Futurama Fridays – S3E7 “The Day The Earth Stood Stupid”

Fry and Leela have to save the Earth from the greatest threat to mankind: Brains. No, it’s not a metaphor. Or is it?

SUMMARY

The planet Tweenis 12 has been destroyed by a cloud of flying brains. On Earth, Leela (Katey Sagal) enters Nibbler (Frank “I Voiced Your Childhood” Welker) in a pet competition to demonstrate his talent, but unfortunately is completely shamed when Nibbler fails at every single task. Meanwhile, the Hypnotoad wins by virtue of being the Hypnotoad. Everybody loves hypnotoad.

S3E7 - 1Hypnotoad.jpg
Behold the Hypnotoad and know your limitations.

Back at Planet Express, Fry (Billy West) sticks up for Nibbler being stupid. After the Professor (West) announces that Tweenis 12 is destroyed, Nibbler becomes anxious and runs off. Leela follows him but is attacked by a giant floating brain. A group of brains chase her until she finds Nibbler in a spacesuit and loading a spaceship. He starts to leave, but returns to save her from the brains, letting her in his ship. The brains begin to attack Earth, making everyone, human and robot alike, stupid, except for Fry. Examples include Bender (John DiMaggio) thinking that his heart stopped and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) almost drowning by keeping his mouth open in the shower.  

S3E7 - 2Hermes.png
Fry is used to dealing with this problem. 

As Nibbler and Leela fly through space, Nibbler reveals himself to be an extremely advanced alien. When they reach Nibbler’s planet, Planet Eternium, the Nibblonians welcome Leela and explain that the brains are part of the Brain Spawn, a species which was born a millisecond into the universe that hates all other consciousness. They travel the universe trying to destroy all life. The one hope of the universe is revealed to be the only thing immune to their power: Fry.

S3E7 - 3Nibblonians.png
Nobody has heard of Babylon 5.

Leela is sent to tell Fry how to defeat the brains, but she loses her intellect immediately and Fry destroys the note she has from the Nibblonians. However, she does manage to tell him to find the biggest brain, the leader, so he naturally goes to a library, where nerds would be. Fry finds the Big Brain and discovers that thinking hurts it. He uses the books nearby to think at it, but the Brain decides to send Fry into the world of Moby Dick, where the Brain takes the place of the whale. The Brain flees to Tom Sawyer and then Pride and Prejudice. Fry gets an idea and escapes from the Brain’s field, only to die in the attempt. It’s revealed that this scene only takes place in a book that Fry is reading to the Brain, who then leaves Earth “for no raisin,” per Fry’s writing. Outside, the Nibblonians eat all the remaining brains, but no one remembers the invasion, thinking Fry is just lying. Nibbler returns to deep cover with Leela.

S3E7 - 4Brain
It’s Queequeg and Capt. Ahab harpooning a brain in Elizabeth Darcy’s house. Awesome.

END SUMMARY

So, this is one of the rare arc episodes of Futurama which come out of the pilot. Fry is revealed to be the hope of the universe, Nibbler is revealed to be intelligent, and the Brain Spawn are revealed to be preparing to destroy everything. This will culminate later in “The Why of Fry” and get re-used, to an extent, in the film “Into the Wild Green Yonder.” It really is funny how few episodes actually involve this plotline, in retrospect. Making Fry “the chosen one” fits in with a large number of sci-fi stories, most notably Star Wars, but in traditional Futurama fashion, this is twisted by having Fry be chosen by the fact that his brain is so ineffective on its own that the Brain Spawn can’t affect it. It’s revealed in this episode that Fry lacks the Delta Brain Wave, something that occurs in humans, robots, and even plants. It won’t be revealed WHY he lacks it for another season.

S3E7 - 5Megaphone
Pictured: The smartest man on Earth.

This is also one of the episodes of the series that most amalgamates other sci-fi episodes. The premise is similar to the season one finale of the original Star Trek, “Operation: Annihilate,” which features creatures that go from planet to planet destroying civilizations by making everyone insane. The finale of the episode seems to be taken from the Doctor Who episode “The Mind Robber,” in that it involves a giant brain and people getting trapped in fiction which the hero then manipulates by re-writing the story.

This episode contains a variety of gags and plots that almost makes it feel like 4 different episodes: 1 at the pet show, 1 on the stupid version of Earth, 1 on Planet Eternium, and 1 in the fictional world battling the giant brain. It’s impressive that they can put so much varied content into one episode without it really feeling discontinuous. Also, this gave us the Hypnotoad. All Glory to the Hypnotoad.

S3E7 - 1Hypnotoad
Behold the Hypnotoad and know glory beyond comprehension.

FAVORITE JOKE

Aside from just the Hypnotoad, who is the best thing in the show according to David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, it’s a combination of all the absurd throw-away lines that they use to convey the stupidity of the people of Earth.

The three best are:

S3E7 - 6Morbo
The only way to make Morbo funnier.

