Emmy Nominations – Who Got Served and Who Got Screwed Again

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The 2012 Emmy nominations have been announced and we’ve got all of the major categories listed as well as our initial, emotional reactions.

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Boardwalk Empire
Homeland
Mad Men
Game of Thrones

Reaction: What’s to debate here? All deserve it to some degree. Even in a down season, Downton Abbey is still phenomenal television, even if it’s not your cup of tea. My only gripe is that last year Abbey was considered a Miniseries and now they take the place of an equally deserving show. Nothing is budging Breaking Bad or Mad Men, and there’s no one else more thrilled to see Homeland and Game of Thrones included. Boardwalk Empire belongs too, but again, Sons of Anarchy will sadly never be in the Emmy conversation for whatever reason even though this past season wasn’t its most consistent. There were series that were going to be left on the outside looking in and SOA, The Good Wife, The Walking Dead and Justified were left out this year.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
Elizabeth Moss – Mad Men
Michelle Dockery – Downton Abbey
Kathy Bates – Harry’s Law
Claire Danes – Homeland
Glenn Close – Damages

Reaction: There is nothing but rage, absolute rage. Someone please take Bates out and place Sons of Anarchy‘s Katey Sagal! It’s absolute B.S. And where’s Sarah Michelle Gellar for playing dual roles in Ringer. I’m kidding about that last comment, people, I’m kidding.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn – Breaking Bad
Archie Panjabi – The Good Wife
Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
Joanne Froggatt – Downton Abbey
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
Christine Baranski – The Good Wife

Reaction: It’s a glorious day to see Anna Gunn break into the category and get some recognition for Skylar White. It’s well-deserved and been a long time coming. Downton Abbey was a bit too soapy for me this past season but I can see why Smith and Froggatt are nominated. The Good Wife is filled with great actresses up and down that cast so there was no doubt that Baranski and Panjabi were going to be nominated. No Joelle Carter this year, but if all goes right, next year could be her year knowing her potential storylines in Justified.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Joan Cusack – Shameless
Uma Thurman – Smash
Julia Ormond – Mad Men
Loretta Devine – Grey’s Anatomy
Jean Smart – Harry’s Law
Martha Plimpton – The Good Wife

Reaction: Good choices, especialy with Plimpton and Cusack. Thurman was one of the few memorable things about Smash, but does anyone believe that show qualifies as a Drama series? It’s more like a comedy…

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Hugh Bonneville – Downton Abbey
Steve Buscemi – Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall – Dexter
Jon Hamm – Mad Men
Damien Lewis – Homeland

Reaction: This is one of the toughest categories year in and year out. Anything Homeland is hot, but Cranston is putting on a clinic each week on Breaking Bad. Hall is getting a bit long in the tooth in this category and is a bit outclassed, so I would have cheered more had Fringe’s John Noble took his place who is long overdue for some recognition for playing a dozen versions of his character Walter Bishop. We still love you, John. And Timothy Olyphant was also left out for what was his finest season as Raylan Givens.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Aaron Paul – Breaking Bad
Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad
Brendan Coyle – Downton Abbey
Jim Carter – Downton Abbey
Jared Harris – Mad Men
Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones

Reaction: Again, a knockout category and I’m glad I don’t have a vote for this one. Harris had a season to remember, and I’ve never rooted for an antagonist before like I did with Esposito’s Gus Fring. What’s not to love about Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister? And both Carter and Coyle are strong on Abbey but I’m surprised not to see Alan Cumming from The Good Wife, also no Walton Goggins for Justified? Bah!

