Welcome to ‘Should I Check Out…” a new weekly column here at ScienceFiction.com dedicated to giving you the scoop on recent TV series, movies, games, novels, comic books, and more – entertainment that you may not have heard of or may not have had the chance to explore yet. We’ll explain a bit about what the property is, what you might get out of it, and what you might not know about it, so you can be armed with more knowledge as you ask yourself the question: should I check out this stuff… or not?
Take a look at what we’re writing about this week, and if you’ve already checked it out, let us know in the Comments section below what you think about it!
Tired of the usual mundane, vanilla, tired old rigmarole of the “standard” fare on television these days? Looking for some mindless comedy on the surface of a show that is somehow blended with surprisingly deep science-fiction plots and themes? Want a fun blend of markedly realistic characters who are sometimes good people but on the whole are burdened with lots of bad habits and look out for themselves first and generally don’t give a crap about anything else? Then friend, let’s talk about ‘Rick and Morty.’
It’s a half-hour animated show from the minds of Dan Harmon (yes, he of ‘Community’ fame, among others) and Justin Roiland, with the latter providing the voicework for both title characters: brilliant aging scientist Rick who has stopped caring about pretty much everything in the world except his family which includes his grandson Morty, a simple-minded grade-schooler who extols virtue mostly because he just doesn’t know any better.
The series airs in the Adult Swim content block of programming, and deservedly so: it’s at various times absurd, raunchy, and “lowest common denominator” humorous – but it also manages to surprise with strikingly in-depth looks at moments and concepts of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
The show’s genesis lies primarily with Roiland, who is also an animator. The title characters are based on his crude-but-hilarious short video series ‘The Adventures of Doc Brown and Mharti’ – and yes, these characters are, in turn, based on Emmett “Doc” Brown and Marty McFly from the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise. When I say “crude,” I mean in both animation style and content – click here to view the vest first ever Doc and Mharti 4-minute “adventure,” but be forewarned, it is extremely NSFW. After Roiland submitted his video to Harmon’s “Channel 101” short-film festival, the latter knew immediately who he wanted to work with when Adult Swim came calling to him asking for a new series pitch.
In addition to Rick and Morty – who are grandfather and grandson instead of, uh, Doc and random teenage boy – the show features other family members as well: Morty’s older sister Summer (Spencer Grammer), who is skeptical of the pair’s adventures and generally maintains a cooler head than either of them; Morty’s mother Beth (Sarah Chalke), who is Rick’s daughter and highly protective of her son, even though she does “mellow” a bit and open her eyes to new experiences as the show has progressed; and Jerry (Chris Parnell), Morty’s oft-clueless father whom Rick largely despises and thinks his daughter could have done much, much better.
While the series does focus some stories on the family and its suburban lifestyles and challenges, much of the action focuses on the two title characters and their traipses around the galaxy. Rick, you see, is an intergalactically-renowned scientist – and not always “renowned” in a positive way, as there are several governing bodies and aliens who would like to see harm come to him. The fantastical adventures truly do run the gamut of sci-fi ideas. Some take place right on Earth but with a sci-fi twist, such as the first-season story “Lawnmower Dog” which sees Rick granting the family’s adorable pup, Snuffles, increased intelligence with the aim of helping the pup stop peeing inside – but of course, things go awry and Snuffles becomes more powerful than anyone anticipated. Other tales take place in outer space, including adventures about a ‘Hunger Games’ style couples therapy resort, Earth being forced to compete in an intergalactic music competition with incredibly high stakes, multiverses and the intricacies of travelling through galactic custom exchange points, and even entire episodes (created largely in an impromptu, improv style) devoted to seeing the myriad of strange channels that exist on “intergalactic cable.”
It’s a show that, quite frankly, has to be seen to be believed. With three seasons now under its belt, it’s clear that ‘Rick and Morty’ isn’t going away any time soon, which is a good thing. The show has had notoriously long delays in between its first three seasons, which were each 10 or 11 episodes in length; current word is that the fourth season should start hitting screens in “late 2019.” Fortunately, Adult Swim has already come forth and told fans that they are committed to at least seventy new episodes, which could be as many as seven more seasons – great news for fans of the show, whenever these episodes finally do see the light of day!
For now, streaming services like Hulu and even Adult Swim’s website will let you catch up on the first three seasons, and the episodes stay in fairly regular rotation on TV via Adult Swim as well. If this article has made the show sound intriguing to you at all, then I’d definitely recommend checking ‘Rick and Morty’ out, sooner rather than later!