Morbo: Morbo can’t understand his TelePrompTer. He forgot how you say that letter that looks like a man with a hat.

Linda: It’s a “T”. It goes “tuh”.

Morbo: Hello, little man. I will destroy you!

S3E7 - 7Bender.png

Bender: Am I a robot?

Fry: Bender, if this is some kind of scam, I don’t get it. You already have my power of attorney.

S3E7 - 8Newton.png
Such a good use of a Newton’s Cradle.

Farnsworth: Ow. Ow. Ow. I’m a genius. Ow. Ow.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 38: Bendless Love

NEXT – Episode 40: That’s Lobstertainment!

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.

 

 

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Futurama Fridays – S3E6 “Bendless Love”

Bender finds love in the most surprising place: The other side of a picket line.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) is bending in his sleep, due to his lack of having an outlet to bend in his job. He even bends the Professor (Billy West), resulting in the blood pooling in the Professor’s brain and inducing a euphoria. While trying to find a way to get around the urge, Bender finds that there is a mob-backed worker’s strike outside a bending plant. Bender thinks the strike means he can’t work, but then finds out that the “scabs” who work despite the strike get huge pay increases, so he becomes a scab while claiming to be pro-union. Inside, he finds Flexo (DiMaggio), his near-identical twin, as well as a “beautiful” female bending unit named Angle-ine (the late Jan Hooks).

S3E6 - 1Angeline.png
She was built out of old mobile homes.

Bender and Angle-ine flirt and eventually start dating. He decides to take everyone at Planet Express to a celebratory dinner in honor of him being in love. While at Elzar’s, however, Fry (West) spots Angle-ine and Flexo at another table. Bender becomes enraged and confronts the pair, but finds that the two are divorced and having dinner as friends. Bender doesn’t take this well and decides to go through a convoluted plan of impersonating Flexo and try to seduce Angle-ine to prove that she’s cheating on him. Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests just talking to her, but Fry rejects that as not manly enough.

S3E6 - 3Kiss
They have a certain… spark? I hate myself.

On the date, Angle-ine refuses Bender’s advances (as Flexo), but does a number of things that are distinctly un-Flexo-like that end up seducing Angle-ine. During the course of the date, Bender repeatedly uses a large amount of money he got from scabbing to tip well, something that angers the Robot Mafia who are trying to stop the scabs. Eventually, they decide to kill Flexo. After Angle-ine finally gives in and kisses Bender, but his beard comes off and she realizes the scam. Bender vows to kill Flexo to ensure Angle-ine’s love, something that even the episode points out is nonsense.

s3e6-4cheating.png
Cheating is a factory standard.

At the Bending plant, Bender attacks Flexo, but the Robot Mafia drop an unbendable girder on Flexo. Seeing him in mortal danger makes Angle-ine realize that she loves Flexo, so Bender, to make her happy, bends the unbendable girder. She and Flexo then apparently have sex right there on the factory floor, leading Bender to quit and return to Planet Express.

END SUMMARY

I think it speaks well of Season 3 that I actually think this is one of the least funny and least entertaining episodes. It’s not that it’s bad, really, but it definitely is pretty weak by comparison. 

S3E4 - 4Grave
I mean… come on. 

A lot of that comes from the fact that they have to give Bender several questionable character moments in order to move the story along. While Bender is a drama queen, often by his own admission, he still goes way too far into maudlin drama when he sees Angle-ine and Flexo and then the elaborate fake date plan is actually called out as being pointlessly complicated and contrived. It gets even dumber when Angle-ine points out that maybe the reason why it worked was because she was in love with Bender even if he was pretending to be Flexo, to which Bender responds: “Oh,  how I wish I could believe or understand that!” He then immediately decides to kill Flexo, something that makes sense only in the terrible kind of Lifetime movie they’re clearly parodying here.

S3E6 - 5Unbendable.png
He plays like an accordion now.

The subplot involving the Robot Mafia, while very funny, is also sadly small, and there’s basically nothing else in the episode. I do love the fact that the word “Intragnizent,” which has since been used on other shows like Parks and Recreation to show a character is not smart enough to know the word intransigent, originates from Joey Mousepad (DiMaggio) in this episode. I also like that the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) says they are the duly-elected mobsters of the union, indicating that somehow the union holds internal elections to decide which group of criminals backs them.

S3E6 - 6Plant.png

Overall, this episode is only okay for me. I mean, it’s still fun to watch, but this season is mostly filled with really quality episodes, so this one seems lesser by comparison. Although, it did get John DiMaggio an Annie Award for playing two roles, so… good for it.

