A trio of tales of holiday not-so-fun from the cast of Futurama.
There are three different segments to this episode.
First, it’s Xmas and the crew are preparing to deal with the attack of Robot Santa Claus (John DiMaggio). Fry (Billy West) feels depressed that Xmas has changed, but can’t quite figure out what he misses. Santa then shows up and attacks the crew while singing a song about Christmas Trees. The Professor (West) takes the crew to the Svalbard seed vault to get Pine Tree seeds in order to try and revive the extinct species. They get the seeds, but it turns out they’ve been contaminated by the nearby Germ Warfare Repository. Fry plants it anyway and it grows until Richard Nixon (West) steals it and plants it on the White House lawn. When it is lit, the tree grows enormous and starts to sprout explosive pine cones. Each cone makes a ton of trees which continue the process until trees are everywhere, making the Earth oxygen-rich. Bender (DiMaggio) promptly ignites the atmosphere and kills everyone. Merry Xmas!
After Xmas is over, the crew are destroying undelivered gifts, but Bender complains that people ignore the Robot Holidays, like Robanukah, meaning he has to work. In song, Bender tells them that Robanukah needs petroleum oil in order to hold a fembot wrestling match. After it’s determined that the Earth is out of oil (after Bender oils the fembots up for a month), Bender has the Professor build a drill to get to the center of the Earth for more oil. After dealing with an albino humping worm, the drill gets crushed by pressure. Bender, the only survivor, amuses himself by singing for five hundred million years, discovering that the crew has become petroleum oil. He heads back to the surface, but finds that the fembots are still wrestling without the oil, an apparent Robanukah miracle.
Hermes (Phil LaMarr) invites the crew over to celebrate Kwanzaa. At the dinner table, Zoidberg (West) asks about Kwanzaa, leading Kwanzaabot (Coolio) to show up and sing about it, but also to advise them that they need real beeswax candles. Due to colony collapse, the Earth no longer has bees so they head to the Space Bee hive. Unfortunately, the space bees are suffering from parasites that make them racist, so Hermes uses the principles of Kwanzaa to help the Queen save the hive. He succeeds, but that just unites the bees against people, leading the bees to make the crew into candles.
Also, everything was sponsored by Gunderson’s nuts.
This is usually considered one of the worst episodes of Futurama and I am sad to say that it is earned. I don’t actually know if this is the worst episode, but it’s in my bottom five for sure. A big part of it is that it’s a holiday special that is based around creatively killing off all of the main characters in each story, something that never feels right. Killing off the entire cast of a comedy show can be hilarious (ask Blackadder), but none of these are particularly funny. They’re either too sudden or too disturbing to be funny, or both. The running gag of being sponsored by a nut company isn’t much better.
While the idea of having a song for each of the holidays isn’t bad in itself, the songs aren’t particularly funny or entertaining, with the exception of Coolio’s presentation about Kwanzaa. Given that most of Matt Groening’s shows, including this one, have great original songs, the letdown is all the greater.
Overall, this really isn’t that funny, and that’s pretty much the greatest sin the show can commit.
Honestly, I laugh less in this episode than almost any other. I think the only line that always gives me a chuckle is when Kwanzaabot breaks through the wall and Dwight calls him Kool-Aid. However, that might be due to Family Guy doing so many Kool-Aid gags that I honestly just enjoy an animated Kool-Aid reference. \
Futurama returns in a film that literally breaks the world.
The summary for this movie is so damned long I am just going to put it at the end. If you need a refresher, just skip down the page and come back.
