‘Robot Chicken Star Wars: Episode III’ DVD review

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For the third time in four years, the Robot Chicken team have produced a special extended episode dedicated to Star Wars. But unlike comedic cartoon cousin Family Guy – whose third foray into a galaxy far, far away jumped the Sarlacc and (as they admitted themselves in the opening crawl) fell victim to the law of diminishing returns – Seth Green and company have manage to comfortably maintain the quality level of their previous Star Wars episodes for almost the entire forty-five minutes.

Framed as the story of Emperor Palpatine (Seth MacFarlane) searching for redemption and a sense of identity in the last few moments of his life as he plummets towards his death at the hands of Darth Vader – ‘My former intern has tossed me down a freaking bottomless pit!’ – their Episode III takes in the fantasy world inhabited by Boba Fett, Anakin Skywalker’s progress from gullible, girly-voiced child to a man who can’t control the functions of his new Vader costume, and the luckless life of Gary, the universe’s most unfortunate Stormtrooper.

Gary manages to burn down the Skywalker house on Tatooine by mistake, mow down an Ewok whilst borrowing a friend’s speeder bike, and ends up almost crashing the Death Star into a planet after being left in charge by a co-worker who needed the toilet. There are also some brilliant one-offs, such as a scantily-clad Padme getting R2-D2 aroused, C-3PO admitting he doesn’t speak Spanish, Obi-Wan using the Force to convince himself he’s still attractive to women and – perhaps best of all – a brief but brilliant sketch that ends with the line, ‘Uncle Owen, this droid has a bad motivator.’

Throughout the episode, the gags are as strong as ever – managing to subtly poke fun at Star Wars without ever getting snarky or mean-spirited – and even though it starts to drag a bit around the thirty minute mark (you can only enjoy any kind of chicken for so long before it all starts to taste a bit rubbery) there are still moments of high quality right up to the end, where Chewbacca spits out a hairball and protests: ‘Two trilogies and I couldn’t say a damn word. Now where’s the bitch that called me a walking carpet?’

In fact, the only time the quality seriously wavers is when they deviate from the short-but-sweet policy and try longer sketches. Vader dancing in his new suit to a funked-up, disco version of the Star Wars theme and ending up in the bathroom, desperately trying to find the button on his suit that opens the appropriate flaps, is brilliant (and the auto-tuned ‘Noooooooo!’ as he gets his cape caught in the toilet is one of the funniest moments of all). However, the protracted tale of the one-armed monster from Hoth trying vainly to buy some petrol isn’t. It tries to be moving, almost succeeds, but then just becomes boring. It’s a rare bum note in an otherwise outstanding – and screamingly funny – episode.

Extras: There’s more additional material on this DVD than you could shake a barbecue sauce-drenched Hot Wing at. ‘Chicken Nuggets’ – an in-vision sketch video commentary – and ‘Sunday In The Boardroom With George Lucas’ – an informal interview with the silver-bearded Star Wars creator – are of particular note, but there’s also literally hours of featurettes, deleted scenes, animatics, convention appearances and even a gag reel. Plenty of chicken to gorge yourself on, in other words.

Released on DVD on Monday 4th July 2011 by Revolver Entertainment.

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