Monday, March 21, 2016

Humor That Holds Up: Rick And Morty Season 1 Is Not Just For Stoners!

The Good: Very funny, Cute concepts, Good voice performances, Animation quality
The Bad: Plot structures are very predictable, Lighter on theme/character development
The Basics: Rick And Morty Season 1 manages to provide fresh science fiction humor in the already packed animated comedy market.

There are few markets that have been as glutted in recent years as the half-hour animated comedy. The Simpsons has long outstayed its welcome and humor and Seth MacFarlane has personally contributed to reducing the relative freshness of animated comedy by over-franchising his works. So, it is always a surprise for me when I find an animated comedy that actually manages to make me laugh, especially over multiple viewings. The first season of Rick And Morty is one of the few new entries into the animated television comedy market that effectively argues that there is still room for something fresh in the genre.

Rick And Morty Season 1 is a collection of eleven half-hour animated episodes of television that follow the exploits of the Smith family and Rick Sanchez, Beth Smith's father. Rick Sanchez is an irresponsible mad scientist who dragoons his grandson, Morty, into his adventures. Jerry, Morty's father, is irked by both Rick's presence in his house and Morty's befriending him.

Adventures in the first season of Rick And Morty include Rick using Morty to smuggle a powerful fruit's pit through intergalactic customs, Rick and Morty trying to incept the idea of Morty passing math class into Morty's teacher's dreams, and Morty being guided through the body of a bum Rick is experimenting upon as part of his attempt to market Anatomy Park inside the bum. The pair watches interdimensional television, escapes aliens trying to trick Rick into giving them the formula for dark matter, and deals with the consequences of Rick giving Morty a genetically-modified virus that acts, essentially, like a love potion. Rick goes on a couple of adventures with Summer, Morty's sister, and has to elude his interdimensional doppelgangers when murders in the multiverse are pinned on Rick.

Rick And Morty is very formulaic in its first season. While Rick and Morty are off on their intergalactic adventures, Jerry and Beth try to deal with their collapsing marriage. The rest of the family struggles to overthrow rapidly-evolving, super-intelligent dogs, have a gadget-free Christmas, and deal with one of Rick's creations trying to improve their lives . . . with frequently disastrous results. Jerry becomes a hero to the Plutonians by declaring that Pluto is a planet, Summer goes to work for the devil, and Jerry and Beth try desperately to save their marriage by going to a Titanic-themed amusement park.

The adventures in Rick And Morty create comedy frequently based on allusions to other works. Those who love science fiction and pop culture works like Inception, Cloud Atlas, Friday The Thirteenth: The Series and the works of David Cronenberg will catch all of the intended humor of Rick And Morty. The first season of Rick And Morty is one of the most well-developed science fiction comedy works ever created.

As well, Rick And Morty bursts onto DVD and Blu-Ray incredibly well-developed from an animation perspective. Unlike most early-season animated works, the first season of Rick And Morty looks developed, clean and consistent. From the pilot episode to the season finale, the characters, aliens, timing and settings in Rick And Morty have a decent sense of visual continuity. The team makes the show look professional throughout the entire season.

For those not familiar with the show, it helps to know who the key characters are. In the first season of Rick And Morty the primary characters are:

Morty Smith - A fourteen year-old boy, who is terrible at math, he is not overly bright. He acts as a patsy for his grandfather Rick while they go on various adventures in space and between dimensions. His desire for adventure leads him to take the lead on a fantasy adventure that takes a turn for the dark. His dog becomes super-intelligent and he is fairly traumatized when his affection for Jessica pretty much ruins the world. He is also shocked when he learns that Ricks throughout the multiverse use Mortys to avoid detection as his brainwave acts as something of a sensor shield,

Summer Smith - Morty's older sister, she is envious of Morty's position in Rick's life. When Rick is sidetracked by his half-alien offspring, she gets to go on an adventure with Rick to a planet run by women. She discovers that her parents having her entirely ruined their lives and changed their directions when she is able to compare their existences throughout the multiverse in universes where she does and does not exist,

Jerry Smith - The dimwitted father of Morty and Summer, he is not fond of Rick, largely because Rick does not respect him. He has a collection of R2-D2 quarters, becomes a hero to the Plutonians, and is protective of his son. He is alarmed when he learns his mother and father are involved in an open marriage with another man,

Beth Smith - Rick's daughter, she is a horse surgeon who disappointed her father by marrying Jerry when he got her pregnant. When she gets a Meeseeks to try to help her have a more fulfilling life, she instantly leaps to the idea of splitting with Jerry. She only truly bonds with Jerry when the world is destroyed by one of Rick's experiments,

and Rick Sanchez - a mad scientist and grandfather to Morty. He disregards interstellar and interdimensional laws in order to do what he wants, which is usually getting high. He drinks excessively and drags Morty along to stay off the radar of the Ricks across the multiverse who have conformed. He is friends with a wide variety of creatures and is protective of keeping some of his creations from falling into the wrong hands.

Rick And Morty relies upon the voice talents of Justin Roiland, who voices both Rick and Morty, Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, and Sarah Chalke. They are all wonderful and able to emote perfectly for their characters. Parnell is familiar to fans of works like Archer and the rest of the cast matches him well. Rick And Morty has a spontaneous sound and feel to many of the lines and Roiland, especially, manages to keep the show feeling fresh and different in the way it sounds.

Ultimately, the first season of Rick And Morty is funny and it is one of the rare animated comedies that holds up better over multiple viewings.

For other shows from the 2013 – 2014 television season, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Modern Family - Season 5
The Big Bang Theory - Season 7
Game Of Thrones - Season 4
New Girl - Season 3
The Walking Dead - Season 4
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1
The Newsroom - Season 2
Breaking Bad - Season 5
The Clone Wars - Season 6
Orange Is The New Black - Season 2
Parenthood - Season 5


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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