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"Rick and Morty" Season 1 Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet Review

Rick and Morty: Season 1 Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Rick and Morty: Season One (2013-14)
Show & Blu-ray Disc Details

Creators: Justin Roiland, Dan Harmon / Executive Producers: Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland, James A. Fino, Joe Russo II

Writers: Ryan Ridley, Justin Roiland, Tom Kauffman, Eric Acosta, Wade Randolph, Dan Harmon, Mike McMahan / Directors: Pete Michels, John Rice, Stephen Sandoval, Jeff Myers, Bryan Newton, Justin Roiland

Regular Voice Cast: Justin Roiland (Rick Sanchez, Morty Smith), Chris Parnell (Jerry Smith), Spencer Grammer (Summer Smith), Sarah Chalke (Beth Smith)

Recurring Guest Voices: Kari Wahlgren (Jessica), Brandon Johnson (Mr. Goldenfold), Phil Hendrie (Principal Vagina), Echo Kellum (Brad), Dan Harmon (various), Rob Paulsen (Snuffles, various others), Tom Kenny (various), Maurice LaMarche (Abradolph Lincler, various others),

Notable Guest Voices: Dana Carvey (Leonard), John Oliver (Dr. Xenon Bloom), David Cross (Prince Nebulon), Steve Agee (Giant), Cree Summer (Giant Woman), Alfred Molina (The Devil), Rich Fulcher (King Flippy Nips), Cree Summer (Giant Woman)

Running Time: 241 Minutes (11 episodes) / Rating: TV-MA-L

1.78:1 Widescreen / Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English) / Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled / Season 1 Air Dates: December 2, 2013 - April 14, 2014
Suggested Retail Price: $29.02 / Blu-ray Release Date: October 7, 2014
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Box
Also available on DVD ($24.98 SRP) and Instant Video

Buy Rick and Morty: Season 1 at Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

Adult Swim is one of the most productive brands in television. What began at the beginning of the millennium with a handful of offbeat original cartoons and some unfinished network castoffs continues to expand and prosper with a wealth of teen and adult-oriented viewing options every night. The college age kids who first took to what in the day is Cartoon Network are now well into their thirties,
but if they've moved on from racy surreal 'toons, those who have come of age have been happy to take their place in the network's audience.

One animated series offering the brand's common blend of comedy and science fiction is "Rick and Morty". The show is created by Justin Roiland, a young veteran of TV animation with ten years of writing, producing, and voicing cartoons like Disney Channel's "Fish Hooks" and "Gravity Falls", and Dan Harmon, whose television experiences -- most significantly, creating the contentious but celebrated "Community" -- have until now been in live-action.

"Rick and Morty" centers on an unlikely partnership, consisting of Morty (voiced by Roiland), a shy 14-year-old boy, and Rick (also Roiland), his scientist grandfather of questionable influence. The two regular engage in what Morty's father/Rick's son-in-law calls "high-concept sci-fi rigmarole." While his peers are in high school, Morty is with Rick journeying to different dimensions, squaring off with monsters, and toying with the fate of the planet.

A teenage boy and his scientist grandfather travel through time and to different dimensions in Adult Swim's "Rick and Morty."

Filling half-hour timeslots instead of Adult Swim's usual quarter-hours, "Rick and Morty" shows creativity in its dual-narrative episodes, which borrow ideas from classic and contemporary sci-fi movies (the characters themselves are recognizably descended from Back to the Future's Doc Brown and Marty McFly). Unfortunately, it's just not that funny and when it's going for a laugh roughly twice a minute, that is a problem. Crude remarks, gross bodily imagery, unlikable characters, and the tone of irreverent cynicism that seems sadly prevalent in today's cartoons all serve to diminish the appeal.
Maybe the world is ready for throwaway 9/11 references, but I find that in bad taste, like much of this show. Social commentary is minimal, as in most episodes is any connection to our world and families. Rick especially disgusts; the alcoholic gramps suffers from a permanent case of indigestion, often belching mid-sentence and sporting a garish green drool goatee.

I recognize I may be in the minority here. The show boasts an incredible 9.2 average user rating on IMDb, which is higher than most shows in history (for perspective, "Seinfeld", "Friends", "Mad Men", "M*A*S*H", "The Simpsons", and both versions of "The Office" are rated lower). Adult Swim may not draw huge audiences (this one averages around 1.5 million viewers), but they do draw passionate ones. Many have been able to see the appeal in this universe. Perhaps I'm simply approaching the end of the network's prime age demographic and no longer able to appreciate such juvenile and mean-spirited humor.

Renewed last January for a second season that will begin airing sometime in 2015, "Rick and Morty" reached home video this week in a 2-disc DVD and single-disc Blu-ray + Digital HD UltraViolet release of Season 1. On Blu-ray at least, the show's somewhat frequent hard profanity (the kind that warrants R ratings) goes unbleeped.

Imbued with sentience, family dog Snuffles leads a canine uprising against people. Morty explores the amusement park inside a homeless man's body in "Anatomy Park."

1. Pilot (22:01) (Originally aired December 2, 2013)
Morty's parents question whether Rick is a good influence on their son.

2. Lawnmower Dog (21:58) (Originally aired December 9, 2013)
Rick makes the family dog smarter, who then becomes the leader of a rebellion against humans. Rick and Morty invade peoples' dreams Inception-style to make Morty's math teacher give him A's.