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Mark Margolis – Breaking Bad
Jeremy Davies – Justified
Jason Ritter – Parenthood
Ben Feldman – Mad Men
Dylan Baker – The Good Wife

Reaction: How the hell do you leave Neal McDonough off this list? What an absolute crime! He deserves the spot more than fellow Justified guest, Jeremy Davies who is great on the show, but McDonough was riveting. We’ll be rooting for Breaking Bad‘s Mark Margolis (DING! DING! DING!) who got to finally step out of the wheelchair and show people a great performance in the Breaking Bad episode, “Hermanos.” Ritter who got no respect in The Event, did remind people of his talent in Parenthood.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie
American Horror Story
Game Change
Hatfields and McCoys
Luther
Sherlock

Reaction: Even with Downton Abbey leaving this category, it still stacked. BBC is well represented with Luther and Sherlock. American Horror Story qualified and that helped it not to get lost in the Drama series. I’m glad it’s recognized. Hatfields and McCoys made a late charge and it’s fresh on voters’ minds.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Connie Britton – American Horror Story
Ashley Judd – Missing
Nicole Kidman – Hemingway & Gellhorn
Julianne Moore – Game Change
Emma Thompson – The Song of Lunch (Masterpiece)

Reaction: Lots of reliable Academy and fan favorites make this category extremely competitive this season, but something tells me that Moore will get it for portraying Sarah Palin. Judd’s action role in the canceled Missing, AKA TV’s Taken, is a bit of a odd pick.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Kevin Costner – Hatfield & McCoys
Idris Elba – Luther
Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Woody Harrelson – Game Change
Bill Paxton – Hatfield & McCoys
Clive Owen – Hemmingway & Gellhorn

Reaction: – Connect yourself to Ernest Hemmingway in any way, shape or form and you will get attention. I’ll be rooting for either of the BBC representatives in Elba and Cumberbatch because both are so clearly distinct in the massive sea of good television.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
Ed Harris –  Game Change
Denis O’Hare –  American Horror Story
David Strathairn –  Hemingway & Gellhorn
Martin Freeman – Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia
Tom Berenger – Hatfields & McCoys

Reaction: I’ll admit to seeing only Freeman and O’Hare, who I both enjoyed for different reasons. Knowing this Academy, Harris is the front runner in portraying McCain.

Outstanding Host in Reality TV
Tom Bergeron – Dancing With the Stars
Cat Deeley – So YOu Think You Can Dance
Phil Keoghan – The Amazing Race
Betty White – Off Their Rockers
Ryan Seacrest – American Idol

Reaction: I’m rooting for White. I am not afraid to admit that I watch this show and yes, I do think it’s funny. Also, does anyone really care about the rest of these puppets?

Outstanding Reality – Competition
Dancing With the Stars
The Amazing Race
Top Chef
So You Think You Can Dance
The Voice
Project Runway

Reaction: If we’re talking reality here, why is Dancing with the Stars here? The Voice could be roped into that strange celeb/reality blend too because in all honesty, our eyes are on what Christina Aguilera will wear and say next. The Amazing Race will be the odds on favorite, as usual, especially with Survivor being absent. I’ll still be rooting Top Chef and Project Runway but again, Survivor’s absence is a big surprise. Let’s just be thankful that American Idol wasn’t nominated.

Outstanding Variety Series
The Daily Show
Colbert Report
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Saturday Night Live
Real Time with Bill Maher
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Reaction: It’s the usual suspects except Conan O’Brien is missing. That move to TBS has not done much for Conan outside of security. It seems like everyone’s forgotten what network he’s moved to. I also don’t think this was one of SNL’s better years either.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Zooey Deschanel – New Girl
Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey – 30 Rock
Julia Louise-Dreyfus – VEEP
Lena Dunham -Girls
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
Melissa McCarthy – Mike and Molly

Reaction: The Academy is in love with Fey, Poehler, and McCarthy. Fey can do no wrong despite 30 Rock not currently being as great as the earlier seasons. Poehler and Parks and Rec probably had its best season, and it’s probably no coincidence that both that and Veep’s  leads were nominated in an election year. Well played HBO and NBC. I like Deschanel, but I’m surprised she got nominated, then again, I’m not. Dunham and Falco are no surprises here after their seasons but I feel like this category is missing some stronger candidates.  Also no Alison Brie and no Krysten Ritter… double sigh. Waitaminute, does anyone else notice how they got seven nominations when most others had only six? Lots of gripes are going to come at this one…

