Matthew Senreich on ‘Robot Chicken’

The co-creator of Adult Swim's hit series talks to us about the "Star Wars" specials and what's coming up in the new season of "Robot Chicken."

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

In 2005, Matthew Senreich teamed up with Seth Green to create "Robot Chicken," a satirical stop-motion animation sketch comedy that is currently one of Adult Swim's signature series. Currently in the middle of its fifth season, "Robot Chicken" will return in the fall with brand new episodes. Additionally, the third "Robot Chicken: Star Wars" special has recently been released on DVD with over three hours of extras.

Crave Online caught up with Senreich shortly before the San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the new DVD release, the future of the "Star Wars" specials, the latest word on the new "Robot Chicken" episodes and what's happening with his other animated projects.


Crave Online: Looking back on all of these "Star Wars Robot Chicken" Specials, which ones were your favorite sketches?

Matthew Senreich: Oh Boy… In the first one it was definitely that Ponda Baba sketch, and then in the last one, I think the Wampa one is still the king for me. It’s hard to choose, but I just like the dramatic shift in tone and we weren’t sure if it was going to work. The fact that this slow-paced, very dramatic sequence played out in a very fast paced sketch comedy show speaks volumes for the potential of what we can do. So it was just fun to experiment there.

Crave Online: Did you have any experiences working with the original cast members who dropped by for these Star Wars Specials that you want to share?

Matthew Senreich: One of them is on the commentary, watching Billy Dee Williams and Ahmed Best together, it’s very entertaining. I highly recommend watching that commentary. But for the most part it as just silly fun. Anthony Daniel did voices on this one and it makes me happy because when I was working at Wizard Magazine he had done my voicemail message, my outgoing message when I had interviewed him. And him having that realization that I was the same guy made his head explode. In a fun way! (laughing)

Crave Online: I particularly liked Ahmed Best coming back as Jar Jar to annoy Darth Vader for eternity.

Matthew Senreich: (Laughing) Yeah, he’s got a good sense of humor, that guy.

Crave Online: For the new DVD, did the Mara Jade sketch make it in there this time?

Matthew Senreich: You can see the animatic on there.

Crave Online: It wasn’t finished?

Matthew Senreich: No, we never animated it. We don’t have the time and money to animate things that don’t make it into the actual episode. I wish we had larger budgets but ultimately…it’s just the animatic that shows up there. You can see what it would have been.

Crave Online: That’s a shame. Well I guess the big question is, will there be any more Star Wars Specials?

Matthew Senreich: Maybe (laughing). Maybe not? I mean it’s one of those things were it’s an open door for us. It all starts with time and what the concept is.

Crave Online: You’re supposedly working on another "Star Wars" TV series, is that right?

Matthew Senreich: I can’t say one way or another (laughing).

Crave Online: Is there anyway you can say when we might be able to say more about that?

Matthew Senreich: I can’t say one way or another (laughing).  Something is pointed at my head.

Crave Online: That’s one hell of a NDA. So what’s happening with "Robot Chicken"?

Matthew Senreich: We are just about to kick start the second half of season five, I think it launches in September, if I’m not mistaken? So that will be starting up relatively soon, we’re really excited.

Crave Online: What are some of your upcoming sketches this season?

Matthew Senreich: "Back to the Future" stuff, we got a great "Peanuts" gag that we’re doing…Superman shows up a bunch with some shock-pie. "Wizard of Oz," I mean we do everything. You name it we’ve probably done it. You can pick your property and we’ve touched on it.

Crave Online: Spiderman Turn off the Dark?

Matthew Senreich: You know, I don’t think we did that because that came out after we wrote it, both the seasons.

Crave Online: I can’t wait to see your take on that one.

Matthew Senreich: I have to go see it to understand what it is first, and then I look forward to it.

Crave Online: I think you missed its funnier incarnation.

Matthew Senreich: I can only imagine.


Crave Online: Who do you have coming on for guest voices during the second half of the fifth season?

Matthew Senreich: We have a bunch. Christopher Lloyd comes in to reprise his role from "Back to the Future," which is awesome. Jon Hamm, Mike Creston, Chris O’Dell, some of our usuals like Nathan Fillion and Elijah Wood. Nikki Simmons… it’s pretty all over the place. A bunch of the "Community" folks, like Danny Pudi and Alison Brie. We’re all over the place. Even one of the Venture guys comes in and plays with us.

Crave Online: Are you going to do a "Venture Bros." skit?

Matthew Senreich: You know, we talk about it a lot. We would love to do a crossover with those guys and I know they feel the same, but our production schedules are opposite from each other so I don’t know how and when we would. But we talk about it.

Crave Online: What do you work on when you’re not working on "Robot Chicken"?

Matthew Senreich: When am I not working on "Robot Chicken"?! I do a bunch of stuff, right now I’m writing a movie, that I can’t talk about unfortunately but I’m writing it for Fox. And then we’re doing a bunch of stupid monkey animated shorts that are going to be launching online relatively soon. We did a Fox pilot last year, which we’ve animated so if you ever want to try to track one down it’s called "Mount Pleasant." It didn’t get picked up but I still really like it.

Crave Online: What was it about?

Matthew Senreich: It’s kind of an optimistic nerds take on high school, how he sees high school and overcomes difficulties.

Crave Online: From the title I thought it was about an amusement park.

Matthew Senreich: No, he lives in a town called Mount Pleasant.

Crave Online: So what’s going on with "Titan Maximum"?

Matthew Senreich: Titan is tricky because the production schedule is so long. It has to fit it in between seasons of "Robot Chicken" so we’re not doing both. The way we got to do it last time was when Seth was off doing a movie for a while so Tom and I needed something fun to do, and it was something we had talked about for a really long time. We would love to get back to it, we know what we want to do with it, it’s just when do we have a span of six to eight months to actually produce it? What makes it really tricky is that we wouldn’t be able to do "Robot Chicken" in the same time frame. So one day. One day we will.
Crave Online: You got your start at Wizard Magazine covering comics. Do you have any aspirations of making a comic book of your own?

Matthew Senreich: One day. It’s really tricky. I actually started at Marvel when I was 16 and always wanted to do comics. And then working at Wizard kind of made me intimidated to write my own comic, because now, having criticized comics I would get slaughtered writing one. So maybe one day I would. Again it just boils down to time, when and how. And I love working with Geoff Johns so if I could find an excuse to do that I would do that in a heartbeat.

Crave Online: Yeah… that guy who’s just slightly busy these days.

Matthew Senreich: Yeah he’s extremely busy. But I always find time to play with him whenever I can.

Crave Online: Does he still contribute any to any "Robot Chicken" stuff?

Matthew Senreich: He does actually, yeah. He actually worked on the Star Wars Special. The Yoda sketch going into the cave I think is his.

Crave Online: Did Johns write anything for the second half of the season?

Matthew Senreich: Oh, no, he didn’t work on the second half of the season I don’t think. I think he was too busy at that point. But we get to working whenever he has a moments time.

Crave Online: Do you have any closing thoughts for the fans at home?

Matthew Senreich: (Laughing) Make sure they watch the boardroom with George Lucas interview because it’s one of a kind. On the Star Wars DVD? Definitely one of a kind. It will make you see George in a whole new light.