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TV, Comic Books
The annual meeting of the silly hats club took place at New York Comic Con 2013 as the Robot Chicken panel brought the cast and crew of the hit Adult Swim animated series together (in ridiculous hats) to discuss the long-running show and answer questions from fans. Co-creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich led a funny-hat wearing panel that also consisted of voice actors Clare Grant, Breckin Meyer and the reclusive Macaulay Culkin, who entered the stage to thunderous applause.
VP of Adult Swim Keith Crofford moderated the panel, kicking things off by announcing the “Robot Chicken Born Again Virgin Holiday Special” would air on December 16 on Adult Swim. Green then noticed dozens of empty “reserved” seats in the front row of the theatre. He set the madcap tone for the afternoon by immediately inviting the massive crowd to fill in the seats, which they happily did in seconds.
“Great, now my mom and her 19 friends can’t sit in the seats I reserved for her!” Meyer joked.
The panel briefly talked about working with Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston for Senreich and writer/director Zeb Wells’ new animated show Ubermansion.
“He thought he’d go from a highlight of Breaking Bad to a wonderful show on Adult Swim,” Senreich said.
Crofford then debuted a trailer for Ubermansion, where B-list superheroes team up to fight crime in both the style and tone of Robot Chicken. As expected, nothing in the trailer goes right for the squad and the jokes fly hard, fast and extremely blue. After the trailer, Green discussed the second Robot Chicken DC Special set for release next year, officially dubbed Robot Chicken DC Special: Villains in Paradise.
“We’re focusing on the villains this time,” Senreich said. Lined up for the cast so far is Clancy Brown as Gorilla Grodd, Paul Reubens as the Riddler, Sarah Hyland as Lex Luther’s teenage daughter, Breckin Meyer as Superman, Claire Grant as Poison Ivy, Zac Efron as Superboy and returning voice actor Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern.
Regarding Zac Efron, Culkin joked, “I’d do him!”
“I did him!” Meyer interjected.
The panel debuted a preview animatic of Villains in Paradise, featuring dialogue laid out over storyboard illustrations with minimal coloring. In the preview, Batman argues with Green Lantern about the shape of the green bubble he should be carried to battle in. The duo eventually agrees on a sailboat, restoring Batman’s masculinity, as they launched into a musical number about friendship.
During the Q&A portion of the panel, a young boy named Emmett asked the first question, but not before the panel all commented on his brown hat, which would turn into a running joke for the evening. Emmett immediately swore off the entire panel for mocking his hat, except for Green.
“Way to make friends, Emmett!” said Meyer. Both Emmett and his hat would go on to be a running gag throughout the panel.
Emmett asked Green if he felt his starring role in new sitcom Dads would affect the humor or production schedule of Robot Chicken. Senreich said, “You know he’s done other TV shows [while working on Robot Chicken] that may not have succeeded, right?”
Emmett said to Green, “If it makes you feel better, I liked you in Austin Powers.”
Meyer replied, “Yeah, if it makes you feel good, I liked you ten years ago!”
Answering seriously, Green said, “The truth is we have a really good team of smart, funny people on Robot Chicken and I’m always there when I can be.”
Senreich added, “What people don’t realize is that he’s still there every day.”
“Yeah, why don’t you give him a fucking break, man?!” Meyer said. “You and your brown hat thinking you’re so god damned smart.”
Although Robot Chicken has so far only made a DC Comics special, the question continually arises as to whether the team has plans for a Marvel-themed episode. “We know a lot of people at Marvel and we should be able to pull that off,” said Green. “We will totally work on it.”
“Yes is the answer,” Senreich added. “We want to.”
During the Q&A, Venture Brothers co-creator Doc Hammer danced out on stage in a jumpsuit, dragging Green and Culkin into a bear hug. Hammer unzipped the jumpsuit to his bellybutton and laid across the table to reveal his chest tattoos before dancing off-stage again.
Green then said they hadn’t yet received their annual “sexy pose” question. He asked if anybody in line was going to ask the panel to do a sexy pose and half a dozen hands shot up. At that, Green shouted, “This is happening!” and the panel assembled on the front of the stage to begin alternately grabbing each other’s bodies and taking off parts of clothing. The pose ended with Green’s groping Meyer’s chest while Culkin stood on the panel table pulling Meyer’s face into his crouch.
Senreich spoke a bit more on the origin of Ubermansion, which came from his love of superheroes — his and co-creator Zeb Wells’. “I had this idea of doing something with superheroes and Zeb — being a superhero guy — I wanted to use his strengths for good,” he said. “I talked to him about doing something set on an Avengers Mansion or Justice League Satellite and just what the mundane of their lives would be and what if Superman retired and everyone beneath him is an asshole.”
Cranston was their ideal candidate so they sent him a script and he offered to not only star in it, but produce it, as well. Green said, “[Cranston] had amazing ideas, too. All his thoughts about his character, like what it would feel like from that perspective was great. Shocker! Bryan Cranston is a great asset.”
Green’s proudest Robot Chicken moment was bringing in Ahmed Best to voice his Star Wars: The Phantom Menace character Jar Jar Binks in their Star Wars special. Best ended up winning an award for that portrayal on the day his child was born, helping bring positivity to a chapter in his life he’d been criticized for initially. Green called Best a “brilliant, talented” performer.
A girl named Teela told Green that the episode where a kid masturbates to He-Man character Teela disturbs her every time she sees it.
“You don’t have to repeatedly watch it! You’re making a choice,” Meyer said. “The right choice.”
“There are kids that are introduced to certain brands [through Robot Chicken] instead of the actual, sincere iteration of them,” said Green. “It’s really weird, I think. There was a 10-year old who told me he loves He-Man on our show and I asked him if he liked the He-Man show. He told me, ‘There’s a show?'”
Green told a Breaking Bad Heisenberg cosplayer that he’d love to do a Robot Chicken bus tour again and that he was currently working on getting a documentary finished on the first bus tour. Green said, “It’s something that’s always on my mind because it was such a fun, unique experience. We did a 10 city tour of roller rinks and threw a free party with [the band] Gym Class Heroes.”
Wrapping up, a man dressed in a ten-foot high robotic exoskeleton costume asked how they managed to get such huge names as voice talent on the show.
“I’ll tell you the truth, there’s a couple of different ways. We go out to people or they come to us,” said Green. “We cast people based on their different skillsets that they have. The reason, I think, that people come to do it is because it’s easy and fun. We like actors and we like creativity so we invite people to come have fun with us and usually they’re game for it.”
“For the first season when nobody knew what the show was, we begged,” said Senreich. “We begged.”
Meyer revealed that he ran into Max Greenfield who plays Schmidt on New Girl recently and Greenfield asked to come on the show.
“People now want to be on the show,” said Meyer, “which is unbelievable.”