‘Robot Chicken’ hatches a dead-on ‘Walking Dead’ spoof

‘Robot Chicken’ hatches a dead-on ‘Walking Dead’ spoof. (AP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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‘Robot Chicken’ hatches a dead-on ‘Walking Dead’ spoof

NEW YORK: Chickens clucking the doleful “Walking Dead” theme offer up an early hint that what is ahead will be offbeat and funny.
“The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who is Walking” (which airs Sunday at midnight Eastern time on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim) teams “Robot Chicken” masterminds Seth Green and Matthew Senreich with “The Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Scott M. Gimple along with “Walking Dead” stars voicing action-figure versions of their characters that, in classic “Robot Chicken” fashion, spoof the AMC zombie thriller.
“It is a massive collaboration by AMC and (Adult Swim parent) Turner that typically is not possible,” Green said during a conversation alongside Senreich earlier this week. “It is awesome they let us do it.”
Writing for the half-hour special began a year ago. First step: Charting out key “Walking Dead” plot twists, season by season.
“We put all that on a board,” Green said. “Then we thought, ‘OK, what are significant visual elements you can reference in a humorous way?’”
“Our writers are all diehard fanatics of the show,” Senreich said. “But our comic sense is to take the moment right before or right after a horrific scene, and find the silliness in how awkward or mundane that moment can be.
“Then, when we saw how all those little pieces were coming together, we needed a framework.”
Green: “I walked out of the writers room for less than five minutes and when I walked back in they go, ‘We have got it!’ The idea was: a retrospective look at everything the ‘Walking Dead’ characters had been through. It is set well into the future, after the walker apocalypse has been cured, and we are reflecting on the mythology about that era, with some of the mythology pretty garbled.”
Senreich: “Then we got to play with all the actors from the show!”
Green: “I do not know that this has ever been done, where you have the entire cast of an ongoing successful drama series playing a comedic version of their characters in a parody of that show.”
Carl, the eyepatch-wearing teenage son of series hero Rick Grimes but now an old man, serves as a narrator of sorts, with Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl, also voicing him in that elderly state.
Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick, recorded his lines over a Skype hookup.
Senreich: “You saw the joy he had in doing this: He would do a take and then say, ‘Hold on,’ and he would give us another version, and then go, ‘I have got another idea, hold on!’”
Michael Rooker, who played the racist roughneck Merle, reveals a lovely singing voice as Merle, chained to a rooftop, serenading a zombie lass.
And the villainous Negan (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is on hand, barbed-wire bat in hand, as his action-figure Doppelganger, performing a song-and-dance number.
Green: “Everybody realized that we were no making fun of the show, that we were not trying to take away any of the audience’s experience of the sincere, frightening original show. We just wanted to do a companion piece that has fun in that world.”
Senreich: “What we are doing comes from a place of love. We are fanboys!”
While this program is a one-off, “Robot Chicken” will be back with a Christmas special on December 10, kicking off a ninth season of weekly episodes.
Senreich: “It is the first chance we have been able to do anything on (‘Star Wars’ films) ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘Rogue One,’ which inspired what might be my favorite sketch of multiple seasons.”
Green (cracking up): “Are you talking about the mice?”
Senreich: “I have seen it maybe 200 times, and it still makes me giggle. It is those little moments that make this all worthwhile.”
The series premiered in 2005 as a joint venture of the multi-faceted Green (a producer-director-writer and actor who landed his first film role at age 10 in “The Hotel New Hampshire,” and voices slothful teen son Chris on the Fox cartoon series “Family Guy”) and Senreich (a kindred spirit who had been editorial director of Wizard, a magazine devoted to comics and pop culture).
Senreich defines “Robot Chicken” as “sketch comedy with toys, as ‘SNL’ with action figures.”
“Thanks to stop-motion animation, our toys come to life,” Green notes.
“One of my favorite things about stop-motion,” he goes on, “is how well it tricks the brain. If you have got an animator who can bring life to something inanimate, the audience not only sees the real shadows and the real lighting, but believes the illusion that this thing that is not alive IS alive.
“And when you are photographing a toy, you are seeing it with the life you imagined it to have as a kid. That is very powerful.
“And by the time you get the joke” — Green snaps his fingers — “it is twice as effective.”


Leaving on a jetsuit? London store offers chance to hover like "Iron Man"

Updated 18 July 2018
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Leaving on a jetsuit? London store offers chance to hover like "Iron Man"

  • Running on jet fuel or diesel, it has a speed record of 32 miles per hour
  • Made up of five miniature jet engines mounted on the pilot's arms and back

LONDON: Ever fancied a dab at being "Iron Man"? Now you can. A jet suit created by a British former commodities trader has gone on sale in a London department store with a cool price tag of £340,000 ($443,428).
Made up of five miniature jet engines mounted on the pilot's arms and back, and also of electronics and 3D printed parts, the suit by Gravity Industries is reminiscent of the one worn by Robert Downey Jr as Marvel superhero "Iron Man".
Running on jet fuel or diesel, it has a speed record of 32 miles per hour (51 kph) and altitude limit of 12,000 feet (3,658 metres), though inventor Richard Browning hovers only a few metres above the ground when using it, for safety reasons.
He has taken it on demonstrations around the world and on Wednesday took flight above a small closed-off street outside luxury department store Selfridges, which is selling custom-made versions of the suit.
"This consumes about four litres a minute in the hover (position) so you can fly for three or four minutes quite easily and we have got another version - certainly on a cold day when you get more thrust, it'll fly for about nine minutes," he said.
"That's something we're looking to improve but it's the inevitable consequence of flying without wings."
The curious can see the suit at the store as well as test out a virtual reality version. Anybody who decides to buy a suit will also be offered training.
"If you watch this as an audience member you probably get exposed to more warmth than I do as the pilot," Browning said. "It's actually surprisingly calm and not very violent. It's very passive and gentle when you're flying it." ($1 = 0.7668 pounds)