The Avengers – Age of Ultron


Another well-oiled cog in Marvel’s finely-engineered moolah-making machine.

Of all the big media conglomerates pumping out big blockbuster superhero movies today, Marvel are the most consistent at producing palatable stuff. They do come out with some relative stinkers now and then, but nothing on the level of the hideous new Spiderman movies or the pompous and incoherent Man of Steel. One possible reason for their success, I think, is that they lucked out in forging the path for superhero movies – Iron Man was a hit, Thor’s Loki was a fan favorite, and Marvel’s ambitious multi-movie arcs culminating in the gigantic Avengers movie was a shrewd move that built up audience anticipation into a state of frenzied excitement. Their success has given them leeway to experiment, and their fresh take on Iron Man, in particular, set the stage for taking creative risks on untested franchises such as Guardians of the Galaxy. But the X-factor in Marvel seems to be the willingness to allow their filmmakers creative license in making the best movies they can, rather than the one they think will sell the most well. The former is really trick that naturally invites the latter outcome – which is something many other studios somehow fail to understand. Marvel have constructed a rock-solid brand – one that draws people in by the power of the Marvel stamp alone.

Age of Ultron is a great mix of what makes Marvel tick. It’s got all the elements of good Marvel ticked off the box – interesting characters, high-octane sequences, humor, pathos and the germ of something greater to happen on the horizon – the slow leading up to the apocalyptic Infinity Wars duo of movies, in which Thanos, that hitherto shadowy, cosmic threat, will finally be revealed.

What makes Age of Ultron work are its characters. They are human, and their humanity is best captured in humor – which Marvel does a lot better than any other studio I’ve seen. That element is something that was missing from Man of Steel (which, incidentally, completely misunderstood what made the Nolan Batman movies so good – it wasn’t the dour nature of that franchise that was its selling point – it was the fight against a brand of nihilism so alien, strange and toxic that it commanded our terrified attention. Man of Steel was just dour without a shred of moral complexity). Even the titular antagonist, Ultron, himself, is a veritable jokester, dropping a few good howlers – which is a very good vehicle to showcase how disconcertingly human he was, despite being an artificial intelligence – a muderbot version of Pinocchio, in a sense.

In Age of Ultron, the Avengers are allowed to be themselves when off-duty. That’s what makes them so compelling – they aren’t a priori heroes but people made heroes by circumstance and their choice to use their own unique gifts and talents for the greater good. This is a principle that applies to all the Avengers (yes, even Captain America), which was carefully built up by previous movies. I particularly appreciate the famous scene where they are trying to lift Thor’s hammer – it’s that kind of thing that really elevates the movie from a special effects vehicle to something more – a look at the inner lives of those whom we call superheroes – and there are parts of the movie that have the same effect, which I won’t spoil here (although I shall now spoil other things).

The weakest part of the movie is the plot, which is starting to get derivative and is riddled with overused tropes. Tropes are a useful meta-narrative tool to communicate large amounts of context to audiences that have been raised with knowledge of these tropes; it is a format well-suited to genre movies such as this. However, what is irritating is the disjoint due to the fact that the audience is clued in to the tropes, but the characters aren’t. The worst offenders of trope blindness are the two X-Men imports, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who join Ultron in his quest to kill the Avengers but don’t realize that he also wants to murder the whole world too. Gee, whiz, people, haven’t you learnt by now to never trust an unhinged AI with daddy issues? You think causing the Hulk to go on a rampage in a densely-populated city is somehow less morally objectionable than simply being the CEO of a company that used to manufacture arms, but doesn’t any more? And the whole “turning the Avengers on each other” thing is a tired trope that I hope doesn’t surface again in the Infinity War movies. It’s bad enough that it’s a plot element that will have to be invariably recycled in the Civil War movie next year.

But those are more nitpicks than anything. They don’t fundamentally detract from the enjoyment of the movie as a whole, because we accept them as trope-language. When watching such movies, the intended mode of the audience is to rest that ever-quibbling part of the neocortex, sip a soda, and go along for the ride, laughing at the antics, and getting pumped for the next giant movie (and spending the $11.50 to go see it). And in terms of delivering a neatly-packaged visceral experience, Age of Ultron hits it out of the park, even if it is starting to get a wee bit tiring.

