The wait for Rick and Morty’s second season took an agonizing 468 days. The mid-season break seemed even longer. For those unfamiliar, Rick and Morty is about the adventures of genius/scientist/alcoholic Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith. Morty has a sister, Summer, and their parents are Jerry — an idiot whom Rick despises — and Beth, Rick’s beloved daughter.
Season 1 of the Dan Harmon-created Adult Swim series began relatively innocuously before unraveling into a multi-dimensional, intergalactic party. In the Season 1 finale, “Ricksy Business,” Rick invites his buddies from all over the Rick and Morty universe for a blowout house party while Morty’s parents — Jerry and Beth — are away. Ultimately, Rick has to freeze time for himself, Morty, and Summer to clean up the house before Jerry and Beth get home. The Season 2 premiere, “A Rickle in Time,” begins six months after the party, with the three putting the finishing touches on the cleanup before they can unfreeze time.
Once the place is ready, Rick unfreezes time, but Morty and Summer can’t really touch anything because even though the rest of existence was frozen, they weren’t, and that’s a problem. Of course, they get into a shoving match and mess up time, and Rick saves the day. Elsewhere in the episode, there’s a testicle monster policeman, and Jerry tips the Cold Stone Creamery something like $450 to keep singing.
The plot of Rick and Morty is at once intricate and unconcerned with detail. I mean, I just described their messing with time and dimensions as “a problem,” yet there’s a contained, seemingly sensical explanation for it in Rick and Morty’s world. The writing is so brilliant and the show is so funny for similar reasons. With Rick and Morty, Dan Harmon and co-creator Justin Roiland keep the jokes pretty simple. They curse excessively and unnecessarily. They rely on repetition. They’re not afraid to have some duds. One of the best running jokes is Rick’s insistence on the catchphrase “Wub-a-lub-a-dub-dub,” which they even give a goddamn explanation for.
Rick and Morty is often retroscripted, meaning that the voice actors ad lib certain scenes. Ad libbing highlights the chemistry between actors, so lines don’t sound contrived. The humor comes from what the actors think is actually funny. The Adult Swim classic Home Movies, for example, was not only built around the relationship between 8-year-old Brendon Small and his gym teacher, Coach John McGuirk, but also the chemistry of voice actors Brendon Small and H. Jon Benjamin.
The main voice actors of Rick and Morty, however, are the same person: Justin Roiland voices both Rick and Morty. Roiland, therefore, is kind of just talking to himself, mumbling, burping, pausing, and figuring out something he, himself, would enjoy hearing.
The show works because we want to laugh at burps and insane-looking alien cartoons. Rick and Morty is clever by not being too clever. It’s raunchy yet not over-the-top. With “A Rickle in Time,” Harmon and Roiland show that they’re not taking themselves or Rick and Morty too seriously, even with the success of the first season.