Futurama Fridays – S4E12 “The Sting”

Fry’s dead and Leela’s guilty. Time for some crazy trippy dreams.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) are told they’re not good enough to collect Space Bee honey for the Professor (West). Leela insists they are and drags the other two on a mission, even though it killed the last Planet Express crew. The crew reaches the space bee hive and paint Bender like a bee so he can communicate via dancing. They eventually find the previous Planet Express crew, a load of honeycomb, and a flow of royal jelly. Leela collects a baby queen bee and some royal jelly as the crew tries to collect the honey. Bender accidentally insults the queen of the hive and the crew is chased back to the ship. On route to Earth, the baby queen tries to kill Leela, so Fry jumps in front of her, sacrificing himself by being impaled with the stinger. He dies.

File:Old Planet Express Ship.png
This is how at least one previous crew died, so only losing Fry is still a net win.

Fry’s coffin is ejected into space after a sad funeral. Leela, blaming herself, eats some space honey to ease the pain, knocking her out. She dreams of a still-alive Fry telling her that he left her a surprise in his locker. She goes to work to find it and discovers that Fry did indeed leave her a one-eyed stress-relieving doll as a gift. Leela says this proves Fry is alive, but a brain-scan by the Professor says that she’s just blocking out memories due to grief. She has another dream of him being alive and awakes to his jacket on her, only for it to turn out to be her jacket when she shows it at work. They inform her that she might be having issues because she’s eating spoonfuls of Space Honey, which, if overused, can lead to permanent sleep. Leela tries to use it again that night and knocks over the jar, reconstituting Fry from the jelly. She celebrates Fry being alive, until Fry tells her to wake up, revealing it’s a dream. 

File:Fry's Funeral.png
I’m just curious why only 2 Neptunians showed up.

Leela starts hallucinating regularly and envisioning all of the crew telling her that she killed Fry. She decides to take enough honey to dream forever, only for Fry’s voice to reach her and tell her that sleeping forever isn’t an option. She’s stronger than that and she should fight against it. She starts to be surrounded by bees attacking her only for Fry’s voice to tell her that he loved her. She cries, only to wake up in the hospital next to Fry. It turns out that the stinger DID go through Fry… into Leela, who got all the poison. Fry had to get a new spleen, but after that he never left her side, begging her to wake up for two weeks. The voices she heard were him watching out for her. They hug.

File:The Sting.jpg
My ship is about to come in.

END SUMMARY

This episode was a lot darker on rewatch than I remember. Leela’s not only in a coma, but while in the coma she is seemingly about to make an active choice to put herself to sleep forever, which I can only assume means never waking up again in real life. Even worse, she’s doing it because she thinks that she’s killed Fry and is desperate to see him again. Despite the fact that Fry and Leela’s on-again-off-again relationship is not currently on, we see in this episode that Leela truly is starting to have feelings for Fry that are just as strong as his feelings for hers. More remarkably, it happens without Fry having the brain worms from the last time she was smitten with him. Having the entire episode inside of her head gives us a clearer picture of this character right before the show was going to need to wrap up this plotline. Still, having her so grief-stricken that she’s essentially going insane and about to kill herself is freaking dark.

S4EA - 1Frame.png
This is literally her suicide weapon next to a picture of her love. Super dark.

What’s more impressive in some ways is that the ending to this episode doesn’t feel like a cop-out to me. I mean, this is an episode where the twist is that it was all a dream, an episode where they fake having a main character die, and an episode where somehow you can dream within dreams and yet I didn’t hate it the way that I usually hate all of those cliches. I think it’s that this episode was pretty early in hinting to the audience that it wasn’t real and that it used the dream setting perfectly as a way of trying to show everyone how devastating grief can be. Leela blames herself for Fry’s death so completely that all of the walls in her apartment are chanting that she killed him. This is only made worse by the fact that Fry actually sacrificed himself for her. I also appreciate that in reality, Fry still did try to sacrifice himself for her, even if he ended up only losing a spleen. It shows again how much he cares for Leela.