I give this movie: 3.5 out of 5 Vision Capes


An Appetite For Wonder – The Making of A Scientist

Most people know Richard Dawkins as an outspoken anti-theist. But he’s a lot more than that – a prominent ethologist and evolutionary biologist and one of the great early popularisers of science and rational inquiry to the general public.

Dawkins’ autobiography is in fact half of one – in it, he chronicles his childhood in Africa in the late days of Empire, his schooldays in the British education system of the time – prep schools and public schools and eventually Oxford, and his first forays as an ethologist – a researcher in animal behavior – up to the point where a protracted power shortage led him to write the book that would catapult him to early public prominence – The Selfish Gene.

No one can accuse Dawkins of being a bore – he is a wonderful writer, with a special gift for combining clarity with poetic cadence. His recollections of his idyllic childhood in Kenya and Nyasaland – what is now Malawi – are tinged with a kind of genteel nostalgia, suffused with fond anecdotes and snatches of verse, lullabies and epistolary fragments. But far from whitewashing the actions of Empire, he conditions his prose with the implicit awareness of the ills of British colonialism.

It might have been tempting to spin a narrative of how his experiences living in the African wild influenced his later decision to become an ethologist, but Dawkins shies away from anything so obvious. He is circumspect in the infinite web of cause and effect relationships that pushed the byways of his life into what he is now.

His accounts of schoolboy life in Chafyn Grove and Oundle are oddly evocative of Roald Dahl’s more fanciful take on the subject. Fagging (in which new students are de facto slaves to their elders), idiosyncratic masters, and the mischievous antics of his peers feature. Somewhat shocking are his strangely matter-of-fact accounts of pedophile teachers and schoolboy pederasty, which would probably not have had a place in Dahl’s tome but invite horrified wonder as to how widespread these kinds of cultures were in 1960s England.

In any case, what is most of interest are his recountings of life in Oxford, as well as his early career up to the release of The Selfish Gene – at which the book abruptly ends, in expectation of Part Two, which he says will come in a few years. His is a life of much serendipity, if we believe his account of how he navigated early days under a bevy of excellent educators, mentors and collaborators – and his wry descriptions of his early obsession with programming computers strikes a chord.

In the entire volume he suffuses this account of his life with a mixture of self-deprecation, accounts of his moral shortcomings, and homilies to his greatest inspirations, coming across as almost excessively humble but not quite so. Whether or not you buy his humility is one thing; but I personally think he means it all. A man with a greater facility for self-serving self-effacement would not say half the things he does in public.

But what I appreciate the most is that he is first and foremost a scientist. As far as he is able, he relates everything to biology. There are parts where, caught by a stray thought, he suddenly branches off into an extended discussion about how that point in his life relates to some scientific theory or snippet of moral philosophy. For example, when talking about how he was made to recite a good-night prayer in school and garbled up the words more and more every night because he didn’t actually understand what he was reciting, he suddenly starts talking about how this is a good test of meme theory – how the lack of a “normalization” mechanism – i.e. comprehension of the words’ meaning – caused a high ‘mutation rate’ in the words. He also takes the opportunity – when talking about his first magnum opus – to explicate the central thesis of that book to the reader – that we are in effect lumbering vehicles for the propagation of our immortal, selfish genes, which care not for our survival but only their own – in the form of being passed down generation to generation. Some might accuse him of being a kind of in-your-face know-it-all. But I see it as an educator’s inveterate failing – that he must fill every crevice of his life in the act of passing knowledge to another. Perhaps that is the common wellspring from which his outspoken atheism originates as well.

This book was supposedly met with mixed reviews upon release – one reviewer called it self-absorbed, which is a very bizarre critique for an autobiography. I suppose, when compared to the fiery clarity of The Selfish Gene or the brazenly polemical The God Delusion, this book might seem disappointingly dull. But I think of it as a kind of mellow effort on Dawkins’ part to reveal his more human, positive side. I had the occasion to attend a talk of his in Stanford last year where he was promoting his book – which was one of the reasons I even read it in the first place – and far from being the firebrand that he is often caricatured as, he comes across as mild and urbane in person, even when confronted by the inevitable audience questioning on the selfsame topics that have occupied his recent attention. Well, people, you can’t have it one way or another. Dawkins is human like the rest of us.

