The Planet Express Crew go where nobody wants to go again: Puberty.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Overall, just not a notable episode. It’s not bad, but it’s just not great by Futurama standards.
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.
See you next week, meatbags.
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