Cast: Justin Roiland (“Rick and Morty”), Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”), Mary Mack (“Last Comic Standing”), Sean Giambrone (“The Goldbergs”)
Airs: The series premieres Friday on Hulu.
The premise: A group of aliens have escaped their planet, Schlorp, which was destroyed by an asteroid, and sought refuge on Earth, settling in suburban America. Two members of the group, Korvo (Justin Roiland) and Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone), think Earth is awful. But Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and Jesse (Mary Mack) believe the planet has a lot to offer.
The animated series is created by Justin Roiland, the co-creator of “Rick and Morty,” and Mike McMahan, who worked as a head writer on “Rick and Morty.”
Highs: If you’ve seen the trailers for “Solar Opposites,” it would be easy to view the series as “Ricky and Morty: Aliens Edition.” With a similar art style to the hit Adult Swim program and a scientific genius lead character voiced by Roiland, it’s easy to draw parallels. Thankfully, this series is more than just a “Rick and Morty” spinoff.
Each episode of “Solar Opposites” splits the family of four aliens into pairs who view life on Earth from completely different points of view.Yumyulack and Jesse are typical high schoolers who have the additional challenge of being aliens. Issues such as bullying, self-esteem, dealing with stress and puberty are thrown at the two and they each handle their problems differently.
Jesse is kindhearted and forgiving, believing that if you’re nice to people they’ll be nice to you. Yumyulack lashes out and uses a shrink ray on those who pose a threat. He then deposits them into a series of interconnecting hamster habitats in his bedroom where the shrunken humans create what is essentially an “Escape from New York” living scenario. Although they are aliens, in many ways Jesse and Yumyulack are just regular teens trying to get by.
The adults in this odd family are Terry and Korvo. Terry loves planet Earth but is a bit naive. He believes everything he sees on TV is real and thinks nothing ever goes wrong when you make robots too smart. He wears a unique T-shirt every episode that pop culture nerds will be sure to track.
The heart and soul of the “Solar Opposites” is Korvo, who could probably fix the ship that’s crashed on top of their home if he wasn’t constantly distracted by Terry and his shenanigans.
Korvo’s voice sounds a lot like Rick Sanchez of “Rick and Morty” but more robotic and less emotional. That’s where any similarities end, however. Despite knowing he’s the smartest being on the planet, Korvo longs for acceptance of Earth’s lesser life forms — though he’d never admit it. In one episode, he dumps nanobots into the town’s water supply so they’ll provide data on what the neighbors think of him. In another, he becomes a magician just so people will like him.
Korvo’s plans always hilariously backfire and are typically embedded with multiple pop culture references. Terry and Korov’s adventures frequently mirror that of Jesse and Yumulak, serving as a reminder that if people aren’t careful, they never outgrow their own inadequacies.
Lows: The specter of “Rick and Morty” casts a long shadow over “Solar Opposites,” which can make appreciating the new series for what it represents on its own a bit of a challenge. How do you view the two shows separately when they look and sound so similar? It took me until the third episode to get to the point where I could enjoy “Solar Opposites” without thinking Rick Sanchez had taken over the body of an alien. This will be a challenge for Justin Roiland fans.
Grade: (B+): This series is loaded with hilarious one-liners, which are often filled with off-color colloquialisms, and controversial subject matter. So naturally I enjoyed the four episodes I watched immensely. Clever writing, ridiculous scenarios and boundary-pushing humor make “Solar Opposites” a must-watch show.
Gazette TV critic Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.