Before they created Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland worked together many, many years beforehand on this internet short series which consisted of four official episodes and one “special”, and then it came to an abrupt end after Bill Cosby heard about it and summoned his fleet of lawyers. It was only written by Roiland though with Harmon hosting it on his site Channel101 (and producing a small part of the fourth episode), and it’s a hell of a lot rougher around the edges than Rick and Morty is.
On the Bill Cosby front, well, here we are once again with the big old “Can you separate the art from the artist?” debate, though it’s slightly different this time around as the artist wasn’t involved in the making of the show, he’s just the subject of it. Of course ignoring that Cosby is a rapist cunt (if you can do such a thing) is the only way to enjoy the show, yet given that it was made in 2005 that was the way it was intended to be watched, and because it’s so absurd, and so intentionally stupid, it’s slightly easier to do so than it might have been if it was “House of Michael Jacksons” or “House of Roman Polanskis”.
The plot starts off in a fairly simple way in that Mitchell Reynolds (Jeff Davis) is a huge Cosby fan who stole a hair of Bill’s and then cloned a sod load of Cosby’s (often voiced by a number of different people, including Rob Schrab, Justin Roiland, Abed Gheith, Scott Chernoff, Bennet Webber, Chez Double, Steve Agee, Tim Heidecker and Stephanie Bilberry), initially to entertain himself but then take on various other tasks, when he discovers that each tenth clone is a “Super Cosby”, able to do amazing things which might potentially lead to peace on Earth. Of course this is Justin Roiland so it soon spirals out of control and all kinds of madness ensues, including a Cosbyette who Mitchell starts fucking, and a Cosby based superhero team voiced by The Lonely Island.
It feels quite Rick and Morty-ish, perhaps unsurprisingly, as the show gets crazier and crazier as it goes on, and the various Cosby’s get absurder by the second, so it’s not long before there’s “Toothpaste Cosby” (which yes, is a Bill Cosby who can transform in to toothpaste), BC-D2, a R2D2 Clone, and then Evil Cosby, the 100th Cosby clone who has some rather diabolical plans indeed. And the craziness isn’t just on the Cosby side of things either as a bunch of aliens start becoming interested in what’s going down at the Cosby compound, who look just like Dinosaurs.
Also similar to Rick and Morty is the fact that the fourth episode is plotless and just footage of various tv shows akin to the “Interdimensional Cable” episodes as Mitchell and the Cosby’s use alien technology to watch alien tv, and so we get a bunch of shorts by the likes of Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab (creator of The Sarah Silverman Program, which Harmon worked on and Roiland acted in as “Blonde Craig”) among others, and which include a strange game show where the contestants think that Fozzie Bear is either “The Sun”, “The Moon” or “A Piece Of Bread”, and there’s also a weird animation where the characters try but kind of fail to tell a joke, along with other bits of oddness.
It was at this point that Cosby’s lawyers became involved and demanded that the show came to an end and was removed from the website, and so the final episode is a very short unofficial one that Roiland wrote but Chester Tam, Chris Romano and Eric Falconer animated and directed. Childish (but still very funny) in the extreme, it shows the legal letter from Cosby’s lawyers and then the credits sequence, except it’s heavily censored. Then there’s a stick figure who claims he’s Bill Cosby (except that the word Cosby is beeped out) before someone who is definitely not his lawyer comes along and sucks his dick, and then a dog comes along and Cosby fucks it. The end.
Funnily enough before Cosby’s lawyers became involved not that many people were aware of the series but through their actions it made it much much more famous, and helped Roiland’s career no end too by getting him an agent. It’s still rather irritating that Cosby couldn’t see the humour in it, it doesn’t suggest in any way that he’s a bad person and the humour mainly comes from the freakish weirdness of so many different types of Cosby existing, and what happens to them, and it is a damn funny show indeed.
Still, given everything that has happened it’s probably for the best as if Roiland had spent years on the project only for it to be ruined by the revelations about Cosby’s career he might have become bitter and twisted, and without the intervention of the lawyers it could even be hypothesised that we might never have got Rick and Morty, so I guess we should be grateful that Cosby lacked a sense of humour about himself even back then.