Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim show about a super-genius scientist traveling around the universe with his hapless grandson, is back for another round of new episodes, and fans couldn’t be happier. The show has a passionate following, but fans have had to get used to long droughts between new seasons, as creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon make sure everything is just how they like it.
We’re currently in the midst of season 4. A while back, Adult Swim ordered a whopping 70 new episodes of Rick and Morty, and some assumed this would mean an end to the long waits. Even before the coronavirus shut down much of Hollywood, this wasn’t a guarantee, but now, it seems unlikely that we’ll get to see season 5 soon after season 4 wraps up later this month.
Star Chris Parnell, who plays Morty’s sad sack father Jerry, confirmed during a group watch of the season 1 episode “Meeseeks and Destroy” that production had yet to get properly underway, although the foundation has been laid. “We have not started recording Season 5, but I know they have, certainly, episodes written and have it boarded to a certain extent,” he said. “But I don’t know when we’ll start recording.”
What’s more, Parnell at least is ready to record his lines even if the coronavirus is keeping everyone at home — apparently the cast has never done a group recording session anyway, so recording lines separately is no problem. “I’ve upgraded my home setup – even though it doesn’t look like it – so I can actually record proper sessions from home,” he said. “You know, as long as the studio does some safety protocols and stuff like that, it’s an easy situation to go into a booth and record and not have to encounter anybody.”
As for what he does when he finally gets into the booth, Parnell says he liked to stick to the script. “It’s really just Justin that does the improv,” Parnell said, meaning Justin Roiland, who voices both Rick and Morty. “I don’t do a lot of improv, because the scripts are really well-written and well-thought-out. The idea that I’m going to go in the booth and come up with something in my head that’s better than what they’ve spent weeks or days or months thinking about is a little presumptuous.”
Jerry is definitely the most routinely humiliated of all the characters on Rick and Morty, with Rick regularly aghast that someone so mediocre could be married to his daughter Beth (Sarah Chalke) and usually ending up as the butt of the joke. “[I]t’s fun to play a character that’s put upon like Jerry is by, really, everyone else in the show,” Parnell said. “It’s fun to play someone who’s essentially a loser. For better or for worse, it’s not hard for me to tap into that part of myself. It’s not a big leap for me to play Jerry. Take that as you will.”
The low self esteem is something I struggle with. I’ve pretty much dealt with it through therapy, and you have to have a certain amount of confidence to do something like SNL. But I can relate to the loser in Jerry for sure. I think that helps inform a fair bit of my comedy, because I’m often playing characters you wouldn’t typically describe as winners.
Parnell playing Jerry reminds me a little of him playing Cyril on Archer, another character who’s routinely dumped on. I guess he has a type.
In fact, Jerry is so despised by several Rick and Morty characters that some fans even see him as the villain of the piece, although Parnell can’t quite cosign that. “I think he’s generally undeserving of the heat he gets,” Parnell said. “He does play the victim, I guess, a fair bit. He’s sort of gotten used to that mode of operating. But he can also be content doing his own thing and puttering around, which is why I think he’d do okay in a quarantine situation like this. But, you know, I obviously have a lot invested in Jerry, so it’s hard for me to feel like a bad guy.”
Jerry didn’t appear in the latest episode of Rick and Morty, “Never Ricking Morty,” but rest assured that he’ll be back. The last time we him was in “Claw and Hoarder: Special Ricktim’s Morty,” where a mysterious talking cat who convinces him to go party it up in Florida. When Rick scans the cat’s brain to find out why it can talk, both he and Jerry are horrified at what they see.
We didn’t actually see what Rick and Jerry saw, only their reactions. What could have been so traumatizing that it had even had the dead-on-the-inside Rick Sanchez considering shooting himself in the mouth? “I guess an image of horrific carnage came to my mind while we were recording, and then I chose not to explore it further because what’s the point?” Parnell told SyFy Wire.
It would either be something like on [a] Hitler scale of ordering the mass murders of millions of people and seeing that acted out. Or just some sort of horrific, murderous, sexual thing. Maybe something Caligula-esque, something so grotesque involving bodily fluid and excrement. And then maybe murder on top of that, or eating people. Whatever the most horrific things you can think of are. I guess that’s what it would have to be for Jerry and Rick to react that way.
Also the cat was voiced by Matthew Broderick. I don’t know if that helps solve the mystery.
New episodes of Rick and Morty every Sunday at 10:30 p.m. CST on Adult Swim!