TV Review | Robot Chicken 4.1: “Help Me”

Another year, another season of Robot Chicken.  It’s like this sort of thing happens every year on an arbitrary date decided by [adult swim].

Every Robot Chicken season premiere has to have a big “we’re renewed” introductory sketch, so Seth Green and Matthew Senreich hit up Joss Whedon, Seth MacFarlane and Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ron Moore for work.  It doesn’t matter that Green and Senreich killed [adult swim]’s Mike Lazzo last season.  Robot Chicken‘s famous for dead people magically coming back to life, sometimes in the very next sketch.  Cartoons are neat.

Seeing Joss Whedon and Ron Moore kill each other warms my heart as I find both Battlestar Galactica and Whedon overrated, but the sketch itself isn’t funny.  I hate the “Robot Chicken cancelled/renewed” cliffhangers.  Robot Chicken is one of [adult swim]’s most popular shows.  Robot Chicken has at least three more years of being milked.

“I Am Needed Upstairs” is the best sketch of the episode.  Seth MacFarlane’s Trojan Man routine (“the reservoir tip is for your semen!”) helps sell the sketch, otherwise it’s the typical “fictional character in real world” mashup.  “I Am Needed Upstairs” works due to its use of dialogue, something Robot Chicken isn’t as good at as Dead Baby Comedy.

“Can’t Be a Crime to Kick a Dope Rhyme” is also notable.  Although the sketch is just okay, it wins points for referencing PaRappa the Rapper and replicating its paper-thin look.  Three seasons ago, characters in Robot Chicken weren’t even in scale.  The show has come far.

Tila Tequila’s sketch (“Pre-Pubescent Alien Whore”) is watchable enough, even though the Terminator 2 reference is just there and I could give a potted damn about anything or anyone Tila Tequila does and/or has sex with.  She got a plug for her MTV show in, so that’s her role fulfilled.

The ending sketch, “Just the Good Parts,” is a mixed bag.  It’s similar to season one’s “Welcome to the Spoilers,” but isn’t as funny.  There’s a callback to the beginning of the episode, which is wasted on Seth Green dying.

The occasional Sarah Michelle Gellar and Seth MacFarlane cameos are fine, as are the credit references to Gellar and Mila Kunis.  MacFarlane making fun of Family Guy‘s manatee gags, though, comes across as mutual ass-patting.  MacFarlane’s awesome, I get it.  He only says that about himself once every three seconds.  Robot Chicken can structure a much better gag than Family Guy at this point.

“Help Me” is a fairly solid season premiere for Robot Chicken.  At this point viewers and non-fans alike should know what to expect – farting, retards, nut shots, clever satire with ironic subtext and Joey Fatone cameos.  Robot Chicken may be maturing, but it’s still crude and offensive.  May this show never be up its own ass with self-importance.

C. Archer
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