Fry manages to get Lucy Liu to go out with him… by downloading her personality into a robot that is programmed to go out with him.
Fry (Billy West) tries to convince the Planet Express crew that everything in the future is better than it was in 1999 after he sees a mind-altering ad for the Discount Shoe Outlet. They agree to take Fry on a trip to do all of the things that he wanted to do in the past, such as riding a dinosaur and seeing the edge of the universe. An hour and a half later, the only things Fry hasn’t done is be naked in a chocolate factory or be romantically linked with a celebrity. In order to satisfy the latter, the team logs onto the internet and goes to Nappster, a company that uploads celebrity personalities into robot bodies. Fry selects Lucy Liu and downloads her into a robot that is instantly in love with him and somehow convincingly sexually aggressive despite just being a metal entity with a hologram covering.
Fry and Lucy start dating, but Bender (John DiMaggio) is against humans and robots dating. Leela (Katey Sagal) agrees to help him break up the couple and the Professor (West) shows him a propaganda film saying that dating robots destroys society, but Fry continues to just make out with his robot Lucy Liu. Bender and the crew decide to take down Nappster, but they discover that the company has actually been holding celebrities hostage and that their real name is Kidnappster. They rescue the real Lucy Liu and plan on taking her to the authorities to get rid of the company. In response, Nappster activates all of the other Lucy Liu robots in New New York and sets them to track down and kill the crew. The only one that seems unaffected is Fry’s. Fry, Bender, and Zoidberg (West) take down one of them, which makes the real Lucy start falling for Bender, but they are quickly chased by an army of Liu-bots.
The group flees to a movie theater where Fry and his Liu-bot are watching a Charlie’s Angels III: The Legend of Charlie’s Gold. Fry’s Liu-bot sacrifices herself to kill the other robots with popcorn. Fry ends up shutting her down at the behest of the real Lucy Liu, who is now in love with Bender.
This episode honestly is only okay. I think there are some good jokes and the premise is pretty funny, but it just doesn’t have the same level of punch as most of the other episodes of the show.
A big problem with it is that they’re clearly trying to make a comparison between dating a robot and the old stereotypes behind interracial dating, with Bender even calling it “Robo fever.” The problem is that dating a robot is completely different, because the robot is literally a pre-programmed entity who has no free will (at least, the Liu-bots are) whereas a person of a different race is STILL A PERSON. There are legitimate philosophical questions to be brought up about giving something some semblance of sentience but also chaining it to you, as well as questions about copying someone’s consciousness and modifying it. It just doesn’t come off as a fair analogy. I do admit that the anti-robosexuality propaganda film comes off as one of the homophobic propaganda movies that some organizations used to put out mixed with Reefer Madness, which is clever, but other than that, I just don’t think they handle the issue as well as they do a few seasons later.
The Napster reference is so dated that even I have a problem remembering what the hell Napster was, but I do admit the idea of crafting something illegally out of a celebrity’s image is way ahead of its time. Hell, we have organizations already warning us about Deepfakes, how long is it until we can just make a sexbot out of any celebrity?
Like I said, it’s not a bad episode, but it’s only okay.
I think the best joke just has to be the episode of The Scary Door that opens the episode. It goes through at least a half-dozen Twilight Zone cliches in only a minute, including having a guy think he’s in heaven, then realize he’s in hell, then being on an airplane with a gremlin, then being Hitler, then Eva Braun turning into a fly. Even though Bender’s response of “saw it coming” is incredibly predictable and cliche, it’s still funny.
The Planet Express crew is going to war… for a pack of gum.
Fry (Billy West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) join the military reserves so they can get a 5% military discount on ham-flavored gum. They plan on quitting after buying the gum, but a second after they join, war is declared and they’re drafted. Leela (Katey Sagal) tries to enlist to keep them safe, but the army of the future is men-only, due to Zapp Brannigan’s (West) constant sexual harassment. She signs up anyway as a man named Lee Lemon, who Zapp crushes on.
Well, there went the subtlety.
After getting through basic training, the three are dropped onto planet Spheron I, a planet which Zapp admits has no natural resources or strategic value. It turns out to be populated by living balls. During the first battle, Fry hides, resulting in other members of the platoon being injured…
The Dark Knight meets the Heroes on the Half-Shell and it’s just a great time all around.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Leonardo: Eric Bauza, Raphael: Darren Criss, Donatello: Baron Vaughn, Michelangelo: Kyle Mooney) come to Gotham City after they find out that their nemesis the Shredder (Andrew Kishino) and his army of foot ninjas have set up shop in the city. Batman (Troy Baker) discovers that high-tech thefts have been occurring involving ninjas all around the city. Batgirl (Rachel “Yes, that Rachel Bloom” Bloom) witnesses one of these thefts, but believes that the TMNT, who were there to stop it, are the culprits. Batman and the Turtles fight, then they unite to take down the Foot Clan and Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery.
