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Welcome to the world of Rick and Morty, a genius inventor grandfather and his less than genius grandson. Missing for nearly 20 years, Rick (Justin Roiland) arrives at his daughter Beth’s (Sarah Chalke) doorstep, looking to move in, but her husband, Jerry (Chris Parnell), isn't too thrilled. Rick converts the garage into his lab and involves Morty (also Justin Roiland) in his insane adventures. (From Adult Swim’s official synopsis)

 Rick and Morty: Season One
Adult Swim’s popular series Rick and Morty is the brainchild of Dan Harmon, the Milwaukee-born mastermind behind NBC’s canceled cult-hit sitcom Community (it appears that the sixth season and movie have been relegated to the internet) and actor Justin Roiland – the voice of The Earl of Lemongrab on Adventure Time. Its title characters are very clearly based on Back to the Future leads Doc Brown and Marty McFly, while the conceptual inspirations are many and varied. Like Harmon’s other work (including The Sarah Silverman Program and Gil Kenan’s Monster House), the influences have been thoroughly subverted. At its best, Community doesn’t follow the rules of a traditional sitcom, but, even while playing with alternate realities and stylistic conventions, Harmon is still anchored in the reality of his modestly-budgeted, live-action environments – not to mention the limitations of network television censorship. Animation and the Adult Swim network’s relative lack of restrictions offer him and Roiland a chance to let their sci-fi-saturated imaginations run wild.

Initially, Rick and Morty is funny, because it's so surreal and absurd. Like other Adult Swim shows, it spends a lot of time being gross and offensive (Rick convinces Morty to shove giant seeds into his rectum during the first episode). These easy gags and a couple of lazy of pop-culture references are supplemented with smart pop-culture references (Rick turns the whole of humanity into horrible, inside-out monsters and says ‘Boy, Morty, I really Cronenberged the world up, didn’t I?’), plenty of character-based humour, and hilarious, completely unexpected dialogue. Most episodes are based around a parodying two types of popular science fiction and fantasy stories. For example, episode two, Lawnmower Dog, is a spoof of dream movies, like Inception and Nightmare on Elm Street, mixed with a dog-version of Planet of the Apes. This ‘theme episode’ structure is very reminiscent of Community, but, unlike Community, Rick and Morty almost immediately goes off the rails into complete chaos – chaos that could never be achieved with actors on a community college set.

 Rick and Morty: Season One
I was afraid that the 22-minute episode runtime would exhaust the concept, considering how many similar shows clock-in at half the time, but Harmon, Roiland, and their writing staff fill up the space with B-stories that purposefully contradict the sci-fi/fantasy tone of the A-stories. These help build the supporting characters, usually Morty’s parents and sister, and parody the mundanities of sitcoms. My only real complaint is that Rick and Morty is relentlessly ruthless. Perhaps Harmon has exhausted his niceties with Community’s touchy-feely revelations and super-sweet characters, or maybe he and Roiland are just cleansing a bunch of darkness from their souls. Whatever the cause, the consistent mean-streak does get a little taxing (the prevalent threat of rape, in particular). As the season progresses, the character relationships allow for a morsel of warmth (Morty is a nice person and makes the people around him better), but most of the moral lessons are lampooned as irrational and dumb. I suppose anti-sentimentality is kind of an Adult Swim trademark, but shows like Venture Bros and Home Movies still get away with a few touching moments.

 Rick and Morty: Season One

Video


I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing Rick and Morty on television, but it certainly looks great on this 1080p, 1.78:1 HD Blu-ray. All eleven, 22-minute episodes have been squeezed onto a single BD50 disc, but there aren’t any significant compression artefacts. The foreground animation is pretty simple – clean black outlines, solid, single colour fills (sometimes shading hues are used for emphasis), and generally no additional texture. The clarity of the image helps to keep the hues vivid and the edges firm (though there are smidgens of haloing along the inked outlines). The backgrounds tend to match the frame animation in terms of colour quality and line thickness, but are also more textured and complexly shaded. The blends between the two are nice and even without any blocking or notable noise issues, even when the screen is brimming with Superjail levels of manic activity.

Audio


Rick and Morty is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound and makes good use of the multi-channel arena. The dialogue and basic effects are nicely centered, clean, and consistent. The atmospheric noises are limited during expositional scenes, but are effectively expand during the action sequences. The stereo channels definitely get a bigger bounce and more directional enhancement, while the rear speakers are mostly there for support. At least once per episode, a really elaborate science fiction scene crops up and these are significantly louder and busier, including some choice laser beams, creature sounds, and rumbling explosions. Composer Ryan Elder’s music is fun and does a fantastic job mimicking the themes of the movies and TV shows that the episodes are parodying. The score flutters softly under dialogue-driven scenes and bursts effectively from every speaker.

 Rick and Morty: Season One

Extras


  • Episode commentaries (to find the commentaries, you must navigate the ‘episodes’ menu – they do not appear under ‘setup’ or ‘special features’):
    • Episode 1 with creators Dan Harmon & Justin Roiland and composer Ryan Elder
    • Episodes 2 and 7 with Harmon & Roiland and actor Ryan Ridley
    • Episode 3 with Harmon & Roiland and writers Eric Acosta & Wade Randolph
    • Episode 4 with Harmon & Roiland, actor Ryan Ridley, and writer Tom Kauffman
    • Episode 5 with Harmon & Roiland, actor Ryan Ridley, and director Bryan Newton
    • Episode 6:
      • Track 1 with Harmon & Roiland, actor Ryan Ridley, and director Stephen Sandoval
      • Track 2 with Simpsons and Futurama alumni Matt Groening, Al Jean, J. Stewart Burns, Max Pross, Matt Selman, Jon Kern, and Tom Gammill
    • Episode 8:
      • Track 1 with Harmon & Roiland, actor Ryan Ridley, and director Bryan Newton
      • Track 2 with Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and producer Scott M. Gimple
    • Episode 9 and 11 with Harmon & Roiland, supervising director Pete Michaels, and composer Ryan Elder
    • Episode 10:
      • Track 1 with Harmon & Roiland, actor Ryan Ridley, and director Stephen Sandoval
      • Track 2 with Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward and writer/producer Kent Osborne
  • Deleted scenes (also only accessible via the ‘episodes’ screen
  • A behind-the-scenes featurette (19:10, HD) – this featurette covers the division of labor, the writing process, storyboarding, the staff bathrooms, voice acting, and the animation process – all very sarcastically and pretty obnoxiously (it’s very clear that no one has any interest in the EPK).
  • Animatic versions of each episode


 Rick and Morty: Season One

Overall


Rick and Morty is a great time right out of the box, which is a rarity for any of Adult Swim’s shows (or just about any show, for that matter). It’s going to take some time – probably another season – to completely iron-out all the wrinkles and I’d like to see the show embrace a little of the sweetness that makes co-creator Dan Harmon’s other show, Community, so loveable in the long-term. But things are definitely off to a smashing start. This Blu-ray features a vibrant, clean transfer and a fun, lossless 5.1 soundtrack. The extras include a dopey featurette, deleted scenes, and commentaries.

 Rick and Morty: Season One

 Rick and Morty: Season One

 Rick and Morty: Season One

 Rick and Morty: Season One

 Rick and Morty: Season One

 Rick and Morty: Season One

* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and have been resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking the individual images, but due to .jpg compression, they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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