For our money, few corporate-owned entities have typically screwed up April Fools Day less than Adult Swim—especially shocking in light of the fact that the Cartoon Network spin-off observes the “holiday” pretty much every year. And while the network will probably never match the ballsy heights of April Fools Day 2017—when they aired, with zero fanfare, the much-anticipated third season premiere of Rick And Morty months ahead of schedule—this year’s offering is still pretty weird and delightful.
Basically, viewers of Adult Swim last night were treated to the network’s own attempt at creepypasta “Dead Bart” style programming, as Rick And Morty, Smiling Friends, The Eric Andre Show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Joe Pera Talks With You all became corrupted with strange glitches, and the presence of “Pibby,” seemingly a cheerful kids TV character who’s found herself in a very bad place.
It all starts to make a lot more sense once you dip back and watch the first bit of Pibby content the network ran last Halloween, a trailer for a faux-show called Come Learn With Pibby that sees the character’s bright cartoon world get corrupted into an eldritch hellscape, before spreading into shows both real and fake from the Cartoon Network vaults. (Nothing quite like watching digital zombies of George Jetson and Finn from Adventure Time trying to devour all reality.)
Last night’s Adult Swim block, then, was a sort of long-form sequel, even if it doesn’t go quite as far as the short does in screwing up episodes like Rick And Morty’s beloved “Total Rickall.” (That being said, there’s something especially upsetting about seeing the Pibbyverse intrude on the gentle rhythms of Joe Pera talking about his love for The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”) Adult Swim has uploaded the whole block of programming to YouTube, but if you just want to watch the glitchy bits, they’ve also complied those for quicker viewing.
The original Pibby short was written and co-directed by Dodge Greenly; it’s not clear yet whether Adult Swim is gearing up for some more formal Pibby content, or if she’ll simply continue to wearily haunt the network’s holiday programming.