It’s difficult to discuss the new season of Solar Opposites without mentioning the giant elephant in the room, which is the termination of co-creator and Korvo’s voice actor Justin Roiland. Instead of sending in a soundalike, the creative team behind Hulu’s smash animated comedy chose a more innovative approach, with Dan Stevens taking on the voice of Korvo and providing viewers with an explanation straight away.
Korvo’s replicant Yumyulack (Sean Giambrone) zaps him with a voice restoration ray after he is unintentionally injured in the neck with a dart shot by Terry (Thomas Middleditch). This gives him his new strong and confident British accent. From then on, the series acts as if nothing has changed, and that everything has changed for the better.
For those unfamiliar with Solar Opposites, the show follows a family of four plant-based aliens: adults Terry and Korvo, as well as their replicants Yumyulack and Jesse (Mary Mack), who crash-landed on Earth after their home planet was destroyed. Korvo is their no-nonsense leader, while Terry is the more outgoing one who is interested in human culture.
Snippet from the Season 4 trailer for Solar Opposites. Hulu provided the image.
Season 4 picks up after the events of the Season 3 finale, with the titular family attempting to live a more “human” existence. Terry and Korvo now work in an office, Jesse has started hanging out with the school’s nasty girls, and Yumyulack enjoys smoking cigars with the faculty in the teacher’s lounge. It’s not long until the sci-fi shenanigans begin, resulting in Mike McMahan’s cartoon hit’s best season yet.
Stevens beautifully gets Korvo’s surly and frigid demeanour while still nailing all of the comedy beats. This does not seem like a big-name celebrity taking over a vocal part; Stevens’ voice-acting demonstrates total and absolute dedication to the series, and while the first 15 minutes or so may be startling to long-time fans, it does not take long to adjust.
Solar Opposites is still the same programme we’ve come to expect, with these new episodes expanding on what worked previously while still adding fan-favourite subplots “The Wall” and “SilverCops” and taking those tales in new, thrilling, and unexpected directions.
The plots of these new episodes range from Korvo and Terry attempting to bribe their new employer into buying a ping-pong table to the four Solar Opposites delivering a one-of-a-kind pair of Gooblers and starting on a road trip to an animal refuge. The protagonists also meet a prospective new family member in the form of a Flintstones-inspired Dino, get transported to an alternate realm of stock photos, become invisible, and, yep, become human.
The new season of Solar Opposites is unlikely to attract new viewers, but why should it? Everything from the weird and risqué sense of humour to unexpected twists and turns within The Wall’s limits makes this season the finest ever.
While the marketing and promotional material for Solar Opposites focuses heavily on the extraterrestrial family at the series’ centre, the subplots are arguably the series’ finest parts. Sure, we’ve grown to adore Korvo, Terry, Jesse, and Yumyulack, but it’s the narrative centred around The Wall (a structure in Jesse and Yumyulack’s bedroom filled with hundreds of individuals that the former scaled down for various reasons) that makes this series so compelling. In Season 3, the sitcom introduced a new subplot centred on the SilverCops, a parody of the Green Lantern, which was expanded upon in Season 4.
The new narrative in The Wall centres on Cherie (Christina Hendricks) confronting Sister Sisto (Sutton Foster), a nun turned cult leader who now teaches about how Jesse is their god and would purportedly redeem them all from their shrunken down fate. It’s incredible how engrossing The Wall subplot has become, and it’s just gotten better as the season has progressed. It nearly comes to the point that viewers could prefer these subplots over Terry and Korvo’s antics, especially because Season 4 is 11 episodes lengthy, as opposed to the eight-episode duration of the first two seasons.
While the characters revisiting certain classic plotlines, such as a return to The Wooden City and an unexpectedly poignant cameo from the Red Goobler, might be entertaining, other components feel like they’ve already been done better before. It’s always nice to spend more time with Jesse and Yumyulack, but there are only so many narratives that can be told to further their sibling rivalry. The same can be said of Korvo and Terry’s will they, won’t they relationship, which adds a surprising degree of emotion to the series while also running into the issue of repeating some of the same jokes.
Even if it does become monotonous at times, Solar Opposites is still one of Hulu’s finest original comedy series, and this current set of episodes may be the series’ most enjoyable so far. As Hulu expands its animation catalogue with the recent revivals of Futurama and King of the Hill, as well as original series like Koala Man, Solar Opposites will undoubtedly remain one of their greatest programmes, animated or not.