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

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

File:TrekChurch.jpg
Shots fired at John Travolta.

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

3) “He’s Dead, Jim”

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

Image result for futurama volcano

2) Balok’s Puppet

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

File:Kifbalok.jpg

1) George and Walter Share

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

NEXT – Episode 66: The Sting

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

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

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

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

SUMMARY

The Professor’s (Billy West) pet gargoyle Pazuzu (David Herman) escapes, leading the crew to chase after it, but the Professor’s stereotypical-old-man behavior leads the rest of them to get annoyed. They decide that he’s too old and send him to a spa to get Youthasized. After none of the treatments work, the Professor is put into a tar bath that supposedly sucks the age right out of people. Bender (John DiMaggio) tries to pump it to make it more effective, but ends up spraying the tar on everyone. When they wipe it off, it’s discovered that the tar actually worked: The Professor is now in his 50s and the crew are now teenagers. This includes Bender, whose robonucleic acid apparently can also be affected.

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

Leela (Katey Sagal) decides to go back and live with her parents to get a taste of the childhood she never had, while the Professor tries to fix the problem. Leela’s parents keep trying to treat her as an adult, but Leela tries to force them to be strict. Amy’s (Lauren Tom) parents are annoyed, as they now have to wait longer for grandchildren, and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) bonds with his now same-aged son, Dwight (LaMarr). Fry (West) goes to pick Leela up for a date and ends up winning a sewer race against local jock Moose (Herman) and his girlfriend Mandy (Tress MacNeille). 

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

The Professor creates an oil-eating bacteria to try and fix the problem, but it ends up backfiring and making everyone younger. Additionally, they’re now aging in reverse, meaning they’ll eventually face the horror of pre-life… then death. Leela, who didn’t want to get older and thus wasn’t given the bacteria, is now a babysitter for most of the crew. She reads them a story about a mythical place called the Fountain of Aging, the opposite of the Fountain of Youth. She takes off with the now-infant crew and manages to locate the fountain. With the Professor now a toddler, the crew now fetuses, and Bender a cd of his blueprints, they jump into the fountain, but the Professor loses his grip and they start to slip into the Fountain’s black-hole center. Leela manages to save everyone, now back to their right ages, but loses the Professor, who is saved at the last minute by Pazuzu. In gratitude, the Professor grants the gargoyle his freedom, and he moves to Notre Dame to raise his children. 

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

END SUMMARY

This is one of those episodes where I feel like they threw darts at a wall full of other properties and combined what stuck. In this case, it hit Muppet Babies, Archie Comics, and Golden Girls. Not that this is a bad episode, although it’s at the bottom of my Futurama rankings, but it still just feels like it was more three short premises sewn together into a single episode, and they had to really stretch character traits to get there. I mean, yes, the Professor is typically depicted as being old, but in this episode his behavior is so exaggerated that the show even admits he’s a super-senior stereotype. When the crew gets de-aged to teenagers, they all pretty much act like what films think kids acted like in the 90s. It sometimes feels like they’re cashing in on a lot of easy jokes for these.

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

The one thing that I like about the episode, and the thing that apparently inspired them to create it, is the part with Leela living with her parents. It’s simultaneously sweet to see Leela trying to recapture the part of her youth that she lost by having her parents treat her as a real kid, and hilarious to watch how little they actually care about doing it. It’s best summarized by her interaction in which she whispers to Fry, thinking he’s going to be re-aged, to sneak her some beer, and her father replies with “No beer until you finish your tequila!” Morris and Munda usually don’t get a ton of funny lines, but watching them fail repeatedly to actually parent their daughter is hilarious.

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s probably the Child’s Garden of Space Legends. When I was a kid, I had the Child’s Garden of Verses, a book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of them aren’t really narratives like the fables in the episode, but it’s still nice of them to reference the book. However, I do like the fact that the cover of the book is a Gorn eating a kid and that it contains the stories “Snow White and the Seven Red Dwarfs,” which is both a reference to the white dwarf star and a reference to the TV show Red Dwarf, and “Charlotte’s Tholian Web,” a reference to the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and the Star Trek episode “The Tholian Web.” Just solid Futurama jokes.

