Rick and Morty’s origin started off with a short that eventually became the basis for the show we know and love. Channel 101, created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, is a non-profit short film festival where contestants could enter a five-minute short for their website. Justin Roiland had a couple of his works there, one of which would slowly serve as an unintended stepping stone to one of this decade’s greatest cartoons.
Doc and Mharti was a crudely drawn cartoon Justin made as a Take That! to Universal Studios for their constant cease and desist orders due to him using Back to the Future imagery in his web series, House of Cosbys. During editing, Justin took a liking to the voices he created for the two and eliminated the BttF cast in favor of making up his own characters that just so happens to reference Back to the Future. Thus The Real Animated Adventures of Doc and Mharti was born.
Four shorts were made since its 2006 origin. While I’ll be providing general descriptions of each one, I’m not going to be linking to any of the videos themselves because they’re incredibly vulgar and inappropriate.
SHORT ONE: THE REAL ADVENTURES OF RICK AND MHARTI
Mharti’s kite is stuck up a tree, so Doc builds a time machine to go back to 1955 and stop the man who planted it, but in order to do so, Mharti must pleasure Doc. He has to do it again once they’re in 1955 so they could drive the man away. It works like gangbusters, the man is so scared off his mind that he completely erases himself from existence. Unfortunately Mharti finds out the man was his ancestor! In order to exist, Mharti must once again perform that indecent act.
The after-credit ends with Mharti telling Doc that he wasted all summer flying his kite instead of studying for his test. Doc makes a suggestion; you don’t need to guess what it is.
SHORT TWO: THE FREEDOM OF CHANNEL 101
Doc and Mharti advertises Channel 101, specifically citing the complete artistic freedom any submitters can use on their videos, ranging from explicit content without censorship and permit to shoot anywhere.
SHORT THREE: SCUD THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN
Doc and Mharti advertise the Scud the Disposable Assassin comic series. I’ve never heard of it, but the premise sounds interesting. Scud Assassins are hired robots you can get from vending machines. They will remain activated until they complete their mission and kill their chosen target. The story specifically centers on Scud Model 1373, a bot who is aware of his limited lifespan. He finds a loophole out of his situation by crippling his targets instead of executing them, thus preventing his “death.”
After they wrap up the review, Doc and Mharti are visited by Scud himself. Both of them marvel at his existence.
SHORT FOUR: GATORADE
Doc and Mharti advertises Gatorade, specifically how every cap at the time had a new slang anyone could learn. Did people really use “lock it up” back in 2008?
Even though they were nothing but a parody of Back to the Future characters at the time, you can already see the familiar ropes Justin (and Dan) would later use on Rick and Morty: the similar voices, the improvised, often trailed off dialogues, and of course, Doc’s constant burping that Rick liberally uses in the early episodes of Rick and Morty.
On a related note, did you know Rick and Morty’s theme song wasn’t originally created for the show? It actually made its appearance on another Justin Roiland creation: Dog World. It stares three human siblings who end up on a planet where dogs are intelligent and humans are pets. Adopted by the Doggerson couple, the three try to find a way home while adjusting to their new world. It’s a fairly entertaining short that maintains Justin’s demented humor, distorted bulbous backgrounds, and nonsensical wordplay. I’m not sure if it was meant for an all-age audience due to some questionable content, but it’s significantly tamer than Rick and Morty.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, it was referenced heavily throughout the Rick and Morty episode, “Lawnmower Dog.”