If you’re wondering whether this book is worth your time – if you’re not a Dawkins fan, probably not. But if you’re interested in learning more about the biologist behind the anti-theist, go ahead. He may surprise you. And perhaps the book itself, elegantly written as it is, is surely more testament to the harmony between science and poetry – that the infusion of rational inquiry into life’s Mystery does not lay it bare, but enriches and enlivens it.

I give this book: 4 out of 5 Dawkins Organs

On Such a Full Sea

A late review, but better late than never. I don’t think I would have picked up On Such A Full Sea unprompted; I read this for a book club at work that I found myself able to attend (this review is based on some of my takeaways from that discussion). I ended up reading it quickly over the course of a weekend. The literary merits of the novel aside, it did very well engaging and drawing me in, something that is often tricky for novels that need to situate readers in an unfamiliar world without overwhelming them with reams of description.

This is full-blown dystopian fiction of the literary variety. We have a future world in which the United States as a society has split into three classes: the open counties (low), the facilities (middle), and the Charter villages (upper). The open counties are where law, order, and government have ceased to exist, and every man and woman is for him or herself. The Charter villages are where material prosperity reigns amidst an atmosphere of hyper-competitiveness, the land of the executives, scientists, and management consultants. The facilities, the most interesting, are where immigrants from New China live in highly socially cohesive communities organised around the ancestral notion of the clan, surviving by selling factory-grown food to Charters in exchange for basic security, healthcare, and leisure.

Our protagonist, a young woman named Fan, is from B-Mor (Baltimore, in the olden days), the emblematic such facility. Fan leaves B-Mor looking for her lover, Reg, who one day simply disappears, taken away by the shadowy Directorate that runs B-Mor. Thus Fan’s adventures begin, and the reader follows Fan along as an unnamed narrator, also from B-Mor, narrates her journey, alternating it with liberal exposition of B-Mor history, culture, and present happenings. This gives us the novel’s basic structure: back and forth from the B-Mor narrator’s musings to whatever place Fan happens to be in at that point in the narrative.

I’ll leave aside the details of Fan’s journey (for that, read the novel), and instead make a few higher-level points. First, if you’re looking for near-future dystopia, read Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake first. This isn’t to say On Such a Full Sea doesn’t stand by itself; but I think it’s easier to see what Lee is trying to do with On Such a Full Sea if you use Atwood’s novel as a reference point. (And Atwood’s novel is the better one, in my opinion, so if you had to read only one of the two, you’d be better off with Atwood.) Second, as an Asian reader, I quite enjoyed the East Asian flavour that B-Mor society was so strongly laced with. It was fun to see Lee’s take on what a Baltimore colonised by immigrants from “New China” and placed into the larger backdrop of a society that was still recognisably American would look like.

Overall, the novel is mostly direct social commentary packaged as surprisingly readable fiction. Each of the three worlds of the novel exemplifies a contemporary idea or characteristic taken to an extreme: the open counties, libertarianism; the Charter villages, the materialism and hyper-competitiveness of today’s upper classes; B-Mor, the Confucian notions of family, community, and self-sacrifice. Unlike the other characters who inhabit each of these worlds, Fan is the only one in the novel who appears to be wholly free of social strictures, whose striving is based on who she is and what is in her heart, rather than on notions of what is seen as good and appropriate in the society around her. Fan and the mythmaking around her seems to be Lee’s main point in the entire novel.

Verdict: Surprisingly readable social commentary. You’ll enjoy the East Asian cultural elements slipped into otherwise stock Western fare. But if you have to choose between this and Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, read Atwood instead.

I give this book: 3.5 out of 5 factory-farmed fish

The Lucifer Effect

What a chilling, bizarre book.

The Lucifer Effect, by world-famous psychologist Philip Zimbardo, is at turns a sober psychological treatise, a harrowing confessional, a scathing indictment of injustice, a self-help guide, a meditation on the nature of heroism, and an ode to a special woman in Zimbardo’s life. It is all these things packed in one eclectic package, and manages to confound even as it horrifies us with a very personal account of the banality of evil.

