The team become superheroes, because why not?
Leela’s (Katey Sagal) parents are coming to the surface for a one-time visit, due to their mutant status. After securing them permits, she and Fry (Billy West) have to build a supercollider from πkea, the Swedish furniture of the future, for the Professor (West). This ends up being extremely difficult, making them sore. They obtain a miracle cream for the soreness from Dr. Zoidberg (West), which appears to work. Later, the pair are mugged, but are surprised to find themselves superstrong, invulnerable, and superfast. They realize they got the powers from the Miracle Cream and, with Bender as a third, create a superhero team called the New Justice Team. They adopt the superhero names of Captain Yesterday (Fry), Clobberella (Leela), and Super King (Bender), to protect their secret identities.
The three are challenged by a supervillain known as the Zookeeper (West). They manage to stop the crook, but it prevents Leela from meeting her parents. Desperate to apologize to them, she reveals that she’s a superhero, which her father immediately tells everyone. Now knowing her secret identity, the Zookeeper kidnaps her parents and holds them for ransom. The trio rob the natural history museum for a gem and deliver it to the evildoer, but discover they’re out of miracle cream, ending their careers… after Bender and Fry commit a few more crimes.
This episode would usually be a sign that the team was running out of ideas. “Let’s have them become superheroes” seems like the kind of idea that you just throw out when all of the other options have been explored. Despite that, this episode is actually pretty solid. The A- and B-Plot interplay works well, because even as Leela is living a dream of superheroics, she realizes that it’s causing her to sacrifice her other dream of having a relationship with her parents. This ends up forcing her to choose between the two, and she naturally chooses her parents. It works out well.
The identities and the theme song of the superheroes is hilarious. Fry’s alter-ego is designed to look like a person from the 1970s, despite the fact that he was from the 90s. Leela’s outfit is clearly supposed to be a send-up of the typically revealing costumes female superheroes wear, as well as making her symbol a sexist rolling pin. Bender’s is just him wearing a king outfit and a mask. None of these costumes would be at all useful in keeping their identities secret, as Fry’s shows off his hair and mentions that he’s from the past, Leela’s shows off her cyclopic nature, and Benders still shows he’s a robot. Hilariously, Bender already had these when they revealed their powers to him, meaning that he had anticipated one day forming this team. Also, the theme song includes the line “winners don’t use drugs,” a Reagan-era comic throwback.
The best part of the episode, though, is the Zookeeper. He’s among the most ridiculous supervillains ever crafted. He uses animals, though they are apparently only highly-trained, not controlled by him using any superpowers. His menagerie is the best part, as they are not the kind of animals one would expect. They include: a badger with a troubled past and nothing left to lose, an elephant who never forgets to kill, a crab named Lucky, a.k.a. Citizen Snips, a yak, a boxing kangaroo, a python, piranhas that can walk on land, and a hawk. I mostly love the fact that the crab has two names and attacks Teddy Roosevelt’s disembodied head.
Overall, this is a great episode. It focuses more on gags than on plot development, but the gags are pretty great.
Everything about the trio’s meeting with Mayor Poopenmeyer (David Herman) is great, but I particularly love how they get out of his office in order to change into their superhero personas. Leela claims that she forgot that she left her apartment on fire. Bender says that he’s late for his LSATs. Fry just says he can’t take life anymore and jumps out the window.
While this joke does obey the rule of three, obviously, it also subverts the normal structure of a Futurama rule of three gag by having all three of the statements be absurd. Typically, the first two would be somewhat normal and the third would be the insane one, made more insane by the comparison to the first two, but this time, Leela’s is a subversion of the more normal excuse of “I left my stove on,” and the others are even more insane.
Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.
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