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

NEXT – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S4E8 “Crimes of the Hot”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

S4E7 - 5C3PO
Better Cameos, too.

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

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

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

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

Suzie: But–

Narrator: Once and for all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

S4E7 - 9Windmills.gif 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

NEXT – Episode 63: Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles

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

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 – S4E5 “A Taste of Freedom”

Zoidberg celebrates his freedom in a way that the rest of the planet finds unconscionable. Hilarity and war ensue.

SUMMARY

It’s Freedom Day on Earth, a day in which people are encouraged to do whatever the hell they want, including naked hot tubbing. Zoidberg (Billy West) is particularly fond of the holiday, stating that Earth’s freedoms are given to everyone, while on his planet people suffer to get it. The Planet Express employees go to Washington, DC for a parade. Earth President Richard Nixon (West) asks the planet to salute the Earthican flag, Old Freebie, only to find out that Zoidberg has just eaten it as a celebration of his freedom. Enraged, Nixon orders his execution.

S4E5 - 2FlagEating.png
I’m curious how you eat a flag that size that quickly unless you’re Nibbler.

Zoidberg flees to the embassy of Decapod 10, his home planet. Ambassador Mervin (David Herman) supports Zoidberg, but Nixon is about to order the embassy raided until Leela (Katey Segal) tells Nixon that eating a flag is constitutionally protected. Nixon challenges this in the Supreme Court, where Zoidberg is defended by Old Man Waterfall (Phil Hendrie), the father of the deceased Free Waterfall, Sr. from “The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz” and grandfather of Free Waterfall, Jr. from “The Problem with Popplers.” Old Man Waterfall is a bisexual polygamist Satanist multi-war veteran lawyer who believes that freedom has to include things that challenge that freedom. The Court ends up ruling against Zoidberg (and also declaring polygamy legal) and ordering him to either publicly apologize or die. 

S4E5 - 3OldManWaterfall.png
He’s like Daniel Boone and Daniel Webster had an old man baby.

Zapp Brannigan (West) comes to arrest Zoidberg at the embassy, but attempting to go on sovereign soil results in the Decapodians declaring war on Earth. They quickly defeat Earth’s forces due to Zapp giving an obvious spy the Earth defense codes. The Decapodians then enslave the humans and unveil their Mobile Oppression Palace. Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela try to fight back using a heat-seeking missile. It fails due to Decapodians being cold-blooded, until Zoidberg lights a flag on fire and attracts the missile to the mobile oppression palace. Zoidberg is hailed as a hero, eats another flag, then contemplates eating the Shroud of Turin.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the rare Futurama episodes that’s taking a firm and pretty unambiguous political stance. Sure, it gets couched in a ridiculous story, but throughout the episode the narrative clearly says that Zoidberg is the only one that is truly celebrating freedom. Since the episode is an analogue for burning a flag in protest, including having Zoidberg literally burn one, the show actually supports the constitutional right to protest your government through peaceful subversive acts. Given that this was 2002, after the invasion of Afghanistan but before the Iraq War, and patriotism was at a high, this is kind of a ballsy message. 

S4E5 - 4MobileOppressionPalace.png
Although, they did cut the building-smashing out of respect.

This is the third episode focused on Zoidberg after “Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?” and “That’s Lobstertainment,” and it’s actually a step up from the latter. Part of it is that this episode actually makes Zoidberg the optimist rather than his usual depressed self. They don’t make much mention of him being broke or perpetually alone. The closest thing we have to his usual negativity is when he’s thinking about his past on his home world of Decapod 10, where he claims people have to suffer for freedom. It shows that his life has been filled with people guilting him into different things. First, a woman who is not his mother (because Decapodians die when they mate) guilted him out of being a comedian by telling him he’d make his parents roll over in their graves. A man guilts him out of voting for a candidate by telling him it’d cause a recession. Last, the same woman makes him feel guilty for giving up being a comedian in favor of medicine.

S4E5 - 1Lecture.png
I find it weird that the kids wear togas.