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Mayim Bialik – The Big Bang Theory
Merritt Wever – Nurse Jackie
Kristen Wiig – Saturday Night Live
Sofia Vergara – Modern Family
Julie Bowen – Modern Family
Kathryn Joosten – Desperate Housewives

Reaction: When is the Academy going to grow some balls and nominate Kaitlin Olson for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? I’m eye-rolling at the Modern Family nods but mildly applauding Bialik’s nomination. Wiig is the only thing that saves SNL half the time and I have to admit that I never been desperate enough to tune into Housewives since the first season. Where are the girls of Happy Endings? Cheryl Hines or Allie Grant of Suburgatory? Bah! The comedy nominations get me pissed every single year.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Don Cheadle – House of Lies
Louis C.K. – Louie
Jon Cryer – Two and a Half Men
Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
Alec Baldwin – 30 Rock

Reaction: People need to stop recognizing Two and a Half Men, seriously. Every time Cryer and this show are recognized, it shows why Hollywood keeps making brain dead comedies for the networks. Parsons, Baldwin, and David were almost written in months ago. Snooze. Here’s where Louis C.K. gets his nomination along with his writing and directing. Him winning would be an incredible upset knowing these voters, but there’s no one else who actually deserves it more than him.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ed O’Neill – Modern Family
Jesse Tyler Ferguson – Modern Family
Ty Burrell – Modern Family
Eric Stonestreet – Modern Family
Bill Hader – SNL
Max Greenfield – New Girl

Reaction: Again, no disrespect to MF, but the Academy should be ashamed at nominating four goddmamn actors from one show in one category. There are other shows out there you know. Damon Wayans Jr. should be on this list. Also Nick Kroll from The League should be here and I also think that Garrett Dillahunt deserves a nomination for Raising Hope. Want another diss? How about James Van Der Beek on Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23. Hell, anyone but a Modern Family cast member–this season anyway.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Big Bang Theory
Curb Your ENthusiasm
30 Rock
VEEP
Modern Family
Girls

Reaction: Wow, Curb Your Enthusiasm made a resurgence in the comedy awards. Was hoping Louie would crack this category once and for all but somehow 30 Rock got yet another nomination even though it’s been sitting in park for the last few seasons. The same could be said about Modern Family. I’m not sure if Archer entered as a comedy or animated series, but it should be here nonetheless. Wilfred is a cutting edge show that requires more thought than just laughing straight jokes but it seems to go over many heads. Episodes was another snubbed victim. VEEP and Girls took away spots normally held by network comedies and that’s nice, but Louie still deserves to be in this category and so does Community. Booooooo!

Outstanding Animated Program
American Dad – Hot Water
The Penguins of Madagascar – The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole
Futurama – The Tip of the Zoidberg
Bob’s Burgers – BurgerBoss
The Simpsons – Holidays of Future Passed

Reaction: Where’s Archer? One episode of Archer is more entertaining than all of the nominees back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back.

Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program
Regular Show – Eggscellent
Adventure Time – Too Young
Disney Phineas and Ferb – The Doonkleberry Imperative
Robot Chicken – Fight Club Paradise
Mad – Kitchen Nightmare Before Christmas / How I Met Your Mummy

Reaction: Knowing that Adventure Time, Regular Show, Mad and Robot Chicken all have nominations this year but Sons of Anarchy doesn’t sums up the type of twisted turmoil happiness and anger bestowed on people like us who follow television.