FAVORITE JOKE

When they first introduce Angle-ine, she’s pictured behind frosted glass. This is designed to mimic the style of early black-and-white (and maybe some color) films where the cameras were rubbed with vaseline or frosted lenses were used in order to make the females appear softer and with fewer flaws. Since the rest of the episode is filled with the kind of nonsensical “emotions change so we can move on to the next scene” storytelling that permeated 30s and 40s romance films, this actually is fairly consistent. If they’d gone further into trying to pay tribute to those films, I might even consider Bender’s behavior more appropriate, as Futurama does do some pretty good genre-shifting episodes.

S3E6 - 2Angeline2.png
This is a thing people did, kids.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 37: The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz

NEXT – Episode 39: The Day The Earth Stood Stupid

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 – S3E5 “The BirdBot of Ice-Catraz”

Bender causes a massive environmental disaster and then loses his mind twice. Comedy!

SUMMARY

The crew are told by the Professor (Billy West) that they are going to have to take a delivery of Colombian dark matter aboard the Juan Valdez tanker. Leela (Katey Sagal) worries about the risk of leaking and ends up refusing to participate when she finds out that it flies through a penguin preserve on Pluto. She goes to join the group protesting the tanker and Bender (John DiMaggio) is made captain, much to Fry’s (West) chagrin.

S3E5 - 1JuanValdez.png
It has 6000 hulls.

Leela joins Free Waterfall, Sr. (Phil Hendrie) in his organization “Penguins Unlimited” and tries to help them in their incompetent efforts to stop the tanker. On the ship, Bender quickly goes mad with power and annoys Fry until he quits. Depressed without Fry, Bender refuses to drink alcohol, resulting in him acting like a drunk, and crashes the tanker into Pluto, flooding the penguin preserve with the dark matter. Bender is sentenced to help clean up the penguins, but quickly decides to escape by putting on a tuxedo, retracting his limbs, and sliding off, but he ends up getting attacked by a killer whale and knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, his system re-defaults to penguin, making him believe he’s actually a penguin. He tries to start a penguin family, with mixed results.

S3E5 - 2PenguinBarf
Not the first picture of a guy in a tux puking on this website.

Back at Penguins Unlimited, it’s revealed that the dark matter has made the penguins ultra-fertile, to the point that they’re laying 420,756 times their previous egg rate (I did the math), and the eggs hatch 136 times faster than normal. I don’t know how all of these eggs are getting fertilized, but… well, let’s just not think about that. To avoid the population boom, the conservationists plan on hunting the penguins, something that Leela finds horrifying, but eventually agrees to do. However, she shoots Bender, resetting him back to normal. Leela tries to convince the conservationists not to hunt, but they refuse. Bender leads the penguins to attack the humans, resulting in them eating Waterfall. His father, Old Man Waterfall (Hendrie) vows to avenge him.

S3E5 - 3HongKong
The overpopulation is a legitimate problem.

The penguins attack the rest of the humans, then Bender and Leela when he takes off his tuxedo. They flee onto an ice floe, but the penguins give chase and surround them. Fry returns in the ship and lands it on part of the ice floe, resulting in the penguins being dropped into a killer whale’s mouth. The trio escape, with Fry and Bender making amends. On Pluto, it’s revealed that the penguins now have guns… but appear to be using them on each other.

END SUMMARY

Two quick thoughts from this re-watch: First, baby penguins are adorable. This episode points that out multiple times and I give it credit for properly cashing in on the magical cuteness of the baby penguin.

S3E5 - 5BabyPenguin

 

Second, Penguin Preserve on Pluto would be a good name for a prog-rock album. I am surprised it’s not been done yet, but Google found nothing. It also bugs me that they call it the penguin preserve, but there are also orcas and puffins on Pluto. If it’s a preserve, why did you import one of their biggest predators? Also, I get that the penguins are the big attraction, but if you’re going to have other things there, why not call it the Polar Preserve on Pluto?

S3E5 - 6Orca.png
That Orca choked to death.

This episode is one of the more ripped-from the history books plotlines in the series, as opposed to a twist on a classic sci-fi trope, because it’s basically just a hilarious take on the Exxon Valdez disaster from 1989. Given that this episode aired in 2001 and when I watched it then I thought it was hilarious, apparently 12 years is the amount of time for an oil spill to move from tragic to comic. Admittedly, that’s because in this version all the penguins were fine and, in fact, improved by the accident, as opposed to the real version, but it’s still impressive that they depict a horrible environmental tragedy and make it hilarious. I think the best crystallization of how it works is when they have Morbo (Maurice LaMarche) and Linda (Tress MacNeille) show the penguins slipping and sliding on the oil with funny sounds added and the caption “Sound Effects Added To Lessen Tragedy.”

S3E5 - 7PenguinSlips
The news we deserve.

Penguins Unlimited is a shot at Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group that preserves wetlands but also advocates population control through hunting. Leela points out that it’s not exactly “natural conservation” if you’re just doing it because you enjoy killing the animals. However, the end of the episode basically points out that everything is kind of pointless because all of the efforts now are just designed to counteract what we’ve already done in the past, so human involvement is implicitly always a very mixed bag.

