Robot Chicken Producer: Star Trek Not Expansive Enough For Special + But More Trek Sketches Soon

The stop motion animated comedy Robot Chicken often has Star Trek gags. However, even though they have done three dedicated Star Wars specials, the show’s co-creator says the Star Trek universe isn’t "expansive" enough to justify its own dedicated episode. But he does promise more Trek sketches are coming up soon. Details below, plus a video compilation of every Star Trek segment on Robot Chicken ever.

 

Matt Senreich: Star Trek Not Expansive Enough For Robot Chicken Special

Robot Chicken is now in its fifth season on Adult Swim. Over that time they have done three episodes dedicated to Star Wars. While promoting this week’s DVD release Robot Chicken Star Wars 3, Robot Chicken co-creator Matt Senreich spoke to io9 and explained why they have no plans to do a dedicated Star Trek special:

[Star Trek is] not as deep and expansive of a universe, whereas Star Wars as a universe — there’s so many worlds and planets and different creatures that are roaming around. You know, it’s different species interacting with different species. Star Trek was the character of the week, if you will. It wasn’t until later that you had them interacting in the political spectrum, with all the different races and beings at the same time. It’s really just the crew that you’re following, and those are the only ones you know the stories of. How much do you know about those other [characters] and races? Very little. In Star Wars, you’re passing an alien on the street, and you’re like, "What’s that guy’s story? He looks really cool." You just wonder where they’re all going and what’s happening.

Here is the trailer for Robot Chicken: Star Wars III:

Senreich Promises More Star Trek Sketches To Come In Season 5

Firstly, THIS IS NOT A DISASTER. Of course there is no reason to expect Robot Chicken to give Star Trek the same treatment as Star Wars. And even without special episodes, Robot Chicken has done lots of funny Star Trek sketches (see below). However Senreich’s comments are a stark contrast with Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane who has also made three dedicated Star Wars specials, but has often said he wants to make a Star Trek spoof (possibly of Wrath of Khan) if he can work it out with CBS and Paramount.  And I can’t help but respectfully disagree with Senreich that the Star Trek universe does not offer enough depth or an expansive universe. With over 700 episodes and 11 feature films (including a recent very popular film), I think there is plenty of material to mine for a special.

Today I reached out (via Twitter) to ask Senreich and Robot Chicken co-creator Seth Green about Star Trek and Robot Chicken. Senreich replied – here is the exchange:

@TrekMovie: @SethGreen do you agree with @wizmatts that Star Trek is not “deep and expansive” enough for full Robot Chicken special?

Matthew Senreich (@wizmatts): @TrekMovie we have plenty of star trek sketches coming…especially in the second half of season 5

@TrekMovie: @wizmatts @SethGreen Good to hear and love your Star Trek sketches, but don’t get comment on Trek not good enough for special like Star Wars

Matthew Senreich: @TrekMovie @SethGreen We LOVE Star Trek. Great Spock sketch coming up. Promise!

@TrekMovie: @wizmatts Great!, but still writing up article on this. Glad to hear about sketches, but can’t agree universe not deep enough for special

Matthew Senreich: @TrekMovie haha. Happy to talk to you about it. It’s a great universe, I love it and a huge fan, but an RC special doesn’t work as well.

So maybe Star Trek doesn’t get a Robot Chicken special. That’s OK. The Robot Chicken guys are still showing the love, but it would be nice. Late last year Jeri Ryan said she did some voice work for Robot Chicken, so perhaps there is a Star Trek: Voyager gag coming up in that mix with the real 7 of 9 voicing.

I look forward to the second half of Robot Chicken’s fifth season, which kicks off on Adult Swim in October.

Every Robot Chicken Star Trek sketch To Date

As noted, during its five seasons (almost) on the air Robot Chicken has done many Star Trek segments. And here they all are for you to enjoy.

