I’m sure that most of us here are already familiar with the Adult Swim stop motion animated sketch comedy series Robot Chicken, created by Seth Green and Matt Senriech (sorry if misspelled your last name, Matt), so I wont go into that. Anyway, RC has done numerous parodies of popular toys, games and TV shows, primarily from the 1970s through the early 00s, so for a while, I was wondering when is RC going to do a parody of Dungeons & Dragons, the Marvel produced Saturday morning cartoon that was loosely based on the popular card game which ran on CBS from 1983 to 1985? I used to watch the D&D cartoon every week. I even have the DVD of the entire series. There were a lot of elements and tropes about the D&D cartoon which were ripe for parody. Well, in Robot Chicken’s 5th season, we finally get a D&D parody sketch and we get…this:
One word: Lame.
Seriously, Robot Chicken? You guys had the Smurfs engaging in an all out battle to the death with Snorks. You had Archie and the gang reenacting the movie Final Destination. You had the cast of Fraggle Rock in a parody of Watership Down You had the Keebler elves fighting off a rampaging Cookie Monster, and that’s really the best that you could come up for a Dungeons & Dragons parody?
Allow me to break down the reasons why this D&D sketch fails:
First, anyone who has seen the show knows that there were 6 kids who transported from our world into the Dungeons & Dragons realm courtesy of the D&D ride at the amusement park, and yet there are only 3 kids shown in the sketch (Hank, Diana and Eric). So what happened to Sheila, Presto and Bobby? If they weren’t going to be there, there should have been a reason provided as to why they weren’t there.
Second, the kids in the sketch barely resembled the cartoon characters that they were supposed to represent. Now, I wasn’t expecting Willie Aames to come back to reprise his role as Hank (although it would have been great if he had), but the guy who’s supposed to be Hank looked nothing like the Hank on the cartoon. They just took the Matt Tracker figure from their earlier MASK sketch and dressed it in an outfit that kinda sorta resembled the one that Hank wore, even though Hank’s Ranger outfit was green, not brown. And also, Hank had medium length rock-star hair, not short hair. Did these guys even see the show?
Third, no lines for Eric. After having seen how brilliantly Reggie Mantle was handled in the aforementioned Archie sketch, I couldn’t wait to see how RC was going to depict the spoiled, sardonic, complaining Eric, but he doesn’t get a single line of dialogue to utter here! Talk about dropping the ball.
Fourth, out of all the tropes and running bits on the show that RC could have made fun of, all we get is a lame bit about Venger only having 1 horn on his helmet? That’s been joked about in the actual show. They could have parodied how Dungeon Master was always sending the kids off on dangerous missions and also have him sending them to perform demeaning tasks that he himself doesn’t to be bothered with on the promise the he’ll send them home once they’ve completed their tasks (which could include buying DM’s groceries or taking his car to the shop), only to discover that DM could send the kids back home anytime that he wants to and just like having them do stuff for him, and upon finding out the truth, the kids proceed to beat the snot of Dungeon Master. And that was just something that I pulled out of my pants a couple of days ago!
Finally, the sketch ends with a cut to a caption which reads “Venger never found his horn”. Not funny. RC have ended a few of their sketches this way, but it fails to amuse each time it’s been done.
Bottom line: If you know very little about the show, don’t bother trying to spoof it (and this also goes for RC’s painfully unfunny documentary skit about the 90s cartoons).
Robot Chicken is a mixed bag overall. The show is funny when the team has a good concept, but when the show misses the mark, it really misses the mark. I’ve been waiting since the show began to see Seth, Matt and the team write a parody of another CBS Saturday morning cartoon, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, when of if that ever happens, I really hope that they’ll actually put some effort into it and we’ll get a better result than what we got with this parody of D&D.