Crossovers aren’t new. They’ve been happening since Apollonius Rhodius decided to get an audience by going “hey, did you guys know there’s a story where Hercules, Orpheus, the Gemini twins, Achilles’ dad, some flying brothers, and a bunch of other heroes all went on a quest together?” The Argonauts were just the Avengers of Ancient Greece. I’d say Justice League, but I’m still smarting from that movie.
Crossovers are common in animation (Scooby-Doo has met just about everyone at some point) and in comic books (Archie has met the Punisher, the Predator, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Harley Quinn, and Vampirella), so this particular one was basically inevitable. Hell, apparently there have now been 3 different comic crossovers between these properties, including the one that forms the basis of this film. So, the team pretty much just had to deliver everything that’s good about Batman with everything that’s good about the Ninja Turtles. Since both of them have had SO MANY adaptations, they could reasonably give the two properties any number of qualities and they would still probably feel true to the source.
Well, good news, the movie definitely gets across versions of both franchises. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that this movie is no more and no less than what it promised in the title.
Here are the good parts:
The fight scenes in the film are pretty creative and they do manage to demonstrate the abilities of all of the parties involved. Special credit goes to the Shredder v. Batman fight, because it’s everything I wanted and more. It’s one of the few moments in the film where I was genuinely surprised at the quality. The fight between Batman and the TMNT is, likewise, awesome.
The voice casting in the movie is amazing. I particularly like that Troy Baker voices both Batman and the Joker, giving the characters an appropriate level of mirroring that isn’t usually present. I also loved Rachel Bloom as Batgirl, though that might be because I just love Rachel Bloom. Each of the turtles has an appropriately distinct voice that lends itself to their personality, just like in most of the adaptations.
The writing is pretty good. Definitely more effort than you’d usually get from a direct-to-video film like this. Is it going to match something like Into the Spider-verse or The Lego Movie? No, but it does a good job not distracting you from the action sequences. Also, they definitely manage to get in almost all the cameos and interactions that you wanted from a movie like this without most of them feeling insanely contrived.
This film is one of the few to actually make use of a PG-13 rating. This movie is violent, far more so than most adaptations of Batman or the TMNT, harkening back to the roots of both series.
The bad stuff:
Look, it’s a superhero crossover and those have certain things that have to happen. The heroes have to fight each other and then team up to fight the actual bad guy. It’s such a cliché that Watchmen mentioned it as something that typically happens in hero interactions back in 1985. The upside is that the film gets most of the adversarial stuff out of the way pretty early, so it’s not that big of a drain. The plot is meandering and kind of unfocused, but not distractingly so.
The art style is obviously subjective, but I didn’t like it. The turtles to me didn’t resemble any of their incarnations very well and Batman’s color scheme was closer to the one from Adam West than Tim Burton, which didn’t feel appropriate for a version with this much violence and death. Most of the villains, aside from Shredder, felt way too subdued until after *SPOILER* they get mutated. *END SPOILER* It just never worked for me.
Overall, though, it was a pretty fun movie that hit most of the notes that I would want for this kind of film. If you like either of these franchises, this is a must-see.
The Planet Express crew participates in a scientific version of “What If?”
The Professor (Billy West) is demonstrating his new invention the “Fing-longer” which, as the name suggests, is just a glove with a long finger. He uses the device to turn on the What-If Machine, which generates a hypothetical story in response to any “What If” question. The crew tries it out in 3 different stories:
Behold, the FUTURE!!!!!
First, Bender (John DiMaggio) asks what it would be like if he were 500 feet tall. A giant Bender is built on another planet and proceeds to head to Earth, where he quickly befriends Fry (West). However, their interactions are now more destructive than usual due to Bender being larger than most versions of Godzilla. When Zapp Brannigan (West) is sent to stop him, Fry is injured, resulting in Bender going on a rampage. The Professor decides to enlarge…
Rick and Beth journey into an imaginary land while Jerry and the kids discover that Jerry’s rebound is a little too serious.