Bloopers in Space ("Junk in the Trunk" – 2/05)

Sci-Fi Convention War ("A Piece of the Action"- 4/05)

2 Kirks, a Khan and a Pizza Place ("The Deep End"  – 4/05)

No Power ("The Munnery" –  9/06)

Star Trek Experience ("Boo Cocky" – 9/08)

It’s The Law Asshole ("Losin’ the Wobble" – 11/07)

Fridge Beam ("Chirlax" – 10/08)

Le Wrath di Khan ("Two Weeks Without Food"  – 1/09)

Snerkel, Snerkel ("We Are a Humble Factory" – 7/09)

Star Trek Opening ("Robot Chicken’s DP Christmas Special" – 12/10)

Red Shirt ("Kramer vs Showgirls"- 1/11)

…and looking forward to more Star Trek sketches in the second half of Robot Chicken’s season 5.

What do you think?

I think there are lots of strange and recognizable Star Trek aliens and characters to explore for comedy. What are the Gorn like in their off hours? Do Talosians realize their heads look like big butts? Are there Klingon standup comedians? I don’t know, I’m not a comedy writer, but I am sure there is lots of fun stuff for a dedicated special.

What do you think? Vote in the latest poll asking if you are interested in a Robot Chicken Star Trek special. And do you have any suggestions for sketches for the Robot Chicken guys? If so sound off below.

[poll=666]

 

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I don’t think that’s a fair statement just because the expanded universe /= Star Wars for the vast majority of the public. Even the Robot Chicken spoofs don’t delve that much into it, so it seems like a false line to draw.

Now I have to Youtube all of these because I’m in Canada.

How about the 2009 movie.. Lots there Z1

Robot chicken star wars was awesome, maybe they would reconsider a trek special if family guy did one

I was on duty as Commander Tahryn at the Experience the day the two Seths (Green & McFarlane) came through the ride and took the backstage tour. My daughter (big Seth Green fan) invited herself on the tour and was tickled pink to be in his presence. They were cool and seemed to have a great time. Their homage to the Experience was obviously based on that visit. I loved it!

Really? Hundreds of hours of television (including five live-action series and an animated series), eleven movies, a few hundred novels and comic books, and Star Trek isn’t expansive enough?

Obviously, this guy isn’t a fan.

Of all the day-to-day stories you’ve done that I’ve caught, Anthony, this one leaves me the most speechless. Same as the supposed fact that the “700-club” of hours Prime Universe is too large & clunky to continue using.

Complete rubbish. The Trek universe is every bit as expansive as the Star Wars one, if not more so. The REAL problem is that Trek still doesn’t have as much broad, general exposure as Wars, and thusly, less people will get the jokes.

RC producers, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Commodore Mike of the Terran Empire.

Ok Robot Chicken. Quit being Chicken ok. There. I said it. lol.

Sorry, but I think Senreich is right.

Every series/film of Star Trek is on a starship (or space station, DS9). They visit other planets, sure, but those places are not entrenched in the public-at-large consciousness enough to make copious amounts of sketches worthwhile.

They could do a segment on Vulcan, a couple with Klingons, maybe a Gorn … and then what? You may love the Tholians or the Jem’Hadar, but the vast majority of people out there have no clue who they are. I’d laugh and so would you, but we’re the minority.

Sure, you might think they could stick to the starship format and have their humor by visiting one oddball planet after another, interspersed with hijinks on board like a kind of extended travelogue. The problem is that’s too linear.

Robot Chicken, for lack of a better word, is random. It’s ADD in stop motion. The show works best when it whips from one thing to something else entirely different. As I said before, nearly all of Star Trek takes place on or around Federation ships and that’s just too narrow for this particular show.

Not expansive enough? I guess they haven’t watch the spin-offs then. It seems to me that they like Star Wars more than Star Trek.

It isn’t too narrow, I’d say its TOO expansive, which the above actually points out. The Vulcans, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferengi, Betazoids, Borg, Klingons and Bajorans are deatl with extensively. I mean, we know, from the series and movies (not just fan stories, books, etc) their biology, philosophy, political systems, history, motivations, religions… We know more from one episode about the Tholians more than we could tell (again, from the movies alone) about the Wookies.

