Rick and Morty, the intellectual animated comedy that airs during Adult Swim’s broadcast time on Cartoon Network, has captured its audience by mixing cheap humor with the philosophical topics of existentialism and identity.
Created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland the show was originally based on a project of Roiland’s called Channel 101. The show has a feel akin to Doctor Who meets Futurama meets your philosophy 101 professor. With a noncontinuous storyline the series is wacky in its own unconventional way.
The title characters are uniquely different; however, they compliment each other in a way you might not expect.
Rick is an elderly genius with a drinking problem; he’s essentially a cross between the Doctor and your average mad scientist, minus all the timey wimey stuff of course. Morty is Rick’s grandson and tags along for most of Rick’s adventures. He often whines and doesn’t understand everything Rick explains to him, but he’s 14 and just beginning to understand what it means to be alive so it’s easy to forgive him. Justin Roiland voices both characters, which helps to create a powerful chemistry between the two family members.
Harmon and Roiland retroscript the entire series making the voice acting all the more impressive. Roiland isn’t the only stand out, Chris Parnell, who you may recognize as Cyril from Archer voices Jerry Smith, Rick’s son in law (Morty’s father) and does a fantastic job of vocalizing an egotistical, unemployed father. His acting resonates especially well in an episode where Jerry is taken to Pluto to tell its inhabitants that they are in fact living on a planet.
While “Rick and Morty” often takes viewers to the far reaches of space and across numerous dimensions its status as an animated comedy is never lost. Crude jokes, both cheap and intelligent are scattered throughout the unconventional narrative thanks to the retroscripting. By using such a technique actors improvise every line except those necessary to move the plot.
Though the series is still in its infancy, Cartoon Network recently approved it for a second season and is due out in 2015.
Saying goodbye to a friend is always difficult. Many of us carry this romantic notion of what should be said, which sometimes ironically results in an awkward exchange that speaks more than words. This is no different for the followers of Doctor Who. After the always charismatic 11th Doctor (portrayed by Matt Smith) departed for a new Doctor, this source of inspiration and companionship morphing into something else left fans heartbroken. Yet, Doctor Who has always been a series that thrived upon change. As memorable as the eleventh Doctor is; the 12th Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi) has so far offered enough to interest old and new viewers alike.
At times, Smith’s run felt like a fairy tale that centered around a figure who managed to be both playful, yet old. In contrast, as someone who immediately comes across in a fiercer, less sure and concerned manner; Capaldi’s introduction blazes with personality. Despite all of his differences, Capaldi, in recognition of how important these elements are to the character, manages to bring new life to previous Doctor traits. Scenes such as one involving the Doctor defending his police box with a spoon presents the show’s absurd nature while still shedding light upon the character through universal themes.
Just like previous seasons of Doctor Who, the appeal of this new Doctor partly relies upon the character challenging showrunners through narrative ideas. From an early point in this current season, Capaldi’s Doctor resonates with a sense of moral uncertainty. The inner tension and stories that draw upon this cater to the strengths of Steven Moffat and other showrunners. Much of Moffat’s previous episodes are marked by unexpected moments that cycle back to previous character-defining situations. One scene involving a location used in the 50th anniversary special not only adds more potency to what the Doctor represents, but allows for history to be suggested without ruining the character’s mystery. Some may find the partly answered questions that follow this annoying, but it reconfirms the many effects this series is capable of creating.
The addition of companions for the Doctor is yet another time-honored tool that affects how the Doctor behaves, and how he is perceived by others. Clara, as she was with Smith, offers an almost maternal presence to the Doctor. Ignoring instances that feel kind of forced at the moment (such as her fondness for another character), she assists the Doctor from a literal and metaphorical perspective in ways that can be surprising at times. In addition to the moral ambiguity mentioned above, much of this season breaches heroism, even questioning it at times. This is not only a natural turn after considering the events of the 50th anniversary special, but further revitalizes the character through contrast to Smith’s Doctor.
With all of the differences and similarities to Smith that Capaldi brings, Doctor Who once again extends its hand to viewers, welcoming them into a world of magic with passion and understanding.