Rick and Morty is well into its second season. Its essential ingredients are off the shelf, found in many sci fi shows. Start by adding three parts Back to the Future. The wild eyed Doc Brown and his young sidekick Marty have no business associating, this tangy flavor will give it some kick. Next important ingredient in the mix is some good old Doctor Who. The whimsicalness, flamboyance, and adventure will be needed to tantalize the taste buds. Mix with tidbits of various other sci-fi elements and serve chilled.
This inebriating drink isn’t for the faint of heart. Lesser sci-fi flicks like The Purge and Inception just can’t stomach the stiff cocktail that Rick and Morty serves. Taking every opportunity to point a critical finger at them and many others are what makes the show so great. Fresh topics in sci-fi are also covered with a satirical drunken glazed eyed approach that comes off as hilarious. All while never sacrificing the improvisational approach that this show has.
Standing head and shoulders above all else in the galaxy in terms of intelligence is Rick Sanchez. This is matched only by Rick’s corrupted morals and aloofness with everyday society’s sense of right and wrong. While common virtue would say that it’s wrong to use your family to commit crimes, such as intergalactic smuggling, Rick thinks otherwise. He not only does this without hesitation, but shows nothing but disdain when his grandson is only the slightest bit hesitant to place … certain, uncomfortable … said smuggled items into unmentionable orifices.
Voiced by Justin Roiland, Rick is a functional drunk that is always above the rules of morality and law. Stumbling and staggering at times while at others indulging in hedonistic tendencies. Rick is only interested in one thing, Rick. All else is a means to a end. The juxtaposition between Rick’s sloppiness and his alarmingly powerful intellect is the show’s main source of comedy. Roiland serves this up frothy, with Rick mumbling and micro-burping mid sentence as he tries to convince his simple grandson, Morty, to help do things no other sober person would do. It’s Rick’s character that is the focal point of the show. There’s just something about having the whole thing revolve around an overpowered, immoral drunk, with a devil-may-care attitude. It’s just too hard not to chuckle at; imagine Dr. Who as a reckless threat to those around him.
Rick’s grandson, and many ways, polar opposite is Morty. Also voiced by Roiland and served up just right. Where Rick is confident, Morty is shaky. If Rick is sure about breaking an outdated moralistic rule, Morty is steadfast in keeping it. Voiced as a teenager who is forever on the cusp of his voice change into that of a man’s, Morty’s screechy voice hints at so many things to the listener. Innocence, inexperience, naivety, all play into Rick’s hands. When this twisted version of Doc Brown isn’t duping the exaggerated version of Marty McFly into doing risky things, he is either taking advantage of him or just plain poking fun at him. Morty, ultimately, is the voice of the audience objecting to Rick’s unhinged ideas and is our representative in this animated intervention of sorts. And guess what, Rick ain’t buying it.
Rick’s other family members serve only to slow him down or annoy him as he gives them his derision. His daughter, voiced by Sarah Chalke (Roseanne and Scrubs), is a headstrong confident woman. Beth won’t stand for you looking down on her for being just an horse doctor; it’s just as important as a people doctor. Her only mistake in life would be her husband, Jerry Smith, voiced by Chris Parnell (SNL). The only good thing Jerry’s done in life was knocking up Beth back in high school. Jerry is uhmmm …… a bit of a failure. When he isn’t busy being unemployed, he’s fowling up Rick’s schemes. Just think of the failures of a habitual drunk with out the excuse of actually being drunk. He is the clown, the buffoon, a target for Rick to drop snarky comments down at from his ivory tower. Jeff and the rest Rick’s family are great garnish that makes the whole concoction come together.
Rick and Morty’s Sci-Fi Influences
Putting these characters in outer space adventures is hilarious nod to Dr. Who. Rick gallivanting around the universe without a care in the world, his companions following him around, using extreme technology, all the while making Rick come off as cooler and smarter by comparison. But where the good Doctor has compassion and is a good person, Rick is the opposite. Rick shows his companions nothing but contempt and points out their flaws and foibles; he is negative and tears them down. For those who love Dr. Who or space adventure shows in general, this is a excellent satire. Admittedly Whovians, at one time or another, have wanted tell one of the Doctor’s companions that they’re acting
stupid, Rick is this voice.
Rick and Morty references other sci-fi greats such as Twilight Zone in the episode “Something Ricked Comes this Way”, while also basing it on the 1902 literary source by W. W. Jacobs. Rick goes about debunking the notion of good and evil in the world, matching his chaotic alignment. By the end its much more modern tale, an objective science vs. superstition argument episode. At every turn Rick and Morty find ways to spin sci-fi ideas around and make them relevant. It’s this fresh comedic approach that makes this an intoxicatingly funny show.
Satire of Pop Sci Fi
Big time motion pictures are subjects for Rick to trash as well. Modern films such as The Purge and Inception are poked fun at in Rick’s drunken stupor. The ridiculousness of the plot of Inception is given a stiff chaser by Rick as he comments:
“It’s been six hours. Dreams move one… one-hundredth the speed of reality, and dog time is one-seventh human time. So y’know, every day here is like a minute. It’s like Inception, Morty, so if it’s confusing and stupid, then so is everyone’s favorite movie.”
While in the another episode, “Look who’s Purging Now“, Rick reveals just how unoriginal the plot is for the film by showing it’s been done before (see Star Trek’s “Return of the Archons”). Aside from this The Purge doesn’t have much else to offer. The conclusion is that The Purge is shallow . Mumbling Rick casually mentions:
“No, no, but I’ve been to a few planets with the same gimmick. Y’know, sometimes it’s called the Cleansing or the Red Time. There was this one world that called it just Murder Night. I-It’s a purge planet. They’re peaceful and then, y’know, they just purge.”
Rick is like that drunken relative that always speaks the truth but you just don’t know how he does it; this is sharp and hilarious entertainment.
Rick and Morty is a welcome addition to Adult Swim and stands among the great animation shows like The Simpsons, Futurama, and Family Guy. It can be seen on Cartoon Network and on various streaming services such as Amazon and Hulu. It has some excellent characters that are voiced so perfectly that it’s hard not to enjoy. It’s a great source of satire; ripping down shallow, mainstream lesser sci-fi flicks and poking a little fun at the classics. So sit down, relax, drink a warm chaser of some Rick and Morty to go along with your other sci-fi.
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