As with all great comedies, the cult cartoon’s cynicism conceals its big heartby John McTernan / October 18, 2017 / Leave a comment
“Disperse! There is no sauce.” That was what police had to shout to queues of students on campuses across America just over a fortnight ago. The people assembling around McDonalds restaurants were the hippest of the hip. They were fans of cult cartoon Rick and Morty, a programme about a mega-genius inventor and his anxious grandchild who go on adventures together. What these fans wanted was a taste of the limited re-release of Szechuan Sauce—a condiment which had had an initial release in 1998 as a tie in with the Disney movie Mulan but which had featured prominently in the premiere of the third season of this cult cartoon (all three series are available now in the UK on Netflix).
It was a slow burn that brought things to this pass. The third season premiered in the US in April. It was a normal episode—featuring inter-dimensional travel, multiple universes, aliens, murder, Mexican stand-offs, family breakdown and more—until the final scene. Rick and Morty are back on Earth and in the garage where most of Rick’s experimental work takes place. Rick launches into a monologue:
“And I’ll go out and I’ll find some of that Mulan Szechuan teriyaki dipping sauce, Morty. Because that’s what this is all about, Morty. That’s my one-armed man. I’m not driven by avenging my dead family, that was fate. I’m driven by finding that McNugget sauce. I want that Mulan McNugget sauce, Morty. That’s my series arc, Morty. If it takes nine seasons. I want my McNugget dipping sauce, Szechuan sauce, Morty. That’s what’s gonna take us all the way to the end Morty. Season nine, nine more seasons, Morty. Nine more seasons until I get that dipping Szechuan sauce. For 97 more years, Morty. I want that McNugget sauce, Morty.”
If you have watched the show that style of dialogue will be familiar, if you haven’t then this gives you a flavour of its knowing, transgressive, self-referential style.
“In a long horror sequence Rick and Morty hear the villain saying ‘You can run, but you can’t hide!’ and decide that actually they can, and do so successfully”
This episode fuelled a social media demand for Szechuan sauce that McDonald’s met—initially cleverly with a special 4lb bottle sent to creator Justin Roiland—and then less adroitly with the limited release on 7th October, which led to disappointed crowds.…