The Doctor investigates a definitely-not-owned-by-Jeff-Bezos property.
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) receives a package containing a familiar fez from Kerblam!, the galaxy’s largest supplier of consumer goods. Which galaxy, I don’t know, but one of them. Inside the package is a note requesting help, so the Doctor and the TARDIS Trio (I will never stop fighting for this) head to the main distribution center for Kerblam! and sneak in claiming to be new employees. It’s revealed that 90% of Kerblam! is automated, but, by law, 10% of the workers are organic life. It’s also revealed that Kerblam! wasn’t exactly happy about having to hire 10% human workers, because, as the largest employer in the galaxy, they’d rather just use robots. Graham, Ryan, and Yaz (Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole, Mandip Gill) meet three of the workers in the facility: Dan (Lee Mack), a stock man and literal poster boy for the…
Leela gets plastic surgery to be normal while Bender tries to sell orphans for meat.
Leela (Katey Sagal) gets invited to her reunion at the Orphanarium. At first she is hesitant because all of the times her fellow orphans tortured her over her eye, but Fry (Billy West) points out that she has become more successful than any of them and should use this to get payback. When they arrive, Leela points out that all of them are losers (One lives in a box, one sells his own body parts for money, one is deaf and blind), but they still look down on her because she only has one eye. Dr. Adlai Atkins (Tom Kenny), a man she had a crush on as a boy, defends her. He apologizes for making fun of her as a child and offers to give her plastic surgery to make her appear to have 2 eyes. Everyone at Planet Express says it’s a good idea, except for Fry, so Leela goes through with it, gaining a “normal” face. She goes around experiencing normal life with two eyes, including winking, blinking, and blending in with a crowd.
Meanwhile, Bender (John DiMaggio) has discovered that the government will pay $100 a week to anyone who adopts orphans. Seeing a scam ahead, Bender adopts a dozen of the orphans, only to quickly realize that kids cost a lot of money. He tries cheap work-arounds like Cat Meat burgers, feeding them with the free peanuts that come with his beer at bars, and dining-and-dashing, but still is barely making any money. It’s also keeping him from living his usual bachelor lifestyle.
Adlai and Leela begin dating, much to Fry’s frustration. Adlai is exceptionally boring and obsessed with average things. However, when he takes Leela to dinner and sees Bender’s kids run out on a check, Adlai asks Leela about having kids. She is elated with the thought, but then asks Adlai if they should adopt kids instead. He agrees, and they decide to adopt one of Bender’s kids, who he is apparently trying to sell to a Chinese restaurant. Upon seeing them, Leela wants to adopt the mutant child, Sally (Nicole St. John), who has an ear on her forehead and a tail, something Adlai insists they fix through surgery. Leela states that she’s fine just as she is, leading her to realize that she was fine the way she was, and forces Adlai to reverse the surgery. Bender donates the orphans and the money back to the Orphanarium, Leela goes back to normal, and Bender reveals that he did actually become attached to the kids before declaring he hates them all.
This is an episode where I think the B-Plot is definitely the stronger of the narratives. I think even the creative team recognized that when they ended up naming the episode after it, rather than the clear focus of the episode, Leela’s eye. The thing is most of the jokes in the episode that actually work come from Bender mistreating the children (which is okay because he keeps them happy), rather than the montage of Leela trying to be normal.
The generic plot of “everyone’s different and fine the way they are” is something that is more difficult to do with science fiction, because technology does slowly eliminate a lot of differences and in Futurama technology is unbelievably advanced… when it suits them. For example, blind, deaf, and nearsighted people still exist, but Fry once had his hands replaced in 15 minutes when a T-Rex bit them off. Hell, in the first episode on Comedy Central, Fry is regrown from a few cells and hair, complete with his memories. Similarly, despite the fact that people routinely interact with aliens ranging from humanoid to blob to hyper-intelligent forms of light, Leela and Sally are still mocked for their appearance and mutants are forced to live in the sewers of New New York. Granted, most of this is done by children, who I think everyone agrees are cruel little monsters when in groups.