Overall, I think this episode is fun from start to finish. It’s not particularly insightful and doesn’t have as many gags that I can point to and go “this was great,” but it’s such a goofy and interesting premise that I always enjoy it.

FAVORITE JOKE

Because I’m 12 years old on the inside, I’m going to have to say it’s the following exchange:

Free Waterfall Sr.: Good way to avoid frostbite, folks: Put your hands between your buttocks. That’s nature’s pocket.

Leela: Uh … I think I’ll go check on Bender.

Free Waterfall Sr.: Watch that he doesn’t pick your pocket.

Free Waterfall has a few of these pieces of old-timey wisdom, including rubbing your body with permafrost to keep warm, but this one is definitely the best. He’s literally got his thumb up his ass while he says this, and I can’t think of anything funnier than that.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 36: The Luck of the Fry-rish

NEXT – Episode 38: Bendless Love

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 – S3E4 “The Luck of the Fryrish”

Futurama spends an entire episode setting us up for a punchline, but instead decides to gut punch us with emotion.

SUMMARY

This episode constantly bounces between Fry’s life in the 20th Century and his life in the 30th Century.

In the 20th Century, we see Fry (Billy West) being born on the day that the Mets win the World Series (which doesn’t really track, since the Mets won in 1986 but Fry is 25 in 1999. Presumably in the Futurama universe this is 1973 and the “You Gotta Believe” Mets team didn’t lose to the Oakland Athletics in Game 7. This is all the baseball I know.). His father, Yancy Sr., (John DiMaggio) names him Philip after the screwdriver. Fry’s brother, Yancy Jr. (Lauren Tom as kid, Tom “Ice King” Kenny as adult), quickly establishes a trend of being jealous of anything Fry has, including the name “Philip.” As kids, Fry is shown to be worse than Yancy at most things, until Fry finds a seven-leaf clover which makes him unnaturally lucky, even at things which would normally be considered skill-based, like basketball or break-dancing. Yancy is always jealous when Fry is successful and tries to take the clover, but Fry runs home and hides it in a Ronco Record Vault inside The Breakfast Club’s soundtrack.

S3E4 - 1Clover
Such Clover. Much Luck. So Wow.

In the future, Fry is having a streak of bad luck at the racetrack. Not only does Bender (DiMaggio) drug Fry’s horse, resulting in a shameful loss, but when his last dollar gets blown onto a power line, he gets struck by lightning, twice, and blown into a dumpster. Back at Planet Express headquarters, Fry mentions the clover and Zoidberg (West) points out that it might still be in the ruins of Old New York. Fry, Bender, and Leela (Katey Sagal) head underground to the remains of the New York of the 20th Century and make their way to Fry’s old house. However, the clover is no longer in the vault. The three give up on finding the clover, only to run into a statue of Fry’s brother with the clover in his lapel and the nameplate reading “Philip J. Fry.” Fry, incensed, punches the statue and breaks his hand, declaring that his brother “stole his life.”

S3E4 - 2House.png
You can go home again, but it looks like crap.

A video on the internet informs the crew that the Philip J. Fry that is immortalized on the statue was actually a massive celebrity in the 20th century, famous for his perpetual luck, culminating in him being the first man on Mars (if you don’t count the native Martians). He was buried with the clover, so Fry tells everyone that they’re going to go rob the grave. At the graveyard, Fry, Leela, and Bender start digging up the body, but Fry knocks some of the moss off of the other Philip’s grave.

S3E4 - 3Statue.png
He looks taller than Fry, too.

In the past, Yancy breaks into the Ronco Record Vault to find music for his wedding and takes the clover in memory of Fry. Later, Yancy and his wife name their first son Philip after the brother Yancy says he misses every day. In addition to the name, he gifts young Philip with the clover.

In the Future, Fry finds out the truth: The Philip J. Fry they’re digging up is actually his nephew, who was, per his tombstone, “named for his uncle, to carry on his spirit.” Although Bender does dig up the clover, a tearful Fry leaves it to rest in his nephew’s grave and smiles, realizing that his brother wasn’t taking his legacy, but making sure it endured.

S3E4 - 4Grave
Dear everyone who makes TV: We need more of this.

END SUMMARY

Holy flaming carp, this episode. I mean, everyone remembers “Jurassic Bark,” and I already have cookies ready to deal with that episode’s punch to the feelings, but this one’s not far behind for me. The difference is what kind of emotions this episode evokes compared to that one, and the fact that this one actually could potentially have been building up to a comical misunderstanding, but instead decided to change it into a powerful dramatic moment.

S3E4 - 5Grave
Definitely better than a comical misunderstanding.