Star Wars is easy to spoof in a lengthy special BECAUSE you can tell the entire story, in one long shot. Because, in the end, that is what it is, ONE story. If you were to do a full length episode of Trek, what do you do? The entire first series? Pick one of the 11 movies?

It isn’t ‘not expansive enough’, it is TOO expansive to contain in a single special.

Oh, and I can think of dozens of tropes, sayings, cliches that come from Trek that any man on the street can identify.. but again, they come from 5 different series, and 11 movies. Hard to stick them all into one special and have anything coherent.

I have to agree with the RC producers. Trek just doesn’t have a ton of iconic scenes, probably since there’s to much material. For example, they’ve been able to do at least a half dozen scenes based simply on the cantina scene in Star Wars. Since there’s only the six movies that have been excessively seen by audiences, every scene is pretty iconic.

what in the hell is Robot Chicken

I think it’s more a matter of talent. Seinrich & Co. just doesn’t have the chops to do it… They specialize in 20 second to 2 minute skits, their forte.

MacFarlane & Company, OTOH found exactly the right formula to make it work for Family Guy. No one can say it can’t be done…

WOW, shows you how much he knows about the Star Trek universe.

” It’s really just the crew that you’re following, and those are the only ones you know the stories of” – no shit sherlock. Thats why their the MAIN CHARACTERS. Same with star wars. You only knew the back story of the main characters.

Hey Robot Chicken guy:

I have never watched one of your lame efforts. You are 2nd rate and not worthy of my time — so the feeling is fracking mutual!

It says to me the he’s just doing lip service to Star Trek and really isnt a fan, because if he was he would instantly see how deep Star Trek is and would be able to access that depth of material for a show on Trek.

Ridiculous to say treks not expansive enuf-hell we know a lot more about many alien species,from trek even if most are humanoid–but i guess the general public isnt as familiar–trek is way deeper than wars will ever be–Hey April their star grek experience sketch is one of my tewo faves-i shoulda known cmd tahrn would have been involved in inspiring them–the wrath of khan opera is my other fave-

Could someone please post the videos on a site that understands what WORLD WIDE web means? As per, those of us not in the US just get a “you can’t watch this, nyah nyah” message.

Thanks

Matt Senreich isn’t wrong, he’s just not articulating the reason well.

It’s not that the Star Trek universe isn’t “expansive” enough—any Trek fan knows this. It’s that there aren’t as many emblematic or iconic scenes in Star Trek as in Star Wars (as ety3 has correctly pointed out), AND, those Trek scenes that would qualify for a good Robot Chicken sketch aren’t as well known as the many, cinema-classic Star Wars scenes.

However, Wrath of Khan WOULD work really well as a RC episode, and being that it’s a movie quite well known by non-Trekkies, it would be worth doing. And I hope they do it.

But the fact that there aren’t as many iconic or emblematic scenes in Trek as in Star Wars that a show like Robot Chicken can parody should be a wake-up call to Trek writers who believe that their writing cannot be improved upon. Not mentioning any names….

@23. Trust me Chasco, it is a benefit not being able to see these videos, most of which are not very funny and which don’t really get Trek. Too bad they work in the U.S. — that would be great if they didn’t work here as well.

I don’t even know Robot Chicken and I’m not sure if I’d care for it. And for the record, I do like Star Wars.

But the reasoning “Star Trek is not as deep and expansive a universe as Star Wars… and is about characters of the week… that we know little about” is arguably the single most untrue statement ever about the two franchises. It is a testimonial of ignorance and latent animosity.

Makes sense, robot chicken and star wars are both for kids only ;-)

I agree with AzarN:
Complete rubbish. The Trek universe is every bit as expansive as the Star Wars one, if not more so. The REAL problem is that Trek still doesn’t have as much broad, general exposure as Wars, and thusly, less people will get the jokes

Light-hearted article and TV show or not, the Robot Chicken guy simply hasn’t done his homework. What he says is not true.

But on the other hand, I don’t think we Trekkers are in a position to demand a Trek special of RC. That’s the RC guys’ decision.

