Rick and Morty
|Rick and Morty|
|Created by||Justin Roiland
|Directed by||Pete Michels (supervising)
|Voices of||Justin Roiland
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||11 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Dan Harmon
James A. Fino
Joe Russo II
|Producer(s)||J. Michael Mendel
Kenny Micka (pilot)
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Justin Roiland's Solo Vanity Card Productions
|Original channel||Adult Swim|
|Picture format||16:9 HDTV|
|Original run||December 2, 2013 – present|
Rick and Morty is an American animated television series created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon for Adult Swim. The series follows the misadventures of alcoholic scientist Rick and his easily influenced grandson Morty, who split their time between domestic family life and intergalactic space travel. Roiland voices the series' two main characters, while the series also stars the voice talent of Chris Parnell, Spencer Grammer, and Sarah Chalke. The series has its origins in a crude animated short film created by Roiland for film festival Channel 101. Adult Swim approached Harmon for television show ideas, and he and Roiland developed the program based on the short's two characters.
The series premiered December 2, 2013, and has aired 11 episodes. In January 2014, the series was renewed for a second season to air in 2015. The show has received critical acclaim.
Rick is an elderly and mentally unbalanced alcoholic who has recently reconnected with his family. He is also a scientific genius. He spends most of his time taking his young grandson Morty (and later other family members) on dangerous, outlandish adventures throughout our own cosmos and alternate universes. Compounded with Morty's already unstable family life, these events cause Morty much distress at home and school.
- Rick Sanchez (voiced by Justin Roiland) – A genius scientist who is the father of Beth Smith, and the grandfather of Morty. His sociopathy and alcoholic tendencies lead his daughter's family to worry about the safety of their son Morty. The series is often retroscripted for Rick's lines. Many questions, so far remaining unresolved within the program, revolve around Rick's relationship with Morty, as well as his apparent general lack of empathy. He displays "diagnosable qualities of various mental illnesses," an extremely intellectual character that views his time as valuable.
- Morty Smith (voiced by Justin Roiland) – Rick's good-natured but easily influenced 14-year-old grandson, usually dragged into Rick's misadventures.
- Jerry Smith (voiced by Chris Parnell) – Morty's insecure but kindhearted father, who strongly disapproves of Rick's influence over his son. His marriage is jeopardized by Jerry's poor relationship with father-in-law Rick. Jerry worked at a low-level advertising agency until he was fired for incompetence. Jerry is now unemployed.
- Beth Smith (née Sanchez) (voiced by Sarah Chalke) – Morty's mother, Rick's daughter, and a cardiac surgeon for horses. Level-headed and assertive, she struggles with her husband's ego, which thrives in defiance of his proven mediocrity. Several episodes have dealt with Beth's deep dissatisfaction with her life, stemming from her belief that she has "settled" in her marriage, family, and job. She wanted to become a "real" surgeon but became pregnant at 17. She is the most assertive force in her household, while also displaying traits of selfishness, humor, and intelligence. Beth is unperturbed by her father's destructive and dangerous tendencies around her son, due to the fact that she, from childhood, views Rick more favorably than her mother due to their separation. Harmon expanded upon this origin in an interview: "Kids can sometimes idolize their worst parent and blame their supportive parent for chasing off the dad with the guts to leave. [...] She believes that Rick, as crazy as he is, is the better of her two parents even though she was raised by her mother and she blames her mother’s unremarkability on her father’s departure and will do anything to keep her father back in her life."
- Summer Smith (voiced by Spencer Grammer) – Morty's 17-year-old older sister, a more conventional and often superficial teenager, she is obsessed with anything that can improve her status with her peers. She occasionally expresses jealousy that it is Morty who gets to accompany Rick on his inter-dimensional adventures.
- Jessica (voiced by Kari Wahlgren) - Jessica is an attractive girl in Morty's math class. Morty has an obvious crush on her, but she doesn't acknowledge Morty frequently.
- Mr. Goldenfold (voiced by Brandon Johnson) - Mr. Goldenfold is Morty's math teacher.
- Principal Gene Vagina (voiced by Phil Hendrie) - Principal Gene Vagina is the principal of Harry Herpson High School. He is good friends with Mr. Goldenfold.
