Futurama Fridays – S6E24 “Cold Warriors”

Fry dooms humanity to die in a plague. This is timely.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) catches a cold from an ice fishing trip, recalling the time that he fell through the ice when fishing with his father Yancy (John DiMaggio) and got sick. However, it turns out that the common cold had been eliminated several centuries prior, meaning that humanity has now lost all immunities to the disease. The Planet Express building is quarantined as everyone gets sick and Bender (DiMaggio) is asked to take care of the crew. He quickly gets fed up with feeding people and breaks out of the quarantine, infecting the surrounding EMTs, medical staff, and police. It quickly starts to infect everyone in New New York and everyone blames Fry for it. Richard Nixon (West) orders that the entire island of Manhattan be shrink-wrapped and thrown into the Sun in order to eliminate the virus completely. Farnsworth (West) reveals that he can make a vaccine, but they’ll have to find an unmutated strain of the virus, which only exists in Fry. In order to get it from him, the Professor will have to grind Fry into a paste.\

Tissue Walrus is an endangered species.

Flashing back to when he was getting over a cold as a kid, it’s revealed that Fry, having been put down by his father, decided to try and win the Science Fair and defeat his rival, Josh Gedgie (David Herman). The winner’s experiment would be sent into space. Fry tried to train his guinea pig to be an astronaut while Gedgie ended up winning by doing a study on virus propagation. 

The guinea pig unfortunately did not survive Buzz Aldrin.

Fry realizes there’s a sample of the virus on the Nerd Search satellite containing the science fair winners and the crew busts out of containment to find it. They find it on the moon Enceladus and discover that Gedgie’s virus was so well-preserved that it is still viable. Farnsworth successfully makes the vaccine. The episode ends on a flashback to ice fishing with Fry and his father and a sincere moment of bonding between them.

END SUMMARY

This is one of those Futurama episodes that kind of sucker-punches you with the emotional finale. It’s particularly surprising since Fry’s father, Yancy, has always been such a hard-ass towards his son. This episode recontextualizes all of the times he seemed to abandon Fry to his future as Yancy really just having faith that Fry will be okay.  I sometimes feel like this was part of the Comedy Central run’s attempts to rectify the more harsh parts of Fry’s backstory the way that “Bender’s Big Score” tried to soften the impact of Seymour’s fate. This would come up again in the next season towards the final run of the show with “Game of Tones,” where Fry gets to try and fix his relationship with his mom. 

It’s a cute moment.

As for the future plot, I didn’t find it to be one of the funnier episodes, but the concept was actually pretty solid. There’s no advantage to developing antibodies if you aren’t exposed to disease, meaning that mothers won’t transfer antibodies to their children, so eventually resistance would break down. It’s a little ridiculous that there wouldn’t be any saved vaccines archived somewhere, but after a few centuries, particularly with the implied periods of Earth being overthrown by aliens, it’s not the craziest proposal. 

Wow, you mean a government can respond effectively to a virus?… bullsh*t.

Overall, I have a soft spot for this episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Fry’s experiment in the past was to try and make his guinea pig into an astronaut. During his attempts, we see a montage of Fry subjecting the pet to a number of simulations of NASA training exercises. First, he’s bounced into the air via trampoline and given a tiny parachute to land. Then, he’s shot into the air in a shampoo bottle. Then he’s spun around on top of a record player at high speed. During this montage, the song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” keeps playing. At the end, the record that the guinea pig is riding is revealed to be the soundtrack to Mannequin, the film for which the song was written by Starship, the band that spun off of Jefferson Starship. So, the guinea pig’s space training montage is set to Starship, which I just find hilarious.