 

Other notable nominations and notes:

  • In the comedy writing category, both Community (Remedial Chaos Theory) and Louie (Pregnant) got nominations. So essentially the Butterfly Effect and TV’s longest fart joke got nominated. See how random the Emmys can be?
  • Louis C.K. also got a directing nomination for “Duckling” which may have been the greatest half hour of television last year.
  • Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan got a directing nomination for the series climax, “Face Off”
  • Mad Men dominated the drama writing category with three nominations; Homeland picked up one too for its Pilot.
  • Nominated for Main Title Design: FX’s American Horror Story’s creepy opening, Cinemax’s Strike Back, Starz Magic City, PBS’ Great Expectation, and Fox’s New Girl that lasts less than 10 seconds. How is Game of Thrones not nominated?
  • Burt Reynolds did not get an Emmy nomination for Voice-Over performance in Archer. Dammit!

Well, those are our initial reactions, want to share yours? For a complete list of the Emmy Nominations including the technical categories, click here.

Bryan Cranston, Anna Kendrick and Alison Brie to ‘Get a Job’

bryan cranston get a jobOne of the hardest working actors in the biz, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) will join the unemployed in the CBS Film, Get a Job. The timely film will also star Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air) and Miles Teller (Project X) while Nick Braun (Prom), Alison Brie (Community), Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fright Night) and Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live) round out the cast in this multi-generational comedy about four college graduates who are quick to notice that their high post-graduate aspirations don’t match up with their harsh reality.

Teller plays Will Davis who is suffering through an entry level job when he stumbles on his true calling. Cranston plays Roger Davis, Will’s father who is also hunting for his ideal career path. Kendrick will play Jillian, Will’s girlfriend who has her future mapped out. Braun, Mintz-Plasse and Jackson will play Will’s three friends, (Charlie, Ethan and Luke, respectively), each of whom find careers with some interesting results. Brie will play Tanya, one of the group’s sharp-witted co-workers. Pharoah will play Skeezy D, who starts his own recession-proof business.

This is a likable cast with some underrated comedic talent. It’s so easy to forget that Cranston can do comedy, from Drive to The Lincoln Lawyer, to Contagion, the man is a chameleon. But he’s also done a bulk of voice work in animation including Family Guy, American Dad!, Robot Chicken, and Batman: Year One. “Heisenberg” is also going to show up in this week’s John Carter, Rock of Ages, Total Recall, and Ben Affleck’s last film, Argo. Let’s not forget his appearance in the two-part season 3 finale of Archer! Here at BuzzFocus he’ll be best known as the meth-cooking, cancer-beating, anti-hero Walter White. Ironically he’s still probably best known by mainstream audiences as Hal, the father on Malcolm in the Middle. So we’ll be sure to keep Get a Job on our radar to see how Cranston is going to make us laugh again.

Not to be outdone, Kendrick is in six films that will be released later this year including The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Ever since her Oscar-nominated role in Up in the Air, Kendrick got her geek credit when she starred in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Seth Rogen’s cancer comedy, 50/50. Between Kendrick and Cranston, Teller will have plenty to play off of and we’re always delighted to see Brie get more work, especially if NBC keeps toying with the future of Community.

CBS Films is releasing the film under the production of Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher (Django Unchained, Contagion) of Double Feature Films and Maria Faillace and Ryan Conroy of CBS Films are attached to produce. Dylan Kidd (Children’s Hospital) is attached to direct the film from a screenplay by Kyle Pennekamp and Scott Turpel. Filming will begin March 12.

‘Assassin’s Creed Revelations’ Gets its ‘Robot Chicken’ on in New Stop Motion Vid

If you’re a fan of gaming and Robot Chicken, then you’ll definitely enjoy this new Assassin’s Creed Revelations fan video from Counter 656 Productions. It’s a stop-motion short that pits ninja vs Assassin.

Check out the video below and let us know what you think. There’s some great action in here, the likes of which you won’t find on Robot Chicken. Seth Green is probably kicking himself for not thinking of this one first.

