This SOLAR OPPOSITES review contains spoilers.
Solar Opposites Episode 1
As a general rule, the strongest TV pilot episodes drop us into a story that’s already on its way. This is especially true of sitcoms, where the main thing we want to learn at the start is how the main characters interact with their world and each other. Basically, we care less about how the characters got to this point, we just want to know “what’s funny about this premise?” so that we can decide if we’re going to tune in for the rest of the series.
Solar Opposites very much understands this. Not even ten minutes into its premiere episode, “The Matter Transfer Array,” replicants Jesse (Mary Mack) and Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) have shrunk a bully down and put in her in a jar and Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and Korvo (Justin Roiland) have created a real-life version of a humanoid cat-thing TV character named Funbucket. The episode is quick to sow the seeds of chaos and the chaos seeds begin to bear fruit shortly after.
However, stealthily, this episode is still introducing us to these characters. It’s obvious that Terry is the goofball who just wants to have fun and that Korvo is a stick in the mud with supposedly grander priorities than the rest of the alien family—except that he’ll readily abandon those priorities in an instant should something else capture his attention.
A small weakness is we don’t spend quite as much time with Jesse and Yumyulack to get to know them quite as well. It’s apparent that Yumyulack is a jerk who will use and abuse his alien technology if anyone crosses him, but he and Jesse are more often than not on the same page in this episode, when usually (teensy, vague spoiler for the rest of the series) Jesse makes a little more of an effort to be the moral center. I mean, it’s not like she’s super-misrepresented here. All of the protagonists are impulsive and regularly take things too far if it benefits them, but I feel Jesse and Yumyulack could’ve been characterized the tiniest bit more. It’s a nitpick though.
The plot is definitely a good introduction of what kind of shit you can expect to go down in Solar Opposites, however. In short, stupid alien hijinks go south fast, resulting in oodles of death and destruction, and everyone learns a lesson… kind of. In this episode there’s a nice little subversion of the sitcom cliché of a parent explaining the moral to their child at the end because Korvo realizes he’s actually telling the moral to himself.
In terms of jokes, it’s not the funniest episode of the season, but there are still a handful of lines and visual gags that made me laugh out loud (e.g., Terry accidentally activating and deactivating the self-destruct sequence). There are also a few well-deployed f-bombs (“Fuck you, Funbucket!”).
Overall, “The Matter Transfer Array” is a good introduction to the Solar Opposites universe. It doesn’t really have any huge weaknesses, but I would’ve liked a little more time spent with the replicants and there are much funnier episodes to come. Basically, this is my least favorite episode of the season, and it’s still pretty darn good.