Robot Santa returns, bringing sacks of holiday pain and suffering. It’s like Christmas with extended family, except with robots.
The Professor (Billy West) sends Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) to Neptune in order to deliver a sack of children’s letters to Santa (begging for mercy). On Neptune, the crew are met by Neptunians who are short and elfish due to all of the malnutrition under Robot Santa’s (DiMaggio) rule. They’re also out of work because Robot Santa finds everyone naughty, so the toy factory went under. The crew heads to Robot Santa’s death fortress, sneaking in and attempting to destroy Robot Santa with a logical paradox.
Unfortunately, Robot Santa is immune to logic and chases them with a missile launcher. They escape to the ship and try to take off, but Santa grabs the ship and holds it in place. However, the engines melt the ice around Santa and he is trapped in the ice when Leela shuts off the engines. The Neptunians rejoice and return to making toys while singing and Bender is chosen, reluctantly, to be the new Santa.
Using Santa’s sleigh to head to Earth, Bender tries to deliver presents to families, but most of them either attack him or try to kill themselves. He runs into Kwanzaa-Bot (Coolio) who can’t help, as he has to give out the traditional Kwanzaa book What the Hell is Kwanzaa? Bender returns to Planet Express and is instinctively attacked by the Professor. Bender decides to quit and drops all of his toys into the sewer, which results in Smitty and Url (West and DiMaggio) arresting him. Bender is put on trial and sentenced to death for Santa’s Slayings.
Bender is put on death row while the Crew heads to Neptune to try and bring the real Robot Santa back. Unfortunately, global warming has melted much of the ice and he escapes. The Crew flees, but Santa stows away on the ship. The crew, all dressed up like Santa Claus, try to claim that they are Santa (except Zoidberg, who shows up as “his friend Jesus”), but Mayor Poopenmeyer (David Herman) doesn’t believe them (except for Zoidberg). The countdown on Bender’s execution reaches 0, but, before Bender is killed by a giant magnet, the real Santa breaks in. Robot Santa reveals that he wants Bender’s help to do his Xmas work. Bender agrees and goes on a rampage with Robot Santa. Hiding at Planet Express, Fry mentions that fear brings everyone together the same way that joy does, so it’s still Xmas. At the end of the night, Santa gives Bender an empty box, saying “Oh, it might appear empty but the message is clear: Play Santa again and I’ll kill you next year!”
I know some people complained that John Goodman didn’t return to play Robot Santa in this episode, but I think John DiMaggio did such a good job that I almost didn’t notice the switch. I also like how they expanded on the Robot Santa mythos, particularly showing us the Neptunians who, unlike Elzar or any of the others in the series, are only a few feet tall due to malnutrition. They’re also constantly demonstrating fairly overused stereotypical gay behavior that, and this is the joke, Fry somehow manages to miss. This didn’t age as well as most of the series, but they’re nowhere near as bad as some other shows back in 2001.I also like that we get to watch a perfect representation of how messed up Robot Santa’s logic is:
Mobsters beating up a shopkeeper for protection money. Very naughty!
Shopkeepers not paying their protection money. Exactly as naughty!
Interestingly, in the commentary, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen mention that Fox told them not to do a second Robot Santa Xmas story after getting multiple complaints over the airing of the first one. Not giving a sh*t what Fox said, they made this one anyway, but were forced to premiere it at comic panels since Fox wouldn’t air it like a normal episode. In the same discussion, Matt Groening says that he generally hates doing Christmas episodes, something that shocked me, since the first episode of The Simpsons was a Christmas special. Maybe he only likes his own.
The final act for this episode is one of the better ones in the show. It’s even got a ticking clock in the form of Mayor Poopenmeyer’s random number generator counting down to Bender’s execution. I thought it was funny that the generator actually can pick any integer, positive or negative, and can pick the same one over again, and yet it gets to 0 in 10 selections. Technically we never see a three digit number, so it’s possible that it only goes between positive and negative one hundred, but that’s still 1 in 199 on each pick, so it could have taken an incredibly long time.
The “I’m Spartacus” scene with all of the crew dressed as Santa is a decent joke, but the real winner is Zoidberg coming in dressed as Jesus. It just gets kicked up to 11 by the fact that the Mayor actually buys it, going so far as to say “How dare you lie in front of Jesus?!” When Robot Santa comes in to attack the group, the Mayor begs Jesus to attack Santa, only for Zoidberg to say “I help those who help themselves!”
I think this joke works on 3 different levels. First, it’s just funny that rather than dress up like Santa, Zoidberg chooses to dress up as the other main figure of Christmas. The fact that he’s so enthusiastic about it only makes it funnier. Second, a big part of the Xmas holiday episodes is that, in the future, they have literally taken the Christ out of Christmas. This is Zoidberg directly putting it back in. Third, I think it’s hilarious that Zoidberg, whose entire species is composed of Jewish stereotypes, decides to appear as the central figure to Christianity.
Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.
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3 thoughts on “Futurama Fridays – S3E3 “A Tale of Two Santas””
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