S4EA - 2Walls.png
Great way to visualize guilt.

Overall, I like this episode a lot. I really enjoy the spontaneous musical number and the final hug between Fry and Leela. 

FAVORITE JOKE

There’s a shot of all of the women Fry has slept with from the show. During the shot, Kug (Tress MacNeille), the Amazonian that banged Fry in “Amazon Women in the Mood” says “Him do good Snu-Snu” only for all of his other exes to say “eh….” Remember, Kug had never had sex before and it seems unlikely that she’s had it since, so her perspective might not be great. The other women we see present are Petunia (MacNeille) the hooker “Put Your Head on My Shoulders,” Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn) the bureaucrat “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back,” Michelle (Sarah Silverman) his frozen ex “The Cryonic Woman,” and the other 21st Century girl he hooked up with from “Love’s Labours Lost in Space.” However, next to them is a radiator… a reference to Fry saying he hooked up with a radiator woman from the radiator planet at the Miss Universe contest in “The Lesser of Two Evils.” Since this is in Leela’s mind, that means that Leela must, on some level, believe that Fry DID in fact hook-up with a radiator alien. I love that this is the man she eventually ends up with.

File:Women Fry slept with.png

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 65: Where No Fan Has Gone Before

NEXT – Episode 67: Bend Her

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.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S4E11 “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”

Futurama finally drops the pretense and just brings back Star Trek… with Welshie.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) learns that Star Trek was banned in the future because it had previously become a religion that had caused a series of wars. Remembering that he met him in the pilot, Fry goes to see Leonard Nimoy’s head at the Head Museum. Nimoy eventually admits to missing being Spock and missing all of his co-stars, so Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Nimoy head into space to find the rest of the Star Trek cast. The crew heads towards Omega 3, the planet where the Star Trek tapes were disposed of, only to crash on the planet. 

File:StarTrekWars.jpg
 In nomine Spock, et Bones, et Kirk.

The crew emerges to find a ton of sets from the show, as well as the cast, having been rejuvenated and given new bodies. It’s revealed that the planet is ruled by an alien energy being named Melllvar (Maurice LaMarche). He murders Welshie (David Herman), Scotty’s replacement, to show the crew that he is serious. With the cast complete (minus James Doohan, the guy who played Scotty), Melllvar announces he’s hosting the biggest Star Trek convention of all time.  Melllvar is apparently the second biggest Star Trek fan of all time, next to Fry, something that infuriates him. Ultimately, he tries to get the cast to enact his fan script, distracting him.

File:Melllvar's Mom.png
It also turns out that he lives in his mom’s basement and is 34. Weird for a deity.

The Planet Express crew leave the planet, then return to rescue the cast, only for them to fail and Melllvar to question if the Planet Express crew, as actual space heroes, is more worthy of his fandom than the cast. He orders them to fight to the death, but that falls apart quickly when the crews agree to work together after Melllvar is called to dinner by his mother. However, in order to escape, the cast has to jettison their bodies and become heads in jars again. Melllvar pursues them and they end up being captured by Zapp Brannigan’s (West) ship. After a hearing over the Crew’s possession of the banned Star Trek tapes (and cast), the chase continues until Fry convinces him that basing his life off of a show is not worth it. 

The trial is the framing device and it’s a great reference itself.

END SUMMARY

So, ever since Leonard Nimoy appeared in the pilot, everyone probably felt like this episode was inevitable. Futurama was definitely a product of Star Trek, has made a ton of references to the series, and basically never shied away from talking about it until this episode, in which it spontaneously is declared banned in the future. The idea that Star Trek fandom becomes so insanely dedicated that infighting leads to entire wars is… well, actually pretty accurate. I mean, have you seen how much people fight over what the best series is? There are people who would sooner get their eyes ripped out than admit that Picard was a better captain than Kirk and people who would rip the eyes out to get someone to say that. This is after the franchise has only been around for 50 years. Give it time, this episode might become more true, which is sad for a franchise founded on the idea of a Utopian future for humanity.

