Christmas is a time for family, for traditions and for … zombie elves? Apparently, if you're talking about Adult Swim's twisted "Robot Chicken" universe. The stop-motion animation series skewers some holiday classics with "The Robot Chicken Christmas Special: X-Mas United," and director Tom Sheppard and head writer Tom Root gave us a little preview.
What can you tease about this year's Christmas special?
TOM SHEPPARD: Well, we are breaking with our usual sketch format and actually doing a narrative story this time out.
TOM ROOT: I think this is the longest story we've ever told with the Nerd, probably, so it was a lot of fun to be able to get out of our comfort zone and stretch out, tell a longer story.
How would you describe the tone for this special?
TR: It's actually kind of a sweet story because the Nerd is such a sweet character. There was the same nasty, nihilistic humor that we love doing, but as opposed to just about everything we've ever done, the Nerd actually is a character you root for and you care about his feelings and want him to achieve his goals.
Were you inspired by any famous Christmas specials?
TS: We take shots at everything from "The Polar Express" to "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Fred Claus." "Snowpiercer," "Planes Trains and Automobiles," with varying levels of love for those properties. Nothing says Christmas like "Snowpiercer."
TR: We made fun of a lot of things I've never seen, which is always a challenge. I've never seen "Fred Clause," but most of America probably hasn't either.
Do you have any personal favorites in the Christmas genre?
TR: When I was a kid my favorite Christmas special was always "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." I really liked the look of it, and it was my first introduction to stop-motion animation.
TS: I loved "Rudolph," too, but I have to say as an adult watching it — and we have a little bit of fun with this — Santa's attitude towards Rudolph in the special is not very nice. He basically calls him a freak until he finds that he can make use of his freakishness. So we have some fun with that.