While the message of the episode is good, it does still bring up a few ethical questions for the future. For example, throughout the series it’s pointed out that Leela has almost no depth perception, despite the fact that she’s a pilot. She crashes at least twice from it over the run, which, again, is actually pretty impressive given that she has no depth perception. However, in another episode it’s implied that every time she crashes through the billboard in the opening, that actually happens weekly, which is… less impressive. My point, though, is: Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for her to actually have two eyes if she wants to do that job? But, if they do that, are they destroying something about her identity? When we eliminate disabilities, we’re also eliminating the culture that has grown out of those disabilities. While this episode kind of picks the “you’re better just being you,” they do kind of avoid any actual discussion about the implications of this. Probably for the best, given that deaf people protested when Scrubs portrayed a deaf father agreeing that his son was better off with a cochlear implant, something that the deaf community considers “selling out,” apparently.
Overall, I enjoy this episode, although the A-plot just isn’t that funny to me.
This episode has the best opening line in the series. It’s Morbo, the news monster, saying the following:
So I gave the cookies you made to Fawn and the kids and they couldn’t believe it — they were delicious. But, I digress.
Tremble, puny earthlings! One day my race will destroy you all!
It’s so perfectly delivered that I rewound it two or three times on this viewing just to watch it again. It conveys the exact dichotomy that Morbo represents: A professional talking head and an invading alien. Normally, you’d think that you couldn’t be a newscaster and also be seeking the eventual destruction of the people in your audience, but- who am I kidding, that’s most of cable news.
Strong second place is Bender’s response to getting arrested:
SMITTY: You’re under arrest for child cruelty, child endangerment, depriving children of food, selling children as food, and misrepresenting the weight of livestock!
BENDER: If you had kids of your own, you’d understand.
I mean, I don’t have kids, but I’ve met enough of them that… yeah, I get it.
This season of Doctor Who continues to try to push some boundaries. It’d probably get uncomfortable, or even boring, if they weren’t doing the episodes so well.
Yaz (Mandip Gill) receives a gift from her grandmother, Umbreen (Leena Dhingra): a broken watch that must never be fixed, but refuses to speak any more about it. Yaz asks the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) to take her back to when the watch was broken, but Yaz doesn’t actually know when that is. The Doctor uses the psychic circuitry of the TARDIS to take Yaz, Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) back to India in 1947, where they immediately meet a young Hindu man named Prem (Shane Zaza) and a Hindu holy man named Bhakti. Prem takes them to meet a young Umbreen (Amita Suman), who shocks Yaz by revealing that she’s going to be married to Prem, a man who A)…
Legendary Documentary Filmmaker Joe Berlinger makes his second attempt at narrative filmmaking with this biopic about Ted Bundy.
SUMMARY (Spoilers if you don’t know who Ted Bundy is)
Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) meets Elizabeth “Liz” Kendall (Lily Collins), a single mom, in 1969. The two quickly start dating. In 1974, a number of abductions of women lead a survivor to identify a man with a resemblance to Ted who drives a similar car. Ted is arrested in 1975 and, after attempting to defend himself along with his attorney John O’Connell (Jeffrey Donovan), is convicted and sentenced to Prison. A few weeks later, Ted is charged with a murder in Colorado. During the trial in Aspen, Ted escapes by jumping out of the courthouse window, but is soon recaptured. Liz breaks up with him. He then escapes again and travels to Florida where he allegedly (Spoiler alert: HE F*CKING DID IT) murders two women.
Ted is arrested. He tries to contact Liz, but she refuses to talk to him. He ends up discovering that many other women are now fans of his, believing he is fascinating and innocent. One, an old friend of Ted’s named Carole Ann (Kaya Scodelario), moves to Florida to be with him during his trial. They get closer during the trial and eventually Ted impregnates her during a conjugal visit and marries her in the courtroom during the trial.
Ted chooses to represent himself at his Florida murder trial. He refuses to take a plea bargain that would avoid the death penalty and instead tries to prove that the prosecution was biased against him and that the evidence, including the then-recent forensic science of dental casting, is insufficient to connect him. He proclaims his innocence repeatedly, but is ultimately found guilty and sentenced to death. Years later, Liz goes to visit Ted and informs him that she’s the one who originally gave his name to the police during the first investigation. She also questions him about a headless corpse, asking him where the head is. Ted, unwilling to be recorded admitting to the offense, writes “HACKSAW” on the glass, confirming to her that he is, indeed, guilty.
