Cartoon Friday Watercooler: Mitchell & Webb, Rick & Morty
It’s Cartoon Friday, again!
David Mitchell and Robert Webb are a British comedy duo who you can see online in Peep Show (on Netflix & Hulu streaming) and That Mitchell and Webb Look (available on Hulu). Here, they take us on a bucolic journey to a fine amusement park: “Porn And Drugs Towers.”
Kids aren’t into sweets and bumper cars anymore, they’re into hardcore sex and getting off their faces, so what better place for a family day out than Porn and Drugs Towers? Another exclusive animated sketch from BAFTA award winning comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb, animated by Tom Baker.
Previously on the Watercooler: An animated sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Sound.
Rick & Morty
Once in a while, I use this space to talk about a cartoon which isn’t available to embed but which I enjoy so much I want to recommend anyway (for example, Bob’s Burgers).
Lately, I’ve fallen for Rick and Morty, a new addition to the Adult Swim line up. It’s from Justin Roiland (creator of House of Cosbys) and Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown). The show has its origins in somewhat nonsensical shorts for Channel 101 where Roiland imagined hyper foul-mouthed versions of Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back to the Future.
But Rick and Morty is a long way from its non-sequitur filled origins, becoming something more coherent and compelling, though still chaotic. The original shorts have been developed into a half-hour animated show about the titular pair’s extra-dimenstional adventures and the effect it has on their family. The relationships between each family member are carefully realized — more consistent and important to the plot than other dysfunctional TV families like the Simpsons.
As Harmon recently told Hitfix:
Why would any parents let this crazy man disappear through clearly dangerous portals with their son? … [A]fter talking about it with Justin for a while, I realized the most important thing about that show for me which is that Rick left at one point in Beth’s childhood and Beth blamed her mother for Rick’s absence. Kids can sometimes idolize their worst parent and blame their supportive parent for chasing off the dad with the guts to leave. Sometimes they don’t even admit it to themselves but they say, ‘My dad’s so fucking cool, he got the fuck out of here. And my mom’s such a bitch she’s always asking me to clean my room. That’s why dad left. She probably asked him to clean his room.’
And in Beth’s case, she’s a horse heart surgeon. She’s not a real surgeon. She’s a horse heart surgeon because she got pregnant at 17. And she fetishizes exceptionality. 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. And if Morty needs to risk his life traipsing across the galaxy with her insane alcoholic father, it’s better than Morty growing up in safety and ending up like her mother or her husband Jerry who she considers to be unremarkable and unredemptive and therefore undeserving of her affections.
So the center of the show, even though we don’t address it at all, is this really fucked up woman who I love more than any character on that show because she would have been a brain surgeon, but she got pregnant at 17, and so she’s defensive about how she’s a horse heart surgeon because it takes less school to do that. And she’s selfish and she’s cold but she’s smart. She wears the pants in the family and she’s witty and she doesn’t like herself. She bothers to love her father and that keeps everything feasible because otherwise it would all fall apart.
A typical episode begins with a misadventure inspired by Rick, the mad-scientist family patriarch. Based on a flimsy pretense, he drags Morty off to an other-worldly quest while, frequently, one of his inventions wreaks havoc on domestic life. In “Lawnmower Dog,” Rick and Morty head off into a twisted Inception parody while the family dog Snuffles explores the existential weight of consciousness, thanks to a brain-enhancing helmet. A recent highlight, “Rixty Minutes,” expands on a gag from an episode of Cosbys, when Rick adds channels from other dimensions to the family’s cable package.
While hilarious and improvisational, Rick and Morty maintains an internal consistency and even a continuity from episode to episode that makes it seem meticulously plotted compared to Adult Swim’s stoner alumni like Children’s Hospital or Aqua Teen Hunger Force — with a few exceptions, the humor comes primarily from carrying a premise through to its extreme, yet somehow almost logical conclusions. At least as logical as can be expected with a multiverse exploring, alcoholic mad scientist.
Seen any good cartoons lately? Tell me about them in the comments below.
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Photo by Marianne O’Leary released under a Creative Commons license.