Throughout this episode, the B-plot in the past portrayed Yancy as the kind of person who actually would bother to steal his dead brother’s name, because from the day Fry was born, Yancy wanted to be Philip. The show presents this idea to us in a little bit of a deceptive manner, showing us a few objective moments of Yancy, while the rest of the time we’re only hearing about Yancy through Philip’s perception of him as jealous. The few objective moments we have don’t contradict Fry’s perception, so it cements that image in our minds. That’s why it’s so surprising when it’s revealed that, upon losing Fry, Yancy spent the rest of his life missing his brother, to the point of entrusting his son with Fry’s legacy. That’s why the moment we share with Fry is so powerful, because we’re going through the realization about Yancy’s true nature at the same time as Fry. We aren’t hit with a wave of sadness like watching a dog waste away waiting for its master, it’s more of a complex series of emotions related to the realization that people aren’t always who you think they are, but that sometimes you don’t learn that until after they’re gone. It’s sad that Fry couldn’t find this out about his brother while he was alive, but he does finally get closure and a reassurance that they did love each other, which is still beautiful.

S3E4 - 6PhilipII.png
I cried a little while screenshotting this.

The key to this episode is the perfect interplay between the A and B plots, allowing for both of them to progress rapidly by letting the audience just assume that nothing important happened between the time that we leave one plot and return to the other. If you’re looking for some gold-standard examples of this, check out the Rick and Morty episode “Meeseeks and Destroy” or the I Love Lucy episode “Job Switching,” but this episode also uses it to great effect, particularly with how it finally has the two plotlines converge into something beautiful and meaningful to both. Interestingly, Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, and writer Ron Weiner used The Godfather II as a model for writing two timelines simultaneously and organizing them by using different colored storyboards.

Overall, this is one of my favorite episodes of the show. It’s also typically rated in the top 10 on most fan polls, so I don’t think I’m insane for that. I don’t think it’s the best, nor even the second or third best, but it is brilliant and touching and writing this review made me tear up a few times.

FAVORITE JOKE

First, a joke amendment that I didn’t find out until this episode. When looking into Fry’s stuff, there’s another pennant for the Whitefish from Coney Island College, the same roller-coaster college Fry says he dropped out of in “Mars University.” At the time, I thought that the choice of whitefish for Coney Island was a hilarious joke about how crappy the university was. It turns out I missed two pieces of information:

  1. “Coney Island Whitefish” is a song by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts about a guy who is a complete waste of time who never tries to improve or do anything. That kinda fits Fry during the 20th century.
  2. Coney Island Whitefish is also a slang term for a discarded used condom, because humanity is gross. I’m hoping this doesn’t apply to anything on the show.

I’ve updated the previous entry in “Mars University” and now I never need to admit to making a mistake.

Second, a wonderful observation and set-up is the fact that Fry’s dad, brother, and his great-grandfather are all named Yancy, as were all of the other men in the line going back to the Revolutionary War. The fact that Fry’s dad doesn’t mention his father is also named Yancy is the first hint we get that there is something unusual in Fry’s lineage, because the Yancy name skips one generation… due to Fry being his own grandfather. Also, I can never prove it, but I think the name Yancy was picked because Billy West who voices Fry also voiced Doug Funnie on Doug. Doug’s middle name was Yancy, and he hated his middle name with a passion.

S3E4 - 7Yancy
It was interesting to see what kind of people made Fry.

Last, the actual best joke, when the horses cross the finish line at the race, they announce a measurement by Electron Microscope which results in a winner by “Quantum Finish.” The Professor (West) immediately shouts out: “No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!” This is one of the best jokes in the series, because 1) it works if you just think the Professor is complaining that he was going to win until they announced a different winner and 2) it works better if you know that the Professor is referencing the Observer Effect of Quantum Physics, which suggests that the mere act of measuring something on a quantum level inherently changes the outcome. This is a perfect example of Futurama’s humor: Works if you know the joke, works if you don’t.

S3E4 - 8QuantumFinish

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

NEXT – Episode 37: The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz

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 – S3E2 “A Tale of Two Santas”

Robot Santa returns, bringing sacks of holiday pain and suffering. It’s like Christmas with extended family, except with robots.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) sends Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) to Neptune in order to deliver a sack of children’s letters to Santa (begging for mercy). On Neptune, the crew are met by Neptunians who are short and elfish due to all of the malnutrition under Robot Santa’s (DiMaggio) rule. They’re also out of work because Robot Santa finds everyone naughty, so the toy factory went under. The crew heads to Robot Santa’s death fortress, sneaking in and attempting to destroy Robot Santa with a logical paradox.

S3E3 - 1Neptune
A Gingerbread house is either food or shelter, not both.

Unfortunately, Robot Santa is immune to logic and chases them with a missile launcher. They escape to the ship and try to take off, but Santa grabs the ship and holds it in place. However, the engines melt the ice around Santa and he is trapped in the ice when Leela shuts off the engines. The Neptunians rejoice and return to making toys while singing and Bender is chosen, reluctantly, to be the new Santa.

S3E3 - 2Frozen
Let’s not question how this worked.

