It’s May, which means we’re in the middle of network upfronts season, when television networks announce their upcoming slate for the fall and sometimes break a few hearts by confirming the cancellation of series that are on the bubble. While the big four broadcast networks don’t step up to the plate until next week, Cartoon Network off-shoot Adult Swim has just finished its upfront presentation, revealing two major points of interest.
First up, as teased late last year, Samurai Jack is officially being resurrected for a fifth season, complete with involvement from creator Genndy Tartakovsky. For those unfamiliar, Samurai Jack’s original run began in 2001 and ended in 2004, and revolved around the titular time-traveling samurai and his quest to vanquish a powerful demon known as Aku. An animated homage to classic samurai films, Samurai Jack quickly became a critical and cult hit, earning multiple Emmy awards and spawning video games and comic book series.
One assumes that Jack’s voice actor Phil LaMarr will be returning to reprise the role, although that has yet to be officially confirmed. Sadly, one role that will be definitely need to be recast is Aku, whose portrayer Mako Iwamatsu passed away in 2006 at the age of 72. Another option could be to simply reuse and re-edit Mako’s prior recordings to avoid recasting the role, but that would likely prove too limiting from a creative standpoint.
Next on the Adult Swim docket is Robot Chicken, which is partnering up with The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and series showrunner Scott M. Gimple to create a special entitled simply Robot Chicken: The Walking Dead. This follows in the footsteps of previous specials based on the Star Wars franchise and the DC Comics universe. There is no word yet on if any Walking Dead cast members will lend their voices to the special, but given Kirkman and Gimple’s participation, it’s not hard to imagine a few of them popping in for a scene or two.
While it’s true that The Walking Dead probably wasn’t anyone’s first guess as to which property would receive the Robot Chicken full-episode parody treatment next, that may partly be a reason why the idea is a good one. While still enjoyed by millions of fans worldwide, The Walking Dead has sometimes been criticized for taking itself and its characters too seriously, and creating an almost relentlessly dour viewing experience. A Robot Chicken special presents a perfect opportunity for Kirkman and company to cut loose, and put the show’s characters in hilarious over-the-top situations that would never fly on AMC. The potential for fan — and possibly cast — catharsis is immense.
Samurai Jack returns sometime in 2016. Robot Chicken wraps up season 8 this Sunday at 11:30pm on Adult Swim.