Given the success of Rick and Morty it’s perhaps a little surprising that it’s taken seven years for Justin Roiland to create a second series (this time with Rick and Morty producer Mike McMahan), but then again the demands of his and Dan Harmon’s much loved comedy must be high and fans haven’t exactly been happy about how long it’s taken for new episodes of that to appear. Either way he now has anther show on the air, with all eight episodes now available to watch on Hulu.
Visually it’s all but identical to Rick and Morty, presumably so that Rick and Morty fans immediately connect with it, and humour wise it’s pretty similar too. Roiland once again plays the lead character, an alien called Korvo who narrates the opening which is a pretty similar tale to that of Superman’s where Korvo’s home planet was destroyed and so he’s ended up on Earth, though he at least has his whole family with him. Said narration breaks the fourth wall early on with “That’s right I’ve been talking this whole time, I’m the one holding the pupa, my name’s Korvo, this is my show”, and though sober the character bares a fair few similarities to Rick Sanchez in that he’s a technological genius but also very, very angry with the world and extremely obsessive too.
Supposedly they need to mine the earth for a rare metal so that they can escape, with Korvo fucked off no end that they’ve been stuck on Earth for a year now, but his efforts have destroyed Big Ben and the Great Wall Of China and caused tidal waves so it’s not quite working out for him just yet. His family are happier types at least, with partner Terry (Thomas Middleditch) a huge fan of tv, and that leads to them both becoming enormous fans of a kids show called “Funbucket”, but after a meeting with a piss poor Funbucket impersonator in a mall they’re horrified to then find out it’s fictional and not real, with Terry doubting everything on tv and amusingly screeching “If Frasier isn’t real I’m going to kill myself”.
All of which is very much in the vein of Rick and Morty, what with the way Korvo becomes obsessive about the tv show, to the extent that he decides to make Funbucket real and thanks to his scientific skills soon said creature is alive and nervous that “You guys aren’t going to try to fuck me are you?”, which thankfully they aren’t. They do want to hang out with the furry little bastard though, with Korvo’s previous hatred of Earth all but forgotten when we’re presented with a fun montage of fair ground rides, water fights, snake blood drinking and getting shot at, though Korvo and Terry do kind of treat him a little like a slave, and soon enough Funbucket’s run off and hanging out with two other guys instead. Distraught, Korvo creates a replacement who will love him, but that inevitably goes wrong, and death and destruction ensues.
Meanwhile Terry and Korvo’s kids Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack) have to cope with alien based xenophobia at school, and the headmaster’s just as bad as the kids as he demands they act like normal children and “None of that Outer Limits bullshit”. It’s bleakly funny, with the emphasis on the bleak aspect, and so probably won’t come as the world’s greatest shock when the kids kick back against the way they’re treated and kidnap Lydia the school bully by shrinking her down to the size of a rat, before forcing her to run about in a maze.
The kid’s storyline is less fun but it’s okay and has it’s moments, like the way Lydia’s step-dad casually comments on the news “I didn’t think I’d miss you this much”, and the suggestion that Yumyulack and Jesse could resolve their problems by dissolving Lydia in acid are amusing moments, even if at the last minute they’re stopped and just persuaded to all but lobotomise her by pouring diet coke all over her brain instead. It definitely feels like a minor aspect to the episode though, like they thought they ought to have a b-plot and introduce the children but didn’t want to spend too much time on it.
In some ways it feels odd that Korvo is so much like Rick Sanchez, his manic presence and disdain for human life is all but identical, and the death and destruction and lack of a reaction to such misery is akin to both Rick and Morty as well. This is only the pilot episode so it may well become it’s own thing over time, and the two children certainly widen up the possibilities as to what the show might explore and play around with, but it feels like a bit of a shame that Roiland didn’t do something different and more original, and he showed with House Of Cosby’s he’s definitely able to do that.
If Rick And Morty didn’t exist this would be a far more positive review then, and it’s probably a little too negative considering how much of the show did make me laugh. It contains a few really great lines, the storylines are largely fun, visually there’s a lot of strong background gags, the blood and gore made me chuckle a fair times, and to it’s credit it feels fully formed and shows a lot of promise, but right now it’s in the shadow of it’s more famous predecessor and I’m not convinced it’ll ever escape it.