It’s no secret that I’m a huge science fiction fan. From Star Wars to Star Trek, from Ex Machina to The Sprawl Trilogy, I love all that can be done with the intersection of human beings, technology, and new horizons.
Naturally, I became a huge fan of the new Doctor Who series in 2005, but it’s been a rocky road at times. For all the possibilities that traveling in a TARDIS can offer, I’ve been disappointed with some of the storylines. Like how many times can the Doctor keep going back to Earth at different historical eras when there are millions of untapped cultures and locations to explore across the universe? Sure, it’s asking a lot from the show’s budget and FX teams, but I feel like a show that offers adventures in all of time and space can really push the envelope.
But then I found a little show on Adult Swim called Rick and Morty. And lo, my faith in sci-fi was restored for 3 simple reasons.
1. Rick’s personality seems more appropriate for a renegade Time Lord.
It’s true that the Doctor often shows signs of being cynical when it comes to lesser species like the human race. After all, he’s lived for centuries and seen all the horrors. But there’s something more genuine about Rick, who wears his cynicism on the outside and keeps his heart of gold tucked far away. I also like that Rick is just pragmatic enough to switch sides in a conflict or make a profit off his adventures, even though the safety of his family usually wins out in the end.
2. Morty’s life suffers consequences as a Companion.
Morty’s had quite a rough life. When he’s not being left in the clutches of an alien presence or witnessing a whole universe being turned into hideous bug monsters because of a botched love potion, he’s facing the unpleasant side of his grandfather’s personality on a constant basis. To his credit, Morty does learn to call out Rick’s excesses and even shows a little initiative when the time calls for it.
What I like in this show is how Morty’s life is never the same after an adventure. There’s no cosmic reset button like there sometimes is with Doctor Who. Sometimes you screw up, jump to an alternate universe, and live with horrible psychological scars for the rest of your life. There’s no magical memory erasure to remove what he’s seen.
3. The show isn’t afraid to take on complex displays of science.
Season Two really nails this, from its premiere episode, where Rick has to contend with 16 “fractured” universes because of quantum uncertainty, to a species of psychological parasites that insert false happy memories and breed moment by moment. A lot of the special effects can be done because the show’s animated as opposed to live-action, but it still makes a good point for how intricate Rick’s mad universe can be. Even alien cultures based on a single gimmick can turn out to have more layers than expected several episodes later, which makes the show worth rewatching.
Rick and Morty is available through Adult Swim. New episodes air on Sundays.