Futurama Fridays – S4E9 “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles”

The Planet Express Crew go where nobody wants to go again: Puberty.

SUMMARY

The Professor’s (Billy West) pet gargoyle Pazuzu (David Herman) escapes, leading the crew to chase after it, but the Professor’s stereotypical-old-man behavior leads the rest of them to get annoyed. They decide that he’s too old and send him to a spa to get Youthasized. After none of the treatments work, the Professor is put into a tar bath that supposedly sucks the age right out of people. Bender (John DiMaggio) tries to pump it to make it more effective, but ends up spraying the tar on everyone. When they wipe it off, it’s discovered that the tar actually worked: The Professor is now in his 50s and the crew are now teenagers. This includes Bender, whose robonucleic acid apparently can also be affected.

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Ah, back when Florida only supposedly had three things to mock. 

Leela (Katey Sagal) decides to go back and live with her parents to get a taste of the childhood she never had, while the Professor tries to fix the problem. Leela’s parents keep trying to treat her as an adult, but Leela tries to force them to be strict. Amy’s (Lauren Tom) parents are annoyed, as they now have to wait longer for grandchildren, and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) bonds with his now same-aged son, Dwight (LaMarr). Fry (West) goes to pick Leela up for a date and ends up winning a sewer race against local jock Moose (Herman) and his girlfriend Mandy (Tress MacNeille). 

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I love how cute they are as teens.

The Professor creates an oil-eating bacteria to try and fix the problem, but it ends up backfiring and making everyone younger. Additionally, they’re now aging in reverse, meaning they’ll eventually face the horror of pre-life… then death. Leela, who didn’t want to get older and thus wasn’t given the bacteria, is now a babysitter for most of the crew. She reads them a story about a mythical place called the Fountain of Aging, the opposite of the Fountain of Youth. She takes off with the now-infant crew and manages to locate the fountain. With the Professor now a toddler, the crew now fetuses, and Bender a cd of his blueprints, they jump into the fountain, but the Professor loses his grip and they start to slip into the Fountain’s black-hole center. Leela manages to save everyone, now back to their right ages, but loses the Professor, who is saved at the last minute by Pazuzu. In gratitude, the Professor grants the gargoyle his freedom, and he moves to Notre Dame to raise his children. 

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Zoidberg’s childhood was very different. 

END SUMMARY

This is one of those episodes where I feel like they threw darts at a wall full of other properties and combined what stuck. In this case, it hit Muppet Babies, Archie Comics, and Golden Girls. Not that this is a bad episode, although it’s at the bottom of my Futurama rankings, but it still just feels like it was more three short premises sewn together into a single episode, and they had to really stretch character traits to get there. I mean, yes, the Professor is typically depicted as being old, but in this episode his behavior is so exaggerated that the show even admits he’s a super-senior stereotype. When the crew gets de-aged to teenagers, they all pretty much act like what films think kids acted like in the 90s. It sometimes feels like they’re cashing in on a lot of easy jokes for these.

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The Professor decides to only fly at 38 MPH, for example, despite him flying normally otherwise.

The one thing that I like about the episode, and the thing that apparently inspired them to create it, is the part with Leela living with her parents. It’s simultaneously sweet to see Leela trying to recapture the part of her youth that she lost by having her parents treat her as a real kid, and hilarious to watch how little they actually care about doing it. It’s best summarized by her interaction in which she whispers to Fry, thinking he’s going to be re-aged, to sneak her some beer, and her father replies with “No beer until you finish your tequila!” Morris and Munda usually don’t get a ton of funny lines, but watching them fail repeatedly to actually parent their daughter is hilarious.

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I love that he put a silly straw in it.

Overall, just not a notable episode. It’s not bad, but it’s just not great by Futurama standards.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s probably the Child’s Garden of Space Legends. When I was a kid, I had the Child’s Garden of Verses, a book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of them aren’t really narratives like the fables in the episode, but it’s still nice of them to reference the book. However, I do like the fact that the cover of the book is a Gorn eating a kid and that it contains the stories “Snow White and the Seven Red Dwarfs,” which is both a reference to the white dwarf star and a reference to the TV show Red Dwarf, and “Charlotte’s Tholian Web,” a reference to the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and the Star Trek episode “The Tholian Web.” Just solid Futurama jokes.

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Dark humor seems appropriate for a book based on R.L. Stevenson.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

NEXT – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

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40) No Rest for the Wicked (Supernatural)

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As I said yesterday, this is the first episode (aside from the bonuses) that I wrote after chemo. Yay.

