Like everyone who saw it, I was a huge fan of the first season of Rick and Morty. However the busy Dan Harmon and crew would leave us all hanging for a couple of years until they got around to delivering Season 2. Thankfully the wait was more than worth it.
The first season of the show embraced the concept of a foul-mouthed animated Back to the Future (1985) featuring the drunk, obnoxious super-scientist Rick and his grandson Morty full-tilt. The second season continues that with more space-based adventures, here delving into a multiuverse style concept that I don’t recall being so prominent in the earlier season. But it also does a whole lot more. Much of it hinges on Rick, for me already one of the greatest TV characters ever, and his blend of crassness and genius, as well as how Morty interacts with that. The latter is now showing shades of world-weariness to go along with the wide-eyed wonder of new worlds opening up to him that we saw in the first season. Rick is just utterly laugh-out-loud though, episodes such as the one focusing on Tiny Rick had me legitimately crying with laughter. One thing this show does that very few others attempt, let alone succeed at, is to blend silliness and seriousness. Some episodes are more uniformly one rather than the other. But most of the time the show blends the two in a way that really shouldn’t work, but the exceptional writing ensures it does. The show also pushes boundaries in terms of just how dark humour can be, mining some exceptionally grim sources for laughs. Though there is just as much silliness delivering laughs as well. A fair amount of my note-taking boiled down to recording zingers such as ‘Couchferatu’.
In many ways this feels like a culmination of all adult-focused TV animated comedy that has come before. There is the crassness of South Park, but here it rarely feels like simplistic blunt attempts to shock. It riffs on the same episode setup as The Simpsons, where often what the first five minutes of the episode is not at all what the rest is about, but here that often spirals out into absurdist realms. But where this takes the form somewhere new is that this is a challenging show in a totally different way to the others mentioned. Dense sci-fi ideas touched upon in Futurama are here taken to mind-boggling ends. These, and other aspects of the show, challenge viewers regarding what it means to be human and what it means to be a good one, Notions only flirted with in the most superficial way by these other shows. The ambition level is so high on some episodes that I think repeat viewings will be rewarded to help take some of it in. There is sort of a trade-off at play here. The more ambitious stuff is often the least funny. And occasionally the show becomes a little too intense, undermining enjoyment of individual episodes. But frankly it is genuinely beautiful and challenging in a way that elevates the whole show in any case.
Verdict: Crass, well written, geeky, self-referential, tapped into pop culture and fuckin funny. If that sounds like your thing then this season of Rick and Morty certainly won’t disappoint. Brilliant. Longneck of Melbourne Bitter