If you’re looking for the most wildly inventive and mind-blowing science fiction ideas on television, then you should probably stay up past your bedtime, tune in to Adult Swim, and watch “Rick and Morty”.
“Rick and Morty” asks the question no one has ever dared to ask: What if Doc Brown from “Back to the Future” was a raging alcoholic?
As the title suggests, “Rick and Morty” centres around Rick (Justin Roiland), an alcoholic scientist with a lot of crazy ideas, and Morty (Justin Roiland), Rick’s awkward teenage grandson. Rick, who works out of the garage, is always inventing something new and dragging Morty along with him for crazy sci-fi inspired adventures that always cause trouble. Sometimes, they make Morty’s parents mad. Other times, they accidently open a rift in the universe.
“Rick and Morty” falls on the right side of a balancing act. With animation, you have at your disposal no limits in terms of your imagination. However, you have to make sure to ground the story somehow so we can still relate to it. There are shows like “BoJack Horseman,” where the anthropomorphic animals share the same fears and sadness as most humans do. Then, there are also shows like “King of the Hill” that could have been live action and lost nothing.
“Rick and Morty” is a challenging show in that regard, in that it goes far beyond the initial premise of a twisted version of “Back to the Future.”
In fact, it touches on almost every science-fictional premise which has ever been explored in pop culture. In one episode, Rick and Morty plan to incept one of Morty’s teachers. As they go deeper and deeper through dream layers and a knockoff Freddy Krueger appears, it is abundantly clear that the show is not just borrowing this concept, but riffing on and exploring it.
“Rick and Morty” was co-created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland. Harmon is the embattled showrunner of hte brilliant “Community”, which jumped from NBC to Yahoo and was in danger of cancellation several times during its run (it is still up in the air whether or not it will return for a seventh season). Like “Community”, “Rick and Morty” tackles some crazily ambitious subjects, but its characters are so good that true emotional stakes are created no matter how ridiculous it may bet.
Take for example the most tragic moment from season one of “Rick and Morty”.
In the sixth episode, titled “Rick Potion No. 9”, Rick and Morty attempt to create a potion that will make the girl Morty has a crush on fall in love with him at a big school dance. The plan backfires and the two of them nearly destroy mankind. Instead of fixing it, they jump into an alternate reality where everything is fine, but one version of themselves has to die. The episode ends with Rick and Morty burying their own bodies in the backyard. Rick doesn’t seem fazed by it, as if he has had to do this before. Meanwhile, his grandson looks mortified, as if a piece of his innocence has been lost forever.
Later, when explaining this incident to his older sister Summer (Spencer Grammer), Morty exclaims, “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
This is the dark philosophy of the show in a nutshell: It takes every beloved science fiction concept you can think of and fleshes out the consequences. Rick and Morty is what would happen if Marty McFly couldn’t get his parents back together, or if Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) could never escape the dream world in “Inception.” “The Magic School Bus,” this is not.
And while this is all happening, the show delves into the absurd and then comes up with some of the most imaginative results you’ll see on television.
The “Inception” episode mentioned above is paired up with a plotline about dogs gaining intelligence and then enslaving mankind. In the episode “Meeseeks and Destroy,” they have to deal with annoying blue creatures named Mr. Meeseeks. It’s a creation that belongs completely to “Rick and Morty”, and it is bizarre, random, and memorable in a way that only this show could pull off. Like “Community”, it takes a lot of other ideas that have been seen in TV and movies and makes them uniquely their own.
I’d explain more of the show’s other crazy concepts (a sex robot and an a theme park located inside the human body); however, while explaining as much as possible is necessary for science, it can kill comedy and “Rick and Morty” has the power to both make your brain ache and make you laugh at the same time.
Season two of “Rick and Morty” premieres on Sunday, July 26 at 11:30 p.m. on Adult Swim.
NOW WATCH: The season two trailer of this hilarious animated series shows why it’s this generation’s ‘Back to the Future’
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