This was the first of the four movies designed to reinvigorate Futurama to try and get it back on the air after its cancellation. Much like Family Guy, Futurama had been doing really well on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup, and since Family Guy got brought back, why not Futurama? This ended up being a good plan, not just because it gave us a few more seasons of a great show that includes some great episodes, but also because the used these movies to try and deal with a few of the hanging plotlines that the show hadn’t fully resolved. Mostly we got some apology to Seymour the dog, who first debuted in “Jurassic Bark” and was, by this point, famous for being the saddest thing ever animated. In this movie, it’s revealed that Seymour didn’t die waiting for Fry to come home, he lived for 12 years with the Fry duplicate that would eventually become Lars. This may seem like it was pulled from nowhere, but it actually answers the question of how a dog could be fast-fossilized while living in New York, a place not known for sudden volcanic eruptions.
A lot of the plot elements in this film were apparently just the ideas left on the table when the original show got cancelled, including the concept of a nude beach planet. The idea of scammers being able to convince literally everyone to give them their property was probably also left from the original run because it seems like internet scams of the types featured were more on the rise in 2004 than 2007. I think that the plotline with Lars was likely not written for the original series, because that’s not the kind of plot that really can be shown within a single half-hour of television and the writers didn’t like multi-episode arcs. However, the idea of Leela falling for an older, more grizzled, more mature Fry is something that I absolutely loved. It proves what we knew the whole time: Fry might not be the guy for Leela, but eventually he can be. He just has to work on himself. I also believe that this is what kicks off some actual character development in Fry that culminates in the fourth movie and continues into the finale of the series.
I also love the idea of “paradox-correcting time travel,” a version of time-travel that the universe fixes by murdering any paradox. Even funnier, the Globetrotters determine that the cause of the destruction is a “doom field.” Yes, in the future, doom is actually a measurable quantity, with the average person apparently having a background amount of 10 millidooms and a time-paradox clone having over 10 times the amount. We later see it spike all the way up to almost 1000, which would be when a person is actually “doomed.” This seems to be evocative of the Larry Niven “Known Space” series, where luck is actually a measurable quantity that can not only be utilized but can be carried down through breeding. Was this a direct reference? Probably not, but I still think the concept is similar.
Overall, this was a great movie to bring the show back and I think it’s the 2nd best of the films, despite a convoluted plot.
It’s the running gag of LaBarbara repeatedly leaving Hermes for Barbados Slim. She barely waits a second to leave him the first time, even though she’s told he’ll be normal in a few weeks. When Hermes returns with a new body, even though it’s on backwards, she returns, only to leave again a few moments later. At last, she ends up coming back to him only after he manages to save the entire Earth. It’s a huge exaggeration of the idea of a fickle spouse who won’t stay with a disabled partner, but since it’s really only a temporary inconvenience, it becomes more comic than tragic.
Planet Express discovers that they have been cancelled for the last 2 years, but that the executives that cancelled them have themselves been cancelled… in the form of being turned into executive powder. The crew throws a party and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) accidentally gets decapitated. Hermes’s head is placed in a jar until it can be reattached by Lars Fillmore (Billy West), who flirts with Leela (Katey Sagal) to Fry’s (West) annoyance. When Hermes’s wife LaBarbara (Dawnn Lewis) finds out about Hermes, she leaves him.
The crew goes on a delivery run to the Nude planet where it’s revealed that Fry has Bender’s (John DiMaggio) face tattooed on his ass. The members of the crew are approached by Nude Scammers, led by Nudar (David Herman), who all con them into giving their personal information, resulting in them getting overwhelmed by spam. Bender downloads a virus from spam, resulting in him being taken over by the Scammers. The Scammers then reveal they’ve stolen all of the property from the crew, including the business. Lars asks Leela out which upsets Fry, since he always thought they’d end up together.
While the Scammers search Planet Express for personal information, they determine that Fry’s tattoo is a binary code that allows for paradox-correcting time travel. Nibbler (Frank Welker) reveals himself and advises everyone that using the code would potentially destroy the universe. The Scammers use it anyway, but discover that there’s no way to return without waiting. Around this time, LaBarbara hooks up with Barbados Slim (DiMaggio). The Scammers send Bender back in time to steal valuable historical items and wait underneath the building until the time he left to come out. Bender also steals a new body for Hermes, but Zoidberg puts his head on backwards.
