Category: Cartoons (Page 2 of 28)

Rick and Morty Season 2 on DVD

‘Rick and Morty’ Season 2 Review

Rick and Morty Season 2 builds on the out-of-the-gate success of the first season. When it premiered in 2013, Rick and Morty became an instant hit on Adult Swim, following in the footsteps of the late-night cartoon network’s other hits, like Robot Chicken and The BoondocksRick and Morty Season 2 sees a little deeper exploration of the characters and bigger themes.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the DVD from public relations. My opinion and review is my own.

Synopsis

The premise for Rick and Morty is that Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) suddenly arrives at his daughter Beth’s (Sarah Chalke) doorstep looking to move in with her and her family, after he was missing for nearly 20 years. Beth is happy to have her dad move in with her family, but her husband Jerry (Chris Parnell) isn’t, because Rick’s arrival brings chaos into his family’s household. Rick converts the garage into his personal laboratory and gets to work on all sorts of dangerous sci-fi gadgets and contraptions. Then he ropes his grandchildren, Morty (Roiland) and Summer (Spencer Grammer), into traveling through space and time on his crazy adventures.

"Auto Erotic Assimilation" on 'Rick and Morty'

“Auto Erotic Assimilation” on ‘Rick and Morty’

In Ricky and Morty Season 2, Rick is still living with his daughter and her family, and causing more trouble than ever. As he faces new threats, alongside his grandchildren, mysteries of his secret past are revealed. (Some of them should have stayed buried!)

Review

Rick and Morty is hilarious, smart and completely unpredictable. Think Back to the Future meets Family Guy meets Superjail!. Not only are the overall storylines–usually an A and B in each episode–completely absurd, but also the dialogue is so funny I have to pause it while I’m laughing so I don’t miss the next line.

Rick’s lines are usually insulting zingers, while Beth and Jerry spew bitter sarcasm. Sometimes the scenes are obviously improvised, letting Justin Roiland unspool funny conversations between Rick and Morty. And burp. A lot.

A message is usually woven into each episode, along with jokes and sight gags. In “Auto Erotic Assimilation,” we’ve got a few different messages coming at us. Rick, Morty and Summer visit a planet that’s been taken over by a being named Unity, who assimilates everyone into one mind. The episode explores what freedom means, and whether peace can be achieved while maintaining individuality.

Nerd Block

We also learn more about Rick and his past; he and Unity used to have a thing. When they rekindle their passion, and reboot their stoner lifestyle, Unity’s planet devolves into chaos and violence. Talk about “a very special episode” kind of message.

On top of those storylines, Beth and Jerry are back at home, wrestling (figuratively and literally) with what it means that Rick has been holding an alien prisoner in a secret underground lab. They argue back and forth, making everyone wonder if the problem is the alien, or their marriage.

Rick and Morty Season 2 isn’t all messages and themes, though. I enjoyed the guest star appearances from  Stephen Colbert (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Keith David (Community), Tom Kenny (Adventure Time). And Rick is such a mess that anything he does is entertaining. He is the id we wish we could let out once in a while.

Animation

The look of the cartoon is bleached-out colors and rounded, simple outlines. Sometimes the characters’ noses and mouths are just Ws, like Skip’s on Regular Show. When Rick and Morty visit other worlds or dimensions, the cartoon employs different color schemes and shading to good effect.

Cast and Creators

Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon are the creators and executive producers of Rick and Morty. Justin Roiland is a veteran voice-over actor. He voices both Rick and Morty. You have also heard him as the Earl of Lemongrab on Adventure Time; Chris on Out There; and Oscar on Fish Hooks. Roiland also writes for Fish Hooks. Dan Harmon has been writing for TV for years, working on Community and The Sarah Silverman Program. Harmon plays Mr. Marklevitz on Rick and Morty. He has also voiced characters on Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Axe Cop.

The cast of Rick and Morty couldn’t be more talented. Chris Parnell (SNL, Archer), who plays Jerry, uses an arrogant, but panicky tone. Sarah Chalke voices Beth with the same wonderful deadpan humor she used on Scrubs. Spencer Grammer plays Summer, Morty’s sister, with the same earnest, but funny, quality Mila Kunis shows in Family Guy. And, of course, Justin Roiland’s banter with himself is the mainstay of Rick and Morty.