Using Santa’s sleigh to head to Earth, Bender tries to deliver presents to families, but most of them either attack him or try to kill themselves. He runs into Kwanzaa-Bot (Coolio) who can’t help, as he has to give out the traditional Kwanzaa book What the Hell is Kwanzaa? Bender returns to Planet Express and is instinctively attacked by the Professor. Bender decides to quit and drops all of his toys into the sewer, which results in Smitty and Url (West and DiMaggio) arresting him. Bender is put on trial and sentenced to death for Santa’s Slayings.

S3E3 - 3Post
Fun fact: The Chanukah Zombie is the Wandering Jew’s brother.

Bender is put on death row while the Crew heads to Neptune to try and bring the real Robot Santa back. Unfortunately, global warming has melted much of the ice and he escapes. The Crew flees, but Santa stows away on the ship. The crew, all dressed up like Santa Claus, try to claim that they are Santa (except Zoidberg, who shows up as “his friend Jesus”), but Mayor Poopenmeyer (David Herman) doesn’t believe them (except for Zoidberg). The countdown on Bender’s execution reaches 0, but, before Bender is killed by a giant magnet, the real Santa breaks in. Robot Santa reveals that he wants Bender’s help to do his Xmas work. Bender agrees and goes on a rampage with Robot Santa. Hiding at Planet Express, Fry mentions that fear brings everyone together the same way that joy does, so it’s still Xmas. At the end of the night, Santa gives Bender an empty box, saying “Oh, it might appear empty but the message is clear: Play Santa again and I’ll kill you next year!”

S3E3 - 4TwoSantas
The whip’s not for the robo-reindeer.

END SUMMARY

I know some people complained that John Goodman didn’t return to play Robot Santa in this episode, but I think John DiMaggio did such a good job that I almost didn’t notice the switch. I also like how they expanded on the Robot Santa mythos, particularly showing us the Neptunians who, unlike Elzar or any of the others in the series, are only a few feet tall due to malnutrition. They’re also constantly demonstrating fairly overused stereotypical gay behavior that, and this is the joke, Fry somehow manages to miss. This didn’t age as well as most of the series, but they’re nowhere near as bad as some other shows back in 2001.I also like that we get to watch a perfect representation of how messed up Robot Santa’s logic is:

Mobsters beating up a shopkeeper for protection money. Very naughty!

Shopkeepers not paying their protection money. Exactly as naughty!

Interestingly, in the commentary, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen mention that Fox told them not to do a second Robot Santa Xmas story after getting multiple complaints over the airing of the first one. Not giving a sh*t what Fox said, they made this one anyway, but were forced to premiere it at comic panels since Fox wouldn’t air it like a normal episode. In the same discussion, Matt Groening says that he generally hates doing Christmas episodes, something that shocked me, since the first episode of The Simpsons was a Christmas special. Maybe he only likes his own.

S3E3 - 5Kwanzaa.png
Never did a Kwanzaa special, though…

The final act for this episode is one of the better ones in the show. It’s even got a ticking clock in the form of Mayor Poopenmeyer’s random number generator counting down to Bender’s execution. I thought it was funny that the generator actually can pick any integer, positive or negative, and can pick the same one over again, and yet it gets to 0 in 10 selections. Technically we never see a three digit number, so it’s possible that it only goes between positive and negative one hundred, but that’s still 1 in 199 on each pick, so it could have taken an incredibly long time.

FAVORITE JOKE

The “I’m Spartacus” scene with all of the crew dressed as Santa is a decent joke, but the real winner is Zoidberg coming in dressed as Jesus. It just gets kicked up to 11 by the fact that the Mayor actually buys it, going so far as to say “How dare you lie in front of Jesus?!” When Robot Santa comes in to attack the group, the Mayor begs Jesus to attack Santa, only for Zoidberg to say “I help those who help themselves!”

S3E3 - 6Jesus
I refuse to make a Jesus Christacean joke. I refuse. 

I think this joke works on 3 different levels. First, it’s just funny that rather than dress up like Santa, Zoidberg chooses to dress up as the other main figure of Christmas. The fact that he’s so enthusiastic about it only makes it funnier. Second, a big part of the Xmas holiday episodes is that, in the future, they have literally taken the Christ out of Christmas. This is Zoidberg directly putting it back in. Third, I think it’s hilarious that Zoidberg, whose entire species is composed of Jewish stereotypes, decides to appear as the central figure to Christianity.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 34: Parasites Lost

NEXT – Episode 36: The Luck of the Fryrish

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 – S3E2 “Parasites Lost”

Fry eats a bad egg salad sandwich and finds himself infected with awesomeness.

