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Animated, Unusual and Clever

TV: Darryl Gangloff

Rick and Morty meet bizarre creatures and aliens during their adventures. Photo from www.instagram.com/rickandmorty 

You’ve seen the “Back to the Future” trilogy, right? If you haven’t, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the first film, so it’s the perfect time to watch it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Ah, you’re back. Wasn’t that a great movie? Now imagine an animated series in which a drunk and belligerent Emmett “Doc” Brown drags Marty McFly on adventures through seemingly endless dimensions for his own financial and personal gain. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the premise of Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty.”

This clever animated series, which was co-created by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, recently returned for its second season and, lucky for us, it was just renewed for a third.

The show follows brilliant-yet-rude scientist Rick (voiced by Roiland) and his worrisome grandson Morty (also voiced by Roiland, which is impressive) as they travel to parallel universes or deal with the ramifications of Rick’s inventions. In one episode Rick effortlessly whips up a helmet that will enhance the family dog’s intelligence. Before you know it, the world is overrun by hyper-intelligent dogs wearing huge mechanical suits.

“Snuffles was my slave name,” the family pet says while riding in his new robotic body. “I will now be called Snowball because my fur is pretty and white.”

As you may have guessed, Rick and Morty’s family plays a big part in the show. Rick has moved in with his daughter, Beth (Sarah Chalke), and son-in-law, Jerry (Chris Parnell). Beth’s happy to have her father back in her life, while Jerry’s annoyed that his garage is full of bizarre inventions. Morty’s sister, Summer (Spencer Grammer), has been joining in on the intergalactic adventures more during the second season.

While the setup of this show may sound ridiculous, the writing is smart and funny. Each episode introduces creative aliens, worlds and concepts. The first episode of the second season finds Rick, Morty and Summer trapped across time in a dimension filled with Schrödinger’s cats. (Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed the idea that a cat in a sealed box with a flask of poison and a radioactive source may be simultaneously alive and dead, statistically speaking.) 

There aren’t many cartoons out there that will make a Schrödinger’s cat joke.

Rick may seem like a selfish jerk who doesn’t care about Morty or his family, but the writers toss in some dramatic moments to show there is more to Rick’s personality than it seems at first. During an alien-filled party, Birdperson (yes, he looks like a bird) tells Morty that in his native language, Rick’s silly catchphrase, “Wubba lubba dub dub,” means “I am in great pain, please help me.” A dark moment in the second season gives credence to that definition.

If you need any more reasons to watch this show, I’ll leave you with some of the amazing episode titles: “Something Ricked This Way Comes,” “A Rickle in Time” and “M. Night Shaym-Aliens!” Come on, you can’t pass those up.

“Rick and Morty” airs on Adult Swim, Sundays at 11:30 p.m.