Rick and Morty’s Big Vocal Switch Feels Almost Shockingly Seamless

Rick and Morty’s Big Vocal Switch Feels Almost Shockingly Seamless

Rick and Morty returns this Sunday, and while the Adult Swim show is used to plenty of fanfare heralding each new season, its seventh is under particular scrutiny for one big reason: it marks the debut of Rick and Morty’s new voices after Justin Roiland’s departure made recasting urgently necessary.

As fans well know, Roiland’s repertoire also included supporting characters, most of whom were one-offs (Mr. Frundles, Eyeholes Man, the Cromulons), but also the likes of Mr. Meeseeks and, most significantly, Mr. Poopybutthole. This is an important note when it comes to season seven, as one of the two episodes io9 was provided for review—“How Poopy Got His Poop Back”—puts the endearing ne’er-do-well dead center, as its title suggests. The other episode, “The Jerrick Trap,” focuses more on the Smith family, which means all told we’re given ample opportunity to hear plenty of Rick and Morty’s new voices, along with the new Mr. Poopybutthole.

The screeners provided by Adult Swim came without credits, so it’s unclear how many people were actually hired as soundalike Roiland replacements, or even what their names are. (This is a notably different tactic than the one taken by Hulu, which replaced Roiland on Solar Opposites with Dan Stevens and made a whole story point out of it.) Before this review goes any further, however, it must be addressed: unless you are specifically listening for it, you might not even notice there are different actors providing the voice-overs, especially in Morty’s case. A few times, Rick sounds… less excitable and manic than he has in the past? Maybe just a little?

Still from “The Jerrick Trap.”

“How Poopy Got His Poop Back” begins with a fourth-wall break from Mr. PB, something he likes to do almost as much as he likes to say his ooo-weee catch phrase. His life has continued to spiral since we last saw him in the season-five finale; Rick has allowed him to crash on the Smith family couch, out of a feeling of loyalty or maybe guilt, since Poopybutthole’s decline is technically his fault, not that he’d ever admit it.

When Beth (Sarah Chalke), Jerry (Chris Parnell), Summer (Spencer Grammer), and Morty tire of having a booze-soaked house guest in their midst, Rick’s tasked with tossing him out—but a planned intervention turns into a debauched, portal-hopping party that includes a oddly timed Hugh Jackman “cameo” and an array of Rick’s friends we’ve met over the years, including Bird Person—voiced by Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon. It’s a visually dynamic episode filled with pop-culture references and weird alien worlds, as well as a musical montage and a story with a surprisingly wholesome theme about friendship beneath all the barf, insults, and poop.

Still from “How Poopy Got His Poop Back.”

While “Poopy” mostly focuses on Poopybutthole’s emotional arc, there are a few mythology-moving moments; Space Beth is seen nonchalantly dining with the family at the episode’s start, which is also when we get a very brief glimpse of Rick continuing his search for Rick Prime—“the version of me that killed my wife.” Thanks to season six, we know he’ll be a major villain moving forward, but that’s clearly a confrontation being saved for a later episode.

Another antagonistic relationship takes center stage in “The Jerrick Trap,” which sees Rick and Jerry doing a sort of Rick and Morty riff on Freaky Friday—although, in typically subversive fashion, it’s not a clean body swap, but rather what feels like a deliberately confusing jumble of minds (the line “stop doing this terrible impression of me!” feels meta enough to mention). A subsequent entanglement with alien gangsters morphs into an outlaw-buddies-on-the-run montage, then shifts into a blend of body horror and the most Jerry-Rick bonding we’ve seen since season three’s “The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy.”

Still from “That’s Amorte.”

It’ll likely take watching all of season seven to form a definitive opinion on the new voices, but fans who aren’t diehard Roiland defenders are likely going to be fine with accepting this new era for the series. As it stands, there’s extra pressure on Rick and Morty’s writers and production team to deliver, lest the show be met with criticism from its more fiery devotees saying the show can’t weather the loss of Roiland (no matter how much or how little he was actually contributing behind the scenes). There is certainly a hater narrative waiting in the wings—but if the first two episodes are any indication, Rick and Morty’s status as a fan favourite feels extremely solid.

Rick and Morty season seven is now streaming.

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