What’s most interesting about Zoidberg’s past is that he says that he loves the Earth’s version of freedom more than his planet’s, but… is his planet any less free? His planet never seems to say that he can’t do anything, only that people try to talk you out of doing things, whereas the Earth tells you to indulge. That means that if you want to do something on Decapod 10, you have to be confident enough in your decision to deal with people saying that you shouldn’t do it. That’s not less free, it’s just more difficult and is likely to deter people from doing things for stupid reasons. However, Zoidberg prefers the complete indulgence of Earth… only to find out that Earth actually has LESS freedom to do certain acts. 

S4E5 - 5Dignitaries.png
They’re ruled by a group of wealthy people exploiting labor, so that’s… different?

Overall, not a bad episode, but definitely not one of the best ones.

FAVORITE JOKE

Everything Old Man Waterfall says to the Supreme Court. 

S4E5 - 6Court.png
Also, can we agree that Snoop Dogg would be a solid nominee?

He starts by saying that unlike the Hyper-Chicken (Maurice LaMarche), he’s not a big city lawyer, which is like trying to out-Matlock Matlock. He then proceeds to give a speech about how he is a patriot:

‘Cause I lost my real hand plantin’ the flag when we took back Halley’s Comet! Yet it was worth it, so much do I love that flag. I love it even more than I love my seven wives — that’s right, I’m a polygamist. Yet I would gladly eat a flag myself, had I not used my intestine as a rope to hoist a flag made of my own skin, if it would protect the freedoms of the proud people who salute that flag. Freedom such as polygamy. I rest my case.

This is a funny, fairly impassioned speech which completely fails at being any kind of argument towards why eating a flag should be protected. He says that HE believes that it is a freedom that should be protected, but literally nothing about why he believes that. In contrast, the Hyper-Chicken says that freedom of speech applies only to what comes out of the mouth and cites a case saying that eating the Constitution was found to be non-protected speech. That’s right, the Hyper-Chicken was actually the better lawyer. Now, does that mean that the Supreme Court still had to side with him? No, but it does make it more reasonable in the episode.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 58: Less than Hero

NEXT – Episode 60: Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television

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 – S4E4 “Less than Hero”

The team become superheroes, because why not?

SUMMARY

Leela’s (Katey Sagal) parents are coming to the surface for a one-time visit, due to their mutant status. After securing them permits, she and Fry (Billy West) have to build a supercollider from πkea, the Swedish furniture of the future, for the Professor (West). This ends up being extremely difficult, making them sore. They obtain a miracle cream for the soreness from Dr. Zoidberg (West), which appears to work. Later, the pair are mugged, but are surprised to find themselves superstrong, invulnerable, and superfast. They realize they got the powers from the Miracle Cream and, with Bender as a third, create a superhero team called the New Justice Team. They adopt the superhero names of Captain Yesterday (Fry), Clobberella (Leela), and Super King (Bender), to protect their secret identities. 

File:New Justice Team.png
This would have been okay as a show on its own.

The three are challenged by a supervillain known as the Zookeeper (West). They manage to stop the crook, but it prevents Leela from meeting her parents. Desperate to apologize to them, she reveals that she’s a superhero, which her father immediately tells everyone. Now knowing her secret identity, the Zookeeper kidnaps her parents and holds them for ransom. The trio rob the natural history museum for a gem and deliver it to the evildoer, but discover they’re out of miracle cream, ending their careers… after Bender and Fry commit a few more crimes. 

END SUMMARY

This episode would usually be a sign that the team was running out of ideas. “Let’s have them become superheroes” seems like the kind of idea that you just throw out when all of the other options have been explored. Despite that, this episode is actually pretty solid. The A- and B-Plot interplay works well, because even as Leela is living a dream of superheroics, she realizes that it’s causing her to sacrifice her other dream of having a relationship with her parents. This ends up forcing her to choose between the two, and she naturally chooses her parents. It works out well. 

File:'tude Guard.png
We also see more anti-mutant racism, which eventually builds to a head.