SUMMARY

While at a gas station, Fry (Billy West) buys an egg-salad sandwich from the men’s room vending machine. Despite the awful taste, he ends up eating the whole thing. While she’s cleaning the windshield, several truckers insult Leela (Katey Sagal). Fry tries to defend her honor, but ends up insulting her more. When they get home, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) are sent to fix the building’s boiler, because Scruffy (David Herman), the Janitor, is too busy reading pornography. The boiler explodes and a pipe is lodged in Fry’s abdomen. Surprisingly, Fry seems fine, until the pipe suddenly is cut in half and the hole in Fry’s stomach regenerates. Zoidberg (West) gives Fry a deep colonoscopy and determines that his body is actually filled with superintelligent worms, which were actually the eggs in the egg-salad.

S3E2 - 1Bathroom
Best place to buy food at a truckstop.

In order to get the parasites out, the Professor (Billy West) creates a series of micro-droids remotely controlled by the crew and a miniature planet express ship. They are going to journey into Fry’s body (without his knowledge, because the worms know everything he knows) and travel to the pelvic splanchnic ganglion to cause Fry to completely void his bowels (including the worms). Leela distracts Fry by taking him on a date, but it’s revealed that the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him stronger, smarter, better looking, and healthier, something that impresses Leela immensely, especially when he beats up one of the truckers that insulted her.

S3E2 - 2City
I love that the worm city has forks and knives, like they’re the only things the worms knew.

Realizing that Fry is actually better because of the worms, Leela travels inside his body and kills the micro-droids of the crew before they can tickle the ganglion. The crew explain to Fry what happened, and Fry elects to keep the worms. Later, Leela takes Fry to her place and he plays a piece he wrote on the Holophonor, an instrument which creates an elaborate holographic art film as he plays it, causing Leela to become completely infatuated with him. Unfortunately, Fry realizes that it might be the worms she loves, not him. He goes inside his own body and orders the worms to get them out. When they refuse, he starts to damage his own brain, threatening to kill himself if they don’t. They concede and leave.

S3E2 - 3Holophonor
That’ll get you laid, man.

Fry comes back to Leela’s apartment and tries to play the holophonor again, but does it terribly. Leela realizes he’s an idiot again. He attempts to seduce her his way, but fails immediately. Leela kicks him out. He is later seen taking a lesson in playing the holophonor.

END SUMMARY

This is easily in my top 10 episodes of Futurama. Maybe in the top 5. It has some of my favorite one-liners, contains one of the more perfect twists on a sci-fi premise in the show, and really cements that Leela might reciprocate Fry’s feelings if he would just work on himself. It’s also an episode that is referenced, either directly or indirectly, multiple times throughout the rest of the series. Even the original series finale “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” directly references this episode and Fry’s effort to play the holophonor at the end of this episode forms the last shot of that episode, and the series, until the restart.

S3E2 - 4Kiss.png
Yeah, this was a good ending to the show.

The bulk of the episode is a tribute to the film Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of people shrink down to microscopic size to remove a blood clot. In this episode, the Planet Express crew instead controls tiny robots, because Professor Farnsworth can’t afford the “tiny atoms” which are required. I’d point out that the tiny robots also solve the issues of how being tiny would make you super dense, freeze you to death because your body wouldn’t generate enough internal heat, and that you couldn’t breathe enough oxygen to stay alive at that size, even scaled down, but I’m not going to do that because that would make me a nerd. The great twist on the episode is that unlike the clot, the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him superhuman. Futurama often does these nice twists on classic media, but I still think the idea of the mysterious parasites being a good thing is one of the better ones.

S3E2 - 5Swords.jpg
Also, the tumor didn’t have swords.

It’s also notable that this episode has the fewest speaking roles in the series. It’s focused almost exclusively on the internal workings (haha) of the Planet Express Crew. Every one of them has at least one solid joke, too. In fact:

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Everyone has a great line in this, so I’m going to do all of them:

Zoidberg: (After Fry is said to be as strong and flexible as Gumby and Hercules) Gumbercules? I love that guy!!!

Fry: Leela, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time but every time I try I get nervous and my mouth feels like it’s stuffed with peanut butter, even when it’s not.

Professor: Listen, this is gonna be one hell of a bowel movement. Afterwards he’ll be lucky if he has any bones left!

Amy: (On seeing Fry’s bowel) It’s gorgeous. That place used to be a big dump.

Leela: I don’t have words to say how wonderful you are, Fry. I haven’t felt this happy since double-soup Tuesday at the orphanarium.

Bender: (After Fry’s been dumped)  If it’s any consolation, my life is great! Babes! Bucks! I got it all!

Hermes: (describing his famous “Jerk Prunes”) I call it “Caribbean Drain-o”!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 33: Amazon Women in the Mood

NEXT – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

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 – S3E1 “Amazon Women in the Mood”

An episode on chauvinism also gives us every man’s chosen way to die: DEATH BY SNU-SNU.

SUMMARY

Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) has been receiving calls on her cell-phone. They feature a man’s voice breathing heavily, but no words. It turns out that the person on the other end is none other than Lieutenant Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche), who has been trying to work up the courage to ask Amy out since their sudden romance on the Titanic. He decides to ask Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) for advice, who agrees to set up a double-date as long as Leela (Katey Sagal) goes out with him. Amy talks Leela into it.

