It’s Friday, October 12 and the Javits Center is beginning to burst at the seams. (Attendance for the event will ultimately reach a healthy 116,000 fanboys and -girls of all ages.) Banes abound, Lokis lurk and there are Doctor (Who)s by the dozens. David Tennants and Matt Smiths predominate, although a Peter Davison Doctor shows up at Peter Davison’s session. Speaking of which, You Can’t Make this Stuff Up Department: Davison’s daughter Georgia is married to Tennant; they met when she played the title role in the Dr. Who episode… “The Doctor’s Daughter.” (Yeah, I can’t believe it either but it’s true.)
A goodly percentage of attendees are in costume…talk about crossovers: Mario and Luigi chat with Power Rangers villains Lord Zed (season two) and Rita Repulsa (season one); now that would be a very special episode indeed…a five-year old dressed as Deadpool is beating up his dad, who seems to be taking it good-naturedly – ooh, good aim kid, a bullseye on your dad’s crotch…there’s a line from here to Chicago to get Brian Bolland’s autograph…Where’s Waldo? There’s Waldo – and look, there’s another one…
I marvel at these dressed-up folks in their homemade superhero and super villain outfits and thank God I’m not as weird as them – until I realize I’m wearing a Discord T-shirt, a Wally Gator pin in my baseball cap, a canvas Applejack shoulder bag and my hand-painted, scale-patterned pair of reptilian sneakers. (My very own Crocs, if you will.) Maybe I should show these costumed folks a little more respect; they know who they are (or would like to be) whereas I seem to be all over the place…
Jackson Public and Doc Hammer go high-concept for their Venture Bros. session, presenting Let’s All Smoking, a faux-1970’s late night talk show, complete with scratchy animated opening credits. Dressed in in sharply tailored suits and smoking blue-capped e-cigarettes, the co-hosts introduce Paul Boocock (no jokes please, he heard enough of them growing up), voice of Jonas Venture Sr. (“What have you been up to? Quick, because we don’t care.”)
They screen a sizzle reel chock-full of brief WTF moments from the show’s upcoming fifth season, beginning with the show’s Hunter S. Thompson’s stand-in haranguing the audience Patton-style: “The Venture Bros. is coming back to make your life bright and motherf***ing cheery!” Sexy robots, flying sphinxes, Brock Samson in his underwear, Hank Venture as Dracula, albino Pete White as a winged centaur… I love this show.
Doc Hammer reveals he and Jackson draw the show on paper napkins, calls himself a “brilliant blowhard” and announces his preference for Space: 1999 over Doctor Who.
There’s an intermission, then more Adult Swim: Cartoon Network exec Keith Crofford doesn’t do much of anything except stand behind the podium during the Robot Chicken panel; he’s more Dad keeping an eye on the kids in the finished basement than a participant in the goings-on.
It’s a crowded panel, filled with the show’s writers and performers and led by Seth Green. Notable are Dan Milano, letting his geek flag fly in a Star Trek tunic, and Macauly Culkin, wearing sunglasses and sauntering onstage a good ways into the proceedings. Chicken’s sizzle reel is filled with more of the show’s twisted pop-culture gags, blackouts that have earned the clay-animated series a seventh season: Superman taking super-dog Krypto to the vet to get super-fixed…Pinky and the Brain doing “the same thing we do every night” – hitting the party circuit and getting sh**-faced drunk…Mr. Peanut blasted into a puddle of peanut butter…and I can’t tell you what they did to Dora the Explorer (mainly because I forgot).
There’s no chat, no announcements from the panel, just audience Q&A. Not your standard questions either: who’s your gay crush? (Macauley: Keanu Reeves as Jack Sparrow); who would you enjoy a three-way with? Seth says Marvel’s Black Cat and X-Men’s Jean Grey, little knowing his wish will come true near panel’s end when fans dressed as those characters emerge from the audience for a real-life three-way (photograph). Seth tells one questioner “I like your Duck Tales T-shirt” and leads the audience in a “woo-hoooo” from the show’s theme song Favorite season six moments? Seth: Voltron breakdancing; writer/voice performer Kevin Shinick: Star Trek: the Opera (starring actual opera singers!); Macauley: “I’m a big fan of the Home Alone Christmas Special.” One questioner wants to know which they hate more, My Little Pony or Sonic the Hedgehog. “There’s no hate at Robot Chicken,” Kevin informs him.
He’s right: You might not believe it at first sight, but Chicken loves and celebrates its pop culture targets, even when they explode them into bloody bits; The show’s spoofs are of the “we believe in these characters so much we can imagine them in settings and situations other than their own” variety, not “let’s take a dump on this piece of crap because we’re so much superior to it.” If there is hate, it’s towards shows like Jersey Shore – “not a positive type of entertainment,” Seth says. “It’s up to us to combat that cynicism.”
Highlights of the upcoming season? Alfred Molina and Paul Reubens taking part in the show’s Christmas special. (“I can’t believe how lucky we were,” adds Seth; “it’s crazy this year.”) Any theme episodes, a la the show’s Star Wars specials? “We’re all big nerds, we love all that stuff – maybe we’ll do a second DC [Comics] episode.” They’ve already shared too much information with the audience, says Kevin, “and we’re not allowed to talk about-” and mimes a tranquilizer dart hitting his neck.
(more to come…)