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Back in late March, when Adult Swim announced the premiere date/time for Season 5 of Rick and Morty (Sunday, June 20, at 11 p.m. EST), the network also created a new holiday: Rick and Morty Day. While the government has yet to confirm if we'll legally be getting June 20 off for the rest of our lives — or until the collapse of civilized society — series cast member Chris Parnell (voice of Jerry Smith) is hopeful that the sci-fi celebration will be "intergalactically recognized."
Adult Swim describes Rick and Morty Day as "an out-of-this-world celebration with sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes footage, and special surprises across TV, digital, and social, kicking off the global premieres of the new season." If Herbert Hoover was a fan of the show, he might've given Americans a similar promise — a Meeseeks in every Meeseeks Box and two portal guns in every garage.
"It's pretty awesome," Sarah Chalke (voice of Beth Smith) tells SYFY WIRE. "I'm so curious about this holiday that's supposed to be celebrated across all the multiverses. And we're gonna get to go to the other multiverses to celebrate. They've already told us that."
"Yeah, that was why we started getting into the show," adds co-star Spencer Grammer (voice of Summer Smith), catching onto the joke. "The pull was that I could maybe go into other dimensions and stuff, so I'm really happy that they're finally giving us an opportunity. It just took that long episode order."
Grammer is, of course, referring to the mega-deal for 70 additional episodes that co-creators Justin Roiland (who also voices the titular duo) and Dan Harmon (Community) struck with Adult Swim in May of 2018. To date, Roiland and Harmon have only delivered 10 of that order, which means there could be as many as six more seasons on the horizon. In fact, the cast is nearly done recording their lines for Season 6 (last fall, Harmon explained that the stay-at-home orders of the COVID-19 pandemic helped streamline production).
"I have one more episode to record, I think, that I'm doing at the end of May," Grammer admits. "There'll be more Rick and Morty before you know it this time. Unlike the many other times before where we were just making you all wait."
"You'll still have to wait, just not as long," Parnell clarifies.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves here. Let's talk about Season 5, shall we? In the very first episode (penned by Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania screenwriter Jeff Loveness), we meet a "horny ocean man" known as Mr. Nimbus (teased in the trailers, he's voiced by Harmon), while Morty attempts to enjoy a quiet night with his high school crush, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren).
Naturally, things go off the rails when a seemingly harmless concept stemming from one of Rick's god-like inventions is magnified by a trillion into an insane obstacle for our heroes. We can't go any further than that or Krombopulos Michael will be hunting is down for revealing important plot beats.
"It takes all things Rick and Morty up a notch to the next level," Chalke says of the new season. "We get more family adventures all together and the animation is off the hook. That's all we can spoil."
"Yeah, I'd say more family stuff," Parnell adds. "More insane adventures. More amazing animation. Awesome writing."
After reaffirming their love for each other (and their shared hatred for Rick) at the end of Season 4, Beth and Jerry are "in a better place — at least sexually, so that's good," Parnell continues. Only during a conversation about this series can you have an actor — in this case, Grammer — supplement that quote with: "I love animation sex. It's so good."
"Beth did not treat Jerry very well, historically," Chalke explains. "They had a hard time, then separated, then got back together. But now, I think probably more than any other season, they're starting in a very good place with each other. And then for Beth, the other piece of it is her newfound spot in her relationship with Rick, where both Home Beth and Space Beth have bonded and decided they don't care which one is the clone."
As Beth and Jerry rekindle their passion, Summer "is being independent and a teenager," Grammer teases. "I think she's definitely been given some leeway with Rick to be helpful in some ways. She's sort of proved herself over the years, so we might see some of that."
While the cast never recorded their lines together (even in pre-pandemic times), the inability to work with engineers in a professional studio for more than a year forced the actors to invest in home studios. Proving that she really is the perfect choice to play the daughter of the multiverse's greatest improviser, Chalke says she initially performed her lines from the seclusion of her son's bunk bed.
"Just covering it with every pillow and every duvet I could find and tucking it in and making this little cocoon," she recalls. "And then doing the same thing with my daughter's play tent and taking seven moving blankets and putting a bunch of duct tape around it, and seeing if that sounded OK. But then when we realized we were gonna be doing full episodes, then I ordered a sound booth — the same one that Chris has, and it sounds great."
The experience also gave Chalke a crash course in sound engineering. "For the Rick and Morty crew, I think it was like Groundhog Day every time they recorded with me," she adds. "Because I'd be like, 'How do I...?' They're like, 'Yeah, just drag it. The last thing we sent you. Just go into Pro Tools; you just drop down, you go to the thing.' And I'm like, 'Let's start at the very beginning.' It was a steep learning curve, but it's been really cool to get to do it from home. You're in control of your whole sound stuff that you don't normally even think about ... It added a new dimension to the [process]."
When SYFY WIRE spoke with Parnell last year, the actor voiced his hope "to see [Jerry] excel at something that's at least mildly impressive." Does Season 5 fulfill that ambition? "Um... he briefly takes on a leadership role that he does surprisingly well at," Parnell says. "At least for a brief period of time."
With Chalke and Grammer on the call, we pose the same question: What do they want to see from their characters in future episodes? "I hope that we get to see Space Beth and Home Beth stick around a little longer and maybe have a few more adventures together," Chalke says.
"I like where Summer's character is going," Grammer concludes. "I'm excited to see her do more independent stuff. Maybe be in charge of some things moving forward. And then at some point, maybe she could retire. That would be fun, she just chills out for a minute. She gets to be a normal teenager for a second. That'd be nice."
With 60 more episodes coming down the pipeline, we wouldn't count on an early retirement anytime soon.
The fifth season of Rick and Morty premieres on Sunday, June 20, at 11 p.m. EST on Adult Swim.