Rick and Morty Season 2 is even sharper than Season 1. I imagine Rick and Morty will thrive on Adult Swim for many seasons to come.

Find out why 'Rick and Morty' Season 2 is better than Season 1

Minecraft Steve / Flickr user George

‘Minecraft’ TV Show, a Great Idea?

A Minecraft TV show would be a huge success, if only because there are millions of people, all over the world, who play it. In fact, Minecraft has sold over 1 million copies. If you haven’t heard of Minecraft, either you’re not a gamer or you don’t live with people between the ages of six and twenty-two.

In the game of Minecraft, you mine your world. And then you craft things. The premise sounds simple, but the more you play and discover within your world, the more strategy is involved. The game requires you to plan ahead, be creative and, occasionally, fight for your life.

Minecraft is an addictive game, but it could easily make the leap to a weekly Minecraft TV show. Plenty of other video games have found success on TV in cartoon form, such as Viva Piñata and Sonic the Hedgehog. Here’s why a Minecraft TV show is a great idea.

Steve the Everyman Protaganist

When you play Minecraft, you’re Steve, the brown-haired guy wearing dark blue pants and a light blue shirt. Steve is someone we can all relate to. He’s a working man just trying to build a home, make it rich and stay alive.

Steve already has a quiet personality. He could easily play the straight man to any jokes other characters in the cartoon would make. He is also perfect for pratfalls, since he can’t move more than one block up without just banging into the wall, or one block down without losing some life, or even his armor. Plus, he can carry a variety of accessories, whether it’s a diamond pickaxe or a whole bed.

Survivalists would love Steve. Sure, he can make friends with wolves in order to have a dog for company. But when he’s hungry, he has no qualms butchering cows, pigs and chickens to cook up in his furnace. He is completely self-sufficient.

Ancillary Characters

A solid protagonist alone does not a good story make. Even Tom Hanks had Wilson in Cast Away. In a Minecraft TV show, Steve could interact with the villagers, for instance. He already trades goods with them, but anything could happen. He could fall for the blacksmith’s wife, or become embroiled in a sheep-napping mystery, or even come under fire from environmentalists for so carelessly using the world’s resources for his own selfish needs.

Beyond the villagers, Steve could quickly be given family members to deal with, by throwing some skins onto regular Steve. He could be jealous of Tennis Steve or Scottish Steve, while Creeper Steve could feel like an outcast because he is, perhaps, the offspring of mom and (oh my) a Creeper. Which leads me to…

Villains

Minecraft is full of villains who could play antagonist to our everyman Steve. Spiders could feed into his worst fears, hiding in abandoned mine shafts while he’s investigating that sheep-napping. Then there are zombies, always a nuisance during night-time travel, who pop up for battles at just the wrong time. (Think The Walking Dead in 8-bit form.)

Even better than mindless spiders and zombies could be a mafia-like organization working against Steve and his skinned brothers. Picture Minecraft’s fiercest villain, the Enderman, running an outfit that is dead determined to keep Steve and his costumed brothers from succeeding in any venture, whether it be mining or building. The tall, black, gangly Enderman is the crime boss, while Skeleton Archers act as his snipers and Creepers are his brutish hit men.

This stuff writes itself!

Location

Minecraft also comes with a wide variety of locales for all the action and drama our newly formed crime syndicate can dish out. Steve could save the day in the steamy jungle, in the arid desert, in the chilly forests, on the windswept beach, or even on the mysterious ‘shroom island. (‘Shroom island could be the setting for a Scooby-Doo-like mystery, taking up a trilogy of episodes!)

Treasure

Treasure always lends itself well to dramatic stories, and Minecraft is full of it. Imagine the secrets and alliances that would spring up when Steve discovers a large vein of diamonds. Or if that dashing Tennis Steve were to discover a trove of emeralds, our Steve could endure an inner battle of morals, deciding whether to rob his brother blind or allow him to enjoy his riches. Or maybe fights could break out over crop harvests. “I need that wheat to bake a cake for my child!”

Visual Style

Minecraft is unique because it embraces the retro 8-bit style of graphics, making everything a parallelogram, whether you like it or not. But several good YouTube videos have shown us that even within the restricted use of cubes, the characters and action would not suffer. In fact, that cubic world could poke fun at itself in any number of ways. “Oh, villager #4, your square jawline makes my blocks weak.”