Farnsworth and the Globetrotters work together to dissect the tattoo version of time travel, discovering that any time duplicate is doomed to be killed by the universe. Bender finishes stealing a ton of stuff from history, but now the Scammers want to avoid destroying the universe, so they delete the code from Bender’s memory and order him to kill Fry. Fry escapes by reading the code in a mirror, sending himself back to January 1, 2000, 30 minutes after he was frozen. Bender is sent back to kill him, meeting a version of Bender from the end of the movie who puts the tattoo on Fry’s ass. Fry manages to elude him for 12 years, but Bender ends up blowing up Panucci’s pizza, killing Fry and fossilizing Seymour the dog. He returns to the year 3007 and tells the Scammers of his success. At Fry’s funeral, Fry appears and tells them that Bender actually killed a time duplicate from when he went into the past a second time to get free pizza, but ended up getting frozen again. He re-froze himself a second time for 7.95 years and reemerged in 3007. Fry wonders what life was like for his duplicate before Bender kills him.
In a flashback for the viewer, the duplicate rents a room above Panucci’s pizza and starts to spend time living with his family and Seymour while trying to move on from Leela. He ends up becoming attached to a purple haired narwhal named Leelu and becoming her caretaker. Eventually Leelu gets released into the wild, so Fry2 gets on a boat and tracks her down over 2 years to capture her and take her back. He manages to find her, but it turns out that she now has a family with an orange-colored narwhal, so he is forced to let her go and be happy.
Back in 3007, the Scammers have taken almost everything from everyone on Earth, as well as Robot Santa (DiMaggio), but Lars proposes to Leela. At their wedding, Hermes wins LaBarbara back, only for his body to be destroyed by a chandelier. Farnsworth mentions that all time-duplicates are doomed, leading Lars to say he’s calling off the wedding. Leela is heartbroken. After President Nixon (West) loses the Earth itself to the scammers, the population has to leave. The crew goes to Neptune where Robot Santa is too depressed to attack them. Leela convinces the citizens of Earth to fight back. The Scammers build a fleet of gold Death Stars, but Robot Santa has his elves produce weapons, along with help from Kwanzaa-bot (Coolio) and the Chanukah Zombie (Mark Hamill “Applause”). Zapp Brannigan (West) is put in charge of the attack and fortunately gets shot down quickly. Leela takes over, but she too cannot win. Instead, Hermes gets wired into the entire fleet and uses his vast knowledge of coordinated actions to destroy the Death Stars. Nudar reveals he has a doomsday device stolen from Farnsworth by Bender and tells the citizens of Earth to submit or die. Bender reveals that he actually double-crossed them and kept the bomb, despite being under their control at the time. They blow up the Scammers using the device.
Lars brings Hermes his body back and Fry uses the opportunity to set him back up with Leela, believing that it’s better to see Leela happy than being with her himself. However, the Scammers reappear, having worn doomproof vests, claiming that Lars has the same Bender tattoo as Fry. Lars uses a Bender duplicate to kill Nudar and himself. It turns out that Lars was actually the duplicate of Fry that Bender thought he killed. The explosion from Bender’s weapon just changed his voice and burned off all of his hair. Lars broke up with Leela because he realized that, as a duplicate, he was doomed to die and leave her alone. Leela admits that Lars is the only man she’ll ever love, admitting that Fry could be the love of her life someday. Bender goes back in time to put the tattoo on Fry when he gets frozen, creating a time loop, but then tells all of his duplicates to come up now instead of when they logically should have, creating hundreds of copies of himself. The Benders start exploding and a giant rift in time and space appears. Bender mutters “Well, we’re boned.”
Robot Santa returns, bringing sacks of holiday pain and suffering. It’s like Christmas with extended family, except with robots.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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!”
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.