Published on August 1st, 2014 | by Craig Silliphant


Rick and Morty

While they may be for select audiences, some of the best shows on TV go unnoticed; here’s our trumpeting about the amazing Rick and Morty.

There’s an idea in bad, lazy comedy that posits that something is funny just because the audience recognizes it.  For example, referencing a scene in a famous movie, like Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, or any of those shitty spoof movies that don’t really tell jokes, so much as present a scene you’re familiar with and say, “Hey!  You know this scene!  So this is funny, right?”  Sorry guys, you still need to write jokes.  A show like Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim ‘toon from Justin Roiland and Community creator Dan Harmon, may reference other media out the wazoo, but they build hilarious jokes and good stories around the references.

Hell, truth be told, the premise of Rick and Morty is pretty much a rip off (read: homage) to Back to the Future.  Rick (read: Doc Brown) is a brilliant, but alcoholic, difficult super scientist that comes to live with his daughter’s average family.  He adopts his 14-year-old grandson Morty (read: Marty McFly) as a sidekick and they get in all sorts of adventures.  However, it’s more than just time travel — Roiland and Harmon have opened the stories up to all of time, space, and dimension.  This leads to a pretty much endless supply of storyline and sci-fi, horror, or other pop culture to riff on.

In one episode that focuses on the dream world, Rick keeps talking about how stupid the plot of Inception is as they leap deeper and deeper into Morty’s teacher’s dream.  Nerd howls abound as references to movies like Dreamscape and A Nightmare on Elm Street fly fast and furious.  And after a labyrinthine plot of jumping through dreams gets to the plot’s purposefully confusing conclusion, Rick, ever the dick, states, “It’s like Inception, Morty. So if it’s confusing and stupid then so is everyone’s favorite movie.”

And that episode is actually a pretty tame entry — some of the comedy and situations are completely bonkers, and without giving anything away, the nature of the entire universe and multiple Earths are exposed throughout the first season.  It’s a show where pretty much anything is possible, and they do a great job of exploring those possibilities. Rick and Morty shares DNA with shows like Futurama, Community, or The Venture Brothers, though it’s crazier and more vulgar (than the network TV shows).

But that’s not to say that all the yuks come from crazy sci-fi adventures; there is also a strongly grounded family component to the stories and comedy.  Chris Parnell and Sarah Chalke play Jerry and Beth, Morty’s parents, who sway between family love and feeling trapped in a marriage that was forced upon them when they became accidentally pregnant with Morty’s teen sister, Summer.  The family dynamics are front and centre and provide not only some uproarious moments, but also some honest emotion.  Funny that a cartoon can provide real emotions that so many shitty TV sitcoms can’t even fathom.

In fact, unlike ubiquitous garbage like The Big Bang Theory, Rick and Morty is a show that slid pretty far under the radar, but belongs in the pantheon of great TV alongside such envelope-pushing fare as South Park, Archer, or The Venture Brothers.  They are producing a second season, so hopefully the show will have time to find the audience it deserves.  The good news is, there are so many jokes, quotes, and weird moments packed into each episode, that like old Simpsons or Futurama episodes, you can watch them over and over again, gleaning something new each time.


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About the Author

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is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, editor, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.

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