Adult Swim Takes San Diego Comic-Con 2014: Rick and Morty and The Venture Bros.

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Justin Roiland said he didn’t want to give away too much about the second season of Rick and Morty, the Adult Swim animated hit that he co-created with Dan Harmon. In truth, there’s a lot they can’t say. They’re still working on the last two scripts for a season set to premiere next year. Still, Roiland and Harmon met with journalists for a series of roundtable interviews Friday afternoon at San Diego Comic-Con. Roiland may have been apprehensive about saying too much—”I’m like a politician right now,” he told the group. “I’m saying nothing and rambling.” But he and Harmon let the group in on a few not-so-spoilerish tidbits.

Rick and Morty is part dysfunctional family sitcom, part sci-fi adventure. At it’s core is the titular pair, grandfather Rick Sanchez and grandson Morty Smith, both of whom are voiced by Roiland. Rick is a science genius who reunites with his daughter’s family only to embark on a series of wild journeys with his gandson/sidekick. Roiland indicated that fans could expect to see “interesting pairings” of characters that weren’t seen in the first season. Harmon noted that the show’s second season would be “more intergalactic” than the first. In other words, where episodes often meshed one conventional family-centric story with a sci-fi one, that won’t necessarily be the case going forward.

Sci-fi is central to the show. In fact, Rick and Morty started out as a disturbing Back to the Future parody that Roiland made for Harmon’s Channel 101.

“I think my philosophy with sci-fi is to focus more on the fi than the sci,” said Harmon. “I think people like it when it holds up a little bit to logical scrutiny, but that logic can often be magically enforced.” Harmon related their rationale to a certain long-running British television franchise.

“You can just tell people that Doctor Who’s TARDIS is larger on the inside than it is on the outside, and he can explain that with what we call gobbledegook in the writer’s room,” he said. The intricacies aren’t that important. “I think that what’s more important to sci-fi is that people recognize a mythologized version of something that they have encountered in their lives.”

Roiland says that the sci-fi concepts audiences love are “cool points of entry.” For Rick’s inventions, they will think about the devices that they would want to see. “We’ll have fun and screw around in the writer’s room and, at a certain point, we start to lock things down and it turns out that we come up with this cool story,” said Roiland.

Rick and Morty is a relative newcomer to Adult Swim’s line-up, but The Venture Bros. is a staple of the late-night cable network. Series co-writers Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer joined the roundtable sessions to talk shop. As is the case with Rick and Morty, there won’t be new episodes of The Venture Bros. for a while. Season Six of the series won’t premiere until 2015, but there is a bit of news about the forthcoming episodes. Jackson Publick revealed a list of guest stars, including Paul F. Tompkins, Kate McKinnon and Toby Huss. He added that returning guest stars may not be playing the same characters that they have played in the past. Publick also mentioned that they have one new role that they can’t seem to cast. “So many people have said ‘no’ to it,” he told the journalists.

The roundtable turned introspective when one journalist asked about the collaboration process with show composer J.G. Thirlwell. Publick talked about how the music changed as the writing of the show did. “We’re a little more earnest now,” he said of the show. Fittingly, the music has grown “a little smoother.”

“We’re always playing with themes that were a little ironic, or doing music that was way more serious and action-y than what was really going on in a joke-y kind of way, and now we’re scoring it like a movie,” said Publick. “We’re actually emotional and sentimental sometimes. It’s become more subtle.”

The writers addressed a question about a potential “endpoint” for the show, something that they’ve mentioned in previous years. “To have an endpoint doesn’t mean that we plan on ending the show,” said Hammer. “It means we know where everyone is going and we can take them there at any speed we want.” He added, “It’s not like we’re planing on ending it. We do have a place where we’re going.”

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