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Sometimes what makes an episode amazing is when the people making the show know the rules for scriptwriting, and intentionally avoid them. Supernatural does this pretty often, but never have they taken as sharp a divergent turn as in this episode.

The premise of Supernatural has changed slightly over the years. In the beginning, the show was about two brothers on the road finding supernatural monsters and phenomenon while trying to find their father. Since then, the show has had to escalate multiple times, and what was once a show where the presence of a single demon was a season-long arc has become a show where the main characters regularly kill demons, angels, and various gods. They’ve managed to prevent the apocalypse, kill the mother of all monsters, kill…

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Netflix Review – Dolemite is My Name: The Making of a Masterpiece

Eddie Murphy, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, and a host of others star in a story about the making of an amazing film.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s the 1970s and singer/comedian Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is not having the career renaissance he’d been hoping for. However, after a homeless man named Ricco (Ron Cephas Jones) comes into the record store at which he works, Moore is inspired by the man’s ridiculous stories about a man named Dolemite. Moore adopts the name and turns it into a character with which he delivers a vulgar profanity-laden comedy routine. He manages to make a series of albums out of the character and goes on tour, achieving cult status. However, he eventually decides to make a film out of the character and, together with his partner Lady Reed (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), writer Jerry Jones (Keegan-Michael Key), and Actor/Director D’Urville Martin (Wesley Snipes), he makes the amazing movie Dolemite.

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Dolemite is his name, and f*cking motherf*ckers up is his game.

END SUMMARY

So, if you haven’t seen Dolemite, you should. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what kind of movies your into. If you haven’t seen Dolemite, you need to go ahead and enrich your life. It’s on Amazon Prime right now. Then, you need to go ahead and watch the sequel, The Human Tornado, in order to see the infamous sex scene in which Dolemite’s manhood literally destroys a house. But first thing’s first: You need to watch this movie. 

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Yes, it takes place in the 70s, why do you ask?

Dolemite is a rare kind of a so-bad-its-good movie, but it’s not in the class of a film like The Room or Troll 2. You can watch Dolemite and get a perfect mix of legitimate and ironic enjoyment, because the movie is supposed to be a comedy that is shot like an action film. If you’re laughing, whether you’re laughing at it or with it, it’s working. It’s hard to tell where the film was failing at being legitimate or was succeeding in being a parody. This film seems to suggest it was a blend of lack of ability and a huge amount of talent.

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This is the original, and he calls someone a “Rat-soup eating motherf*cker.” It’s awesome.

Much like The Disaster Artist, this movie contains a lot of scenes that explain how certain things came into the film. While I don’t think that Eddie Murphy’s portrayal of Rudy Ray Moore is as spot-on as James Franco’s portrayal of Tommy Wiseau, Murphy manages to absolutely nail the timing of the comedy routines. Given that Murphy apparently did this because he and his late brother Charlie Murphy used to love listening to Moore’s albums, I’m guessing it’s because he had heard them all during his formative years. As a world-class comedian himself, it’s natural that he’d be able to figure out how all of the ridiculous inflections enhance the Dolemite character and make it his own. His version of Dolemite isn’t exactly Moore’s, but it’s damned good.

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Yeah, it’s pretty damned good. 

This movie is a true story of someone managing to get their big break at the risk of losing everything, and that’s really something that audiences love. What’s interesting is that this isn’t portrayed as being an endeavour by a comedian who is looking for the pure art of it. No, from the first part of the movie this is just the story of Moore’s attempt to become rich and famous. The honesty is somewhat refreshing, because a lot of movies try to portray famous people solely as passionate virtuosos sustained by their creative juices. In reality, even great artists usually sell out at some point, because… well, people gotta eat, man. Plus, if you believe in your art, you want fame, because that means people are actually seeing it. Does it sometimes ruin the “purity” of the art? Maybe if it causes the artist to compromise their vision, but most of the time even great art is done for the money. 

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How much art is in a movie with an all-girl army of Kung Fu Killers?… ALL OF THE ART!!

I really did enjoy the hell out of this movie. I’m not sure how accurate it is, and since they include a scene from the sequel in the film I am guessing “not very,” but I know that it tells a heck of a story. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

41) A Charlie Brown Christmas (Peanuts)

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Some of you may bring up that this is more of a special than an episode of television. Some of you may point out that, in fact, Peanuts was not a TV show. That it was only a series of specials based on a comic strip found in the newspaper, and there weren’t even that many of them, really. Some of you may point out that many of them were made as promotions for events or companies, and thus this entry should be invalid.

Those of you who do that are Dirty Communists.

CharlieBrown-1Stalin The mass-murder kind, not the healthcare and retirement kind.

