Solar Opposites review: a nicer, friendlier (and less funny) Rick & Morty
The new show from the co-creator of Rick & Morty will be available for Irish viewers to watch in just a few days.
Matt Groening had The Simpsons and Futurama. Seth McFarlane had Family Guy and American Dad (and The Cleveland Show, which we've all pretty much forgotten about). And so it is that Justin Roiland, co-creator of Rick & Morty, has another initially-seeming very similar show, with Solar Opposites cut from the same intergalactic cloth as his first massive hit.
The jump off feels like Rick & Morty in reverse: instead of humans heading out into space, we get a family of aliens a year or so after they've crash-landed on Earth, and having to deal with all of the madness the planet presents as every day life, and how they react to it.
The family is headed by genius scientist Korvo (voiced by Roiland) who sounds pretty much identical to genius scientist Rick, who hates everything and everyone in his orbit. However, the difference here is that whereas Rick is four seasons deep into revealing his heart, Korvo wears his on his sleeve, constantly looking for love and friendship despite claiming to despise it.
He's assisted by Terry (voiced by Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch), who is in less of hurry to leave Earth, simply because he is in awe of everything he lays his eyes on, and then there's the two "kids" - they're actually still-growing replicants - Yumyulack and Jesse, a sociopathic bounty hunter and generally kind-hearted teen, respectively. And then there's the Pupa, which is basically Maggie Simpson meets Scrat from Ice Age, a wordless creature that tends to go off on their own, mostly-unconnected adventures.
From the episodes made available to press ahead of release, the plots these characters have been dropped into are mostly interchangeable with ones that Rick and/or Morty could take part in, from a matter replicator messing up and going full Akira-monster, to a group of nanobots becoming sentient and running for president of the neighbourhood watch, it is the high-bar of high-concept sci-fi we'd expect from Roiland, and they set the show up for some great jokes.
But with the addition of those nicer, warmer characters, much of the bite of comedy has been edged off here. Perhaps that more acidic direction comes from Rick & Morty's other co-creator Dan Harmon, but the formula has definitely changed, and that change has resulted in less-consistent-LOLs. Which isn't to say that Solar Opposites isn't funny, because it is, and some of it is even pretty dark - Yumyulack's "Wall" of human specimens is the stuff of pitch black comedic nightmares - but the overall hit rate of the successful jokes is down from Roiland's previous outing.
Which isn't to pass judgement too soon on the show. Over time, American Dad has become infinitely funnier than Family Guy. Unlike The Simpsons, Futurama knew when to call it quits (when it was still funny). So the same could be said of Solar Opposites, in that it will find its place in the comedic universe, provided it is given another season or two.
Solar Opposites will be available to watch on Star on Disney+ from Tuesday, 23 February.
Clip via Hulu