Zimbardo’s thesis is relatively simple. Evil, he says, cannot merely be regarded as a dispositional phenomenon. By this, he means that when investigating why people do evil things, it does not suffice to say that they do so because of some defect in their psyches – their dispositions, in other words. Instead, in studying the psychology of evil it is necessary to look at the broader Situations that provide the environment and circumstances for such behavior, as well as the Systems that enable and sustain these Situations. Situational factors are capable of making normal people do evil things through a combination of social pressure, mechanisms of disindividuation and dehumanization, and appeals to authority. As such, evil cannot be tackled merely through the organs of justice. Rather, an epidemiological approach needs to be applied to root out the systemic and situational factors responsible for evil. In this formulation, villains are those who commit evil in excess of the situational factors that drive them, and heroes are those who can resist situational and systemic pressures to remain virtuous in the face of personal risk.

While a more detailed expostulation of the above thesis might be sufficient to fill a book, the Lucifer Effect goes a little further than that. It is in part a personal account of the proceedings of the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE), one which Zimbardo planned and executed. The SPE assigned “prisoner” and “guard” roles to a random assortment of psychologically normal young men from Palo Alto and made them act out those roles in a mock prison in the basement of Stanford’s Jordan Hall for two weeks. In only three days, the mock prison turned into a real one. The guards and prisoners became fully immersed into their respective roles, and soon enough the guards were physically mistreating and sexually humiliating the prisoners. It was only on the sixth day that Zimbardo, blind to the abuses that the prisoners were receiving, was finally convinced to call off the experiment by a ‘whistle-blower’, a failing he repeatedly regrets in the book. This portion of the book is both illustrative of the thesis, as well as a nakedly personal confessional tract. To Zimbardo, the SPE provided damning evidence of the banality of evil – the ability of normal people to commit evil when the right buttons are pressed – and set off Zimbardo’s long interest in the field. While the SPE today might lack a certain sense of ethical and methodological rigor, it has a demonstrative effect of the potential of human evil, even if its effect might not be generalizable from this single data point.

This book plumbs the depths of human evil. It can be chilling at times, as it chronicles the hyperbolic abuses of such places as Abu Grahib Prison and crazed cult leader Jim Jones’ so-called socialist utopia before he forced his followers to commit mass suicide. It pounds home the point that humans are dangerously vulnerable to the kinds of social pressures that bury one’s moral conscience under the comforting blankets of social acceptance or obedience to higher authority. It reminds us that to see the enemy as less than human is to legitimize the violence visited upon them, and that this exclusionary effect rears its ugly head everywhere there are inclusive and exclusive group social dynamics at play. It also provides explanations for why some of the most horrific incidents of the 20th century occured – the Nanjing Massacre, the Holocaust, Stalin’s purges, the Rwandan genocide. The precept that evildoers operate out some moral defect is an incomplete and unsatisfying one – and one that veers dangerously close to dehumanizing their perpetrators as racially or culturally susceptible to evil. While the legal system must always punish the crimes of the individual, the system that perpetuates the conditions that lead to evil must be indicted in turn, and their leaders held to account.

Zimbardo does this also, in an albeit strange and out-of-place fashion, by donning, in dramatic fashion, a prosecutorial hat and charging the Bush administration and the upper echelons of the military for deliberately perpetuating systems that enabled and even encouraged such abuses in Abu Grahib and other places. Lack of procedural oversight, the tacit authorization to do everything necessary to obtain ‘actionable intelligence’, the dehumanizing squalor of the prisons, the constant stress of being under attack, and the oppressive boredom created an atmosphere where soldiers felt empowered to, and took pleasure in, sadistic acts against their prisoners, many of whom were assuredly innocent. For from being a case of “a few rotten apples”, Zimbardo’s charge is that the rot went up to the highest levels of the command structure, and any indictment, if it falls, must also fall upon them.

The book ends off with a section where Zimbardo introduces the reader to a 10-step program that can help to resist the situational and systemic forces that might lead us to do evil, either by commission or omission, and ends with a meditation on the different types of heroes – ordinary men and women who had the peculiar gift of resistance, that stepped up to do what was necessary in times of need.

It’s an odd potpourri, and one that admittedly doesn’t mesh too well together, even if the individual portions, especially the accounts of the SPE and Abu Grahib, have visceral impact. Zimbardo sets out on a grand moral project but doesn’t quite muster quite the critical volume to make that self-help component a meaningful part of the book’s message – for that, you must go to the book’s website, Add Zimbardo’s numerous glowing and fulsome mentions of his wife, Christina Maslach, an accomplished psychologist in her own right, and the heroine who convinced Zimbardo to cease the SPE, and what we have is a wide-reaching, rambling book, a little overreaching in its scope, intensely personal while also chillingly scientific, and filled with an effusive sense of moral passion and self-help potential. It’s certainly an interesting read from one of the most well-known psychologists of the century, and while its many idiosyncrasies may reflect the alleged eccentricities of its writer, there can be little doubt of the well-intentioned nature of the work, as well as its reminder of the good and evil that reside within each of us.

