If you're a fan of Adult Swim in general or just someone who constantly wish for more adult-themed cartoons, damnit, then chances are you may have recently stumbled upon that network's newest large-scale does of high concept silliness, Rick and Morty. Springing from the minds of both cult animator Justin Roiland and cult Community godfather Dan Harmon, the show was double-stamped for nerd consumption from the beginning and already seems to have hit it off with viewers and critics alike. Most of them, anyway...
Like many classic sci-fi stories, the show centers around a wise older mentor and his young apprentice having grand adventures, except here the scientist mentor (Rick) is a slobbering dipsomaniacal lunatic, and his intrepid grandson (Morty) has severe emotional scars and developmental problems. Together, they travel to fantabulous worlds and usually leave behind a high body count and a lot of uncomfortable questions for the rest of their sitcom family. Pop-culture references abound, the fourth wall is smashed into smithereens from the get go, and we get the mix of aliens, spaceships and penis jokes that seems to be the modern blueprint for sci fi comedy success. Basically (and I'm sure I'm not the only one to say this), it's Futurama meets Family Guy, at least so far, and for some people that'll probably be enough.
But as quickly as I've devoured the first six episodes, my opinion so far is solidly on the fence. While it's mostly a very fun and super-watchable show that goes down smoother than fried birthday cake, there are a few things that R&M has done so far that are a little, shall we say...discouraging. I'm all for following Roiland, Harmon and their merry band down this rabbit hole, but if you're looking to get all caught up before the series returns to the air on March 10th, you should know that it can be kind of a mixed bag. Because all these years of writing for TR have made it impossible for me to not think in list form, here are both the aspects of this not-so-little little program that I like, and some of the things it seriously needs to change. Spoilers for those who aren't up to speed yet.
Reasons to Check It Out
4) It Looks Great (for What It Is).
Let's start with something simple but obvious: the look of the show is pitch-perfect. While the scenes set within the drab family life of our heroes are a bit bland and beige, the other planets and various weirdscapes that they travel to are crammed with bright colors, strange monsters and all the things you could want from a show of this premise.
The premiere alone gave us megatrees, weird flying scrotal aliens and a chase scene through "interdimensional customs," and you can look no further than the show's intro for a sample of the kinds of things we may expect to see later on. As a sidenote, I kind of like the whole retro "clips from actual episodes" approach to opening sequences and wouldn't mind seeing it come back as a trend (in limited doses, of course).
3) The Voice Acting Isn't too Shabby, Either.
I'm sure many of you smarties out there will have no problem figuring out that both of the titular characters are voiced by Justin Roiland, but I was honestly fooled for several episodes. They each have their own little verbal quirks that make them distinct: Morty's stammering and cracking voice feels surprisingly raw for this kind of show, and Rick belching in the middle of expository technobabble is rarely not hilarious.
Chris Parnell, Sarah Grammer and Spencer Chalke all seem to be giving it their all as well, despite the familiarity of their roles. There have also already been some pretty high-level guest stars, most notably John Oliver as a Richard Attenborough-esque paramecium, and I'm more than happy to continue down that road.
2) So far, There's Very Little Continuity, and That's Actually Kind of Refreshing.
Even though Chris Hardwick loves to yammer on about how we're living in a "golden age of television" in seemingly every other Nerdist interview, there are certain TV trends I could use a break from. For instance, at this point I like comedy shows that are both intelligent and don't require years of obsessive following and in-jokes to get every punchline. Maybe that's just me.
Fortunately, as of this writing, Rick and Morty seems happy to be a series of self-contained scenarios that poke fun at its transient "story-of-the-week" format, and I am equally happy to let it be just that. It may not boast a coherent mythology tying all the different adventures together, but it also doesn't have any rules hemming in the craziness of the scripts, and that's a good thing. Though the show will almost certainly outgrow this at some point, for now it's perfectly content to be what it is.
1) The Episodes are Jam-Packed With Stuff.
Once you've watched all six episodes, you'll likely be surprised at just how much ground each one covers when you think back to them, and impressed at the way things escalate from regular insane to super-white-hot-magma insane relatively naturally. The pace is supersonic, and each story packs in all sorts of different parodies, monsters, locations, and whacked-out ideas within a relatively tidy runtime. Because the creators have such a huge well to draw from, there's clearly the potential to go all over the map with this, and that's the main reason I'm excited to see where we get to follow the show next.
Click below to see some reasons the show is not so great.