So Community-creator Dan Harmon premiered his new Adult Swim cartoon, Rick And Morty, last Monday on Cartoon Network. He worked on it with Justin Roiland, who premiered a crude version of these characters at an underground LA film festival under the title 'The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti'. Even if you aren't a movie buff, it's quite obvious what the material here is based on.
This is what the original, less polished (and copyright infringing) shorts looked and sounded like...
When adapting this into a series, obviously Harmon and Roiland lost some of the more blatant costume rip-offs and music cues. But the premise remains the same - Rick is a crazier, more inebriated version of Doc Brown, while Morty is a parody of the excitable Michael J. Fox-type. Together, they embark on dysfunctional and disturbing treks into the past and future, which cause conflict and family issues in the present.
Watch the first episode below and see what you think...
I think I love Dan Harmon's style of comedy. The first 3 seasons of Community were insanely brilliant, and when he was punted as show runner for Season 4, it was obvious the series had lost its way. The writing was forced, the characters became aimless - it was like the new staff spent the entire time doing a research project on what made Community work. Knowing this, NBC hired Harmon back for the 5th season, which I'm excited to watch next month. It'll be interesting to see if those first 3 seasons were just lightning-in-a-bottle, or if it was Harmon who was the guiding light all along.
As for Rick and Morty, it never really left me with the feeling I was watching an original, otherworldly comedy, like Community often did. The animation is obviously much better than in the shorts (Community fans take note of the studio working on this), and I like some of the character design choices like the tiny scribbles in people's eyes representing pupils.
The problem with Rick and Morty to me (at least in the first episode anyway) is that it never really seems to be able to shake the feeling that you're watching a Back To The Future parody.
I do like the realistic outsider view given to Morty's parents, where if you recall the movies, you think to yourself, "yeah, why would the McFly's be okay their son was hanging out with this lunatic." At least in the cartoon, they present Doc as being a blood relative, which gives them more of a foundation for a relationship and makes the premise a lot darker.
The rest of the time though I really only laughed at the incessant belching. I can't see that being funny for an entire season.
But I realize I shouldn't gauge this on a single episode. I'll give it another go to see where they can take it. Right now though, it only made me worried about the upcoming season of Community. But prove me wrong, Dan Harmon. Prove me wrong.
Whatever the outcome, it's gotta be better than this...