File:TrekChurch.jpg
Shots fired at John Travolta.

I love how much work this episode put into making as many references and jokes to the series as they could. The writer of this episode, David A. Goodman, actually got a real job writing for a Star Trek show because of it. In a bizarre twist that I keep bringing up, Matt Groening, the show’s creator, couldn’t really contribute to this episode, because he had never seen Star Trek. I find it hilarious that someone who created a sci-fi show wouldn’t have seen something so central to the genre. It’s like writing a fantasy show and never having read or seen Lord of the Rings

File:Where No Fan Has Gone Before.jpg
Sulu has some rockin’ abs, but Groening didn’t know why.

The only person who refused to appear in this episode from the original Star Trek cast is James Doohan, the original Scotty, which is why he’s replaced with a surrogate named Welshy. Because of this, the original title of the episode was “We Got Everyone But Scotty.” DeForest Kelley, the original Bones McCoy, appears in the episode but doesn’t speak, due to him being dead for several years. Weirdly, we haven’t gotten a firm explanation why Scotty refused to appear in the episode, but it’s been made clear that it was a very firm rejection. They even joke in the commentary that it was a “no way” as opposed to just a “no.” 

Overall, this was a solid episode that paid tribute to another great show. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Yeah, there’s so many this is going to have to be a countdown:

3) “He’s Dead, Jim”

When all of the Star Trek fans are being killed off, it’s revealed that they were killed in the manner most typical of virgins: Thrown into a volcano. In the grand tradition of Star Trek, every time someone is killed, one of the people says “He’s dead, Jim,” the catchphrase of Bones McCoy from the original series.

Image result for futurama volcano

2) Balok’s Puppet

At the end of some of the closing credits of the original Star Trek show, they would show an image of a puppet used by the character Balok (Clint Howard) in the episode “The Corbomite Maneuver.” It was a fairly iconic image for a while because of this. In this episode, there is a picture of Lt. Kif Kroker done in the same style as that image during the closing credits.

File:Kifbalok.jpg

1) George and Walter Share

So, during filming of the second season of Star Trek, Geoge Takei had conflicts that kept him from appearing in about half of the episodes. Because of this, they brought in Walter Koenig to play Pavel Chekov and gave him most of the stuff that Sulu would have done in the outlined episodes. Since budget was pretty small on Star Trek, Takei and Koenig ended up having to share a dressing room and, when they were in an episode together, would sometimes have to share scripts until the final was ready. If you’re asking why someone couldn’t just copy another script, that’s the same question this episode forces you to ask when Melllvar, an all-powerful being, can’t materialize another fan script. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

NEXT – Episode 66: The Sting

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.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S4E10 “The Why of Fry”

The show’s ending, time to wrap up the plot point that was set up at the very first episode.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) is disappointed when Bender (John DiMaggio) and Leela (Katey Sagal) go on a delivery without him, and more disappointed that without him the delivery went so well they got medals. Bender even hammers home that Fry would have been useless on the delivery, even though he’s the delivery boy. Fry tries to ask out Leela, but she’s dating Chaz, the mayor’s aide (Bob Odenkirk). Fry goes to drink his sorrow away, feeling unimportant, only to be met by Leela and Chaz. Fry hopes the date is going badly, but Leela says the opposite: She doesn’t think she’ll be going home tonight, so she has Fry walk Nibbler (Frank Welker). Fry gets fined for not picking up Nibbler’s poop, making him certain he’s the least important guy in the universe, only for Nibbler to start talking to him. Nibbler takes him to planet Eternium, the home of the Nibblonians, where the Council reveals that Fry is the most important person in the universe.

S4E9 - 1Elzar.png
The Mayor’s Aide badge has no identification on it. Like the Men in Black.