This was hard to screenshot.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E23 “All the President’s Heads”

It’s another time-travel episode, but this time we kill George Washington.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) gets a night job at the Head Museum, feeding the heads of the former US Presidents. He invites the crew over to the museum for a party, but when they drink the liquid around the heads, they find themselves transported back in time. Farnsworth (West) hypothesizes that the opal used to make the head fluid keeps the heads trapped in a temporal bubble. After learning from George Washington’s head (Maurice LaMarche) that one of his ancestors was a traitor to the US, Farnsworth, Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) travel back to stop him from betraying the revolution. The four encounter Ben Franklin (LaMarche), who tells them that Farnsworth’s ancestor, David Farnsworth (David Herman), is working as a counterfeiter and they discover that he’s at Paul Revere’s smithy in Boston. They capture David and destroy his counterfeits, but in the process Fry grabs a lantern from the Old North Church just as they are pulled back to the future.

Chester Z. Arthur will be elected in 2520 and impeached for eyebrow in 2521.

They emerge on an Earth that is now British. All of North America is now West Britannia, due to the UK winning the Revolutionary War. It turns out that Fry taking the lantern led to Revere warning of the British coming by land, instead of sea, leading to a swift defeat. David Farnsworth was knighted for killing George Washington, making Farnsworth a lord and a rich man. However, upon finding out he’s also the consort to the horrible queen of England, Farnsworth steals her opal and uses it to go back and change history again. This time, he almost kills David Farnsworth, leading to the name being cleared, and Bender being on a flag. 

Oh, you have to have sex with a British woman in exchange for a mansion. How terrible.

END SUMMARY

This episode would be completely forgettable if it weren’t for Ben Franklin. Yes, the man too interesting to be allowed into the play Hamilton somehow saved an episode of Futurama. That’s because he somehow got some of the only memorable lines in it, or was the subject of others.

Not wearing bifocals, though.

First, when asked if Franklin is in Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson responds “When he’s not in Charlotte, or Maribel, or Louisa!” Fry doesn’t get it. When they arrive at Franklin’s house, Louisa answers the door, leading Fry to finally say “Now I get it!” This is a reference to Franklin’s legendary womanizing, which is SO MUCH more than you would think. Second, he invented the “Franklinator,” a club with a badger tied to it. I have been trying to incorporate that device into a fantasy setting ever since this episode. I’m thinking it’d be a combination of bludgeoning damage with a bite bonus. Also, randomly you get the one with the chipmunk that does nothing. Last, he’s the only one who got to call our leads “sh*theads” on television, by mocking the ambiguous printing of S in the 1770s. Since it looked like f, Franklin gets away with mocking their ignorance by saying they’re “ftupid fhitheads.” 

Franklinator? It’s probably Milhouse.

Aside from those moments, most of this episode was just unimpressive. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Aside from the Franklin jokes, I have two other things I like in the episode. First, there’s a short cartoon in the intro featuring Zoich, the mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Zoich, as you might guess from looking below, was based on the Hypnotoad from Futurama. I like the fact that the show acknowledged they had some real-world impact. The other thing that amused me was the part where FDR’s head says “The only thing we have to fear… is running out of beer.” This would make running out of beer equivalent to fear itself, which… yeah, tracks.

All Glory to Zoich

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E20 “Neutopia”

Let’s destroy gender stereotypes by embracing gender stereotypes! Wait…

SUMMARY

Planet Express faces foreclosure due to mismanagement. The crew brainstorms ways to save it and Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests they do commercial airfare using the ship. This is shot down in favor of a nude calendar, which features Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and LaBarbara Conrad (Dawnn Lewis). Unfortunately, with only three women the project fails, so they finally try the airline idea (without giving Leela credit). Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and Fry (Billy West) are made pilots while the girls are made stewardesses, despite the fact that only Leela can fly a ship. The flight goes awry and they crash on a barren rocky planet. The passengers and crew total 16, eight men and eight women, and they immediately become divided over who should lead. 

This is a Star Trek reference.

