'Solar Opposites' Spoiler-Free Review: Sci-fi comedy is no 'Rick and Morty' because it has no Rick Sanchez
The stories in each episode don’t hinge on adventures across space and time in infinite dimensions, just a step away with the portal gun. Instead, the plots are very much grounded on Earth
No spoilers for ‘Solar Opposites’
If you’ve seen the trailers and teasers and read about ‘Solar Opposites’, Mike McMahan and Justin Roiland’s animated science fiction comedy series, the comparisons with ‘Rick and Morty’ seem called for. The visuals of the show, shenanigans based on alien technology and the absurdity of an alien family living in suburban America is as ‘Rick and Morty’ as it gets.
But the comparisons end there and for a very important reason: There is no Rick in this show. There’s no paranoid alcoholic mad scientist with a God complex and nihilistic ideas present on the show. Sure, Korvo (voiced by Roiland) looks like a Rick archetype. He’s brainy, he hates humans and he’s the antagonistic protagonist of the show. But he isn’t as smart as Rick. He’s a bit of a dumba** in all counts, even if he is good with technology.
And with the considerable lack of brains then, he doesn’t suffer from the curse of great knowledge or the paranoia that comes with it. He’s also the exact opposite of the iconoclastic Rick, for Korvo is a disciplinarian and sets too much by rules and regulations. He’s also ill-at-ease on Earth, unable to understand customs and rituals and human habits, unlike Rick who seems to know exactly how and why different alien species behave the way they do (even if he doesn’t) care about it.
This difference alone gives ‘Solar Opposites’ its own identity and personality. The stories in each episode don’t hinge on adventures across space and time in infinite dimensions, just a step away with the portal gun. Instead, the plots are very much grounded on Earth. It’s about how a family of four aliens and their alien pet gets into trouble thanks to their attitudes.
The science fiction on the show too is not as high-concept as ‘Rick and Morty’. While the latter delves into structures and narratives and philosophies of actions, consequences, time and infinite dimensions, often commenting upon the grand questions with its signature blend of absurdity and slapstick, in ‘Solar Opposites’, technology is only incidental, not intrinsic to the plot.
If one has to be reductive about it, it can be called a dumber version of ‘Rick and Morty’. But it’s so much more than that. Even if it does not focus on deeper questions of the universe, it manages to do a great job commenting on human behavior. It does a great job of chiding the everyday absurdities of life. And it does a great job of being an honest-to-god work of comedy.
Be it Korvo or Terry (Thomas Middleditch) or Jesse (Mary Mack) or Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) or the Pupa -- a sort of pet that has higher functions in their plans for domination -- every character brings something to the table. A stickler for rules, a happy-go-lucky idiot, someone who craves validation, and someone who is plain malicious: each character is unique and does not follow the Doc and Marty McFly archetype.
It’s more family squabble and internal conflicts and shenanigans arising from that than any real adventure for the sake of adventures.
‘Solar Opposites’ may look like ‘Rick and Morty’ (the same way that ‘Family Guy’ looks exactly like ‘American Dad!), but it is hilarious in its own right. It doesn’t really take anything from the other Roiland show, save the visual aesthetics. And it manages to create a niche of its own.
The eight-episode animated Hulu series lands May 8.