It turns out that Fry is the only being immune to the powers of the giant brains from “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid,” due to him becoming his own grandfather in “Roswell That Ends Well.” Those same brains are building a giant Infosphere that will obtain all the information in the universe, then destroy everything. Fry is given a bomb that will move the entire sphere into an alternate universe, then given a child’s space scooter (Scooty-Puff, Jr.) to outrun the explosion. Fry makes it inside of the Infosphere undetected, but delays detonating the bomb in order to ask the giant brain at the center a series of stupid questions, resulting in the brains locating him. He tries to escape, but the Scooty-Puff breaks. He activates the bomb anyway, thinking he has saved the universe. However, the brains show him the truth: The Nibblonians are the reason he got frozen 1000 years ago. Nibbler blew him backward into the cryo-tube. The bomb explodes, sending Fry and the brains to an alternate universe.

S4E9 - 2Brain.jpg
The Infosphere is also the name of the Futurama fan-site.

The Brains reveal that they can send Fry back to the date he was frozen, allowing him to change the past and thus prevent their destruction. Fry agrees and gets sent to the past. At the same time, Leela’s date with Chaz starts to devolve due to Chaz being a cocky jerk. After he is a jerk to some orphans, she ends up feeding him his own badge. Back in 1999, Fry ambushes Nibbler as he is about to shove Fry into the Cryo-tube. Nibbler explains that he didn’t travel through time, he is just 1000 years younger and has to do this or else Fry won’t exist in the future. Nibbler hints that he and Leela may have a destiny together, so Fry ends up choosing to get frozen again… after giving Nibbler a warning that Scooty-Puff, Jr. sucks. Back in the future, Fry is given a Scooty-Puff, Sr. (“THE DOOM-BRINGER”) and successfully blows up the Infosphere. Nibbler erases his memory, but arranges for him to impress Leela and get a kiss.

END SUMMARY

This is pretty much the conclusion of the biggest serial arc in the series, which started during the beginning of “Space Pilot 3000” where Matt Groening famously shouted “secret!” on the DVD commentary. Nibbler was present in that episode, as a shadow, something that shows exactly how much effort was put into this plotline. Later, in “Anthology of Interest I,” we see that if Fry doesn’t go to the future, the universe collapses, something that’s explained here as being because the Brainspawn erase everything but the Infosphere. In “Jurassic Bark,” we see what happens a few seconds later in the timeline from the first episode, where there are two shadows, one of them being the Fry from the future. I admit that there are not a ton of episodes related to this, but I’m still amazed that a sitcom that often points out that nothing changes in the series did actually contain such a long-standing serial element. 

S4E9 - 4Shadow.png
SECRET!!!!! now exposed.

Despite this being such a culmination for the show, the episode does still devote time to its B-Plot, which ends up delivering the next and maybe most concrete evidence that Fry and Leela are eventually going to end up together. I also just love Bob Odenkirk’s performance as Chaz, because he is such a jackass the entire time while also being just the right level of cocky that we can believe Leela is impressed with him. I mean, that’s basically Bob Odenkirk’s wheelhouse: A likeable sh*thead.

S4E9 - 5Pineapple.png
Instead, she ends up with this guy.

Overall, I think this was a solid resolution of the plotline. It also removes a lot of the tragedy behind Fry’s fate because we now know that Fry actually chose to do this, rather than just being a pawn of fate.

S4E9 - 3Push.png
Good job taking charge, Fry.

FAVORITE JOKE

I know it’s probably a cheap shot, but my favorite joke is this exchange:

Nibbler: You are the last hope of the universe.

Fry: So I really am important? How I feel when I’m drunk is correct?

Nibbler: Yes. Except the Dave Matthews Band doesn’t rock.

Look, I’m not really against the Dave Matthews Band and I enjoyed a lot of their stuff in the ‘90s, but let’s go ahead and admit that all adult alternative music, which is the only chart that Dave Matthews ever really topped, is pretty much made for people who are about 2 drinks past driving. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 63: Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles

NEXT – Episode 65: Where No Fan Has Gone Before

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.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S4E9 “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles”

The Planet Express Crew go where nobody wants to go again: Puberty.

SUMMARY

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.

