BY BRIAN GODAR
Dan Harmon, the creative force behind the famously self-aware show Community, has taken his talent for controlled insanity and brought it to a new medium: animation. After getting fired from Community’s fourth season, Harmon started shopping around his idea for a show where his more insane ideas could come to fruition, which meant removing the limit set by using real actors on a real stage. As a result, his new cartoon, Rick and Morty, watches like an unholy mixture of Futurama,Community, and Back to the Future, which just a hint of Family Guy raunch humor thrown in for good measure. Rick and Mortyis currently one of the highest rated shows in the coveted 18 – 45 male demographic, even beating out perennial favorite Archer. With that in mind, I watched the first six episodes to see if it lives up to all the hype.
The show follows the perpetually drunk mad scientist Rick, who moves back in with his daughter and her family at the beginning of the show. Rick’s well-intentioned and dimwitted grandson, Morty, gets caught up in Rick’s capers and becomes his “little helper,” due to Rick’s unabashed manipulation of Morty, both physically (making him shove giant seeds up his rectum) and mentally (remarking, of the seeds, “You have to do this for grandpa, Morty!”). Rick has a certain drunken Doc Brown quality to his character, with elegant speeches interrupted by spitting, burping, pausing to chug alcohol from his flask, and manic stammering, with a dribble of perma-drool hanging from his lips as a constant reminder that you are listening to a crazy man. Punctuating almost every sentence with “Morty,” Rick adds a frenetic feeling to everything he’s involved in, and utilizes a common Family Guy trope (repeating a joke so often that it goes from funny, to not funny, then back to funny) to perfection.
Where Family Guy is content to wallow in its own banality, making the same tired jokes with nothing to back them up, the manically unhinged humor in Rick and Morty is the launching pad for the underlying story. That’s right, unlike most of Fox’s Animation Domination or even the other Adult Swim shows, Rick and Morty gives us an actual plot that doesn’t break down every five minutes into song-and-dance numbers, or go off on a five-minute-long tangent gag halfway through the episode due of a lack of creativity. Every adventure has a beginning, middle, and end, and it helps separate this show from its competition, because each episode feels unique. If you turn on an episode of Family Guy in the middle, you might never find out what the main plot of the episode is, but you can watch the last five minutes of a Rick and Morty episode and be able to infer what got you to that point. That’s called a plot, and it helps keep your show from feeling like the same thing week in and week out.
Rick and Morty is currently on a month-long hiatus, but you can check out some of the first six episodes on Adult Swim’s website right now, and get caught up by the time the series returns on March 10th.