Futurama Fridays – S1 E3 “I, Roommate”

Welcome to the third episode of the series. This was the first episode of the show to air on Tuesday, with the first two having aired on Sunday after The Simpsons. It hurt the ratings but, since the show didn’t get cancelled for many years, clearly not too much.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) has been living in the Planet Express building and his lifestyle is clearly hurting the business. He leaves food out (mostly Bachelor Chow, now with flavor!), uses a high-volume Chemical Burn Shower to bathe (having been in one for chemical burns, it’s not good on the hair), burns the ship’s exhaust to get his hair dry, eats a 29 million-year-old alien mummy (which the Professor (West) wanted to eat), and just generally gets in everyone’s way.

S1E3-1BachelorChow.png
Thank you for not drawing a more elaborate ass.

Leela (Katey Sagal), Bender (John DiMaggio), and the Professor confront Fry over his living situation, but Fry is too caught up watching hit robot soap opera All My Circuits with Bender to pay attention until finally the Planet Express staff just drags the couch he’s sitting on out of the building. Fry and Bender talk about his living situation and Bender offers to have Fry move in with him. Unfortunately, it’s revealed that Bender lives in a 2 cubic meter blank space that’s basically a small broom closet. It doesn’t even have a bathroom, because Robot. Also, Bender talks in his sleep… about killing all humans.

S1E3-2BendersPlace.png
Spacious!

While Bender is happy about the situation, Fry is extremely uncomfortable (especially after Bender puts carpeting in, causing Fry’s head to hit the ceiling). Fry says he’s moving out but agrees to stay roommates if they just find another apartment. They try an underwater apartment that has cephalopod attacks, an apartment filled with orthogonal gravity wells (an homage to M.C. Escher’s Relativity… the crazy stairs one, okay?), an amazing apartment that is technically in New Jersey, and, finally, an apartment belonging to Professor Farnsworth’s old friend Dr. Mbutu, who was recently ripped to shreds. After being shown the apartment by the building manager, Hattie McDoogal (Tress MacNeille), Fry and Bender move in (to the Odd Couple theme, no less) and invite the rest of the Planet Express staff to come to their housewarming and viewing of All My Circuits’ big wedding special.

S1E3-3Stairs.jpg
Admittedly, if you can make it work, it’s a great use of space.

As the staff arrives, Bender goes on a quick beer run. When he returns, the TV transmission goes out. Hattie and the other building tenants come in to complain and it’s determined that Bender’s antenna is interfering with the building’s satellite reception. His thoughts apparently get amplified by the building, even broadcasting on a woman’s cell phone (which is not a smartphone, because this was 1999). Bender asks Fry to move out with him, but Fry declines, stating that he likes the apartment. This hurts Bender’s feelings, but he does agree to leave. Leela criticizes Fry for his behavior in prioritizing his comfort over his friend’s feelings, but Fry, being an idiot, ignores her.

S1E3-4Hattie.jpg
Hattie McDoogal makes her what-cha-call-it… Debut!

Having been kicked out, Bender goes on a bender (oh, I get it!) which, for robots, means not drinking for several days, since alcohol keeps robots functioning in the future. Leela asks him about removing his antenna, but apparently the antenna is the robot equivalent of a penis, so he takes it about as well as most men take a request to cut their manhood off. Two weeks pass, during which Leela badgers Fry constantly to apologize and Bender continues not drinking until finally he stumbles into Fry’s apartment and cuts his antenna off. Fry isn’t fazed by this as he doesn’t understand the significance, but as soon as the television comes back on, a scene from All My Circuits explains how the two should reconcile. Hilariously, they do it exactly backwards, with Bender apologizing to Fry.

S1E3-5SoberBender.png
Blind-Stinking SOBER!

They find Bender’s antenna, get it reattached, and move back to Bender’s apartment. Fry worries that the fruit salad tree they have is going to wilt from lack of light, but Bender says there’s a window in the closet, opening a wall and revealing that his “closet” is actually just a normal apartment. Fry moves in, happily.

S1E3-6BenderCloset
Why indeed?

END SUMMARY

So, I actually think this is one of the least clever episodes of Futurama, lacking most of the edge that other episodes had. Apparently, this was because the Fox Network, famous for f*cking with a good thing, asked them to tone down this episode after the previous ones had suicide booths and ennui. So, Eric Horstead cranked out this script, handed it to the executives, who responded, according to the DVD commentary, with “Worst. Episode. Ever.” This was actually probably for the best because it led Matt Groening and crew to stop caring about what they thought. Still, this episode is pretty formulaic, even if it does give us more development of Fry and Bender’s relationship. It’s still funny, but it’s funny in a way that most other shows could give us. It doesn’t have that Futurama-ness.

The Odd Couple premise of a robot and a human living together doesn’t really have the same “opposites attract” as most shows, because Bender and Fry aren’t that different aside from the fact that they’re a robot and a human. They’re both lazy, they drink a lot, they’re selfish, hell, they even want the apartment to mostly contain the same things. Without more material, that joke plays out mostly in one 3-minute montage, thankfully.

S1E3-7Posters.png
Yeah, this is a real timeless gag.

Now, the actual emotional core of the episode, whether or not it’s appropriate to abandon your friends for your own convenience, is a bit better, but it runs a little shallow since it’s over an apartment that they actually didn’t need. It gets even more ridiculous when it’s revealed that the closet also has a bathroom, making Bender’s confusion about it stupid… well, stupid-er.

The problem really is that the whole situation is actually pretty stupid. Is it wrong that Fry leaves Bender back at his old place in order to keep an AFFORDABLE, GIANT LOFT IN THE MIDDLE OF NEW YORK? I think my capitalization speaks for itself. Hell, it’s stupid if Fry doesn’t sub-let the damn thing and make a fortune (and he doesn’t, obviously). Fry and Bender would still see each other to go drinking and at work, something that has to intentionally be ignored during the episode. I have plenty of friends whose apartments I never go to and that’s even more true of my coworkers I’m friends with. Bender just doesn’t have a realistic reaction to the situation. The only thing that actually justifies the conflict is the fact that the antenna turns out to be Bender’s robo-dong, meaning that there are actual stakes. The fact that the concept of mistreating your friends for your own gain is something that most people will actually be one at least one side of at some point makes it even sadder that the episode really doesn’t address it fully.

S1E3-8Apartment.png
If you make this affordable, the question is who wouldn’t I kill for it?

Again, I don’t think that this is a bad episode. It just feels like it had more that it could have done. Still, a lot of solid jokes are in this episode, including Amy slipping on a doll-sized banana peel, the running gag about eating alien mummies, and the introduction of the series-long great parody show All My Circuits. This brings me to…

Favorite Joke:

This one’s pretty simple on its face, like all the best jokes, but gets better the more you think about it. It’s this wall hanging.

S1E3-9HomeSweet.jpg

In case you don’t know the computer language (probably BASIC), this is supposed to be a gag where it says “HOME SWEET HOME,” except that this would produce (though not print) “HOME SWEET HOME SWEET HOME SWEET” over and over until the heat death of the universe. The reason I love it is that it’s putting a computer program on a knitted wall hanging in the apartment of a robot in the year 3000. It’s the most traditional of decorations in the most sci-fi of locations. However, that’s not the only reason I love it. So, as I said, if you were to put that in a computer, it would form an infinite loop without end. And what is a knitting? It’s a series of loops interacting. Get it? Loops are both a thing that happens in computing and knitting and… okay, you got it. Whatever, it makes me laugh and think.

See you next week, meatbags.

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

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