3. Anatomy Park (21:55) (Originally aired December 16, 2013)
At Christmastime, Morty is trapped inside an amusement park built inside a homeless man's body.

4. M. Night Shaym-Aliens! (21:05)(Originally aired January 13, 2014)
Rick and Morty try to fix a glitchy simulation of their planet.

Countless Meeseeks try to help Jerry with his golf swing. Summer pretends that she is dominant over Rick to fit in on Gazorpazorp.

5. Meeseeks and Destroy (21:09) (Originally aired January 20, 2014)
While Meeseeks, a creature that can solve their problems, try to help the family, Rick and Morty wrestle with being tiny.

6. Rick Potion #9 (21:28) (Originally aired January 27, 2014)
Rick helps Morty try to attract a girl at his school's Flu Season Dance, but it works a little too well in conjunction with flu germs.

7. Raising Gazorpazorp (22:01) (Originally aired March 10, 2014)
Rick and Summer visit a planet where females are the dominant sex.

8. Rixty Minutes (22:15) (Originally aired March 17, 2014)
Rick upgrades the family's television to give them infinite channels from all dimensions, making them question their realities.

Summer is caught in the middle of a fight between her boss (The Devil) and her grandfather (Rick). Abradolph Lincler crashes Rick's house party in the Season 1 finale, "Ricksy Business."

9. Something Ricked This Way Comes (22:20) (Originally aired March 24, 2014)
Summer works for the Devil (guest Alfred Molina) in a shop of cursed curios, while Jerry argues for Pluto's planetary status.

10. Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind (22:27) (Originally aired April 7, 2014)
Rick is framed for the murder of dozens of Ricks in alternate dimensions.

11. Ricksy Business (22:21) (Originally aired April 14, 2014)
With Jerry and wife away on a Titanic-themed cruise, Rick and Summer throw overlapping house parties.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Blu-ray's presentation is nothing short of perfection. The 1.78:1 picture is sharp and pristine. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presents the recordings with the clarity and immediacy it should. English subtitles are kindly included.

Tiny Rick and Morty have a run-in with a giant cop in this deleted scene. Vatche Panos channels Steve Brule as host of a behind-the-scenes featurette.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

All episodes are presented with at least one audio commentary by creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland and others, including (repeatedly) writer-co-producer Ryan Ridley, writer Eric Acosta, composer Ryan Elder, director Stephen Sandoval, assistant animation director Bryan Newton, and staff writer Wade Randolph. In sampling, these were informative yet light-hearted and full of profanity.

In addition to these eleven, three secondary commentaries are supplied: a track by Matt Groening, Al Jean and their fellow "Simpsons" and "Futurama" collaborators on "Rick Potion #9" as admiring fans,
a guest commentary with "The Walking Dead"'s Robert Kirkman and Scott M. Gimple voicing their appreciation and revealing their devotion on "Rixty Minutes", and a track by "Adventure Time" makers Pendleton Ward and Kent Osborne, who share their respect on "Close Rick-counters of the Third Kind" and recall a popcorn shrimp experience.

On the video side, where all is encoded in HD, we start with deleted scenes, which like the commentaries are accessible from the episodes submenu. A total of 10 scenes from 7 episodes run 8 minutes and 6 seconds. They are presented in animatic form and often barely depart from what made it onto the show, though we do get some additional variations on television programming, including "Seinfeld."

An untitled behind-the-scenes featurette (19:08) serves up looks at recording and story sessions, awkward interviews of crew members, and workplace bathroom tours by Ryan Ridley. Hosted by a strange idiot (Vatche Panos, who also plays goof character designers), it's certainly offbeat and memorable, but also very annoying and gross.

If you ever felt that Rick and Morty had too much color, be sure to watch the episodes in animatics form. The Rick and Morty Season 1 Blu-ray menu keeps things simple.

Finally, animatics are supplied for all eleven episodes and run about as long as the finished episodes themselves (minus credits). Will anyone really want to watch the show in predominantly black,
white and gray pencil animation with no music and minimal sound effects? I doubt it, but will anyone complain they're getting more content than they need?

The main menu attaches the theme score to a static post-apocalyptic environment shot. The Blu-ray does not support bookmarks, but does resume unfinished playback just like a DVD.

As a shrinkwrap sticker mentions, a Rick and Morty comic book accompanies the disc and the Digital HD UltraViolet insert inside the side-slipcovered eco-friendly standard blue keepcase. Titled The Good Morty, the comic pokes fun at morally didactic religious entertainment, complete with Morty scripture passages.

Rick and Morty go on a number of colorful adventures.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Adult Swim packs the "Rick and Morty" Season One Blu-ray with loads of content which should keep fans of this animated sci-fi comedy engaged. I wish I could count myself among them, but I was unable to find anything more than sporadic diversion. As such, this set is not something I can recommend to those who aren't already fond of the show.

Buy Rick and Morty: Season 1 at Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Gravity Falls: Six Strange Tales Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters The Neighbors: The Complete First Season
Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume 4 Ugly Americans: Volume One The Goode Family: The Complete Series
Chris Parnell: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy | Sarah Chalke: Scrubs: Seasons 1-9 Maneater Mama's Boy

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Reviewed October 9, 2014.



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