At one of those Comic Cons (I can’t keep track of all of them; you nerds are taking over the world), Justin Roiland promised that the interdimensional television show gimmick introduced in last season’s “Rixty Minutes” would be Rick and Morty’s “Treehouse of Horror.” This means, annually, we get an episode almost entirely composed of short segments animated to awkwardly improvised bits performed by an ever-drunker Justin Roiland boozing it up in the recording studio.
Look, I get that I’m apparently supposed to hate this one. Both Roiland and Dan Harmon have been talking it down, prepping everyone for the worst. Unlike with “Rixty Minutes,” they really just let Justin go this time and made little to no effort to form any conventional comedic structure around his various bits. Furthermore, rather than attempt to ape the surprise heartstring-tugging B-plot that rounded out the first improv’d episode, they went with an extended dick joke. Finally, just taking a quick look around the usual web hovels, many fans do already seem disappointed in “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate.”
But I didn’t hate it! I didn’t love it either, but, as with “Rixty Minutes,” Roiland’s stumbling ramblings often get laughs out of me, even at those times I’m thinking in the back of my mind that there’s nothing particularly clever being said. Furthermore, the dick joke subplot, though basically devoid of pathos, was pretty solid! It took some unexpected turns and told a number of good jokes along the way.
The plot about Jerry’s penis being the perfect replacement heart for alien civil rights leader, Shrimply Pibbles, flip-flopped back and forth, due to the conflict of Jerry’s desire to do the right thing (or, more accurately, to be seen as having done the right thing), versus keeping his penis. It’s a funny arc: Jerry first attempts to demonstrate his selflessness, then he gets cold feet because he wants to keep his penis, and finally—when he’s told the transplant will be performed with a synthetic penis-heart that’s even better than his penis—he tries to force the alien surgeons to take his penis instead. It’s awesome that the internal conflict Jerry’s having of penis versus likability comes together. He now wants people to think him and his penis are the best.
There are a lot of good jokes too. I like the running gag of the alien doctor qualifying that things are “alien” starting with telling Jerry he’s in an alien hospital. “To me, it’s just a hospital.” There’s also the brilliant moment when Jerry quickly pulls down his pants because he doesn’t want to be caught not masturbating (and the alien porn images are inspired too). The nano doctor operating on Shrimply Pibbles is also very clever. Probably the best moment of the episode, however, is the alien who gives a monologue about how penis-obsessed humans are. I thought it sounded like Werner Herzog and, lo and behold, it was he. I’m sad he wasn’t in more of the episode, but maybe it would’ve been too much of a good thing.
It’s a little harder to properly analyze the A-plot of these episodes, since they’re just disconnected bits of improvised nonsense. There’s no real story to discuss so it just comes down to whether or not I laughed and, as I said, I did, at a number of them.
One highlight was “The Adventures of Stealy,” in which a guy (from the same species as Mr. Poopy Butthole?) with abnormally long arms goes around stealing office supplies. I also enjoyed seeing how plumbuses get made and the concept of conjoined twins Michael and Pichael Thompson wasn’t bad. I laughed throughout Butthole Ice Cream, brief though it was. And I’d say the ending of the “Funny Songs” segment, where the volunteer from the audience gets murdered and has his life sucked out by demons is the best bit of interdimensional television in the episode. Also, Morty’s rant at Summer about how “maybe people who create things aren’t concerned with your delicate sensibilities” was certainly cathartic, if not funny. Beyond that, full segments didn’t hold up, but moments within them were funny (but that’s how it was with the previous improvised episode).
Okay, so maybe “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate,” didn’t reach the storytelling heights of “Rixty Minutes,” but the penis B-plot (or D-plot, get it?!) was sound and packed in a lot of good jokes. The improvisational half of the episode was hit or miss, but that’s how I felt about it in “Rixty Minutes,” too. I’m already seeing a lot of fans being disappointed with this one, but what can I say? I laughed. Besides, maybe giving a shit about the fans’ feelings is a one-way ticket to extinction.