Futurama Fridays – S6E1 “Rebirth”

The Planet Express crew manages to get back on the air. 

SUMMARY

After entering the wormhole at the end of the last movie, the crew emerges in the “Panama Wormhole,” Earth’s main shipping channel. Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) is still chasing the Planet Express ship. The ships both crash causing a massive explosion that nobody seems to survive except for the Professor (West) who was in a safety sphere and Fry (West), who appears unharmed aside from electrical burns. The rest of the crew are revealed to be just heads on skeletons. The Professor shoves everyone in a rebirthing machine in order to bring them back to life. Everyone seems okay except for Leela (Katey Sagal), who is in a coma. Bender (John DiMaggio) discovers that he has a failing power supply, so the Professor replaces it with a doomsday device. Because the doomsday device output is so large, Bender has to keep partying to burn off the excess or he will die. 

File:Rebirth preview screenshot (skeleton shot).jpg
What is holding those Skeletons together?

Fry, sad because of Leela’s coma, builds a robot version of her. By uploading all of the information about Leela on the Planet Express surveillance, the robot version gains Leela’s memories and personality. Due to not knowing she is a robot, she is horrified when she finds out about the real Leela. After she gets past the existential crisis, she and Fry start to resume the typical Fry/Leela relationship. After the last-ditch effort to wake Leela fails, the crew takes her to be eaten by the wild Cyclophage, a monster that only eats Cyclopes. At the funeral, Bender’s partying is so obnoxious that it wakes Leela up. The Cyclophage attacks, so everyone flees on the ship, with the monster, unseen, holding on to the bottom. 

File:Cyclophage.png
It’s like Mother Brain from Metroid, a frequently rebooted series.

Back on Earth, Fry and the two Leelas try to reconcile their issues, but a fight ensues. Amy (Lauren Tom) gives Fry a gun to shoot one of them, for some reason, but Fry shoots himself by accident. He is revealed to also be a robot. It turns out that the real Fry had sacrificed himself to protect Leela from the initial crash, allowing her to live through it. The Professor tried to revive him, but failed, so Leela built a robot of Fry to replace him. However, the robot Fry overloaded, shocking her into a skeleton and wiping its memory. At that time, the original Fry revives as well. The two robots leave together and Fry and Leela try to work things out. However, Bender gets angered by all the romance, so he tries to stop partying and overload. One of his eyes falls out just as the Cyclophage comes back. It eats Bender, then explodes, leaving Bender somehow unharmed and back to normal. Everyone parties to celebrate.

END SUMMARY

Following the four films, Futurama was revived by Comedy Central, something that is mentioned in the opening to this episode. Given how often the show took shots at the Fox network’s management, it’s interesting that they never seemed to have the same animosity towards Comedy Central. Maybe it’s because the rules about content are so much looser on cable, but it may also be that Matt Groening and David X. Cohen really didn’t appreciate Fox cancelling their show twice (they changed their mind once) only for it to prove itself as a huge draw on Adult Swim. It probably also ticked them off that Fox didn’t want to revive the show like they revived Family Guy and appreciated that Comedy Central could recognize the fact that Futurama had power in syndication. Whatever they were feeling, the show acknowledges the change, then acknowledges the ending of Into the Wild Green Yonder, then moves on. It’s refreshing that they could so naturally restart the normal formula without just completely ignoring everything that had come before.

The episode manages to combine the show rebooting with the characters literally rebooting and being reborn. I appreciate that they never pretend that there’s going to be a major overhaul of anything in the series despite the fact that the majority of the characters are dead at the beginning of the episode. It’s basically assured from the moment that we find that out that they are all going to come back, and the show uses that to surprise us with the reveal of the Robot Fry. It’s a very Futurama twist. 

Overall, I thought this episode was a solid return to form and it gave me hope that the show would produce some more of the quality episodes that it had previously. While I don’t think they ever quite matched “Godfellas,” many of these episodes were excellent. 

FAVORITE JOKE

My favorite joke has to be Studio 1²2¹3³. A lot of the staff on Futurama love math jokes, as do I, and this is a simple but fun one. 1^2 * 2^1 * 3^3 = 1*2*27 = 54. In other words, they’re at Studio 54, the famous nightclub, explaining why Bender is dressed in John Travolta’s outfit from Saturday Night Fever. The deeper layer to this joke is that Studio 54 was originally a TV studio which ran from 1943 to 1975. After CBS sold it, it was reborn as Studio 54, a nightclub that was the hottest thing in New York for a few years until the people that ran it, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, got arrested for tax fraud, which heralded its demise. However, it was eventually reborn (Oh, now I get it!) in 1998 as a theatre on Broadway. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 76: Into the Wild Green Yonder

NEXT – Episode 78: In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela

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.

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