Stop-Motion Shenanigans

The Wizard of Oz meets Oz.

It's not as if Seth Green really needed more geek cred. From playing a pint-sized Woody Allen in his youth to the werewolf love interest of a nerdy witch on one of the most beloved genre shows of all time to supplying the voice of the overweight teenage son of the rightful heir to The Simpsons, he's been all over the fan radar for years. But just in case we haven't been paying attention, last year, he and buddy Matt Senreich launched their bid to anchor Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup, and it's a hell of a compelling case. Robot Chicken is not only chock-full of shits 'n' giggles, but it's also worthy of standing beside Harvey Birdman and the Mooninites—and that's no mean feat even for a famous geek.

Billed as "television especially formulated for the Attention Deficit Disorder generation," each 15-minute Robot Chicken episode plays like a mash-up of Ray Harryhausen and Saturday-morning TV, with stop-motion vignettes starring dolls and action figures giving pop culture a kick up the whazoo. Highlights of the first season, out on DVD this week, include Captain Kirk, "Khaaaaan!" and Kirk Cameron in that TV classic Two Kirks, a Khan and a Pizza Place; what really happened to Dr. Teeth and the band after The Muppet Show went off the air in "Behind the Music: Electric Mayhem"; and Luke Skywalker walking off the set of The Empire Strikes Back when Dad decides he ought to know what the Force really is. (Vader: "It's tiny creatures called midichlorians living in your blood"; Luke: "Look, if you're not going to take this seriously, I'm outta here!") By the way, yes, indeed that's Mark Hamill's voice; major props to Green for pulling a killer list of guest voices including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Scarlett Johansson and . . . Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise?! Quality. The packed first series set also includes commentaries from Green and Senreich, deleted animatics and scenes, and a gag reel.

Also recommended this week: Au Revoir Les Enfants (Criterion); King Kong (2005): Collector's Edition; Northern Exposure: Season 4; Planet of the Apes: Ultimate Edition; Plymptoons; Six Feet Under: Season 5; Wonder Showzen, Season 1.

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