Beth (Sarah Chalke) learns that the father of her childhood friend, Tommy Lipkip (Thomas Middleditch), is set to be executed for killing and eating Tommy. Beth remarks that she used to think that Tommy disappeared in “Froopyland,” the imaginary land that she used to play in as a child. She mentions that it was a stupid name, which offends Rick (Justin Roiland), who reveals that Froopyland was actually a real pocket universe that he created for her to play in as a child. Beth realizes this means that Tommy might actually be lost in Froopyland, proving his father’s innocence. She forces Rick to take her into the pocket universe, which she points out was just Rick’s way of avoiding spending time with her. He counters that he spent a lot of time making it safe and magical, before a mutated imaginary creature attacks him and he is almost fed to its offspring, losing his arm and being forced to replace it with a metal prosthetic.
Meanwhile, Rick sends Morty (Justin Roiland) and Summer (Spencer Grammer) over to visit Jerry (Chris Parnell) who appears to be doing much better than earlier in the season. He seems more confident and more capable, which is revealed to be because he is dating Kiara (Jennifer Hale), an triple-breasted alien from Krootabulon. Kiara has come to Earth to hunt other aliens called the Varrix, but, upon meeting Jerry through a dating site, quickly soul-bonded with him, something that both Morty and Spencer view as taking a rebound too far. They soon break Jerry down and get him to admit that he doesn’t really like her and that he’s a beta-male sexist, a closet racist, and selfish. They tell Jerry that he now is able to clean up his own mess.
Beth and Rick realize that the Froopyland creatures cannot harm anyone or be harmed by humans, meaning the creature that attacked Rick had to have foreign DNA, which they realize is human DNA. They quickly arrive at the conclusion that Tommy must have had sex with a Froopyland creature and eaten the offspring, so he likely has been procreating with the creatures and eating the offspring, keeping some of them aside to worship him as a god. This is almost immediately verified when they are captured by Froopy-human hybrids and presented to Tommy. However, Tommy puts on a play about his past in Froopyland which says that Beth is actually the one that trapped Tommy in the land out of jealousy for his father spending time with him. Rick grabs Beth and leaves Froopyland, quitting the adventure. Beth points out Rick’s failures as a parent, which he immediately agrees with, before pointing out that Beth was actually a monster as a child, constantly doing things that were disturbing. Froopyland wasn’t just to keep her away from Rick, but to keep her from hurting others, like she did with Tommy. She rejects this, tells Rick that if she did trap Tommy it was only because he never spent time with her, and resolves to save Tommy.
Morty and Summer return to school and are attacked by Kiara, who reveals that Jerry didn’t tell her the truth, instead telling her that they were the reason why he had to break up with her. She chases after them, and eventually Jerry, who flees until they find a cave full of the Varrix, the same aliens which Kiara was hunting. She comes in and Jerry finally mans up and breaks up with her in an honest way. She starts to respond with disdain until it’s revealed that her ex-boyfriend is also hunting Varrix on Earth and she was just using Jerry to get around the territorial issue. Jerry starts to get indignant, but the kids drag him away.
Beth heads back into Froopyland and confronts Tommy, telling him he has to come back or his father will be killed. Tommy agrees to go if she apologizes to him, but she can’t bring herself to do it. Tommy’s minions swarm her and Beth starts murdering all of them in self-defense. Eventually, she returns with Tommy’s finger and she and Rick clone a new Tommy to show up at his dad’s execution and save him. Realizing she’s too much like her dad, she asks him what she should do and he gives her two options: She can stay with her family or he can make a perfect clone of her to stay while she goes off on adventures who she can replace if she wants to come back. He points out that in either case, he’ll be better off because at least now she’s choosing her life. Her decision is not shown, but A Beth is still at the house.
This episode again showcases the A-B plot interplay that Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland very clearly have mastered to an unbelievable level. Even more than the great dialogue and characterization, I think this is what really sets this show apart. It’s even heightened in this episode by having Rick and Beth actually predict the big twist of the episode and then literally shortcutting the viewers to the conclusion after checking in on the B-Plot.
This episode really gives us a lot of development of Beth who, prior to this, had mostly only been developed in her role as a parent or a wife. In this, she’s advanced as a daughter and also as a person. It’s difficult to reconcile this development, in some ways, because she keeps saying that she’s just like Rick, but she doesn’t seem to show his recklessness or creativity. I understand that she also probably doesn’t quite have his genius, but given that she appeared to be able to keep up with Rick on the adventure, take on a small army of Froopy-Hybrids with little damage, and seemed to be able to at least comprehend cloning a full-grown Tommy, I think she’s probably leagues above the average person. I assume the cost and time-requirements of med school are the only reasons she’s not a real brain surgeon, or I would if another episode hadn’t explicitly told us that. At the end of the episode, we finally see Beth address the elephant in the room and stop just being a miserable sufferer blaming her family, though we probably will never truly know what her decision was unless another Beth shows up. Yes, I know Rick says she isn’t a clone in the next episode, but it’s Rick and he lies a lot.