The fight is interrupted by a rock alien (David Herman) who asks to speak with the leader, then becomes fascinated by the concept of gender. It decides to pose a series of tests to decide which gender is better, but ultimately decides to test their ability to reach shelter as the planet becomes uninhabitable. Both groups fail miserably at reaching the cave, but each realize that they can use Bender and the fembot refrigerator to avoid dying. Hermes and LaBarbara try to steal parts from each other, but end up having angry sex. When they awaken, the planet is burning, so both groups are about to die until they’re saved by the rock monster. Because of their failure, he lost a bet to another alien, so he uses his powers to make everyone gender neuter. 

While at first the crew and passengers work better without their sexual characteristics, eventually they miss screwing, so they demand their genitals back. The alien obliges, but ends up reversing everyone’s genders. Zapp Brannigan (West) then kills it. When they get home, both sides try to adjust to their new bodies, and the former men now pose for the remaining pages of the calendar. The calendar does well and the company is saved. A meteor crashes into the building and another alien, the Borax Kid (Maurice LaMarche) arrives to fix their bodies. Everyone is put right… except Scruffy, the Janitor. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is interesting in that it plays up sexism a lot in its characters in order to deconstruct sexism. The problem is that A) the jokes aren’t super funny and B) they had already done this back in “Amazon Women in the Mood.” For example, jokes about the inferiority of women countered by the fact that Leela and Amy are among the most competent characters in the show. What’s crazy is that they could probably have done a better job by playing up the gender swap subplot of the episode, but it ends up being a very short part of the episode. Even worse, most of the stuff in the gender swapped act is not particularly funny, like LaBarbara saying she needs to get up 5 times a night to play Xbox. However, I do admit that Hermes screaming “your manwich” when his wife makes love to him is pretty funny. 

At least it’s good to know their love isn’t just physical.

The one part of this episode that does tend to stand out is the Rock Monster’s ridiculous competition between the two parties. It’s completely random, starting out with who can drink the most sulfur, then going into a number of very pointed questions like “which is larger, and Italian size 4 or an American Apparel medium” or “name any twelve of the Desperate Housewives,” followed by the hilariously vague “how was your day.” They’re still sexist, but at least these are so farcical they’re funny. 

I also love the design of the Borax Kid.

Overall, the episode is okay, but it really just retreads something that the show already did better. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Well, my favorite joke is definitely Hermes shouting “Your Manwich!” when LaBarbara takes him in a manly fashion, but I already used that one. So, instead, I think I’ll say it’s the nude calendar. First, many of the images are references to famous pin-ups, ranging from Fry as Barbarella to Farnsworth as Farrah Fawcett. Naturally, all of these are slightly unnerving because of the subjects, which makes for a fun parody if you know the source material. Second, the episode states that they need eleven million dollars in order to stay afloat and they have a single day of sales in which to generate it. They pull it off, somehow. Since a Google search tells me that most 12-image nude calendars are under 20 dollars and the world of Futurama has a similar rate of exchange to ours, that means that they had to sell over half a million calendars in a day. Leela thanks the fans for being such huge perverts. This is a swipe at the Futurama fandom, which another Google search tells me is, indeed, full of people who are dedicated to making a lot of porn of the characters. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 95: Ghost in the Machines

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Futurama Fridays – S6E16 “Law and Oracle”

Welcome to Future Crime, where the computers use hand motions and the deaths don’t matter.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) is sent on a prank delivery to the cryogenics lab, something that he apparently has had happen dozens of times. He becomes depressed about his perpetual status as a delivery boy, but then he witnesses NNYPD officers Smitty and Url (West and John DiMaggio) bust Roberto (David Herman). This inspires him to quit Planet Express and enroll in the police academy. He ends up graduating and is partnered with Url. After working the streets for a while, Fry and Url are promoted to the Future Crimes Division by Chief O’Mannahan (Tress MacNeille). Meanwhile, Leela and Bender (DiMaggio and Katey Sagal) try to do the deliveries, but find each other too grating without Fry as a buffer.

Bender and Leela go to a 3D planet. How, I don’t know.

