“Robot Chicken: Season Three”
Cartoon Network

2 out of 5 stars

Along with boobs and domestic violence, whores are a common theme in the third season of “Robot Chicken.” The Cartoon Network comedy series, created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, is often crude, dark and lowbrow, yet it somehow manages to be more amusing than offensive. “Chicken” has gained attention for its stop-motion animated cast of action figures and other clay creations. The unique style of animation serves as a visual savior when the humor fails to captivate — which is often.

Unfortunately, “Chicken” relies heavily on overplayed gags that aren’t particularly funny. If an idea isn’t comical the first time it’s aired, using the same concept later in the season isn’t going make it better: far too many sketches end with a disgruntled housewife stabbing her husband. Similarly, the show keeps reusing its more successful subjects to the point where the humor is dead and buried. The writers simply haven’t figured out how to exercise restraint.

This problem is further evidenced by the show’s tedious longer sketches; the show’s moments are usually found in its short skits. After enduring several minutes of a rather obnoxious Bush impression, a five-second clip of a judge playing whack-a-mole with his gavel is a welcome relief.

Despite these flaws, at least part of each half-hour episode is generally worth watching. The show refreshingly pokes fun at more obscure elements of popular culture (e.g. “Thundercats”) in original and creative ways. “Robot Chicken” remains entertaining with these odd references and the animation is consistently impressive.

It’s a shame the same can’t be said for the DVD’s special features. The set boasts a long list of commentaries, including alternate audio, deleted scenes, a gag reel and a studio tour. But the grand majority of the goodies are a huge disappointment.

There are two equally useless forms of commentary available to the viewers. In one, the show is interrupted every two minutes by a short interview in which the creators speak at length about the sketch. As a result, the length of the episode is tragically doubled and all continuity is lost. The other commentary takes a more standard approach, but the commentators just share dull anecdotes about their lives instead of talking about the show.

Then there’s the “alternate audio,” which is nothing more than Seth Green making chicken noises for eight minutes, and the “gag reel,” a one-minute compilation of all season’s scenes involving blood or gore. Perhaps “gag” was just a lame attempt at a pun, but however the set’s creators meant it, the feature isn’t funny. The deleted scenes offer little and were omitted for good reason. The two redeeming options among the special features are the studio tour and video blogs, which offer insight into the making of the show.

Though DVD releases of TV shows have many advantages (special features and the option of a show whenever you want) there’s more harm done than good in the DVD release of “Robot Chicken” ‘s third season. The show is better on TV, where it’s uncluttered by superfluous special features. It would have been a wise choice for the producers to keep it there.

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