That’s the most bogus comment ever! Maybe it’s your comedy team of writers who are lacking in genius to write truely funny Trek paradies…after all Trek has an even longer history of being poked at then Star Wars, and for the most part those scketches have been even funnier then the lame Star wars ones I’ve seen.

There is so much scope in Trek. Why don’t they just take the them of a Star Trek Marathon, and then pick up anything from all the produced Trek. There’s SOOOOOO much they could satirise. Shat vs Pine, first woman captain loses spaceship, first african american captrain, red shirt deaths, the Gorn… jeez, I could write 5 Robot Chicken scripts on Trek before I had to start watching Trek to research.

#2

I wouldn’t mind seeing them, but I ain’t going to the bothe r of scouring YT for them.

@13: You’re spot on. Well put.

Let’s see…

6 motion pictures, 3 (or 4?) cartoon series, 2 straight to video Ewok movies and a Holiday Special.

versus

11 motion pictures, 5 television series, plus a cartoon one

You’re right! Star Trek simply isn’t expansive enough… Bring on another TV series!

LOL.

I paused for a moment before reading the comments after the story.

The Star Trek universe is expansive but Senrich has a point although I think he didn’t explain it very well.

Star Trek was never really about the universe, it was about the trio of Kirk Spock and McCoy on a HUMAN adventure. The aliens encountered in Star Trek were just a means to an end whereas in Star Wars they existed and we got to see more of each society.

If you think about it, anyone outside of fan-dom probably only know a couple of alien races from Star Trek; The Klingons and Romulans… When you see it from a general audience standpoint you understand that the Star Trek universe isn’t as expansive as it really is, regardless of all the TV shows and movies.

Really?? 45 years of Star Trek, 700 hours of shows, goodness knows how many books, and it’s not ‘deep or expansive’ enough??

Of course, the RC producers are free to parody whatever they wish, but that comment was flat-out wrong. I can understand if they’re just not into Star Trek; just say so. But no need to cover it with a patently ridiculous, ill-informed remark like that.

“[Star Trek is] not as deep and expansive of a universe, whereas Star Wars as a universe — there’s so many worlds and planets and different creatures that are roaming around.” Yeah, right…..Someone who says something stupid like this never has watched Star Trek. Totally agree with the post above me (#35). The core core of SW are the 6 movies and maybe the new Clone Wars series (just 3 seasons at this point). ST has hundreds of episodes and the movies. TNG alone has told more stories than all of SW at this point. Okay, important Alien Species in SW (movies & TV not countig comics & books) would be maybe Yodas species, Ewoks, Wookies, Mon Calamari, Hutts, those Trade Federation guys, Twilek, Gungans, Rodians and the species of that Asohka girl in Clone Wars (maybe two or three additional species i can’t think of at the moment). The rest (and most of the main cast) are mostly humans. So, that’s around 12 important species beside humans, (if you count some of the more prominent background aliens [like Jabbas guards, some Jedis, or some cantina patrons of Episode IV] you might have total numbers of around 20 – 30]. Okay, in Star Trek we’ve got Vulcans, Romulans, Klingon, Ferengi, Cardassians, Bajorans, Andorians, Borg, Dominion (Vorta, Founders, Jem’Hadar), Xindi (aquatic, primate, reptilian, humanoid), Suliban, Hirogen, Vidians, Kazon, Q, Bolians, Trill, Tellarites, Betazoids, Species 8472, Gorn, Tholians, Orions. So, that’s a total number of 23 (28 if you count every single… Read more »

“Not expansive”…..deep and meaningful words from the producer of a 15 minute long basic cable TV show.

Personally I think what he means by “Not expansive enough” is not expansive enough for Robot Chicken to make fun of.

It’s hard to combine the Star Trek universe with their type of humor.

Plenty of broad general humor to make in the Star Wars universe that most people would “get”, but most of the humor they could make from Star Trek would be funny only to us.