The identities and the theme song of the superheroes is hilarious. Fry’s alter-ego is designed to look like a person from the 1970s, despite the fact that he was from the 90s. Leela’s outfit is clearly supposed to be a send-up of the typically revealing costumes female superheroes wear, as well as making her symbol a sexist rolling pin. Bender’s is just him wearing a king outfit and a mask. None of these costumes would be at all useful in keeping their identities secret, as Fry’s shows off his hair and mentions that he’s from the past, Leela’s shows off her cyclopic nature, and Benders still shows he’s a robot. Hilariously, Bender already had these when they revealed their powers to him, meaning that he had anticipated one day forming this team. Also, the theme song includes the line “winners don’t use drugs,” a Reagan-era comic throwback.

File:FlimFlam2.jpg
Also, the random mutation cream giving powers is hilarious.

The best part of the episode, though, is the Zookeeper. He’s among the most ridiculous supervillains ever crafted. He uses animals, though they are apparently only highly-trained, not controlled by him using any superpowers. His menagerie is the best part, as they are not the kind of animals one would expect. They include: a badger with a troubled past and nothing left to lose, an elephant who never forgets to kill, a crab named Lucky, a.k.a. Citizen Snips, a yak, a boxing kangaroo, a python, piranhas that can walk on land, and a hawk. I mostly love the fact that the crab has two names and attacks Teddy Roosevelt’s disembodied head. 

File:Zookeeper.jpg
He also is just the right amount of Camp.

Overall, this is a great episode. It focuses more on gags than on plot development, but the gags are pretty great. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Everything about the trio’s meeting with Mayor Poopenmeyer (David Herman) is great, but I particularly love how they get out of his office in order to change into their superhero personas. Leela claims that she forgot that she left her apartment on fire. Bender says that he’s late for his LSATs. Fry just says he can’t take life anymore and jumps out the window. 

File:Quantum Gemerald.png
And in a series in the future, they still use the green-line holograms. 

While this joke does obey the rule of three, obviously, it also subverts the normal structure of a Futurama rule of three gag by having all three of the statements be absurd. Typically, the first two would be somewhat normal and the third would be the insane one, made more insane by the comparison to the first two, but this time, Leela’s is a subversion of the more normal excuse of “I left my stove on,” and the others are even more insane. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 57: Love and Rocket

NEXT – Episode 59: A Taste of Freedom

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 – S4E3 “Love and Rocket”

Bender decides to start dating the Planet Express ship, only to suffer when he treats her like crap.

SUMMARY

Planet Express is entering into a contract with Romanticorp right before Valentine’s Day. The crew tours the factory of the company, finding out secrets like “lovey bears are actually corpses” or “candy hearts have earwig honey,” but they still end up taking the job. Based on the new influx of money, the Professor (Billy West) finally upgrades the Planet Express ship, including giving it a new AI which has a female personality voiced by Sigourney Weaver (APPLAUSE). Bender (John DiMaggio) quickly falls in love with the new ship’s computer while Fry (West) attempts to find the perfect pickup line to use on Leela (Katey Segal) from the trillions of candy hearts that Romanticorp makes. 

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These bears are all culled for profit. Monstrous.

After a few dates that somehow still take place before Valentine’s Day, Bender gets sick of the ship and starts cheating on her with a number of cheap floozies. She sees him at Elzar’s restaurant with two of them and becomes suspicious, but Bender manages to talk his way out of trouble. The ship continues to grow more paranoid (justifiably), until Leela tries to talk her into dumping Bender, leading the ship to lash out. While the ship’s sanity starts to slip due to Bender gaslighting her, the crew delivers 20 Billion candy hearts to Omicron Persei 8’s rulers Lrrr and Nd-Nd (Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille). Unfortunately, one of the hearts uses the term “wuv,” which confuses and infuriates the Omicronian Monarchs. While the crew flees, Bender dumps the Planet Express Ship. Somehow, they still make it out alive. 

File:Omicronian castle 3.png
They can’t understand WUV, but they understand Sweeps-Week.