- Brad (voiced by Echo Kellum) - Brad is a student at Harry Herpson High School. He is a jock who plays football for the school.
Rick and Morty was created by Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. The duo first met at Channel 101, non-profit monthly short film festival in Los Angeles co-founded by Harmon. At Channel 101, participants submit a short film in the format of a pilot, and a live audience decides which pilots continue as a series. Roiland, then a producer on reality programming, began submitting content to the festival a year after its launch, in 2004. His pilots typically consisted of shock value — "sick and twisted" elements that received a confused reaction from the audience. Nevertheless, Harmon took a liking to his humor and the two began collaborating. In 2006, Roiland was laid off from working on a television series he regarded as intensely creatively stifling, and funneled his creative energies into creating a webisode for Channel 101. The result was The Adventures of Doc and Mharti, an animated short starring Doc Brown and Marty McFly, characters from the Back to the Future film trilogy. In the short, which Harmon would dub "a bastardization, a pornographic vandalization," Doc Brown urges "Mharti" that the solution to all of his problems is to give him oral sex. The audience reacted to it wildly, and Roiland began creating more shorts involving the characters, which soon evolved beyond his original intentions and their obvious origin within the film from which it was culled. Harmon would later create and produce Community, a NBC sitcom, while Roiland would work primarily in voice acting for Disney's Fish Hooks.
In 2012, Harmon was fired from Community. Adult Swim, searching for a more primetime, "hit" show, approached Harmon shortly afterward, who initially viewed the channel as unfit for his style. He also was unfamiliar with animation, and his process for creating television focuses more heavily on dialogue, characters, and story. Instead, he phoned Roiland to inquire if he had any ideas for an animated series. Roiland immediately brought up the idea of using the Doc and Mharti characters, renamed Rick and Morty. Roiland initially wanted the show's run time to consist of one eleven-minute segment, but Adult Swim pushed for a half-hour program. Harmon felt the best way to extend the voices into a program would be to build a family around the characters, while Adult Swim development executive Nick Weidenfeld suggested that Rick be Morty's grandfather. Having pitched multiple television programs that did not get off the ground, Roiland was initially very unreceptive to others attempting to give notes on his pitch. Prior to developing Rick and Morty, he had created three failed animated pilots for Fox, and he had began to feel "burned out" with developing television.
The first draft was completed in six hours on the Paramount Pictures lot in Dan Harmon's unfurnished Community office. The duo had broken the story that day, sold the pilot, and then sat down to write. Roiland, while acknowledging a tendency for procrastination, encouraged Harmon to stay and write the entire first draft. "We were sitting on the floor, cross-legged with laptops and I was about to get up and go home and he said, 'Wait, if you go home, it might take us three months to write this thing. Stay here right now and we can write it in six hours.' He just had a premonition about that," recalled Harmon. Adult Swim was initially unsure of Roiland doing both voices, partially due to the undeveloped nature of the character of Morty. Harmon wrote four short premises in which Morty took a more assertive role and sent it to Lazzo. Adult Swim placed a tamer TV-14 rating on the program, which initially was met with reluctance from the show's staff. The network's reason behind the rating was that it would soon begin broadcasting in primetime, competing with major programs.
The general formula of Rick and Morty consists of the juxtaposition of two conflicting scenarios: a psychopathic, alcoholic grandfather dragging his grandson across space for intergalactic adventures, intercut with domestic family drama. This has led Harmon to describe the series as a cross between The Simpsons and Futurama, balancing family life with heavy science fiction. Roiland stated his and Harmon's intentions for the series to lack traditional continuity, opting for discontinuous storylines "not bound by rules". The pair also stated that they ruled out storylines related to time travel. In a similar interview session at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International, he described each episode as being "[their] own point of entry".
