Bender becomes a paparazzo and kills everyone.
Amy (Lauren Tom) suggests that the crew go to the aquarium, where Bender (John DiMaggio) takes a photo of Calculon (Maurice LaMarche). Interestingly, Bender uses film, rather than a digital camera, despite the fact that his eyes are, themselves, digital cameras. His photos impress Zoidberg (Billy West) who tells Bender to sell them to a tabloid. The paper buys them and hires Bender as a photographer. He begins to hound celebrities for photos and becomes fairly successful thanks to his complete lack of morals and decency. However, Zoidberg later informs Bender of Langdon Cobb (David Herman), an actor who never shows his face, instead acting through a paper bag. Despite that, he’s considered the greatest actor in the universe. Bender is determined to be the first person to take a picture of his face.
Bender breaks into Cobb’s compound and is chased by Cobb’s strange fungus dog. Bender succeeds in getting a photo of Cobb, but Cobb begs him not to show anyone. Bender promises, but immediately shows Fry (West), who has a green light shoot out of him and becomes a lifeless husk. The same happens to Amy and Hermes (Phil LaMarr). The Professor recognizes this as a sign that Cobb is an organism with two bodies. The ID is Cobb and his Ego is his dog. Cobb’s species feeds on attention, to the point that any organism that sees him has their life force drained. The Professor says that they need to weaken Cobb’s ego in order to undo it.
Leela (Katey Sagal) and Bender ask Calculon to beat Cobb in an acting competition and Calculon agrees. In order to win, Calculon decides to drink poison during a death scene and actually die, for realism. However, Cobb actually ends up winning, making his ego stronger. The fungus dog attacks the theater. Bender realizes he can show Cobb a photo of himself to suck out Cobb’s life force, but it doesn’t work, as Cobb is immune. However, Cobb’s admiration for his own appearance causes his ego to inflate so much it bursts, saving everyone.
This episode does at least come up with one of the most interesting concepts for an alien in the entire series. Langdon Cobb is supposed to be a Quantum Lichen, a creature that, like an Earth lichen, is actually a composite organism. Lichens are part algae and part fungus, yet they’re often treated as a single entity and have different properties than their components because they share resources. In this episode, the dog and the man are treated as the different parts of the lichen, but rather than physically interacting, they’re able to share energy through quantum entanglement. The idea of eating attention is insane, but, again, I at least appreciate that it was an original alien design.
I also love the idea of an actor who is so obsessed with “the craft” that he declines to show his face, typically one of the most important features of a performer. It’s justified by Cobb’s inability to be looked at, but it’s also one of those obnoxious things that you know some “experimental thespian” has wanted to try in real life. It’s even funnier that it’s being done on a show featuring voice actors, people who have to show emotion and convey action and sometimes even setting through just their voice.
The problem with the episode is that it’s just a bit too all over the place. It has a very meandering plotline that doesn’t really give you a lot of time to react. The jokes could save it, but they’re not the pinnacle of Futurama one-liners or visual gags, partially because a number of them seem cribbed from The Simpsons. Overall, it ends up just being mediocre.
Honestly, it’s a pretty good episode for name jokes. We have Larvae Levin as a parody of Harvey Levin, the founder of TMZ. I’m not sure whether calling him a larva was an insult to him or larvae. Parts Hilton was the robotic version of Paris Hilton and Bender’s snapshot designed to look like a sex tape was pretty funny. But the best one is Selena Go-Bot, because everything is better with a Transformers knock-off.
See you next week, meatbags.
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