Peanuts was never a show, true, but it had a huge impact on television, not to mention America, and this was the special that started it all. For the 2 people out there who don’t know Peanuts, here’s the premise: Charlie Brown is a loser. Actually, he’s THE…

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Rick and Mondays – S4E1 “Edge of Tomorty: Rick Die Rickpeat”

Rick and Morty find out that living and dying is a lot different on the multiversal scale.

SUMMARY

At Breakfast, Rick (Justin Roiland) tries to ignore the family and then drag Morty (Roiland) onto an adventure, only for it to be revealed that the new family rules require him to actually ask Morty politely to join him on adventures. Rick is extremely angry about it, but Morty does still agree when asked. Rick goes to collect “Death Crystals,” rocks that show you how you’re going to die. Rick uses them to avoid dying by finding out all of the ways in which he’s about to die and avoiding them. Morty takes one and tries to use it to find out how he gets to die old and married to Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), his perpetual crush. Morty ends up crashing the car, killing Rick, only for a hologram Rick to appear and try to convince Morty to revive Rick. It turns out that Morty doesn’t want to clone him, because that sends him to a different death, so he gets harangued by a horde of Holo-Ricks.

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Finally, a geode that serves a non-decorative purpose.

Meanwhile, Rick, having closed down his automated revival system in “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez,” finds that his equipment has instead shunted his consciousness to a different universe. He gets revived in a universe run by fascists until he ends up dying. He gets revived yet again in a shrimp universe, which turns out to ALSO be fascist, as does the care bear universe he ends up in next. He finally finds a universe of wasps that help him get home.

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Teddy Rick is big into racial purity.

Morty ends up trying to follow the flow of the death crystal, but ends up pissing off a bully who creates a lot of futures where he kills Morty. Morty then ends up following the crystal until it leads him to kill the bully, as well as other bullies, then the cops and eventually the army. He surrenders and is tried, but by following the crystal avoids any consequences. He ends up becoming an Akira-esque monster at the heart of a giant nanotech tree. Rick and Wasp Rick arrive and remove the crystal from Morty. The Holo-Rick then takes the nanotech to become a physical being and then a physical god, but Wasp Rick kills him. Jerry and Beth (Chris Parnell and Sarah Chalke) then try to lecture Rick about endangering Morty, but Morty insists that it was all his own doing.

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Turns out Morty can be a one-man army when he wants to be.

At the end of the Episode, Rick and Morty both speak over each other about the fact that the new Rick and Morty can do “a little of this and a little of that,” meaning they can do some classic Rick and Morty stuff while sometimes being experimental and creative. 100 years of Rick and Morty pushing it to the limit, but also not pushing it at all. Summer  (Spencer Grammer) then comes out and mocks them, ruining the Season 4 premiere speech, much to their anger.

S4E1 - 7Summer.jpg
She goes to some weird places. 

At the end, it’s revealed that the future Morty was chasing was not a happy one at all, but merely a future in which Jessica lies to people as they’re dying alone and unloved, breaking Morty’s heart.

END SUMMARY

Rick and Morty is back and… trying to convey the impossible situation that they’re in. They have to be loyal to their old formulas so as to not alienate their fanbase but also try to be innovative at the same time. In this episode, their compromise is that one of the plotlines, Rick’s, is similar to a classic episode, while Morty’s plotline contains innovative storytelling and animation, including directly referencing Akira in several transformation sequences. Interspersed throughout the episode are a number of callbacks, including the return of Mr. Meeseeks, along with a number of new elements. Then, in traditional Rick and Morty fashion, they proceed to lampshade the hell out of the plotlines at the end saying that as long as the series keeps going, they are just going to “split the difference.”

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Turns out Mr. Meeseeks is pretty brutal.

Both plotlines, however, still deal with the infinite possibilities of the multiverse and how that relates to mortality. The crystals that are the, essentially magical, applied phlebotinum for the episode show a myriad of possibilities to anyone holding them, essentially showing all of the possible universes that can spawn from this moment. Rick claims that their only real use is to figure out when the other guy in a shoot-out is reloading. Morty, in a surprising moment of genre-savviness, realizes that this means he can use it to determine what courses of action to take, including figuring out what words to say and what weapons will be useful against future opponents. However, he never considers the, eventually true, possibility that what he’s seeing is not what he thinks it is. Since Morty has an unbelievably strong crush on Jessica, that rings true. 

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Morty stalking Jessica? Classic. Morty overlooking that she took this photo? Also classic.