Joe Berlinger is a solid documentary film director. His true-crime documentaries basically set the style of modern documentary shows like Making a Murderer, except that Berlinger’s aren’t completely full of crap. His Paradise Lost films followed the trials of the West Memphis Three, three teenagers who were accused of sacrificing other children to Satan. Ultimately, after 18 years in prison, the three won an appeal regarding newly produced DNA evidence and were allowed to enter into a new Alford Plea (basically saying “I accept that the State could potentially convict me and therefore I can’t sue them, but I maintain my innocence”) in exchange for a release. The main reason this case kept getting evaluated was Berlinger’s documentaries. If you aren’t a fan of true crime, he also made Some Kind of Monster, an amazing film about Metallica during the stressful period after “St. Anger” when Jason Newsted quit the band and James Hetfield went into rehab.
However, Joe Berlinger has also tried to be a narrative director once in the past, almost 20 years ago. The movie? Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. Now, if you’ve ever heard anything about this movie, you probably know that it’s not just bad, it’s a movie so bad that nudity couldn’t save it. Berlinger has pretty openly said that the movie was largely re-shot after he left and that his original idea was supposed to be a film about the concept of mass hysteria arising around the fact that people somehow thought that Blair Witch Project was real. Whether that’s true or not, the only version we got is so bad that it can’t even be enjoyed ironically and failed so hard that Berlinger kept out of narrative filmmaking for 20 years.
This one is much better than that, but… it’s still not good.
Now, it’s not that this movie is terrible. In fact, it’s pretty close to being a good movie, but there are a few key things which it does wrong, and I think they actually arise out of Berlinger being a documentarian.
First, the viewpoint of the movie shifts at several points and it kind of kills some of the narrative. This movie is supposed to be from Liz’s perspective. She’s supposed to be the one dealing with the fact that her boyfriend is actually a monster or, worse, that he’s innocent and that she is the reason the entire world hates him because she gave the police his name. That’s actually a pretty great narrative idea and a lot of the movie supports it. However, so much of the movie is just focused on what is happening and what Ted is doing, rather than how Liz is reacting to it or feeling about it, that when the viewpoint DOES switch back to her, it doesn’t have the emotional weight that it deserves. I think this actually happens because Berlinger is used to trying to get emotional weight out of displaying circumstances through an objective lens or through directly addressing the subjects, rather than through narrative devices. Either way, it kills parts of the movie to go back and forth from an emotional to emotionless viewpoint.
Second, there are some parts of the movie that contradict the narrative and the contradiction is not handled well. See, throughout the movie, there are some hints that perhaps law enforcement or the prosecution are not acting in good faith. Police show an eyewitness a photo of Ted as a suspect, THEN have her pick him out of a line-up, something that has been the cause of a lot of misidentifications in the past. Now, given the veracity of the rest of the movie as well as what I’ve read about the Bundy trials, I do believe this happened, and it does feed into the narrative idea above that might make Liz think Ted’s being set up. Later, we see a defense attorney played by Jeffrey Donovan fairly well destroy the identification as being forced by the police, in a completely legit manner that is possibly verbatim to the actual case. We later see Ted point out that the prosecutor at his murder trial, Larry Simpson (Jim Parsons), is making sure Ted’s trial is a public spectacle (although less than Ted is). As someone whose father prosecuted a serial killer, who has been a prosecutor, and who has known lawyers in all sorts of fields, I can say that it really wasn’t anything more than would normally happen in a case that had this kind of national attention, but the movie does give it as a possible motivation for prosecutors to bring charges aggressively.
Now, again, much of the stuff that happened in this movie that makes law enforcement look bad was standard practice in the 70s (which is part of a bigger conversation), but it definitely does give the film a little bit of a feel of a story of a wrongly convicted man. The problem is that this film is about TED F*CKING BUNDY. He is guilty as hell. The movie even ends with him admitting he’s guilty. So several parts of the movie are completely contradictory to the actual circumstances. Berlinger said that part of the point of the movie was that Bundy only got away with it for so long because he was an attractive white guy, but that doesn’t really bear out in the narrative, which makes it feel more like he got away with it just because, to quote Spaceballs, “good is dumb.” Again, this isn’t particularly inaccurate to reality, but it still does give a lot of hints that Bundy didn’t do it, which is undercut by the ending pointing out that he did.