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No doubt Notch, creator of Minecraft, a.k.a. Markus Persson, has been approached by a network suit somewhere about turning his baby into a cartoon. And knowing what a tight rein Notch has had on merchandising, he is most likely scoffing at the idea of a weekly TV cartoon. Or waiting for Ang Lee to come calling. Regardless, a Minecraft cartoon would blaze up TV ratings like Netherrack.

Movie

As of July 21, 2015, a movie is in development at Warner Bros. No date yet on its release. A Minecraft TV show, however, would be able to delve much deeper into a variety of worlds and mythologies.

Why Minecraft would make a great TV show

Header photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/daniandgeorge/. Pinterest photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/citizenhelder/.
BoJack and Todd on 'BoJack Horseman'

‘BoJack Horseman’ Review, No Gift Horse

BoJack Horseman is an animated comedy series on Netflix that plays more like the Showtime series Episodes than cartoons like The Simpsons or Bob’s Burgers.

Will Arnett (Arrested Development) voices BoJack, a failed, legendary 90’s sitcom star from a fictitious hit family sitcom called “Horsin’ Around” (think Full House). He’s been trying to find his way through a muddle of self-loathing, whisky and failed relationships. His best friend, Todd (Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad), and his feline agent and ex-girlfriend, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris, Strangers with Candy), are helping BoJack mount a comeback.

In the first episode, BoJack is an insecure narcissist who can’t stop living in the past, where he was a beloved TV star. He spends his time wearing pajamas and watching re-runs of his show. He is so self-centered that he barely registers when anyone else is talking, let alone has needs. Will Arnett plays him masterfully, because Arnett played very similar characters in Arrested Development and 30 Rock.

Princess Carolyn on BoJack Horseman

Princess Carolyn on ‘BoJack Horseman’

Todd, his roommate or house guest, depending who you talk to, has a surprisingly cheery disposition for someone who is homeless and in trouble with local drug lords. Todd keeps his backstory under wraps, allowing BoJack to hog the spotlight.

BoJack has an on-again, off-again relationship with Princess Carolyn. She breaks up with him because he completely ignores her, but she’s easily drawn back into his bed. She’s not only his girlfriend, but also his agent. As she explains, she makes a point to keep her personal and professional lives separate.

At the end of the first episode, BoJack meets Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie, The LEGO Movie), the woman who will ghost write BoJack’s memoir. BoJack is taken with her, but then he finds out she’s dating Mr. Peanut Butter (Paul F. Tompkins, The Sarah Silverman Program), another actor who rose to stardom on a family sitcom at the same time BoJack did. Mr. Peanut Butter is over-friendly and superficial, a thorn in BoJack’s side.

The characters are a mix of humans and animals, although the animals have hands instead of hooves or paws. (It made for an entertaining conversation between my husband and me about how mixed couples would procreate.) For instance, Princess Carolyn is a cat, but she wants a baby with BoJack. Cartoons don’t need to make sense!

My Two Cents

The episode was enjoyable, but not so much that I’m dying to see the next episode. The jokes were occasionally funny enough to make me laugh out loud, but most were just thoughtful jokes that just make you say, “That’s funny.” (Kind of like that girlfriend Zach Braff had on Scrubs. She never laughed, only ever said, “That’s funny.” Which bothered him.)

BoJack Horseman is a dark comedy with a self-centered lead character. Much like Curb Your Enthusiasm, having a jerk for a lead character might turn a lot of people off. You have to set aside your irritation to get at what’s really going on with BoJack.

Bojack and Diane Nguyen in BoJack Horseman

Bojack and Diane Nguyen in ‘BoJack Horseman’

The series isn’t without merits. The performances are enjoyable, allowing the actors to play against type in several instances. Amy Sedaris is very sedate and mannered as Princess Carolyn, and Aaron Paul is as sunny as can be as Todd.

BoJack Horseman attempts to explore a lot of very relatable human emotions, like insecurity and loneliness. Those feelings are heightened because Hollywood is the setting, where insecurity and loneliness are de rigueur.

I think I need to see one or two more episodes before I make a final decision about BoJack Horseman. So many times pilot episodes spend a lot of time introducing characters and setting up the show’s premise that it doesn’t really hit its stride.

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