The Best Show You're Probably Not Watching is "Rick and Morty"

I’ve been holding onto this for a while, but the last couple of have put it over the top and convinced me that not only is Cartoon Network’s Rick and Morty one of the best shows on TV, it’s the best on right now not named Game of Thrones.

I was almost hesitant to bring it up because outside of the real geek sites and the ComicCon crowd I didn’t think it had anything in the way of traction. Until I turned a buddy of mine onto the show, literally the only other person I know who ever watched it was my friend’s daughter away at college. But we’re four episodes into Season 3 and it has so totally hit its stride there’s no more holding back.

If not you’re aware, it started a lot like South Park did, which was as a short one-off that got some traction on the Internet before being developed into a series. Only it began as a Back to the Future parody, where Doc is a drunk and Marty is a timid, socially awkward dope from a family that hates each other. More or less.

Anyway, for legal reasons Doc and Marty got changed to Rick and Morty, and Rick is Morty’s grandfather. But still a drunk. And a complete nihilist. And the twisted genius who takes Morty on adventures through multiple dimensions where he is the smartest man in all of them for the purpose of … well proving that he’s the smartest man in the universe and is bored with the problems of every other living thing. Or something. It’s different every episode, but that’s pretty much the upshot.

It was created by Justin Roiland, who does both title character voices and Dan Harmon, who made the criminally under-appreciated Community. And like that show, Rick and Morty is self-aware to the point of being meta. And takes repeated viewings because the jokes come too rapid-fire to process. Especially after a day of drinking because I haven’t been letting Monday ruin my Sunday.

And the last couple of weeks has moved the show up the food chain from unique and original cult hit to the smartest show on TV. Starting with last week’s “Pickle Rick,” which started as just a catch phrase for the convention and cosplay crowd and became an entire episode where Rick turns himself into pickle for the sole purpose of skipping out on family counseling. Then he rolls into a storm drain and, with no arms or legs, has to figure out how to attach roach and rat limbs onto himself so he can get home and turn himself back into a human. Featuring all the blood, gore and painfully awkward family interactions that keep it from being Adventure Time.

This most recent episode, “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender” was the best in the series run. At the risk of minimal spoilers, Morty forces Rick to take him on an adventure with his favorite superhero team. Until Rick gets bored, resents Morty’s hero worship, gets drunk and shits himself. And when he comes to, it turns out that while blacked out drunk, he’d set up an elaborate series of Saw-like traps to prove the Vindicators are not only not heroes, they’re not special. Because, as Morty dejectedly says, that’s always Rick’s point. And Rick trapped with them because he was too drunk to remember setting them up. Cue the violence, the gore, a complete deconstruction of every superhero trope and a one-liner pace of about one every five seconds. (“Crocubot? … So, you’re a cold, unfeeling reptile and also an equally cold, and unfeeling machine? So your origin is what? You fell in a vat of redundancy?”) And then at the end, makes about two different head fakes that make you think you think you see the ending coming, but you don’t.

It’s dark. Satirical. Violent. Loaded with pseudo-science. Grim as all hell. Philosophical. And brilliant to the point it should make everybody who’s ever pulled a Big Bang Theory script out of their asscrack quit the writing business and go lay bricks. As Noob Noob would put it, goddamn.