Also, not-so-fun aside, if Bundy hadn’t escaped a second time from his first murder trial, he probably would have been acquitted. His attorney won so many of the pre-trial motions due to the new nature of much of the DNA and hair follicle evidence that the judge might even have acquitted before giving it to the jury. If he’d been acquitted like that, bringing the next murder charges from Montana and Wyoming would have been harder. Instead, he escaped and killed more people anyway, because the world is horrible.
There are a few things I think the movie does well, to be sure. The actual coverage of Bundy’s trials and life feel real because, for the most part, they’re just dramatizations of the actual events, often verbatim. The film also does a good job of conveying what was most horrifying about Bundy: He didn’t look like a monster. He didn’t just seem normal, he seemed charming and gregarious. He was good looking, he was well-spoken, and he knew how to carry himself. People saw him on television and thought he couldn’t be guilty based only on the fact that he was too attractive. He’s truly one of the worst kind of predators, because he looks nothing like what we think predators look like. I enjoyed Zac Efron’s performance as well as the fact that the movie didn’t indulge in the temptation to show all of the gore it could have.
Overall, I can’t say this is a must-see movie. While it is interesting if you are a big fan of true-crime, it just doesn’t quite have the thematic or narrative coherence that it needs.
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Cole) get hit by a sonic mine while on a junk planet. They awaken on Tsuranga, an automated spaceship heading to a medical space-station with a load of patients it picks up on the way: Yoss (Jack Shalloo), a pregnant man (no, it wasn’t planned, but don’t judge); Eve Cicero (Suzanne Packer), a famous general; Eve’s brother Durkas (Ben Bailey-Smith); and Ronan (David Shields), Eve’s android partner. The Doctor tries to leave but finds she isn’t able to get off the ship until they reach their destination.
Also, she has an injury to her Squiddly-spooge.
The Doctor and head nurse Astos (Brett Goldstein) discover that something has gotten through the shields. They begin searching for whatever entered, but Astos gets tricked by an alien creature into being…
It’s a Rick and Jerry episode! Let’s see a murder plot!
Rick (Justin Roiland) breaks into Jerry’s (Chris Parnell) apartment and abducts him to go on an adventure. Rick explains that Morty (Roiland) told him to take Jerry on an adventure in order to keep Jerry from killing himself. They arrive at a resort in space which is contained in an immortality field, so even if Jerry wanted to kill himself, he couldn’t die. Jerry is soon abducted by Risotto Groupon (Clancy Brown), a native to the planet who was enslaved after Rick sold weapons to their enemies. Risotto tells Jerry that he can help him kill Rick on a roller coaster called the Whirly Dirly. Jerry declines, but after Rick admits that he worked to end Jerry’s marriage, Jerry decides to help with the plan.
Meanwhile, Beth (Sarah Chalke) is trying to cope with her divorce stress by building structures out of horse hooves. Summer (Spencer Grammer) approaches and asks her mom if she’s hot, but Beth responds that her looks shouldn’t matter. It’s revealed that her boyfriend Ethan (Daniel Benson) broke up with her for Tricia Lange (Cassie Steele), a girl with big breasts. Summer tries to use Rick’s Morphizer-XE to make her boobs bigger, but accidentally makes herself a giant blob. Beth tries to use the Morphizer to turn her back, despite knowing nothing about how it works, which Morty scolds her for. Eventually, she makes Summer bigger and turns her inside out.