The first season writing staff consisted of Roiland, Harmon, Tom Kauffman, Ryan Ridley, Wade Randolph, Eric Acosta, while writer's assistant Mike McMahan was also given writing credit. Described as a "very, very tiny little writers' room with a lot of heavy lifting from everybody," the show's writing staff, like many Adult Swim productions, is not unionized with the Writers' Guild of America. The writing staff first meets and discusses ideas, which evolve into a story. Discussions often include anecdotes from personal life as well as thoughts on the science fiction genre. After breaking the story — which consists of developing its consistency and logical beginning, middle, and conclusion — a writer is assigned to create an outline. Roiland and Harmon do a "pass" on the outline, and from there the episode undergoes several more drafts. The final draft of the script is last approved by either of the co-creators. In producing the series' first season, episodes were occasionally written out of order. For example, "Rick Potion #9" was the second episode written for the series, but was instructed to be animated as the fifth, as it would make more sense within the series' continuity. The series is inspired by British-style storytelling, as opposed to traditional American "family TV" stories. Harmon noted that the writers room at the show's studio bears a striking resemblance to the one used for Community. In comparing the two, he noted that the writing staff of Rick and Morty was significantly smaller, and more "rough and tumble verbally," commenting, "There’s a lot more Legos and Nerf guns."
Many episodes are structured with use of a story circle, a Harmon creation based largely on Joseph Campbell's monomyth, or The Hero's Journey. Its two-act structure places it at an odd location in the stages of the monomyth, after The Meeting with the Goddess, instead of Atonement with the Father. In an interview with Harmon, he stated his inspiration behind much of the concept and humor for the series being various British television series, such as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who. Harmon figures the audience will only understand developments from Morty's point of view, but stated "we don't want to be the companions. We want to hang out with the Doctor, we idolize the Doctor, but we don't think like him, and that's really interesting, Rick is diseased, he's mentally ill, he's an absolute lunatic because he lives on this larger scale."
Roiland's cartooning style is heavily indebted to The Simpsons, a factor he acknowledged in a 2013 interview, while also comparing his style to that of Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time) and J.G. Quintel (Regular Show): "You'll notice mouths are kind of similar and teeth are similar, but I think that's also a stylistic thing that… all of us are kind of the same age, and we're all inspired by The Simpsons and all these other shows we're kind of subconsciously tapping into."
According to Roiland, multiple guest appearances are slated throughout the season. Among them are Tom Kenny, Maurice LaMarche, Alfred Molina, John Oliver, David Cross, Rich Fulcher, Claudia Black and Virginia Hey of Farscape fame, Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Phil Hendrie, Dana Carvey, and Aislinn Paul and Cassie Steele of Degrassi fame.
|Season premiere||Season finale|
|1||11||December 2, 2013||April 14, 2014|
Release and reception
The series was first announced during Adult Swim's 2012 Upfront presentation. Adult Swim has ordered 10 half-hour episodes (not including the pilot). Matt Roller, a writer for the series, confirmed via Twitter that the network renewed Rick and Morty for a second season.
Since the pilot was made available, the series has received critical acclaim, currently holding a Metacritic score of 85, indicating "universal acclaim". David Weigand of the San Francisco Chronicle described it as "offbeat and occasionally coarse, ... the take-away here is that it works." He praised the animation direction by James McDermott for being "fresh, colorful and as wacky as the script", and compares the series as to having "shades of Futurama, South Park and even Beetlejuice", ultimately opining that its humor felt "entirely original". Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times praised the series and compared it to the film Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa; he concluded his review stating: "Grandparenting at its unhinged finest." Todd Spangler of Variety gave the series a lukewarm review; while he found the series was passable, he contrasted it with other Adult Swim series as "often seems overly reliant on simply being frenetic at the expense of being witty" and enjoyed it as "a welcome attempt to dream just a little bigger." David Sims of The A.V. Club gave the series an "A−". In reviewing the first two episodes, he complimented the animation for its "clean, simple style." He stated that while the series has "a dark, sick sensibility," he praised its "effort to give each character a little bit of depth", further applauding Roiland's voice talent for the eponymous characters.
Adult Swim has made the pilot episode available on iTunes, bundled as part of the complete first season, as well as a 37-minute interview between creators Harmon and Roiland at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con International. Eleven episodes have also been made available on the series' official website, The first six episodes were uploaded to YouTube for a short period. The episode "Rixty Minutes" was released early by the network via 109 15-second videos on Instagram. All episodes of season 1 are available now on Adult Swim.
DVD and Blu-ray release
The complete first season was released on DVD (Region 1) and Blu-ray on October 7, 2014, as had been announced on July 11, 2014. Before its release, Roiland had confirmed that it would contain uncensored audio tracks.
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