Blu-ray Review – Robot Chicken: Season Five – Overloaded with Bonus Content

He-Man, Lord Voldemort, Charlie Brown, G.I. Joe, The Smurfs, The Transformers and more are all fair game once again for the Robot Chicken crew. The Robot Chicken: Season Five Blu-ray release collects the entire twenty-episode season (the last five episodes are from the second half of season 5). Creators Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, and Mike Fasolo head back to the world of stop animation to poke fun of celebrities (such as at Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire), forgotten cartoons and day-to-day life. In typical Robot Chicken fashion, the creative team has packed in loads of additional content that together easily lasts longer than the sum total of 11-minute episodes. It’s a great release for fans, but you’ll probably want to spread your episodic viewing over multiple days to really savor it.

robot chickenSeason 5 starts off with a very funny toy solider video. The jokes are fired just as rapidly as the bullets whizzing through the air. The only person that can dodge a bullet is Woody Allen who moves in bullet time. Each episode moves quickly, following the channel surfing format the series made popular. It’s all about keeping the humor fast-paced and quickly moving on to something different before a joke gets old. Of course, there are a few callbacks. You may catch yourself watching He-Man dealing with annoying daddy issues, cut to the Smurfs and then cut back to a phone call from daddy dearest.

Of course, the great thing about Robot Chicken has always been the creators unique exploration of the personal lives of fan-favorite icons. For instance, you’ll see Lord Voldemort head to the doctor’s office and then learn how a mundane incident with Harry Potter’s father started their rivalry. My favorite scene was an episode dealing with economic problems and real estate issues. It’s very topical. But what makes it stand out is that He-Man’s arch nemesis Skeletor finds out that the bank is about to foreclose on his lair – Skull Mountain. I won’t ruin what happens, but it’s very funny. Other cool moments include a stoner spoof on Toy Story 3. The second half of Season 5’s episodes kick off with a parody of Lady Gaga and Jay-Z.

The episodes can get very grotesque for the weary. There are a lot of robots that have sex with appliances and a very disturbing episode with one of the Silverhawks having sex, while the Copper Kid watches. Also, there’s a suicide scene during a performance of Stomp. If you like that sort of raunchy comedy, you’ll have several laughs. If not, then you probably shouldn’t be watching Robot Chicken.

The Blu-ray is packed with bonus features. The “Day in the Life of Robot Chicken” featurette shows the team in the studio with all the celebrity talent. There’s a funny moment of Olivia Munn calling Seth Green a douche in the voice over booth. Just about every celebrity voice is shown so you really get a broad behind-the-scenes look at the series. The creative team once again narrates animatics and fully animated deleted scenes. This has always been one of the best things about the bonus features from Robot Chicken. The team invests the time in going all out for fans and giving them as much bonus content as possible. The Blu-ray also has exclusive alternate sketch audio. It shows stills of Robot Chicken characters, while the voice talents are doing additional dialogue or just improvising in the booth. The “Blue Rabbits” music video spoof on Avatar is included as a sing-a-long. However, this was one of my least favorite sketches.

Robot Chicken fans will definitely delight in this home video release. Once again, the team has done a superb job in giving viewers an overload of bonus content; the bonus content alone makes it worth it to take this release home.

Special Features:
– Blu-ray Exclusive Alternate Sketch Audio
– 52 Deleted Animatics
– 7 Fully-Animated Deleted Scenes
– 7 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
– On-Air Promos
– “Blue Rabbits” Sing-a-long
– Commentary on all 20 Episodes

Robot Chicken: Season Five [Blu-ray]
Robot Chicken: Season Five

Starring: Seth Green, Breckin Meyer and Dan Milano
Created by: Seth Green, Matthew Senreich, Mike Fasolo
Studio: Cartoon Network
Release Date: October 25, 2011

Rating:
8 / 10

Adult Swim 2011-2012 Lineup Includes ‘Black Dynamite’ Hunting Down ‘The Man’ & Oswalt’s Inbred Soap

Leading the announcement of Adult Swim’s 2011-2012 lineup are six new shows including a cartoon of cult-favorite film Black Dynamite, comedies from Paul Scheer and Patton Oswalt, as well as 10 returning favorites and a handful of pilots in development.