Rick and Jerry get on the Whirly Dirly, but Jerry changes his mind and saves Rick, destroying the immortality field in the process and stranding them in a jungle. Rick lets Jerry get eaten by a snake, telling Jerry that Jerry is a predator because he’s so pitiful that others feel a need to do things for him. Rick flat-out tells Jerry that Beth had options before getting knocked up by Jerry and that he ruined her potential life. Rick then uses Jerry as bait to get them back to the resort and a spaceport. At customs, Rick’s implants trigger security, so Rick is given a synaptic dampener, making him a harmless idiot. Jerry, now the more intelligent one for once, mocks Rick, but Risotto reveals he’s onboard. He plans to kill Rick, but let’s Jerry go, deeming him too pathetic to kill, even when Jerry tries to attack him. Jerry does finally manage to make Risotto shoot a panel on the ship right before the ship jumps through a wormhole, resulting in Risotto, Jerry, and Rick taking a journey through spacetime, curing Rick’s synapses and allowing him to kill Risotto.
Beth tries to call for “technical support” on the Morphizer, but gets nowhere, with Morty and Beth fighting until Morty points out that her obsession with being like Rick will do nothing for her relationship with Rick, but will ruin her other relationships. They then notice that Summer disappeared. Realizing that she’s going to see Ethan, Beth and Morty follow, and Summer is stopped by Beth, who makes herself giant and inverted. Morty then morphs Ethan as vengeance for breaking his sister’s heart. They return in time to meet Rick and Jerry, who Rick abandons outside of the house.
This episode is great character work. So much of the characters’ relationships and inner thoughts are revealed through this episode, mostly because it has a lot of intense and frank dialogue, though the comedy is still top-notch. It’s mostly that the exploration is now focused on the dynamics of everyone now that Jerry and Beth are divorced, but everything has somewhat normalized compared to “Rickmancing the Stone” or “Pickle Rick.“
Rick and Jerry’s plotline actually surprised me, because Rick is actually more open with Jerry than most of the other characters, owing in large part to the fact that Rick never considers him a threat. This will end up biting Rick in the ass big time later in the season, but in this episode it’s almost proven to be fair since even after Rick tells Jerry that he intentionally sabotaged his marriage, Jerry can’t bring himself to help kill Rick.
The concept of Jerry as a predator is something that I hadn’t considered prior to this episode. Jerry is so pathetic that people inherently feel responsible for him, which he uses to prey upon their kindness. This isn’t an insane concept, either. Studies from Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education have shown that people tend to naturally try to care for people who are completely harmless and pathetic, because we don’t see them as any potential threat. In other television, there’s an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Samaritan Snare” which introduces the Pakleds, a species who prey upon other, more advanced, species by seeming so pathetic that other races want to help them. In Doctor Who, there are the Tivolians, a race that loves to be conquered and appears pathetic in order to facilitate more invasions, because the conquerors tend to be merciful that way. The only difference with Jerry is that Jerry doesn’t know that he’s doing it, apparently, something that only makes him more pathetic.
We also see a rare moment of Rick actually showing some concern about family members when Rick states that Jerry ruined Beth’s life, indicating that Rick really thought Beth had potential that all went away. However, this does conflict with the fact that, prior to that, Rick had often apparently been gone from Beth due to his divorce. Still, it’s a revelation that Rick did at least think that Beth was worth investing in before she got pregnant.
In the B-Plot, Morty finally confronts Beth over her worship of Rick when he points out that Beth’s attempts to adopt Rick’s cold, logical attitude has just driven Summer away because, rather than actually try to hear Summer’s concerns, Beth just told her that what she wanted was stupid. However, unlike Rick, Beth actually realizes that Morty is right, and she ends up choosing to resolve everything by emotionally connecting with Summer.
Overall, this is a great episode, but in a different way than episodes like “Meeseeks and Destroy” or “Pickle Rick,” because it’s mostly about character development over plot.
Overall, I give this episode an
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.
The Doctor fights spiders, because why should I be allowed to sleep again?
It’s the near future or near past… either last week or next week. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) returns to Sheffield with her companions, Graham, Yaz, and Ryan (Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole). They decide to go to have tea with Yaz’s family, the Khans. However, the Doctor and Ryan go to retrieve a package for the family that was left with a neighbor and find out that the neighbor has been cocooned in giant spiderwebs by, you guessed it, giant spiders. They’re joined by arachnologist Jade McIntyre (Tanya Fear), a friend of the deceased, who says she has been observing odd size and behavior by spiders in the area. The audience, and soon the group, learn that the source of the spiders is the basement of a hotel run by American Jack Robertson (Chris…