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.

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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.

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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

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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.

Halloween Review/Amazon Prime Review – Ticks: The Most Early-90s Horror Movie Ever Made

Alfonso Ribeiro of Fresh Prince, Rosalind Allen of SeaQuest DSV, Seth Green, and Peter Scolari of Bosom Buddies star in a movie about mutant ticks.

SUMMARY

It’s California and it’s the 90s and the greatest threat to the world is Marihuana (Spelled that way at one point in the movie, no joke), followed by Steroids, apparently. Drug grower Jarvis Tanner (Clint Howard) is using steroids to grow stronger cannabis, but it turns out that the runoff has made the ticks in the area gigantic and given them a neurotoxin that’s akin to LSD. 

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He’s one of those infamous tea-drinking cash croppers.

In Los Angeles, Tyler Burns (Seth Green), a boy whose father once abandoned him in the woods for two days, is forced by that same father to go on a wilderness retreat in order to cure him of his fear of the woods and being alone… that he got from when his dad got drunk and abandoned, alone, him in the woods. And no, no one ever goes “wait, your dad got drunk and left you in the woods and HE’S telling YOU to just get over it?” Oh, and he drops him off under an overpass in downtown LA.  In the early 90s. When violent crime peaked and roughly at the time of the Rodney King riots. I assume that his father wants him to die, is what I’m saying.

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Parenting: Not all of them need to live, right?

The wilderness retreat is run by Holly Lambert (Rosalind Allen) and Charles Danson (Peter Scolari), and includes several fellow campers: “Thug” Darrel “Panic” Lumley (Alfonso Ribeiro), Rich girl Dee Dee Davenport (Ami “my dad was in the Monkees” Dolenz), Dee Dee’s boyfriend her parents hate for being Hispanic Rome Hernandez (Ray Oriel), mostly mute rape-survivor Kelly Mishimoto (Sina Dayrit), and Charles’ daughter, Melissa (Virginya Keeyne). While stopping on the way into the woods, the group meets local pot growers Redneck Jerry (Barry Lynch) and a British cross between Gary Busey and Gilderoy Lockhart called Sir (Michael Medeiros). 

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“Yo Chuck, these burgers ain’t half-bad” – A line someone thought someone else would say.

At camp, Tyler discovers a giant tick egg in the cabin and destroys it. Later, in the woods, he finds a giant tick on Melissa’s back and kills it, but when they report it Charles dismisses it as normal. Panic’s dog Brutus is attacked by a tick, leading Panic to quit the retreat and head off into the woods. Tyler and Charles take Brutus to a vet (Judy Jean Berns), where a giant tick pops out of him, killing the dog before the vet kills the tick. Panic gets lost in the woods until he’s attacked by a tick that burrows inside him and makes him hallucinate. He ends up finding Jerry and Sir’s pot farm, leading Sir to shoot him and also accidentally start a forest fire. To survive the shooting, Panic downs a bag of steroids he stole from Rome. 

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It’s alive!!! IT’S ALIVE!!!!!

Dee Dee finds Jarvis in the woods, infested with ticks, before he dies. She gets bitten by a tick and is rescued by Rome back to the cabin. Melissa and Kelly go fishing and find that the local Sheriff (Rance Howard) has been killed by Sir and Jerry. Everyone ends up back in the cabin as the fire that Sir started forces the ticks towards them. Charles lets Sir and Jerry in, but Panic arrives and tells them Sir shot him before dying. Sir shoots Charles and forces Jerry to go and get the van so they can escape. A tick kills Jerry and he crashes the van into the cabin. Sir forces everyone to hide by trying to shoot them, before a man-sized Tick bursts out and kills Sir. Tyler manages to fight off the ticks, get to the van, and rescue everyone, before the supertick attacks Rome. Tyler sets it on fire and drives off with everyone. Back in the city, a giant tick egg falls out of the van.

END SUMMARY

This movie is so very, very bad in all the best ways, bringing it right back to awesome.

First of all, this movie clearly tried to make sure that none of the characters were in the same social group. In the ‘90s everyone was trying to make sure that diversity was in every film and this one goes above and beyond. We have a protagonist group made up of almost every race, class, and background, none of which really has any impact on the movie. We have a kid with trauma who frequently shows no signs of it. A rape victim who stays silent until the movie decides “okay, she can talk now” and then NOTHING IS EVER SAID ABOUT IT AGAIN. Then we have Panic, who is supposedly an inner-city tough guy who still goes on retreats with these yuppies, with no explanation as to how that happened. The fact that he’s played by Alfonso Ribeiro makes it ambiguous as to whether he was actually just a softy, or that Alfonso Ribeiro just isn’t capable of playing a tough guy. Hell, even the villains are a dirty redneck and an English guy who’s obsessed with his appearance, two groups that just don’t seem to mesh without some sort of explanation. This part of the 90s really focused on saying “these people totally hang out, but we don’t want to explain anything about how that happened.” I’m not saying diversity is bad, I would advocate the opposite, but, screenwriters, it’s actually interesting to hear how groups like this come together, or at least see signs of it, rather than just going “we made this character Asian, are you happy now?”

Ticks - 7Victim.png
She’s a rape victim who is too traumatized to speak, but then casually talks about rape. Dafuq.

The special effects in this movie are actually not as bad as I would have expected. Sure, none of the ticks look real, but they all look sufficiently gross and alien to get the point across. They also squish in a disgusting way that makes me kind of squeamish. The “fake blood and guts” budget was pretty sizable, is what I mean. The final scene of the tick bursting out of Alfonso Ribeiro looks simultaneously fake and satisfyingly unnerving. 

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They try to keep it in the dark, but… it’s a bad fake head.

The performances in the film are all cheesy, but they’re above what you’d expect for a low-budget horror movie. Given that Clint and Rance Howard, Ron Howard’s brother and father, respectively, are in the movie, I’m assuming that someone on the film had enough clout to get the other people on the film as a favor. I mean, most of these people peaked in the 80s and 90s, aside from Seth Green, but that means this film happened when they all actually could have gotten other work. 

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These two deserve their own show.

However, the MVP for this film is the person that did the closed captions. This is only half a movie if you have them off. First of all, whoever did it does not know what a car horn is, because whenever one goes off, it’s just called “background noise.” Second, it inconsistently goes between describing sounds and doing onomatopoetic renderings of them. Some of the best ones include “Terk-er-Terk-er-Terk-er,”  “Chucka-Chucka-Chucka,” and “simple engine chugging” all for the sound of an engine, “thick liquid splatting” and “ploop” for the sounds of tick eggs falling, and the absolute, uncontested, best sound effect description in the history of cinema:

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“Oh. Right. Those.” – Every human.

The weirdest thing about this movie is that it clearly suggests that everything that happens is as a result of steroids and marijuana. The application of steroids to cannabis is what makes the ticks in the first place, then the man-sized tick comes from Panic’s body being filled with steroids. Now, I’m not saying that steroid abuse isn’t bad, but… it’s still freaking ridiculous to make a monster movie with that as the cause. I mean, people on steroids don’t suddenly get 20 times larger and they certainly don’t get more fertile. Pot doesn’t make people aggressive and I don’t believe it has that effect on any animals, either. It’s just such a sign of when this movie was made that those things could be the source of the monster. 

Ticks - 3Marihuana
These people believed Reefer Madness.

Overall, I will say, this is a must-see for fans of bad monster movies. Really, you’ve got to check it out, if only for Alfonso Ribeiro trying to be a thug. It’s one of the best things I’ve seen. And make sure to keep the captions on, because they are just a treat.

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.