S4E8 - 1Florida.png
Ah, back when Florida only supposedly had three things to mock. 

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). 

S4E8 - 2FryDate.png
I love how cute they are as teens.

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. 

S4E8 - 3Story
Zoidberg’s childhood was very different. 

END SUMMARY

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.

S4E8 - 5Driving.png
The Professor decides to only fly at 38 MPH, for example, despite him flying normally otherwise.

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.

S4E8 - 4Tequila.png
I love that he put a silly straw in it.

Overall, just not a notable episode. It’s not bad, but it’s just not great by Futurama standards.

FAVORITE JOKE

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.

S4E8 - 6Gorn.png
Dark humor seems appropriate for a book based on R.L. Stevenson.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

NEXT – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

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.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S4E8 “Crimes of the Hot”

Al Gore rides the mighty moon worm, windmills do not work that way, and global warming is real.

SUMMARY

New New York is struck by a heat wave. It turns out that the Earth has been dealing with global warming for a millennium, a thing which they’ve “solved” by having a team of people drop a big ice cube into the ocean whenever it gets too hot. Richard Nixon (Billy West) calls on Planet Express to go get the ice. Unfortunately, when they get there, Fry (West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio), learn that the comet they’ve been mining for ice has run out. Rather than go to, say, another comet or a frozen planet or any of the huge number of frozen entities in space, the crew gives up and comes home. Earth is now doomed, for some reason.

S4E7 - 1Comet
Because Halley’s comet is the only source of water in the universe, I guess?

As the effects of global warming start to increase, the polar ice caps melt and the heat makes Africa turtles migrate to Holland, where windmills will hopefully cool them down. Except that WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! It turns out that Bender likes turtles, because he can’t get up when he’s knocked perfectly on his back. 

S4E7 - 2Turtle.png
The poor animals. And the robot.

A scientific conference is held in Kyoto by Al Gore, the first Emperor of the Moon. He offers a bag of moon sapphires to whoever solves the problem. When it’s his turn, the Professor (West) makes a revelation: Global Warming is caused by robots, specifically the alcohol-powered “sport-utility robots” that the Professor designed for Mom (Tress MacNeille). Dr. Wernstrom (David Herman) proposes that they destroy all robots. Nixon plans to facilitate it by hosting a “robot party” on the Galapagos Islands, where they will set off an EMP to fry all of the robots. While Bender decides to sacrifice himself, he accidentally tells the other robots who start to panic. The Professor arrives with a solution: Every robot needs to vent their exhaust upward at the same time. They start to, but Bender is knocked over and can’t. He watches the turtle get up, then manages to right himself and vent his exhaust, moving Earth slightly further from the sun and cooling it off. This makes the Earth’s orbit one week longer, which Nixon declares “Robot Party Week.”

S4E7 - 3PArty.png
So many cameos, so little time to care about them.

END SUMMARY

This episode is ridiculous in all the best ways. It has so many of my favorite jokes from the series that I honestly forget how weird it is that Earth has apparently been countering Global Warming with giant ice cubes. What’s funny is that people seem to remember that Al Gore did this episode because it was about Global Warming, like his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Of course, that’s an easy assumption to make, if you don’t remember that this episode came out 4 years before that documentary… and is literally a part of that documentary. Instead, this was based on his writing of Earth in the Balance, here described as having a sequel called Harry Potter and the Balance of Earth. Aside from that, I imagine at least some of what led the former Vice-President to be on the episode was the fact that his daughter, Kristin Gore, was a writer on the show by this point… which she weirdly got after he’d already been on it in Season 2. 

S4E7 - 4Books.png
I find it funny that he ends up abandoning Earth for the moon.

The weirdest thing about the episode is that it is extremely similar both in scenes and themes, to the earlier episode “A Big Piece of Garbage:” There’s a problem that was caused in the past that’s a metaphor for an actual environmental issue; The team has to go land on an object flying through space to solve it, but they fail; There’s an educational video about the problem; A bunch of people, including Dr. Wernstrom, try to solve the problem but they fail; and the solution is actually tied into the problem and doesn’t permanently solve it. It’s so similar even the commentary on the episode points it out. However, this episode is just so much funnier than that one… it’s like a vastly superior remake. 

