In case you’be been living under a rock since 2013, Rick and Morty is [Adult Swim]’s animated, sci-fi riff on Back to The Future’s Doc and Marty.
The Interdimensional Cable episodes (and their season 3 equivalent) are some of the funniest in the series thus far. In fact, there’s even a real-life, “meta” interdimensional Cable live streaming service online, as well as its own subreddit. Moreover, these episodes break from the writers’ typical storytelling tactics. Instead, they rely on a thinner plot to carry the real comedy, which is essentially improvised nonsense. In other words: good television.
Let’s look at Interdimensional Cable from a writer’s perspective.
Both episodes feature Rick’s interdimensional broadcasting device, which transmits TV shows, movies, and especially commercials across alternate universes. The first episode’s B-story is centered around Jerry and Beth exploring the concept of alternate reality, itself, and what could have been. It premiered early as an Instagram experiment and posted in 100 15-second clips.
The second episode, Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate, Jerry volunteers to undergo a penis transplant in order to save the life of a heroin-breathing icon of peace. Meanwhile, Rick, Morty, and Summer catch up on some interdimensional cable. Season 3 does not feature an episode interdimensional cable, however, the same concept materializes as Morty’s Mind Blowers, in which Roiland’s sketches take the form of memories that Morty had begged Rick to remove from his brain.
The idea for Interdimensional Cable came from an episode of Justin Roiland’s Channel 101 web-series, House of Cosby’s, a show about a house full of Bill Cosby clones.
“It’s really creepy now,” Roiland told EW.com.
After one of the Cosby clones attempts to fix their TV, it starts receiving signals from all over the universe. This is a platform for Roiland’s short-form sketches, like the weird, alien game show. All of Rick and Morty’s Interdimensional Cable Episodes follow thin, however relevant, and organized, plots, while the focal content is Roiland’s bizarre, quick-witted improvisational work.
As the voices of both Rick and Morty, Justin Roiland is known to frequently go off script. He not only revises every script to include Rick’s signature, alcohol-induced belching, but he also improvises many of the shows quirkiest scenes. For instance, when Rick horses around with Morty in the Alien Scammer’s ship. In the Interdimensional Cable episodes, Roiland gets pretty weird with sketches like Ants-in-my-Eyes Johnson, and “personal space.” One of my personal favorite scenes is Opposite News from the first episode of Interdimensional Cable, featuring Michael and Pichael.
Roiland’s style of improv comedy seems to utilize his own knowledge of pop culture and science fiction, sharp-tongued bullshitting, and a healthy dose of neologisms. Neologisms are simply made-up words or phrases, which…may or may not make sense. Shrimply Pibbles is the name of the alien activist in Interdimensional Cable 2 and a neologism. Rick’s catch-phrase, “wubalubadubdub,” is another neologism.
I can’t be the only one killed by all of Rick and Morty’s neologisms, as they serve many comedic purposes. The word “squanch” quickly became a running joke early in the series, being used as an adjective, euphemism, and everything in between. Some of Roiland’s made-up words are also derived from obvious phonetic roots. Compare the word “schleem” to “spleen” for example. Likewise, both words somehow sound like something squishy…
Although the Rick and Morty writers’ room makes great use of nonsense neologisms, they aren’t pioneers of implementing them as a writing device. Dr. Seuss is perhaps the most prominent example. Nonetheless, who can deny the absurdity of Roiland’s explanation of how a plumbus is made?
Afterall, everyone has a plumbus in their home.
(Photo from shapeways.com)