Friday, August 21, 2015

Post Mortyem

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how I'd started watching Rick And Morty in its second season.  I liked it.  Since then, I've caught up on most of the first season and watched a few more season 2 episodes, and it's even better than I thought at first.

Maybe that isn't surprising, since one of the two creators is Dan Harmon, who created my favorite sitcom of the past few years, Community Rick And Morty may be an animated, sci-fi sitcom, but both shows have something in common--they're both willing to try outrageous situations and even mess with the format.

R&M is funny, but one of the most impressive things are its ingenious plots.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to describe a few, which means pretty big spoilers. You'll still like the shows after you know where it's going, but half the fun is not knowing what to expect.

One of my favorites episodes from season one, for instance, is in "Meeseeks And Destroy." To get the family off his back, Rick gives them a Meeseeks box, out of which will pop a Mr. Meeseeks to solve your problem.  He exists only until your problem is solved, after which he pops out of existence.  What could go wrong?

Jerry, Beth and Summer each get their own Meeseeks.  Summer asks to be popular at school, Beth wants help with her marriage and Jerry wants two strokes off his golf game.  Surprisingly, Mr. Meeseeks solved the first two problems without too much trouble and then disappeared, but Jerry just can't take Meeseeks' advice about squaring his shoulders, so Meeseeks uses the box to get another Meeseeks.  This leads to numerous Meeseeks, who are all in agony, since they all wish to die, but can't until their task is finished.  Before the problem is resolved they're taking hostages and threatening to kill people.

Or how about last week's "Total Rickall." The episode starts with the family, sans Rick, sitting around the breakfast table having a good time with beloved Uncle Steve. Except we've never seen this character before.  Rick comes in and shoots him.  He's figured out he's a type of parasitic alien telepath who implants memories in your brain which allows them to materialize.  Eventually this can take over the world.

Rick shuts down the house, closing the blast doors (which he has installed for who knows how many potential disasters).  Until they know the parasite is gone, no one can leave.  But the family keeps having fond memories of fantasy characters they never knew, who soon fill up the house.  Rick knows he can't trust his memory, so starts to go on the warpath.  The others take his gun and Morty has him taken out to the garage to kill him.

Before he does, Rick launches a barrage of abuse at Morty.  Morty then shoots the two characters holding Rick, as he's figured out that the parasites can only implant pleasant memories, whereas he has lots of ugly memories of Rick.  Armed with this knowledge, and fancy guns, the two are able to distinguish between parasites, whom they love, and family member, who've done so many rotten things to them. The plot may sound complex, but it's fast-moving, easy enough to follow, and very funny.

"Total Rickall" is vaguely like the classic Community episode "Paradigms Of Human Memory" in that both are clip shows with fake clips. But it's also its own creature--this isn't a copy of Community.  It may be due to the animation, the characters, or the existence of co-creator and main voice actor Justin Roiland.  Either way, I've got a new favorite sitcom.


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