'Rick and Morty', perhaps Justin Roiland's most well-known creation, may share some superficial similarities with the likes of 'Back To The Future', but dig underneath the surface and there's a lot more going on besides catchphrases and meta-humour.
'Solar Opposites', which is available here in Ireland by way of Disney+'s new content stripe, Star, may share some superficial similarities in its art style to 'Rick and Morty', but that's really where they end. In fact, 'Solar Opposites' owes more allegiance to classic sitcoms like 'Frasier', 'Perfect Strangers', and 'Third Rock From The Sun'.
The premise is eerily similar, too. A group of aliens, led by a cantankerous leader named Korvo - voiced by Roiland - have landed in the middle of suburbia and consistently go back and forth among their family unit as to whether life on Earth is better than where they came from.
Their family unit is made up of Korvo (Roiland), Terry (Thomas Middleditch), an eager, TV-obsessed alien who believes life on TV and life in their reality are one and the same, Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) a younger alien who likes to miniaturise people who anger or displease him, and Jesse (Mary Mack), an equally younger alien who just wants to fit in at high school. Oh, and there's a puppy-type alien called the Pupa that eats the miniature people and may have planet-destroying powers. Nobody's sure.
"We definitely thought about 'Third Rock From The Sun' when we were making it, because it was the only show that did the alien thing," Roiland explains. "We weren't sitting down and watching shows like 'Perfect Strangers', but they were in our minds, for sure. Balki from 'Perfect Strangers' was literally brought up by Mike and I in the early days because he's a great character in representing a bizarre fictional culture that you're watching him like, 'Whoa, what is this crazy place he's from?' Mipos or something?" Roiland explains.
"We talked about 'Alf', but that's different... 'Third Rock', I never watched too much of it. I just got the pitch of it. We had those things as inspirations, we knew it was going to be sitcom on the alien side, but, yeah, I feel like we just kind of charged ahead and did our own aliens trapped on Earth thing," he concludes.
Thomas Middleditch's character, Terry, definitely takes on a lot of the work of trying to get the family unit to adjust to life on Earth. Was the comparison to Balki from 'Perfect Strangers' in his mind as he read his lines? "Quite a few of the characters I tend to play are really unsure of themselves, and doubt themselves, so it was fun to play someone who was the complete opposite of that - this loud, positive, oblivious idiot."
Middleditch is best known to audiences from 'Silicon Valley', where he played Richard Hendricks. He also had a small but pivotal scene in 'The Wolf of Wall Street' where he played a bowtie-wearing stockbroker who has his pet goldfish eaten by Jonah Hill.
"It's a fun energy to spend a few hours in a voice booth with it. So if I get to be the Balki of the family, then I'm more than happy to do it."
"When you're tapped into the character, there's some room for adding to the already-funny scripts and there can be some detours, which is why it's fun to try more. When someone's an extrovert, and a bit of an idiot extrovert," Middleditch laughs, "there's just so many opportunities to try more as opposed to someone who doesn't speak up as much."
'Solar Opposites' is available on Disney+ now.
This interview was condensed and edited.