First look Disney+ UK TV review: Solar Opposites
Ivan Radford | On 23, Feb 2021
Episode 1 and 2 of Season 1 are available on Disney+ Star at launch, with new episodes arriving weekly on Fridays.
“Let me grow my feet in peace.” “I’ll get the acid.” “Wait, we can’t park here, there’s street cleaning tomorrow.” These are all quotes from the same TV show – and, even more surprisingly, a TV show that’s on Disney+. That bizarre juxtaposition, even with the series tucked safely away in the adults-only Star section, is what makes Solar Opposites such an entertainingly wrong watch.
Co-created by Mike McMahan (Star Trek: Lower Decks) and Justin Roiland (Rick and Morty), both of whom worked together on the latter, the adult animation does owe a debt to the Adult Swim sitcom, as it balances domestic mundanity with sci-fi oddity. It also shares a voice, with Roiland lending his recognisably rasping vocals to the part of Korvo, an alien from planet Shlorp whose family crashed on Earth and are now taking refuge in middle America.
Korvo is a bitter, sarcastic fellow, who resents being on planet Earth and wants to repair their ship and leave immediately. He lives with Terry (Thomas Middleditch), who actually quite likes living on Earth, and their children – well, replicants – Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) and Jesse (Mary Mack), who have their own ways of dealing with being the odd ones out at high school.
The show’s main source of humour is that struggle to fit in and be accepted, and accept the society that they live in. That’s also the main driver of the plot, which means that the script for each episode is stuffed with twists and absurdities that both keep you engaged and amused – think somewhere between 3rd Rock from the Sun and Resident Alien.
The opening episode sets the tone – and the bar – for the whole season, as Terry tries to persuade Korvo that Earth isn’t so bad by introducing him to Funbucket, a kids’ TV show about a sarcastic alien. But when Korvo realises Funbucket isn’t really, he creates a real life clone, which goes darkly awry. It’s a wonderfully warped scenario, fused by resentment and fear but also by a deceptively heartfelt desire to belong – the same conflicting motivations that prompt Yumyulack to shrink a bully at school and force them to run around his homemade maze in his bedroom.
The 20-minute runtimes fly past, taking us from one worryingly plausible extreme to the next, whether that’s putting nano boys into the town’s water supply or attempting to compete in the local politic arena, or even attacking a bar full of neo-Nazis with a robotic suit. All of these things shouldn’t co-exist, but the breakneck pacing forces them together with irresistible wit and charm, while the sharply consistent character work paves the way for potential continuing storylines and ideas. It might not yet be at the dizzying heights of Rick and Morty, but if it can keep this sweet, silly and imaginative streak up for the remainder of its first season (a second is already on the way, with a third also greenlit) then it’s surely only a matter of time. If you’re looking for a Disney+ Star launch title to impress you, this is it.
Solar Opposites is available on Disney+, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription or a £79.99 yearly subscription.