S3E1 - 1Zoidberg.png
Meanwhile, Zoidberg goes wild.

The four go out on a date to an orbiting restaurant, but Zapp’s advice to Kif backfires at every turn. Finally, Kif tries to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at karaoke, but Zapp does a spoken-word version of “Lola” with Leela’s name substituted. It’s so terrible that the people in the restaurant all leave, resulting in Zapp trying to fly the restaurant and crashing it into a planet. Searching the area, the group finds that they’re on Planet Amazonia, which is populated by giant women that capture them.

S3E2 - 2Zapp.png
Zapp Brannigan: 10% Kirk, 90% Shatner

Fry (West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) take the Planet Express ship to save the girls, but they are quickly captured. When going through a tour of the village, Zapp, Fry, and Bender all mock the various feminist aspects of the culture, including their comedy and basketball. The Amazons take them to their leader, the Femputer (Bea Arthur). The Femputer, upon learning that the men all mocked their civilization, orders the men to be killed… by snu-snu, the Amazon word for sex. It’s also revealed that all the men on Amazonia died from this. Bender points out that he can’t have sex, so he is pardoned. Zapp and Fry are somewhat excited about dying mid-coitus, but Kif is horrified. Facing death, he finally confesses his feelings to Amy.

S3E1 - 3Amazons.png
Oddly, the society divides Snu-Snu up by physical appearance.

The girls come up with a plan to save the three men. They send Bender to try and hack the Femputer while Amy pretends to be an Amazon to save Kif (Fry and Zapp are enjoying their violent snu-snu). Bender finds out that the Femputer is actually a Fembot, who he seduces into forcing the other Amazons to release everyone. Now free, Kif and Amy start going out.

END SUMMARY

My opinion on this episode has shifted a lot throughout my life. A lot of the humor is derived from the women on Amazonia behaving like overblown stereotypes and the men responding to them… as overblown stereotypes. At times, it seems like a lot of the jokes are just too easy to be funny, but, well, no, they’re still freaking funny. The fact that there are so many jokes that are easy make it all the better that there are so many really, really clever jokes embedded in the episode, and it also serves to highlight the absurd premise.

S3E1 - 4BBall.png
Admittedly, the shot at the WNBA was REALLY cheap.

A lot of what makes this episode work is the heavy dose of Zapp Brannigan. While he’s always fun to have along for the ride, this features him without any restrictions whatsoever. His book of pick-up lines include such gems as “if I said you had a beautiful body would you take your pants off and dance around a little?” and “I find the most erotic part of the woman is the boobies.” He tries to seduce Leela with a spoken-word version of “Lola,” a song about a drag-queen. He attempts to wrangle a threesome out of Amy and Leela by arguing it’s to repopulate the human race (not being smart enough to remember that Leela isn’t human… yet). When Kif is frightened of being killed by snu-snu, Zapp assumes that something is wrong with his sexuality. Basically, he’s the perfect male chauvinist to feature in an episode picking apart chauvinism.

S3E1 - 5Smile.png
Death by Snu-Snu is a bag of mixed emotions.

I think that the final twist in the episode, that the Femputer is a Fembot, ends up being doubly hilarious when she reveals that she only has taken over Amazonia because she lived on a planet which she discovered was run by a chauvinist Manputer which was actually a Manbot. She decided that the best way to deal with an oppressively masculine society was to create an oppressively feminine society. Despite this, she asks Bender if he can understand what it’s like to live in a social structure that’s engineered towards the other gender, and he ends up not even understanding the question. If that’s not social commentary… well, it is, so I don’t need to contemplate the rest of that sentence.

S3E1 - 6Fembot.png
Also, it’s Bea Freaking Arthur.

Amy’s and Kif’s romance really begins in this episode, and it’s one of the most interesting relationships in the show, since they seem to have literally nothing in common. Amy is a wild party girl who isn’t much into monogamy, while Kif is socially awkward and a little obsessive towards her. Despite this, the show manages to actually sell that the two should be together, because they each make the other better. It’s weird to realize, in retrospect, that it started with him semi-stalking her.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m a sucker for calling out double standards, and this episode has one of the most succinct and funny ones in media. When informed that the leader of Amazonia is a Femputer, this exchange happens:

Fry: A female leader? Hahahahaha.

Leela: Fry, shut up.

Fry: Yes, captain.

This episode makes this shut-down funnier than it normally would be because, while encouraged by Zapp and Bender, Fry is actually being more of a stereotypical male than he usually is. This line reminds us that the status quo is still operating, and that Leela is still not just in charge, but the most competent person on the team.

S3E1 - 7Salute.png

Oh, and DEATH BY SNU-SNU. Everything about it is hilarious.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 32: The Cryonic Woman

NEXT – Episode 34: Parasites Lost

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.