If you're a fan of procedural shows like "Law and Order" and "CSI" you've probably noticed that it's a lot easier to identify the culprit based on the cast list. Sometimes just seeing the names of the cast flash along the screen at the beginning of the episode is enough. If someone warrants a "with Special Guest Star" billing, odds are they're going to be the killer.
Because of course they are. If the showrunners managed to swing getting Gina Gershon or Robin Williams to appear on their show, odds are it's not going to be as the red herring character. We, the audience, know something which the fictional characters don't. A famous actor is going to be granted the opportunity to act...and that means they're most likely going to be the last man standing.
Which brings us (as it so often does) to "Rick and Morty." I'm beginning to think of "Rick and Morty" as the smartest show on television. Or, at a minimum, the show with the smartest writers on television. Let's take a look at last week's episode, "Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate" (in synecdoche.)
|I'm usually pretty anti-.gif, so you understand how big a deal this is for me.|
Now, I could bring you into the context of the show and tell you exactly what was going on here, but it's not entirely necessary. I just want you to grok this: that wheelchair-bound alien who gives the thirty-second speech about the importance of dicks on planet Earth is never seen or heard from again. That's right: the creators of "Rick and Morty" got Werner Fucking Herzog to do a cameo on their show for the purpose of stating a point that in no way had to be made.
There is literally no one on Earth who is confused about this point. The importance of phalluses and phallic symbols to mankind (specifically to mankind) is universal across cultures. Werner Herzog alien brings absolutely nothing relevant to the viewer's attention. Why is he even there?
Because it defies every expectation.
An alien diplomat should say something profound. Instead, this guy says something that any frat boy could tell you.
Werner Herzog should be used to maximum effect. Instead, he's wasted on a throwaway gag.
Every second of a thirty minute (22 minute, really, taking into account commercials) show should be dedicated to the important business of telling a story. A full thirty seconds is wasted on this.
And it works on every level. It's so ridiculous, and calls into such stark relief all of our expectations about storytelling, that practically for the rest of the night I was struck by every single layer of this marvelous piece of storytelling.
Not to mention the fact that it was a dick joke, and those are always hilarious.