black dynamite adult swim

New Shows/Specials

• Black Dynamite
Carl Jones of The Boondocks orchestrates the voice talent of the film’s stars, Michael Jai White (Black Dynamite), Tommy Davidson (In Living Color), Kym Whitley and Byron Minns and the animation is being done by Titmouse, Inc. This 20 minute animated series will premiere in the spring of 2012 and continue the adventures of ex-CIA agent and ladies man, Black Dynamite (White) as he kicks the shit out of kung-fu masters, pimps, and of course, The Man, blaxploitation style, animated that is. Too bad we have to wait until next year though, I need this kind of sweetness on my TV now!

• China, IL
Brothers Frank and Steve Smith teach history at a state university in China, Illinois. However, they’re quite the revisionists, “sacrificing facts and lessons for the sake of being awesome.” Put together by Brad Neely and Daniel Weidenfeld with animation by Titmouse, Inc. Premieres this fall.

• NTSF:SD:SUV (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sports Utility Vehicle)
Sporting the most obnoxious title, this team of government agents are protecting the borders of San Diego from terrorist threats from Mexico, Canada and Guam. These crazy action-packed 15-minute and is a live action show from the mind of Paul Scheer (The League) and stars Scheer, Rebecca Romjin (X-Men), Rob Riggle (The Hangover), Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), Brandon Johnson (Get Him to the Greek), June Diane Raphael (Zodiac), and Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks). Premieres this summer.

• The Heart, She Hollar
Patton Oswalt and Heather Lawless star in this inbred/Hee-Haw variation of the live action soap opera about people who “ain’t never used soap or seen an opera.”

• Tight Bros
Vince and Aaron are two idiot men of the cloth, selling religious swag at the mall. But by night, they are two club-hoppers on the prowl for women wearing little cloth.

tight bros adult swim

• The Venture Brothers Special- From the Ladle to the Grave: The Story of Shallow Gravy
On July 24, this animated 15-minute documentary will premiere and feature the rise and fall of Shallow Gravy, the band put together by Hank Venture, Dermott Fitchel, and H.E.L.P.e.R.

Returning Original Series

• Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1
The renamed Aqua Teen Hunger Force returns with a new name, a new theme song, but it is the same Frylock, Master Shake, Meatwad and Carl we’ve come to love over the past 10 years. AUPS1 premiered on May 8, and continues every Sunday at 11:45pm ET/PT.

• Childrens Hospital
Rob Corddy (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) is back with Malin Akerman, Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally and Henry Winkler. Season 3 returns June 2 at midnight ET/PT.

• Delocated
Season 3 starts in the sprint of 2012 and “Jon” and his family continues on in the witness protection program after testifying against the Russian Mafia.

• Eagleheart
Season 2 of Chris Elliott’s latest role US Marshal Chris Monsanto is full of madness, crazy violence and bloodshed and is from the minds of Conan O’Brien writers Michael Koman and Andrew Weinberg. The show will return with Season 2 at a time and date TBD.

• Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole
Morel Orel’s creator Dino Stamatopoulous is back with season 2 in the spring of 2012

• Metalocalypse
Dethklok’s journey into darkness and their exploitation. Fourth season starts in spring of 2012.

• Mongo Wrestling Alliance
Metalocalypse creator Tommy Blacha is back with Season 1 part 2 of his version of The Wrestler. M.W.A. premieres Sunday, June 19 at midnight

• Robot Chicken
Adult Swim’s top-rated and Emmy Award-winning series returns for season 5 part 2 in the fall.

• Squidbillies
Dougl County’s inbred squid-things come back with their fifth season in the spring of 2012.

• Superjail!
10 new episodes of this freshman-hit will premiere in April of 2012 on Sundays at midnight ET/PT.

