Rick and Morty: Anatomy Park (2013)

I'm a late convert to this show, which is more than a little odd considering my all-time favorite live-action series, Community, was made by one of Rick and Morty's showrunners. Despite that, I was reluctant to get involved with this show, mainly due to its grotesque visual style. But I eventually gave it a try, and...

Yeah. Based on the first few episodes, it's pretty fantastic.

Lindsay and I were surprised to discover the third episode, "Anatomy Park," was holiday themed. Based on the title, I'd assumed it was some sort of Jurassic Park/Innerspace mash-up. Which... it actually still is. But it's also set at Christmas.

The holiday elements are more central to the B-plot, which centers around an awkward holiday gathering. Jerry's parents are visiting for the holidays, so he's obsessed with having his family interact in person, without any digital distractions. Only they arrive with an added guest, Jacob, who's in a polyamorous relationship with Jerry's mother.

 Meanwhile, over in the A-plot Rick shrinks Morty down to microscopic size and injects him into the body of a homeless man who has an amusement park in his body. Said park was designed and built by Rick and Dr. Xenon Bloom, a super-intelligent amoeba (or possibly an alien who looks like one). Something has gone wrong in the park, and Rick wants Morty to get Bloom out of the host.

Along with Bloom, there are a handful of additional human characters employed at the park, which is being overrun by bacteria and viruses. All but one of the humans are essentially parodies of action hero archetypes. The last, Annie, becomes a love interest for Morty.

The host of the park doesn't last long, meaning Morty and the other survivors are trapped in a decomposing corpse crawling with monstrous diseases. One by one, the expendable characters get taken out until it's just Morty and Annie left alive.

For reasons that aren't entirely explained, Rick determines his grandson's only hope is to escape while full size, which requires increasing the corpse's size dramatically. He stuffs some explosives into the body, hauls it into the lower atmosphere, and enlarges it.

Of course, now the body is about as long as the United States, is visible from the Earth, and is naked aside from a Santa hat. And all this is happening on Christmas.

The sudden appearance of gigantic naked Santa in the sky naturally has the planet frightened, which puts Jerry's insecurities around his parents' sex lives into perspective. The episode resolves with Rick rescuing Morty and Annie just before the corpse explodes, showering the continent in gore.

I feel like the Christmas elements, along with the writers' decision to set this during the holidays, are fairly self-evident, provided you understand these are extremely twisted people. But they're talented twisted people, making this fairly unnerving installment funny. That's been my experience with the show in general - it delivers the humor, along with some intriguing existential science-fiction. Rick and Morty is absolutely a comedy, but the genre elements are quite a bit deeper than I'd expected.

One thing I've found extremely surprising has been how little this series is reminding me of Futurama. Both are animated homages to SF, and even the art styles are somewhat similar. But they have widely divergent tones, which makes Rick and Morty feel like an entirely different creation.