It’s a National Geographic special from Planet Express.
This episode consists of three separate vignettes of the crew re-imagined as animals.
In the first, Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), Zapp Brannigan (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), Amy (Lauren Tom), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and a number of other characters are incarnated as salmon traveling upstream. Along the way, a number are killed by hazards such as whitewater and lobsters (Zoidberg). As they reach a fork in the river to their spawning site, Fry finds himself compelled to separate from Leela, with whom he had been planning to mate. Leela is instead courted by Zapp, but Fry leaps over the land, finally being kicked in when a pair of Bears (Lrrr and NdNd (Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille)) fight over him, with Lrrr having eaten Zapp. Fry fertilizes Leela’s eggs and then they both die.
The second scene involves the Professor (West) playing a Pinta Island Tortoise, a species which is presumed to be near extinction due to only Hubert remaining. He attempts to find another mate and is accompanied on the journey to the other side of the island by a group of finches (Fry, Leela, Amy, and Hermes) and an iguana (Bender). Hubert moves so slowly that an entire generation of finches dies off and are replaced with new ones that have apparently evolved to better survive the new side of the island. Hubert thinks he found the other member of the species, but it turns out to be a rock. Mom, the actual female, arrives and destroys the rock, then mates with Hubert with his apparently weird turtle penis. A while later their babies hatch, only to be crushed immediately by a rock.
The final segment has everyone re-imagined as elephant seals. Bender is the alpha male “beachmaster,” who keeps all of the other males separate from the females. One male (Kif) is attracted to a particular female (Amy), but the beachmaster keeps the beta males away. On the advice of an older seal (Farnsworth), Kif tries to seduce Amy as a sneaky male, but he’s interrupted by Bender. After summoning his courage, Kif challenges Bender to a fight, but is completely destroyed, to the point that Bender is flattening his corpse while he sleeps. However, the fight distracted the beachmaster long enough that the other males all snuck in to impregnate the females, resulting in a litter of their offspring.
I am not sure what exactly the team was smoking when they decided to make this episode, but much like “Reincarnation,” this episode manages to produce a bunch of laughs by sticking to its completely nonsensical premise. Without having to care about characterization or anything else like that, the focus was just on coming up with ridiculous jokes to fill an already absurd set of plots and it pays off pretty well. I think with the “Futurama Holiday Special” the team was a little worried about coming up with a musical number or trying not to offend anyone too much, but obviously no one can get too upset about taking shots at turtles and salmon. Well, maybe biologists, but as a (former) physicist I don’t care about their opinion. Yeah, I said it. Bring it on, animal nerds.
I also appreciate that all of the animal designs are just the right kind of anthropomorphic adaptations of the characters. It’s always clear which character has become which animal, even though they’re wildly different. Part of it is that they keep each character’s color scheme, for the most part, which makes you all the more appreciative for the work that went into crafting all of the distinct color palettes in the series.
Overall, it’s not the best episode of the series, but it’s one of the funnier ones.
Let’s do one from each segment:
- When the narrator says that a young salmon is called a “fry,” Leela asks what Fry’s name is. Fry responds “I don’t have a name. I’m a salmon.” It’s perfectly delivered and timed.
- When Mom, as a tortoise, destroys the rock that Farnsworth is trying to seduce, Farnsworth says “you always were a hot-blooded Latina.” The narrator then adds “like all reptiles, the Galapagos tortoise is cold-blooded.” It’s someone doing a decent Morgan Freeman, so bonus points.
- They adapt three of Bender’s catchphrases perfectly. “Bite my freshly-molted, blubber-filled ass,” “I’m 40% ass,” and, as he’s sleeping, “kill all penguins, kill all penguins.” I’m pretty sure that they made Bender the beachmaster solely for these.
See you next week, meatbags.
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