S4E7 - 5C3PO
Better Cameos, too.

Also, this episode was our introduction to Hedonismbot (Maurice LaMarche), one of the best characters the show ever created. He apologizes for nothing.

S4E7 - 6Hedonismbot
He isn’t a hedonistbot, he’s the literal hedonismbot.

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, there are so many good ones in this episode, including several that I frequently use in real life. So, I’m gonna do a top 5:

5) The end of the “None Like it Hot” educational film:

Narrator: Fortunately, our handsomest politicians came up with a cheap, last-minute way to combat global warming. Ever since 2063 we simply drop a giant ice cube into the ocean every now and then.

Suzie: Just like Daddy puts in his drink every morning. And then he gets mad.

Narrator: Of course, since the greenhouse gases are still building up, it takes more and more ice each time. Thus solving the problem once and for all.

Suzie: But–

Narrator: Once and for all!

4) “This could mean the end of the banana daiquiri as we know it … also life.” Bender has his priorities straight.

3) The random appearance of a wizard who is clearly supposed to be Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He gets offended at Al Gore’s stereotyping of wizards, but then mentions he wants the moon sapphires to open the Gate of Garash. 

S4E7 - 7Tim.png
There are those who would call him… a cameo.

2) “I have ridden the mighty Moon Worm.” I want you to know, I would vote for any politician that says this. No other information required.

S4E7 - 8Gore
Emperors don’t have to worry about recounts.

1) “WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!!” I use this whenever anyone mentions anything about windmills. Even by the standards of Morbo, this is one of his best lines.

S4E7 - 9Windmills.gif 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

NEXT – Episode 63: Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles

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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Futurama Fridays – S4E7 “Jurassic Bark”

It’s the one with the dog that makes the internet cry forever.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) and Fry (Billy West) are practicing a magic act, when Fry learns that his old pizzeria was unearthed and has been put into a museum. When they go to visit the exhibit, Fry finds a fossilized dog that he realizes was his dog, Seymour Asses (he was named for a prank call). Fry tries to take Seymour with him, but is kicked out of the museum. He tries to dance in front of the building as a form of protest, to no avail, until he tells the curators a number of facts about Seymour that they consider to be more worthwhile than the dog, so they return it to him. The Professor (West) finds that Seymour was fast-fossilized, meaning that he can be cloned with all his memories. Fry is ecstatic, but Bender becomes worried that Fry likes the dog more than him.

File:Seymour.jpg
He’s an amazing little guy.

The Professor needs a while to reformat the clone-o-mat, so it’s time for the flashback. It turns out that on the night Fry got frozen, Seymour tried to stop Fry. Fry, not knowing what was going to happen, tells the dog to just wait until he comes back. Later, Seymour tried to lead Fry’s family to him, but Fry’s dad, Yancy (DiMaggio), refuses to follow him due to his fear of Y2K. The dog eventually gets them to come along, but even though he paws at Fry’s cryo-tube, the family never realizes what is happening.

File:Robo-puppy.png
Bender even tries to get his own dog, with hilarious results.

In the present, which is the future, Bender’s jealousy grows as Fry becomes more and more focused on preparing for Seymour’s return, to the point that Fry ignores Leela (Katey Sagal) and Amy (Lauren Tom) sensually wrestling. Finally, the Professor is ready to clone Seymour using the power of Geothermal Energy, so he lowers the lab next to the molten core of the Earth. Seeing the dog about to be cloned, Bender grabs the fossil and throws it into the magma. Seeing Fry break down, Bender realizes that Fry truly loved the dog and jumps into the pit, swimming through the liquid rock until he brings Seymour back. They’re about to revive Seymour when Fry realizes that Seymour was 15 when he died, meaning he lived 12 years after Fry disappeared. Fry, thinking that Seymour probably forgot about him and had a full life, refuses to go through with the cloning.