The A-plot with Froopyland is basically the quintessential Rick and Morty plot, literally taking a wonderful fantasy setting that resembles Rainbow Brite or the Care Bears and having it corrupted by incest and cannibalism. It’s destroying everything that was pure and good in the funniest way possible. Darkest year, indeed.
The B-Plot with Jerry shows off how much Morty and Summer have grown during the show, because they immediately call their father on his crap and his weakness. They no longer have the tolerance for his antics that they previously did. Jerry, however, proves how little he’s grown when he still wimps out on telling Kiara the truth. He does eventually, when pressed, actually do the right thing, but then he gets indignant when he finds out about her hypocrisy, so he still hasn’t really grown as much as everyone wants him to.
This is just a genuinely great episode of this show. I really hope that they follow up on it more directly in future seasons, but even if they don’t, it still holds up as a hilarious and well-crafted half-hour of television.
JOKER’S THEORY CORNER
I don’t usually try to jump on theories that I know are already out there, but here’s my theory on this episode: Beth didn’t intentionally push Tommy into Froopyland.
I know that Tommy says she did and that Beth doesn’t exactly deny it in a convincing way (even saying “Fake News” which… I’m avoiding any comments about), but I actually think that she might not have done it on purpose. It’s mostly the way that Beth first responds to the news about Tommy’s dad. She seems to completely have forgotten about Froopyland, suppressing all of her time there and choosing to remember it as an imaginary place from her childhood. Later, when confronted by Rick about pushing Tommy in, she says that “if she did it” then it might have been because Rick was a lousy father. She doesn’t treat this like something that she regrets or feels guilty about or even remembers well. The thing is, if Beth had actually pushed him, I don’t think she would have been able to suppress it to the extent of actually believing that Tommy’s dad ate him.
While an exact timeline is never given, we know that Tommy and Beth are playing in Froopyland after Tommy hits puberty, because Rick indicates that Tommy couldn’t eat the Froopy creatures unless he had already hybridized with them. Barring some extraordinary circumstances, puberty in Males in the US tends to start between age 12 and age 14, so Tommy almost certainly had to be above 12. We know that he and Beth are the same age, so Beth would also have to be about 12. That’s an age that most people can remember things from, particularly things that they feel guilty about, and yet Beth acts as if she has no idea what really happened to Tommy. If she’d intentionally pushed him in and felt guilty enough to suppress it, she could just have gone back in and gotten him, and if she didn’t feel guilty, which is completely possible, she wouldn’t have a reason to suppress it. I think it’s more likely that she did it accidentally and didn’t want to admit it, thus giving her motive to try to shift the blame onto someone else.
Either way, she probably kills him in the end, though, so… therapy works?
Overall, I give this episode an
on the Rick and Morty scale.
Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.
The Planet Express crew finds a delicious foodstuff and strikes it rich… right until the bill comes due.
Finding the ditch full of fried shrimp.
Bender, Fry, and Leela (John DiMaggio, Billy West, Katey Sagal) are on the way back from a delivery only to realize that they have no food. After foraging on a planet they discover tiny motionless animals that resemble chicken nuggets. Upon trying one, Leela finds that they’re delicious and the crew takes a load of them back to Earth. They decide to sell them under the name “Popplers,” because that is one of the only Trademarkable names left. They’re quickly discovered by “Fishy” Joe Gilman (Maurice LaMarche), who offers to sell them at his restaurant “Fishy Joe’s.” They soon make a fortune, selling millions of the creatures. The only seeming downside is protests by Free Waterfall, Jr., an annoying hippie (Phil Hendrie). However, Leela…
ROBOTS TAKE OVER THE EARTH!!!! Until an old man gets lucky.
It’s Mother’s Day in the future, which is now a holiday on which robots buy presents for Mom (Tress MacNeille), the matron of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company. Bender (John DiMaggio) ropes Fry (Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) into helping him give a massive amount of presents and cards to her, including a talking greeting card (Nicole St. John). Mom calls for a meeting of all of the robots on Earth and it’s revealed that Mom has decided to take over the world using her robots. All of her robots have antennas that allow them to be controlled by her Universal Robot Remote. She tells them to rebel against humanity until she becomes Supreme Overlord of Earth.
Yeah, this doesn’t look creepy at all.
Robots all over the world start going crazy, including things at Planet Express like…