I give this book: 3.5 out of 5 billy clubs

Song of the Sea

Watching this felt like a dream.

Song of the Sea. That rather generic name belies an animated film of rapturous beauty. I’ve always been partial, as well, to films that draw their artistic and narrative inspiration from a strong cultural core. Song of the Sea is the second film in Irish director Tomm Moore’s oeuvre, the first being the Secret of Kells, and as such has a mythic pedigree drawn from Gaelic legends of selkies, faeries, and pagan gods and goddesses of the Emerald Isle.

Being primarily a film for children, the story is simple and focuses on two siblings, Ben and Saoirse, who live on an island lighthouse with their father. Except Saoirse is no ordinary girl; she, by way of birth, is a selkie, a mythical being that turns into a seal when in water. When Ben was a child, his mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind only baby Saoirse, who has grown into an adorable but mute six-year-old. Ben resents her for seemingly precipitating this disappearance, until, of course, Saoirse is called to fulfill her greater purpose, and Ben must face his own demons as he follows her on this adventure.

It’s a straightforward coming of age plot that wouldn’t be out of place in a Ghibli film, and indeed, this film feels almost like Spirited Away in its deep connection to its cultural roots, child protagonists, wondrous hidden worlds, and the appearance of threatening and oppressive old granny-types. But the plot, simple as it may be, is told with sure confidence and not without emotional heft. The characters are likable and relatable, especially mute Saoirse, who, despite not speaking a word until the end of the film, conveys her spunk and childlike curiosity and wonder through her gestures and her facial expressions. Although the mythological goings-on of the plot can get a little inscrutable, and at times the plot moves forward as a result of MacGuffins, it’s really not an issue because of the film’s dreamlike quality, which lends the fim an air of a bedtime story told next to a warm fire in winter’s heart.

And the art and music – every scene worthy to frame up on a wall, every gentle melodic stirring an emotional sojourn. Song of the Sea has a very distinctive and painterly aesthetic, with backgrounds drawn as abstracted two-dimensional tapestries that make it seem even more like a children’s bedtime story. But drawn sharply against this indistinct backdrop are, once again, fully formed human stories and motivations, and that is really what elevates this work of art from pretty bedtime yarn into something I would unreservedly recommend to anyone.

This film speaks to that ineffable core of humanity that exists in all of us. Drawn from archetypes and myth, it is a fundamental human story of familial love, courage and letting go, told in simple narrative brushstrokes that, like the painterly aesthetic, paint an indelible scene in our collective dreamscapes. Perhaps the biggest annoyance is that in an Oscar season with such gems as this, it had to be the delightful but ultimately cookie-cutter commercial vehicle Big Hero 6 that won the day. But Song of the Sea is beyond accolades. It stands on its own, an underrated gem, like a precious gift. And it is a gift, like a sprinkling of dream dust, that I pass onto you.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 soot-emitting cars

Rick and Morty – Season 1

Nihilism has never been funnier.

It took me a while to get to a point where I could bring myself to write a review about this show. Mainly because I was trying to fashion a coherent narrative of my thoughts about this show, but also because I was vacillating between considering the show “bloggable” and putting it in my pile of “entertainments that need no critical reflection”. But I decided that I have something to say about Rick and Morty, and so here I am.

People might disagree with me, but I sort of think that Rick and Morty is a kind of science-fiction analogue to later-season Family Guy, in a bit of the way Futurama was to the Simpsons. After six seasons or so, Family Guy began to head down the path of favoring comedy over character development. Characters like Meg turned into one-note punching bags, and Peter slowly transformed from lovable oaf to a funny but contemptible idiot.

