showing that they are just as human as the rest of us.
There are 13 sketches that were cut from the special for various reasons; Either the dialogue/scene was too long and wordy, or it didn’t make sense within the context of the story, or it was too extreme, or the characters used were too obscure for most viewers to understand. In each scene, the voice actors had recorded all their dialogue, and they are matched up with drawings or animatics, including sound effects. I actually agree that these should have been cut, but I can see where it may have been a close call on a couple of them.
5.2 Questions with Robot Chicken
This segment has Seth Green, Matthew Senreich and Geoff Johns answering random questions about DC characters, comics and some of their favorite things. This just seemed like it was added as filler, and it could have been left off the DVD. Some of the answers were hard to hear, but you can hear most of it.
That wraps up the Special Features portion of our Review of the RCDC Special. Now, onto the main show.
Robot Chicken DC Comics Special
This DC Comics Special is different than the previous Robot Chicken DVD Releases of the Star Wars Specials because this episode actually follows an Aquaman-themed storyline, with several comedic looks at various DC villains and heroes mixed in. Seth Green has talked at length in the special features about how Aquaman is continuously picked-on by the other members of the Justice League because he can’t fly, and because he spends way too much time with fish, if you know what I mean. Therefore, when he gets to the point where he can’t “STANDS NO MORE”, he decides to go play for the other team. No, I don’t mean the fish. I mean the Legion of Doom.
Meanwhile, as a recurring subplot, Batman can’t seem to get anywhere without Bane coming in and breaking his back in the same style as The Dark Knight Rises. The funny thing is, all of the other members of the Justice League just sit by and watch this happen. Poor Batman.
Of course, one of my favorite scenes is the one where Robot Chicken exposes the fact that there are way too many Mr. Freeze-type characters in the DC Universe. And, they all have freeze rays. Between Captain Cold, Mr. Freeze, and Icicle, they manage to break apart the walls enough from their icy entrances that the building comes down as Ice watches from outside.
Oh please, let’s not get started about Firestorm, Mr. Banjo, or B’DG. These are obscure DC characters that try to prove to us that they deserve to be bigger characters than they are, based on the powers they possess. It only proves to make them more lame, as Robot Chicken intended them to look.
In the end, Aquaman redeems himself after a rather lengthy battle between the Justice League and The Legion of Doom, Batman’s back remains broken, and we’re all trying to avoid being kissed by Superman, so we don’t forget everything that happened, like Christopher Reeve’s Superman did in Superman II with Lois Lane.
Hey… wait a minute…”forget everything that happened”. On second thought, where is that puckered-up Man of Steel? Oh, SUPERMAN!
To be completely honest, if you haven’t already pre-ordered this DVD/Blu-Ray go out on Tuesday and pick it up. It is listed as Blu-ray SRP: $19.98 and DVD SRP: $14.98. This will be one of those discs in your library that you will keep going back to because it is really fun to watch.
All your favorite DC Characters will return to have more of the Robot Chicken treatment in #RCDC2, the never-ending quest for more obscure comic book characters, currently in production. Also, because there were some items in the DC Entertainment Vault that Seth Green hasn’t plundered yet.