File:Unsanitarywindmill.jpg
This is a reference to The Simpsons, because this is where Homer and Marge made Bart.

Unfortunately, the audience is shown that Fry was wrong. In a time lapse montage set to the song “I Will Wait for You” by Connie Francis, it’s revealed that Seymour spent the rest of his life waiting for Fry to return home. The dog loyally looked for its master to return until, his coat grey and his eyes weary, he laid down and went to sleep, seemingly for the last time.

END SUMMARY

This episode is simultaneously famous and infamous. The ending of this episode is one of the most powerful emotional punches the show ever delivered. It spends the episode showing us the simple and beautiful friendship between Fry and his dog, from their first meeting to their bonding over “Walking on Sunshine” to Seymour trying to save Fry from his eventual fate. We even see how he tries to save Fry after he gets frozen. When Fry realizes that Seymour lived another 12 years beyond what the audience had said, he makes a noble decision, thinking that Seymour likely had a happy life without him and deserves to rest in peace. But what he didn’t take into account was that Fry was Seymour’s world. Watching a show of a dog spending his entire life waiting for the love of his life to come back, with us knowing that he never will, turns Fry’s noble sacrifice into a pointless cruelty and, due to the show’s cancellation, it was never undone. It is genuinely heartbreaking and I don’t know how else to describe it.

File:Seymour.gif
Cool, dead dog. Nice.

Fan reactions to this episode were extremely intense. Since Futurama is ostensibly a comedy, this kind of ending isn’t really expected. Even in episodes like “Leela’s Homeworld,” where there is a sad montage, it at least has a happy ending associated with it. This episode doesn’t give you a respite, it doesn’t end on a joke, it doesn’t have a happy moral, it just dumps a painful series of images on you and lets you wallow. This was so painful to the audience that the creators had to undo the whole thing when they brought Futurama back with “Bender’s Big Score” by having an alternate Fry spend the 12 years with Seymour before the dog gets fossilized. In the second to last episode of the show, they even reference it again by having the title caption say “Not the Episode With the Dead Dog.” This episode is one of the most remembered in the show and, honestly, I considered adding it to my list of the 100 greatest television episodes of all time.

File:Nibbler's and Fry's shadow in 4ACV07.png
It also contains a second hidden image.

The rest of the episode really feels like nothing more than a set-up for this downer, although Bender’s jealousy is a rare revelation that he really does care about his relationship with Fry. At many points in the show, it’s implied, mostly by Bender, that Bender is mostly just using Fry, but here we see that he does in fact care about him.

This is an amazing episode that everyone needs to see, because it’s so unique.

FAVORITE JOKE

When Bender throws Seymour into the lava, the Professor reveals that the dog might be able to be recovered because his fossil was made of Dolemite.

Dolemite (movie poster).jpg
He’s a kung-fu pimp.

So, Dolomite limestone is a rock which frequently contains fossilized remains. Dolomite the mineral is used for decorative purposes or to make auto-glass because it survives high temperatures. Dolemite is a Blaxploitation film from the 1970s starring Rudy Ray Moore. It was mostly an over-the-top parody of other blaxploitation films based around a character that Moore made up during his stand-up routines.

In other words, this is a joke that works on three different levels. I love it.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 60: Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television

NEXT – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S4E6 “Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television”

Bender gets his big break on a soap opera and ends up causing moral outrage.

SUMMARY

The Professor’s (Billy West) son, Cubert (Kath Soucie), and Hermes’s (Phil LaMarr) son, Dwight (Bumper Robinson), are watching TV and trying to emulate Calculon (Maurice LaMarche), the star of soap opera All My Circuits. Calculon holds a birthday bash, leading Cubert to request a birthday party which he shares with Dwight, but no one shows up due to the two being unpopular. During the birthday bash episode, the actor playing Calculon’s son breaks down, literally, and has to be replaced. Bender (John DiMaggio) auditions to replace him and, by sabotaging all the other actors, gets the role despite being a terrible actor. 