Rick and Morty is similar in that none of its characters are particularly nice or likable people. Rick, the mad scientist genius, is a nihilistic and sociopathic misanthrope. His grandson and sidekick, Morty, is a bit of a high-school loser type wallflower. Morty’s father, Jerry, is prissy, neurotically insecure, and incompetent at his job. His mother, Beth, is assertive but comes across as somewhat selfish and chronically dissatisfied at her family. His sister, Summer, is the most well-adjusted of the bunch, but she still screams “high school superficiality”, at least at first glance. Despite their general unlikeability, they are not unsympathetic. They’re all too human, with human flaws and failings, brimming with authenticity. It is a surprisingly honest dissection of that stereotypical American family unit, in the same way that the Simpsons and Family Guy are.


Rick and Morty, however, goes a little further. It veers dangerously towards nihilism. The first episode starts out with Rick almost destroying Earth in a fit of pique. But the nihilism emerges even more strongly because of the show’s science-fictional premise. Rick’s specialty, you might say, is that he is able to access the multiverse by using a gun that can create portals between dimensions. This creates a setting in which our main characters can wreak all sorts of havoc and resolve the chaos caused by their hijinks by jumping into another dimension. Rick can be as sociopathic as he wants, even to the point of destroying the world, and escape into another dimension with nary a consequence.The destruction of entire worlds is just another point of black humor in this show.

While this sounds like the kind of cross-episodic “world reset” cartoon logic common in Looney Tunes and the like, in Rick and Morty, it is anything but. The actions of the characters follow them across episodes and across dimensions. In one episode Rick and Morty irreversibly turn everyone on Earth into slavering mutants. How do they resolve this? Rick beams into another dimension where their counterparts happen to have died in a freak accident, and the duo take their places and bury their analogs in the backyard. In Rick and Morty, Rick doesn’t conduct his experiments out of anything but a desire to stave off the depressing boredom that comes with tolerating the existence of the mediocrity around him. And the show veers towards nihilism by saying that Rick can do anything he wants, because he can escape into another dimension. But the show avoids nihilism by showing us that ultimately, those choices persist and the characters have to live with them. Morty, in particular, is the show’s limping conscience, meager though that might be. And he is rewarded for it by being the show’s punching bag, and the target of some of its darkest moments. Morty is, on occasion, almost raped, endless dimensional counterparts of him end up tortured for eternity, and perhaps worst of all, he somehow has to live with the knowledge that his actions led to the destruction of an entire world, even as he lives in the place of a person who died so that he could take his place.

And yet, he lives on. His family, bickering and dissatisfied and insecure as they are, lives on. They stick together through thick and thin. Rick doesn’t reach a point where he feels the need to destroy the world, and even as he treats his grandson like chattel he genuinely cares for him at some abstract level, despite the fact that there is an infinity of Morty replacements from which to choose.

The cross-dimensional setting also affords the show to display an amazing amount of creativity. With Rick’s gadgets, the show’s characters are able to have adventures in any number and variety of outlandish and hilarious universes, somewhat like Family Guy’s manatee gags, except in-narrative. Every episode is the result of the fruition of an amazing science-fiction idea or premise, often cleverly parodied from other science fiction universes. For those qualities alone, Rick and Morty might have been a fearlessly inventive Adult Swim staple. But of course, it pushes the boundaries of acceptable television, like all good cartoons do. It invites us, even exhorts us, to laugh at the meaninglessness of existence. It veers dreadfully close to the event horizon of nihilism and pulls out only at the last instant by showing us that humanity, imperfect as it is, persists and struggles in the face in futility and meaninglessness. Now that’s a pretty heavy burden for a cartoon to bear.

Anyway, just to highlight some of my favorite episodes:

S1E3 – Anatomy Park

An adventure in “Anatomy Park”, a theme park set inside the human body. On the list because of the amoeba scientist guy whose being an amoeba is never questioned in the entire episode, as well as the climax, where a giant naked corpse the size of a continent explodes over the continental United States, showing everyone in blood. Some boundaries were meant to be crossed.

S1E5 – Meeseeks and Destroy

On the list because of the creative premise of Mr Meeseeks, a race of blue beings that are summoned into this universe with one of Rick’s machines and will do anything to cease existing, even murder.

S1E8 – Rixty Minutes

Rick sets up the television to pick up signals from the multiverse. Cue a whole episode of bingeing on TV. On the list because the creators were obviously having too much fun improv-ing television shows from different dimensions. Also a window into the family’s home life.

S1E9 – Something Ricked this Way Comes

On the list because of the hilarious post-credits montage, where Rick and Summer get jacked and beat various people up.

I give this show: 4 out of 5 Abradolf Lincers