Morty’s plotline showing that each action just creates a multitude of different ways to die is a variation on the idea of Quantum Immortality: Namely that you can’t ever really die because there’s always a possibility that you’re alive in another multiverse and if there are an infinite number of universes, then the possibility is always above 0. So, you would never know that you’re dead, because there’s just another you existing out there that branched off from your current line. In this episode, Morty just gets to pick which of the paths he’s consciously following, edging out the parallel version of himself that normally would be following it. He’s not traveling between universes so much as just staying in the right one as it’s made.

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Great job on the visual Easter eggs, btw.

Rick’s plotline embraces the more traditional Rick and Morty version of the multiverse, with Rick waking up over and over again in universes that clearly diverged a long time ago, and with them being increasingly more distinct from the original as time goes on. Interestingly, though, a running gag is that Rick keeps running into fascist universes, to the point that he complains that it is now the default in the multiverse. When he finally finds a non-fascist universe, it’s occupied by humanoid wasps that specifically developed empathy to deal with the horrible nature of what they do naturally. I’m not sure if this is a joke about the fact that the word “fascist” gets thrown around a lot more lately, or if it was just because someone wanted to write the words “Care Bear Hitler” down really badly. Honestly, I can’t blame them if it’s the latter. 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

I admit that it’s tough to come up with a theory based only on the first episode of the season, but here goes: I think the reason why Rick ends up in fascist universes is actually because most of the Ricks outside of them destroyed their clones the way that Rick did back in “Big Trouble in Little Sanchez.”

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Plus, it apparently didn’t work great on younger bodies. 

In the past, we have seen that most Ricks, even if they are of different species or constructions, still tend to take the same general actions throughout their lives unless the divergence is a specific part of their backstory. So, it stands to reason that a lot of Ricks who built the cloning devices that are a part of “Operation Phoenix” probably also went through a time of trying to use it and arriving at the conclusion that aging is a part of life. So, who wouldn’t go through that experience in that way? Well, one would be wasps, because an insect’s life cycle is in distinct stages, so they probably wouldn’t ever clone “younger” versions that were larvae or pupae as they’d be useless. Another would be people who are too afraid of death to learn that lesson, and there are few people more cowardly than fascists. 

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Ironically, as an Atheist and possibly part Hispanic, Rick isn’t a WASP.

I mean, think about it, what do fascist systems almost always use to acquire power? Fear of outsiders and traitorous insiders trying to secretly threaten the citizenry. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to being manipulated. Being manipulated leads to wearing a ton of matching outfits and executing minorities. Since most fear is derived from the fact that one day we’re going to die and we have no idea what happens after that, and that Rick is subject to this as we’ve seen in the past, it makes sense that the fascist Ricks would be the ones most afraid of dying and most willing to keep their resurrection systems active. So, it’s not that fascism is the “default” now, it’s just that fascists were the ones most likely to still have the machinery.

NOW LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, this was a pretty solid episode of Rick and Morty, even if it seems pretty standalone at this point. 

Overall, I give this episode a

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 31: The Rickchurian Mortydate

NEXT – 33: The Old Man and the Seat

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

42) Farewell, Mr. Hooper – Episode 15.4 (Sesame Street)

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Sesame Street, the show, is what happens when people love children enough to try and help them grow up into better people… if that person has puppetry skills that have reached the point where puppets are no longer creepy. Jim Henson did not technically create Sesame Street, but he’s the reason you know what it is. When asked, Henson was more than willing to support the goals of the show: To promote the education of children. In fact, Sesame Street was the first children’s show to actually study the effects of educational television programming, largely to reevaluate and reconstruct the show to increase the impact. In short, Sesame Street wanted to teach kids stuff, while entertaining them with Muppets. While some of the Muppets would also try to work in some more adult fare later, the Street remains for kids (though some of their recent parodies, while still…

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43) Marge vs. the Monorail (The Simpsons)

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Okay, this is probably still my favorite Simpsons episode to re-watch. It’s also the episode that best defines the city of Springfield and the exact level of blind idiocy that permeates the town.  It was written by Conan O’Brien, who knows something about comedy, I’m told.

TheSimpsonsMvM-1ConanOBrien.jpg And about contract negotiations.

Quick Recap: The main characters of the show are the fat, lazy, idiot father Homer (Dan Castellaneta); his wife who definitely could have done better Marge (Julie Kavner); his prankster (and later sociopath) son Bart (Nancy Cartwright); brainy daughter Lisa (Yeardley Smith); baby Maggie; and the city of Springfield (hundreds of characters at this point).

TheSimpsonsMvM-2Family.jpg This show will apparently never die.

SUMMARY

If you haven’t seen The Music Man, you should. If you don’t like musicals then just see this episode, because it’s almost as good and over 2 hours shorter. The setup for the episode is that Mr…

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