#37 — You’re thinking like a fan. We can all name off a bunch of alien races and worlds that we’ve seen on the show and in the films. But the public-at-large would have no clue about the vast majority of them. Ask a non-fan to name some alien races from Trek. Here’s what the answer might sound like: “Klingons, Vulcans, um, Romulans. They look like Vulcans ‘cuz they’re related, I think. The Borg. You know, ‘resistance is futile.’ That green lizard guy Kirk fought. Oh, those hot green slave girls. I seem to remember some funny, big-eared guys but I don’t remember their names.” If you’re looking to make a half-hour special about Trek, the preceding sentence would only net you six or seven sketches, and for Robot Chicken, that’s less than three minutes. The Star Wars saga is one of the most watched series of films ever made, if not the most watched. Non-fans of Star Wars have at least seen the films and can understand references in that universe. Non-fans of Trek have probably seen episodes of TOS and TNG, maybe most of the films, but that’s about it. Star Wars is simply more ingrained in the culture than Star Trek (hard for me to say, as I consider myself more of a Trek fan than Wars fan). In the end, it’s just smart producing. The producer of a TV show needs to know his audience and he knows that his wouldn’t get most of the jokes.… Read more »

Hell, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of the public don’t know what Rodians or Ithorians are, or what planet Anakin fought Obi-Wan on, but that hasn’t stopped Robot Chicken in the past.

A robot chicken special is only 30 minutes long anyway, with 5 series and 11 movies to pull from (Hmm, how much has Star Wars got?) I’m sure they could cobble together enough material.

I think this is more a case of Paramount not wanting them to do it, much in the same way they wouldn’t let Family Guy do a Wrath of Khan movie.

Although I’ve watched some of Robot Chicken I think this is all really ‘speak’ for, ‘our target audience doesn’t really get Star Trek’.

#40. That’s a great explanation.

When there’s about a dozen clips from Trek (and that’s only what’s posted on this article), people can’t seriously claim they have no respect for or have never seen Trek.

@ #6

Totally agree

It’s too bad he feels that way, because I thought their Khan opera was one of the best Trek spoofs I’ve ever seen. Not going to lose any sleep over it, but they probably could have made some decent money from DVD/Bluray sales to Trek fans.

That being said, I think he has it backwards. Star Wars is small enough and focuses on just a few characters, so it’s easier to do. Star Wars never gave me a sense of a huge universe. After all, they visit what, 3 planets total in the original trilogy? Just because there are a lot of aliens in the background of a scene doesn’t mean I have any sense of what those aliens are about. They’re essentially props. Star Trek, on the other hand, gave us thousands of species, and they’d barely explored *our* galaxy. I definitely had a greater sense of scale with Trek.

Of course, I never read the SW expanded universe novels, but I doubt the majority of the population has, either.

Then THAT is what they should’ve said. There are more identifiable moments to spoof off of and more non-geek knowledge of Star Wars than for Star Trek. I’d totally agree.

That’s not what he SAID. He said the universe wasn’t ‘expansive’, that it was all about the crew, and the ‘character of the week’ and that other races weren’t dealt with in detail, in contrast with Star Wars.

Whether your average audience member paid enough attention to notice, that’s simply wrong.

Star Wars is MUCH easier to do a full length spoof not just due to those recognizable moments and characters, many of which are NOT as recognizable as you think among those who aren’t SW fans, but because it isn’t expansive. It isn’t 5 series and 11 movies about a whole universe of characters and species, it is, in the end, a single narrative, one story about, in the end, one family. The rest are just support characters and extras.

11 films-hundreds of hours of tv…”not expansive enough”? I don’t have any problem with them not doing any Trek specials but that rationale makes zero sense.

Which is more famous Vulcan or Alderaan?

We asked J.J. Abrams… and looked what it got us!

:(

“Not expansive enough”….OK, would you care to explain to me how it is we know more about the Tholians (who got MAYBE four episodes of Trek) then we do about the Wookies, who were featured in not one, not two, not three, but FOUR MOVIES??? We know more about Trek species then we ever did about any single Wars species. PLUS the fact that Trek dealt with problems of today and how they may or may not be solved in the future! I don’t know about you, Senreich, but that sounds “expansive enough” to me!!!

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