Rick and Morty: A Rickdonculous Ode to Science Fiction

My first ‘Special Episode’ might not be your first choice for television entertainment but here’s why it should be.

Justin Roliand and Dan Harmon have outdone themselves with Rick and Morty, a witty animated science fiction series about Grandpa Rick and his not so bright grandson and companion, Morty. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just another American cartoon out to make money and feed on the population’s insatiable hunger for cheap laughs. Rick and Morty toys with some dark themes that can leave the viewer questioning what on earth dimension C-137 just happened? But it never fails in its ability to deliver original concepts, mindblowing sciene fiction and loveable, relatable characters that amuse us in their own way. From Gerry’s insecurities and incompetence, Summer’s desire to be popular, Beth’s unerring flaw to settle for second-best and Morty’s admirable efforts to balance the real world with glib globs and smorfy dormfs, Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon have created one of the most outlandish, imaginative cartoons that can make us laugh and cry in a heartbeat.

Anyone who has seen Rick and Morty should be able to draw some connection between the eponymous characters and Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future. If you are one of those crazy people who haven’t seen Robert Zemeckis’ science fiction masterpiece then redirect here for a lesson in timeless classics. This connection stems from Justin Roiland’s parody of Back to the Future titled The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti. What’s interesting is that Roiland designed Doc and Mharti to troll the lawyers of Universal Studios but ended up loving the concept and voicing Doc and Mharti that he persevered with his character development and created Rick and Morty with Dan Harmon and AdultSwim. Fortunately Rick and Morty isn’t anywhere near the filth levels of Roiland’s perverse and crude parody storytelling, that if you must view, source on your own time. One viewing is enough for me.

What we get instead is a far more refined final product that delivers on all fronts with a smorgasbord of pop culture references, with Jurassic Park, The TitanicInception and classic television series such as The A-Team all making appearances in some form or another. I suppose this is why I love Rick and Morty so much, it appeals to me on so many levels what with the similarities with Back to the Future, consistently witty references to pop culture, and the unnerving presence of limitless creativity. The flexibility in the script and its improvised value allow for a more realistic and human experience with a conversational tone that we can relate to. No more so is this evident in episode #8 ‘Rixty Minutes’ that sees Rick and Morty enjoying some downtime away from their misadventures watching TV from alternate realities. Although central to the plot which focuses on Gerry and Beth’s past decisions the TV also acts as an opportunity to really push the boundaries of imagination whilst mocking TV shows, movies and even adverts. No one can argue that TV in alternate realities will look or run a certain way therefore no one can argue that an advert about fake doors wouldn’t exist. The premise of selling fake doors is utterly rickdiculous there’s no doubt about it but just like Rick and Morty we want to see where it goes. Because of the retroscripted style we fee like we are on the sofa with them, watching the likes of ‘Ants in my eyes Johnson’ and ‘Ball Fondlers’ and we react in the same ways.

The improvisation is perfect and the show wouldn’t work as well if each scene was scripted and structured around a fixed dialogue. But the fun energetic approach is balanced with dark recurring themes of insecurity, depression and resentment and in an interview Dan Harmon explained that as the viewer we see the misadventures of Rick and Morty through the eyes of Morty as he is a character we can relate to. He feels uncomfortable in new surroundings and is often reluctant to help Rick but he is easily influenced and ends up getting roped into life threatening situations that no normal human being would a) even dream of being in and b) ever dream of surviving (dream; a key reference to episode #2 ‘Lawnmower Dog’, the Inception paraody). Morty’s world is small, his desires are normal for a 14 year old boy, *belch* Jessica, and Rick usually taps into this weakness in Morty’s personality primarily because Rick doesn’t see the world, or even universe in the same way.

Rick is such an incredible character, his mannerisms are unique, his behaviour is erratic and his logic bizarre. His existence in the human world is commonly underappreciated and Gerry constantly voices his displeasure at the influence Rick has over Morty and often seeks handouts from Rick’s emporium of science fiction, quite literally in the case of Mr Meeseeks, by far my favourite sub-character/species in the series. Gerry fails to see Rick as anything but an inconvenient convenience, partly due to the fact that Rick quite clearly has no respect for Gerry whatsoever and Rick simply doesn’t care. He mocks Gerry’s ‘problems’ because he actively exists in a universe with infintie alternate realities. Rick’s problems go so far beyond teaching a dog how to sit, or taking two strokes off your golf game and we begin to get a feel for Rick’s troubled personality. He distances himself from human problems partly in search of the bigger picture but also because he is part of the bigger picture and he has experienced it first-hand.

Morty becomes dependent on Rick’s matter-of-fact science. His ability to solve any problem and do anything he wants is something that we can all admit would be awesome. The list of inventions at Rick’s disposal exist because Rick is simply that clever, we don’t question the science, we just accept that it is there and that’s that. The show is driven by the refreshing premise that whatever is imaginable is achievable. Morty’s uncharismatic dependence on Rick’s genius begins to wear off on the viewer. We begin to realise that the only way out of a situation is to rely on Rick. On the odd occasion when the situation demands it Morty is our hero but ultimately the power of the show rests in Rick’s genius, even if this genius is an alcoholic sociopath.

The entire first season can be found at http://www.adultswim.com/videos/rick-and-morty/ and the return of Rick and Morty has been announced for some time, maybe, Summer 2015.

“Game day bucket go boom.”

Note to viewers if you enjoyed the episodes as much as you should don’t be hasty in flicking to the next one, wait out the credits and watch the post-credits clip after each episode (apart from the pilot).

With so many clips to choose from it was hard to find one that sums up the above. But this one just about cuts it, although lacking the all important science fiction element, but I wouldn’t want to spoil all the good parts now would I.


– Fan art by Di Horozian –

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