‘Rick and Morty’ triumphs as new Adult Swim sci-fi comedy

Shortly after Dan Harmon was fired from his cult hit “Community,” he was approached by Adult Swim to helm a new show. He agreed, recruited his friend Justin Roiland (voice of Lemongrab on “Adventure Time”) and the two created “Rick and Morty.”

Based on Roiland’s old flash cartoons, “Rick and Morty” is somewhat based on the relationship between Marty McFly and Doc Brown from “Back to the Future,” except Morty is Rick’s grandson and Rick is a borderline insane alcoholic.

If you think that sounds dark, then you are right. The show is a brightly-colored cartoon on Adult Swim, so there is a lot of vulgarity and absurdity, but true to Harmon’s sensibilities that we have seen over and over again in “Community,” there is a dark emotional core that acts as an undercurrent to all of the ridiculousness that takes place on screen. Rick lives with his daughter’s family, after having abandoned her for several years due to undisclosed reasons (probably having to do with galaxy-hopping), and it is obvious his absence scarred her, as she is always just letting him do whatever he wants with her impressionable teenage son.

Morty shares a lot of the same insecurities his father has, and Rick oftentimes exploits them in order to get his grandson to do what he wants. Most of the time these exchanges are both hilarious as well as pathetic, and the humor is amplified knowing that Roiland voices both titular characters, accentuating Rick’s speech with drunken burps as liquor dribbles down his chin.

The heaviness of some of the content would be too much if it were not so funny. The writers deftly juggle visual gags with rapid-fire dialogue all while sending up science fiction, putting their own unique and twisted spin on classic tropes within the genre. One of the season’s best episodes involves Rick and Morty trying to escape a virtual reality simulator they have been trapped in by a group of aliens who want to obtain a piece of technology that Rick invented. All the while, Morty’s dad is also accidentally trapped in the simulator, and has the absolute best day of his life selling his ad campaign (which he admits is extremely similar to “Got Milk?”), not even noticing that every person around him is glitching.

Already renewed for a second season, “Rick and Morty” has been a huge hit for Adult Swim and perfectly fills the void for excellent sci-fi comedy left by the second cancellation of “Futurama.” With almost all of its episodes streaming for free on Adult Swim’s website, there is no reason not to catch yourself up on what was one of the most unexpectedly exciting, original and downright hilarious new shows of the season.