Pilots in development
• Regal Productions – A live action comedy created, directed, produced and starring Breaking Bad‘s Bob Odenkirk
• The Dummiez – Nick Cannon (Drumline) project
• Rolling with Dad – 1/2 hour animated sit-com by The Hard Times of RJ Berger co-creators, Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg
• Untitled project by Dan Harmon and Justin Rolland
• Untitled project with music group Major Lazer – Maybe something like their Hold The Line music video?
• Untitled project with Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All

Returning acquisitions
• American Dad
• Bleach
• Full Metal Alchemist
• King of the Hill

Exclusive Interview with Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III Creator Matthew Senreich

It wouldn’t be the holidays without another Star Wars parody, would it? On Sunday night, December 19th, Adult Swim will show Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III in an hour-long special that will be a singular story instead of the usual mixed bag of sketches Seth Green and company cook up.

Starring in the special is Green as Chewbaca; the Emperor (Seth MacFarlane) Darth Vader (Abe Benrubi). Watch Gary the Stormtrooper (Donald Faison) Boba Fett (Breckin Meyer). Also guest-starring are Zac Efron (Anakin Skywalker), Rachael Leigh Cook (Padme), Donald Glover (Mace Windu) and Mike Henry (Wedge Antilles), with Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Ahmed Best as their infamous Star Wars counterparts, C-3PO, Lando Calrissian and Jar Jar Binks.

BuzzFocus spoke with co-creator, Matthew Senreich about what fans can expect out of this third Star Wars-Robot Chicken special.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III“We wanted to have some kind of continuity, a linear path with it.” Senreich said. “We took the idea of following the Emperor, mostly, and some of the other key characters of the Star Wars universe before the prequels began all the way through after the events in Return of the Jedi. We have the narration through the Emperor’s voice if you will, bookending it.”

The first Robot Chicken-Star Wars special was a hodge-podge of skits of everything from exploring ancillary characters like Ponda Baba to a bizarre dream by George W. Bush. The second special centered around Star Wars’ bounty hunters. For this third and rumored final Star Wars parody, Senreich likened this special to what Wicked was to Wizard of Oz.

“This one we liked the idea of seeing it (the saga) through a different perspective. Like what Wicked was to Wizard of Oz, but we wanted to see Star Wars through the Emperor’s eyes, how he’s this misunderstood corporate CEO and that’s how we started Episode III. Then we just had to fill in the gaps. We still have the sketch comedy approach. If we had just one full story all the way through we wouldn’t be Robot Chicken, which is a sketch comedy show. It’s just a matter of finding a balance between the two.”

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III

Another main character is Gary the Storm Trooper. For those wondering what those nameless and faceless soldiers do after a long day at the Death Star can finally find out. “Gary is one of these billion storm troopers and this is his path.” Senreich said. “We pull the curtain up of what a storm trooper is like in a day-to-day life. He’s got a family. He goes to work. What are the mundane tasks this guy has to perform? Is it search for droids on Tattooine and what happens during his day?”

It’s carrying the joke (from Clerks) a step further–that these guys are independent contractors who were innocently killed when the Rebellion destroyed both Death Stars. “Except these guys are in the army.” Senreich said. “It’s like they’re in Saving Private Ryan.”

Also found in similar trenches is Seth McFarlane and the Family Guy franchise. They’ve released two Star Wars specials as well and are constantly compared to Robot Chicken despite their different approaches. Family Guy follows the original trilogy scripts (loosely) with their cast of clowns, while Robot Chicken is adding in untold tales or perspectives.

“I think that’s the key difference between the two. I think they’re both great and that they both add to the comedic elements of Star Wars. I don’t begrudge one versus the other. I’ve never really compared the two only that they’re both comedies but they are very different in the way we tackle the universe.”

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III

Senreich stresses that the two camps have always been friendly to on another and share what each is planning to do so that there are no jokes that are alike. McFarlane is a frequent voice actor on Robot Chicken and is the voice of Emperor Palpatine.

“The thing people don’t realize is that we have a great relationship with the Family Guy people. Seth’s our Emperor. Mike Henry did voices in this new special too. We know all the writers over there.”