S4E6 - 1Culkon.png
He beat out Macaulay Culkon, but only because puberty killed his appeal.

On set, the show tries to work around Bender by having him be in a coma, only for Bender to refuse to obey the script and start improvising with his typical rudeness. Due to Calculon having a “one-take only” policy, the footage gets aired. Calculon tries to get Bender fired, but the audience loves Bender and the executives love that the audience loves him. Bender gets a central role in the show and continues to do all the things that he does normally: drink, smoke, steal, and swear. Cubert, Dwight, and the other kids start to idolize and emulate Bender, angering their parents. The Professor and Hermes form an organization called F.A.R.T. (Fathers Against Rude Television) to oppose Bender.

S4E6 - 2FART.png
The Don-bot is great at leading mobs. 

Dwight and Cubert emulate Bender to the point that they decide to rob the coolest person they know, namely Bender. Upon finding out that the kids robbed him, Bender joins F.A.R.T. and tries to ban himself from TV. The F.A.R.T.s and Bender go to the studio to try and get Bender fired, but the President of the Network (West) takes Bender hostage… at the same time that the F.A.R.T.s do. Bender steals there weapons and forces the cameramen on All My Circuits to film him. He delivers a speech culminating in: “… [m]ost, perhaps all the blame, rests with the parents. That’s right, you! And so I ask you this one question: Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?” Everyone agrees that they should watch less TV, then proceeds to keep watching it anyway.

END SUMMARY

This episode is pretty clearly a shot at all of the parents groups that complained about Futurama being inappropriate for kids and Bender specifically being a poor role model. The idea of Bender becoming famous plays out repeatedly within the series, but watching him become famous essentially just for being himself is a nice jab at the fact that he was kind of the breakout character, despite the fact that he’s basically just a hedonist. Now, it’s not surprising that Futurama, a show made by many of the same people as The Simpsons, probably doesn’t have a lot of love towards people claiming it’s morally bankrupt, so I think this episode was probably inevitable. However, as expected, even though they do take a position about parents having to take some responsibility over what media children consume as opposed to the media itself being restricted, they still decide to say it in the most outrageous way possible, by encouraging the parents to beat their children. After that, they decide to get a last dig in at the outraged groups by having them learn the lesson that they should watch less TV, but then keep watching it anyway even though they explicitly say nothing good is on.

S4E6 - 3Cigars
It’s also on the stores for selling  cigars to minors…

The episode also takes a shot at the Studio executive system. The Execu-Bots that run the network under the President are programmed to do all of the things that people complain about executives doing. Execu-Bot Alpha only likes things that its already seen, Beta determines the lineup by rolling dice rather than trying to create art or quality, and Gamma underestimates middle America. The President of the Network is literally a laptop and is focused solely on the acquisition of money at any cost. He has no loyalty to the actors, the crew, or the audience, only to the shareholders. It’s not a particularly clever bit of criticism, but I imagine it was cathartic to people running a TV show on a network, particularly one that was about to be cancelled. 

S4E6 - 4Execubots.png
I love that alpha has a soldered-on pocket square.

Overall, not a bad episode. It doesn’t really make any of my top episode lists, but it’s got fun moments too. 

FAVORITE JOKE

This one took me a few years to get, but it’s probably when Calculon is confronted by F.A.R.T. and the Bender-led mob and he shouts out “Great Shatner’s Ghost!” The reason why I love that is that it’s a reference to the phrase “Great Caesar’s Ghost,” the catchphrase of Daily Planet Editor-In-Chief Perry White from Superman. While it apparently first appeared on the Superman radio show in the 1940s, it became his catchphrase because the actor who played White on the 1950s Superman TV Show, John Hamilton, thought it would make him memorable. The reason why I think that’s a really good joke is that, like Calculon, John Hamilton appeared in hundreds of films and television shows and yet he really only ever had one memorable role. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 59: A Taste of Freedom

NEXT – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

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.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.