Leela tries to console the ship with girl-talk, but accidentally inspires the ship to fly into a Quasar in an attempt to force them to be together forever as a quantum singularity. Fry and Leela try to stop her, but she cuts life support and gravity. Bender tries to merge his consciousness with hers to distract the ship while Leela shuts down the computer’s brain. Fry keeps looking for the perfect heart message but notices that Leela is running out of oxygen. He tries to warn her, but she ignores him, so he hooks his oxygen tank up to her mask without her noticing. Meanwhile, in cyberspace, Bender is running from the incarnation of the ship as she slowly loses her intelligence. Leela finishes shutting off the ship’s computer, restoring life support. She finds that Fry is unconscious and revives him, finding the perfect heart: U leave me breathless. Bender is brought back out, and it seems he’s inherited some of the ship’s personality. The crew dumps the billions of candy hearts in the quasar, causing mystical love radiation to go across the universe, killing several planets, but making Earth feel the true Valentine’s spirit. 

File:U Leave Me Breathless candy heart.png
They wrote the whole story for this joke. You know it. I know it.

END SUMMARY

First of all, can we all agree that Sigourney Weaver is just amazing? I mean, she played the single most badass woman in film, possibly the most badass character ever, but here she plays the consciousness of a ship who gets gaslit into despair and she’s nailing it. I love the idea that she’s voicing the computer here, since several of her roles involve her fighting with an artificial intelligence. It also is worth noting that here she ends up being a parody of the HAL 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie WALL-E, Sigourney Weaver voices a ship’s computer and the counterpart of a HAL 9000-esque autopilot program, and I have to think that this role at least was part of the reason she was cast. 

File:Bender and the Planet Express ship 4ACV03.png
She makes “Me Want Engulf Bender” sound believable.

Second, my god, Bender is a giant a**hole in this. He is a total scumbag and honestly, even for a character who is supposed to be despicable, his conduct here stands out. It’s not because the conduct is worse than, say, that time he sacrificed his first born son to the robot devil, but because it’s so much more normal. Guys really do cheat on their girlfriends and then lie about it, just as brazenly as Bender does here. Moreover, some people really do feel no guilt for leading a partner on in a relationship, only to dump them and feel nothing. The episode tries to justify Bender somewhat by having the ship go crazy at the end, but I submit that she’s only in that irrational state because Bender has been gaslighting her and then treating her with complete disdain after he decided to move past her. It’s a complete d*ck move, and I don’t mean the quacking kind.

Still, this episode is pretty amusing, and I do love the sweet Fry and Leela subplot, so I still enjoy this. 

FAVORITE JOKE

I will always laugh at the Romanticorp tour, but particularly the Romance Acceleration lab. It features two wire-mesh dummies who deliver pick-up lines. The first one delivers the horrible “Is heaven missing an angel? ‘Cause you’ve got nice cans!” That line is so perfectly bad that it gets a chuckle. The second dummy delivers the sincere line “My two favourite things are commitment and changing myself,” something that even gets the tester to make out with him. Leela even asks if he has a brother. Is this a little bit of a stereotype and an old trope? Yes, but it’s still funny as hell. 

Because I really want to talk about it, I’ll say that the second best joke in this episode is the title. It’s a reference to the comic Love and Rockets and potentially to the band who took their name from the comic. Love and Rockets was a comic created by three brothers and primarily written by two of them, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. What’s notable about the series is that the brother did not really coordinate their stories in any way, with Gilbert’s taking place in Central America and featuring a magical realism storyline and Jaime’s taking place in Los Angeles and being more grounded. I think that the juxtaposition of fantastic and grounded, human stories has influenced many subsequent series, and I would have to believe that Futurama is one of them. If you haven’t ever read it, give it a try. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 56: Leela’s Homeworld

NEXT – Episode 58: Less Than Hero

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 – S4E2 “Leela’s Homeworld”

Leela finally learns the truth about her cyclopic origins and it will bring a tear to your single large eye.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) builds a machine to make glow-in-the-dark noses and decode alien language which produces a lot of toxic waste. Bender (John DiMaggio) offers to dispose of it, which he does by dumping it on the sewer mutants. The mutants don’t appreciate this. 

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Their arguments DID have a leg to stand on. 