At the Long Beach Comic-Con in 2009, Seth Green had mentioned in the Robot Chicken panel that it’s tough lampooning the Star Wars prequels because they’re like jokes already, or they’re too easy. Episode III spans the time of the entire saga so the prequels cannot be avoided this time around as the early politics of Emperor Palpatine is revealed.

Star Wars isn’t the only film Robot Chicken is looking at making a longer form parody, but it’s easier said than done. Very few franchises have the universe and the flexibility of countless recognizable characters to play with.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III“Even Star Trek to some degree, has a close-knit group of people you play with and there isn’t as much you can goof around with and venture off into. It’s something we talk about but we haven’t found one we could do yet.”

Also, if it made it into one of the six films, video game, or animated series, chances are, there’s an action figure already made. The vault of action figures that support such a project has to help.

“It does and it doesn’t. When we start writing we just think about who the people are, who the characters are first and go from there. Then we look to see if a figure has been made. Luckily for the Star Wars special everything’s been made. If not, we’ll build it here. We have a puppet department that builds about 120 toys a week, so we have some very talented people working for us.”

In case you miss the airing this Sunday night during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, the home release plans to have lots of extra material. The home release of Episode II had additional footage as an extra, but that won’t likely be the case for Episode III.

“If there is, I don’t know about it now,” Senreich said. “That’s the best way to put it. Episode II was something that came about later after we finished and we saw how well it did, it was something we were itching to do. There’s a lot of cut footage from this third special but whether we do anything with it or we may just put it in as a deleted animatic on the DVD but that has yet to be determined. I bet not. I don’t think we’re going to shoot anything else because there was a lot of stuff. We actually overwrote by probably half! [laughs] So the DVD will have a lot of stuff on it but that said I don’t think we’d have the budget to animate that.”

Before the interview ended, I had to ask about how much Jar-Jar Binks to expect in the special.

“I would say a little bit… he’s key near the end. In our second special we had Ahmed Best come in and play Jar-Jar and ended up winning an Emmy Award for Best Voice Over Performance for our special. Here this character was ‘hated’ and somehow he wins an award for being enjoyed. I like to think we have the ability to turn things that weren’t the best when they first started and turn it on its side to where people really like it.”

Catch the hilarious Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III special this Sunday, December 19th, 11:30PM EST.

Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III Heads Home for the Holiday (+ Stills)

We’ve got 8 stills from the upcoming Adult Swim special hour-long event: Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III. The episode will debut on Sunday, December 19, 2010, on Cartoon Network.

The hour-long special features the vocal talents of Zac Efron (Anakin Skywalker), Rachael Leigh Cook (Padmé), Donald Glover (Mace Windu) and Mike Henry (Wedge Antilles), with Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams and Ahmed Best reprising their famous roles as C-3PO, Lando Calrissian and the infamous Jar Jar Binks.

Yes, Jar Jar Binks is back. Let’s hope he gets killed once and for all. Or, even better, kill Jar Jar Binks about twenty times and bring him back each time for another unmerciful death as if it were a Wu Tang Clan torture intermission (check out the “Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers” and you’ll know what I’m taking about). Anything less and the viewers will have to incite a whole new separatist rebellion.

About Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III
Control of the Star Wars franchise has fallen back into the hands of the toy-obsessed, madcap parody junkies at the Emmy-winning Robot Chicken. That’s right, it’s Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III, a retelling of the sci-fi saga, from Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi, through the eyes of four key characters, offering hilarious insights into what happened just off screen. See Chewbacca (Seth Green) introduce Han Solo to his family; the Emperor (Seth MacFarlane) struggle with the administrative headaches of running a ruthless, intergalactic regime, with no one to count on but his bungling right-hand man Darth Vader (Abe Benrubi). Watch Gary the Stormtrooper (Donald Faison) take his first joy ride on a speederbike, while Boba Fett (Breckin Meyer) settles into his new digs, inside the belly of the Sarlacc monster.

*Images courtesy of Adult Swim