|Arby 'n' the Chief|
|Genre||Situational comedy, satire, action comedy, drama|
|Format||Live-action puppeteering and machinima|
|Created by||Jon Graham|
|Starring|| Microsoft Sam|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of episodes||122 + 1 Movie + 1 Special|
|Running time|| Seasons 1 - 4 (5 - 18 Minutes)
Seasons 5 - 7 (8 - 33 Minutes)
Arby 'n' the Chief is a live action/machinima webseries created by Jon Graham in Canada, also known as Jon CJG (who was formerly known as DigitalPh33r when the series first began production) and published by Machinima in the United States. The series revolves around the lives of Halo 2 action figures of Master Chief and The Arbiter as they play Halo series games and pull off various shenanigans.
The series adopted a sitcom format in Season 1, grew into a general comedy with more characters in Season 2, and developed several minor story arcs in Season 3. In the fourth season, the series returned to self-contained sitcom episodes, but the next three seasons marked a huge shift in the series' style. Season 5-7 implemented season-wide story arcs, more deeply written characters, dark, dramatic tones, and themes concerning loneliness, despair, guilt, and more. Season 8, which is currently being produced with multiple episodes now released, is planned to be a more light-hearted affair, but in the same style as the later seasons and with a science fiction flair.
The series was well received among the Machinima community in its early seasons for its sharp satire of gamer culture and its combination of both live-action and Machinima elements. In the years following the premiere of season five, the series has grown to become a highly acclaimed web-series and has been lauded for its surprising quality of writing, subtext, characterization, and exploration of dark themes.
The average rating for the series was "TV-MA" due to its frequent language and sexual references.
Arby 'n' the Chief is a comedy about two Halo 2-era Action Figures of the Master Chief and the Arbiter who live in their owner, Jon Graham's, house. When Jon is at home, the figures stay put and do not move, as one would expect of the typical figurine. Whenever Jon leaves, they start moving around, playing games, and pulling off shenanigans, similar to the Disney/Pixar movie Toy Story.
Usually, the duo play Halo 3 (Seasons 1 - 3) or Halo: Reach (Season 4 - present) on Xbox Live, although Arbiter also enjoys playing other games. Chief is typically seen expressing scorn and dissent whenever Arbiter chooses to play any game that is not Halo related, and as such, Chief stays away from such games. However, he does venture out of his box to try those games, though his performance is rotten, and what time he does devote to the playing of different games always results in an increase in Chief's hatred of that game. Later on in the series, however, Chief becomes more tolerant of non-Halo games, mostly Resident Evil 5, despite jumping on the bandwagon and joining a protest against the game itself because of its alleged racism.
During seasons 1 to 4, each episode was typically Arbiter and Chief's day to day dilemmas, however from seasons 5 to 7, each episode has been part of a story arc lasting throughout the season.
- Master Chief (Microsoft Sam) is the foul-mouthed, illiterate protagonist of the series next to the Arbiter.
- The Arbiter (Microsoft Mike) is the friendly and intelligent protagonist of the series next to Chief.
- Cortana (Microsoft Mary)
- Todd (Jon Graham)
- Travis (Jon Graham)
- Claire (Elizabeth Carr-Ernst) is the tritagonist of the later seasons and Arbiter's love interest.
- Greg is the mute and friendly spider that Arbiter befriends in Season 4.
- Scott (Jon Graham) is an online hacker introduced in "Endgame".
- Trent Donnovich (Jon Graham) is the main antagonist of Seasons 5 and 6.
- Clyde (Jon Graham) is the primary antagonist of Season 6 and the leader of the infamous hacker group known as Chaos Theosis.
- Kylie (Elizabeth Carr-Ernst) is the secondary antagonist behind Clyde in the sixth season.
- Adam McIntyre (Khail Anonymous) is the tertiary antagonist of the sixth season.
- Duncan (Hutch) is the fourth antagonist of the sixth season.
- Eugene Black (Jon Graham) is the primary antagonist of the seventh season.
- Colin Hunt (Bruce Greene) is the secondary antagonist of the seventh season.
- Tyler King (Khail Anonymous, Rob Talbert, and Jordan Kast) is the tertiary antagonist of the seventh season.
- Agent Smirnoff is a Communist Russian Special Agent who is in search of Scott, the hacking crackhead. While arresting Scott in the woods he is incapacitated when Scott throws cocaine in his face, temporarily blinding him. Master Chief and Arbiter call him after learning that Scott is the hacker he is looking for. In the last episode of the series, Agent Smirnoff shoots Scott approximately twenty times, two of which are through the head. He is particularly fond of Triscuits. He is played and voiced by Daniel Lazslo.
- Cameron Jones was a former secondary antagonist working for Trent during season 5.
- Cody Hammond was a former secondary antagonist working for Trent during season 5 alongside Cameron Jones. He was also an ally in TOSERS during season 6.
Lists of episodes
- See also: List of Arby 'n' the Chief episodes
Seasons 1-4 did not contain any original theme music; however, they did incorporate recurring music which would have fitted the matter. Seasons 5 and 6, on the other hand, did include theme songs, which played alongside their respective opening title sequences. Whilst the seventh season of Arby 'n' the Chief, however, had reverted back to incorporating no theme song or opening title sequence.
Arby 'n' the Chief has been, for the most part, well-received by viewers ever since its inception in 2007.
Reception has varied high and low throughout the course of the shows run. It received fast amounts of praise during the first season, so much so that Bungie took notice and featured the show on their website. Season 2 and the premiere episode of Season 3 were praised for their comedy, but received criticism for the underdeveloped new characters and their subsequent disappearance. The remainder of Season 3 was acclaimed for its increasingly biting satire on online gaming culture. Endgame was praised as a satisfying (original) finale to the show.
The spin-off series Arby 'n' the Chief in L.A., which took the show out of Jon's hands and was produced by Machinima Inc., was panned by both fans and general viewers. Following this, Machinima Inc. handed the production of the show back to Jon and season 4 was created. The series' reception rose sharply again following this, due to the return to the antics of the first and third seasons and the general improvement in writing.
Seasons 5 and 6 have overall been praised very highly for the writing and structure of each episode, and many consider this era to be the show's peak as of now. A vocal minority have been negative towards the show's new storyline development, straying away from its original concept during seasons 1-4. However, the majority of the fanbase approve of the new style of writing towards the show.
Season 7 was highly praised by many for similar reasons, though others felt that its themes and content were excessively dark, even compared to the previous two seasons. As the season progressed however, reception gradually improved and today it is generally held in the same high regard as previous seasons.
Season 8 has so far seen mostly positive reception.
- Jon revealed in the director's commentary of the Season 7 episode "Two Point Zero" that the series is on a "zero dollar budget" and rarely any money is spent for the sake of the series. Jon adds that he got this idea from a DVD featurette of the 1992 film El Mariachi, in which the director, Robert Rodriguez, gave it tips for other directors.