Leela (Katey Segal) gets named “Orphan of the Year” for becoming a spaceship captain, and receives it while telling the other orphans that they should be proud of who they are. However, she tells Fry (West) that it was a lie, because she only ever wanted a family to love her. She hopes that her parents are looking down on her, only for it to be revealed that her parents Turanga Munda and Turanga Morris (Tress MacNeille and David Herman) have been watching her the whole time… because they’re mutants living in the sewers. 

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The not-so-subtle reveal.

The mutants finally get fed up by Bender’s dumping and pull him, Fry, and Leela into the sewers, preparing to dump them in the lake which Bender’s waste has made so much more toxic. The three are saved by two strangers who know Leela’s name. The crew follows them through the sewers to a house which has a ton of stuff about Leela. The mutants catch up and try to execute them, but the strangers convince the mutants to let them go. Leela dives into the mutagenic lake to pursue them, emerging to find out that it had no effect on her. 

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As opposed to this rat.

Back on the surface, Fry gives the note found on Leela’s baby basket as a child to the Professor so that he can decipher it. He uses the nose machine and eventually gets a result. In the sewers, Leela chases the two strange mutants and confronts them in their home covered in Leela memorabilia. She suspects they’re the mutants who killed her parents and is about to kill them when Fry unmasks them, revealing that they ARE her parents (something the audience already knew). Fry reveals that the note, while indecipherable, was written on recycled paper from the sewers, meaning that her parents were mutants, not aliens. In a flashback, it’s revealed that the pair left Leela on the surface so that she wouldn’t be subject to mutant discrimination. Rather than being mad at them for abandoning her, Leela embraces them, happy to find them. It’s revealed in further flashbacks that Leela’s parents have always been looking out for her from afar.

END SUMMARY

Well, this is what has to happen when you suspect that the show is not going to get another season: Wrap up those plot threads. This one had long been dangled, though not as directly as the secret origin of Fry that comes up later in the season. Back in season 2’s “I Second That Emotion,” Leela’s parents are shown in a crowd of mutants, and their resemblance to Leela is painfully obvious, but that is pretty much it until this episode. According to the DVD Commentary, they had decided they should wait at least 3 seasons to reveal Leela’s origins, even though they were written before the pilot was shot (that’s why there are mutants in the sewers in the Pilot). 

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That’s them in the corner. That’s them in the spotlight.

This isn’t a bad reveal by any means, since ultimately we were going to need an explanation as to why Leela appeared to be the only real cyclops in the universe despite her searching everywhere for evidence. This resolution shows that the reason why she couldn’t find them is that she was looking everywhere except below the Earth’s surface, because she’d been told she was an alien her whole life. It’s a great way to not impugn Leela’s intelligence while still making the solution viable.

The ending to this episode is one of the best tearjerker moments in the series. It’s so well done and so heartwarming that it would stand out more if it weren’t soon to be overshadowed by “Jurassic Bark,” which pretty much dominates the “I’m not crying, you’re crying, but I’m also crying” charts. Still, they perfectly convey how Leela’s parents have really done their best to be involved in her life, despite not being able to ever be near her. The fact that it’s completely silent aside from the musical accompaniment, like most of Futurama’s best montages, only makes it tug harder at your heart strings. I can’t hear “Baby Love Child” by Pizzicato Five without thinking of this sequence… but to be fair I don’t hear that song much.

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I’m not crying, my eyes are just leaking tears.

I enjoy this episode a lot. Sure, it’s not the funniest, but it does do a good job of focusing on Leela’s emotional journey and it gives us a happy ending that was well-earned. I can’t ask for much more than that.

FAVORITE JOKE

The awards that are given to the “Orphan of the Year” always give me a chuckle, because they’re just the right amount of tragic and amusing. They include “Diligent Flosser,” “Has Tasted Every McDonald’s Sandwich,” (which I think is genuinely impressive if you mean EVERY sandwich they’ve made in every country), and “Successfully Switched from Heroin to Methadone,” which is a reference to Annie Hall. However, I have to appreciate the one that says “Often seen in the Background of News Spots,” because a few minutes later, he appears in the background of Leela’s photo with her Orphan of the Year award, one of the most random quick call-backs in the entire run of the show. 

Image result for leela's homeworld

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 55: Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch

NEXT – Episode 57: Love and Rocket

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.