In Future Crimes, Fry and Url are introduced to the cybernetic oracle, Pickles (Herman), a human-robot hybrid whose brain is programmed with the brain cells of all of humanity’s greatest detectives. Pickles’ mind can predict crimes before they happen, a la Minority Report. Fry helps prevent a murder, but then, when alone in the department, Fry sees a future vision of Bender burgling Hedonism Bot’s (Maurice LaMarche) cellar for a priceless bottle of liquor. During the vision, Fry shoots Bender. Trying to avoid this, Fry tells Bender not to do it, but ends up inspiring him to do the crime. Fry then sees what happens if he doesn’t shoot Bender: Bender shares the booze with the Planet Express crew, but they all die due to the potency of the alcohol, meaning if Fry doesn’t shoot him, everyone dies.

It’s really easy to get into Hedonismbot’s cellar… or anywhere.

Bender does the heist as envisioned and Fry arrives, but Bender decides not to steal anything. Fry claims that he changed the future, only for Pickles to arrive and reveal that this was all a ploy to steal the liquor himself so that he could drink it and kill his human brain. Fry attempts to shoot Pickles, but that ends up hitting Bender. Pickles then shoots Fry and drinks the liquor, killing his brain. The Chief and Url reveal themselves and Fry and Bender show that they’re wearing protective vests. Fry had realized that Pickles was lying to him because Bender would never share alcohol. Fry is fired for warning Bender about the crime and heads back to Planet Express, where he is promoted to “executive delivery boy,” a meaningless title. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is one of the better parodies in the series. It’s based on the story and movie Minority Report and manages to mock a number of the goofy things that were featured in that film, from the use of balls as a way to indicate pre-crime to the psychic floating in a bath to the weird hand-waving computers. Much like that movie, the end of this episode actually points out that most of pre-crime is pointless, because once someone becomes aware of the future, they can choose to change it, but the show does it in a ridiculous way. I always appreciate when the parody and the original prove the same themes.

Although, having the precognitive party be the villain is a nice twist.

The part that doesn’t age well, particularly as I write this during some nationwide riots against police in 2020, is how the episode makes jokes about the ease of getting through the police academy and the expectation of police violence. A particularly cringe-worthy line, at least at present, is when Url tells Fry not to stay up too late, because “We gotta lotta people to shoot tomorrow.” Yikes.

Robot Cop shooting people… I’ve seen that movie.

Overall, though, the episode makes me laugh. Some of the jokes are a little too dated, particularly the whole Avatar parody subplot, but you can enjoy the pre-crime story even if you don’t know Minority Report.

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, it was always going to be the joke about Erwin Schrodinger going on a police chase. It’s the least subtle physics joke that the show ever made, because it focuses on the famous “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment, which supposedly invalidated the Copenhagen model of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger says that he has a cat, some poison, and a caesium atom, which means that the cat is in a superposition of alive and dead until you collapse the wave function. However, the reason I actually find it hilarious is because after the cat attacks Fry, URL looks in the box and says “there’s also a lotta drugs in there.” It’s that final touch of realism that makes the absurdity so much better for me.

Guess that cat’s out of the ba… box.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

NEXT – Episode 93: Benderama

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Futurama Fridays – S6E15 “Möbius Dick”

It’s time to hunt the deadliest game: Space Whale. Why do people think it’s Man? 

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) is celebrating the anniversary of the loss of his first crew, aside from Zoidberg (West), who doesn’t remember what happened to them. He orders the current crew to pick up their memorial statue. Due to Leela (Katey Sagal) noticing a grammatical error, the job takes longer than expected and requires the crew to fly back via the Bermuda Tetrahedron, the very same place that the first crew was lost. They find the wreckage of the first Planet Express ship and inspect it, only to find out that a giant space whale ate it. The crew is attacked by the whale, which eats one of their engines and then the statue they were delivering. Leela resolves to kill the whale. She orders the crew to use “Solar Sails” to propel the ship and starts trying to hunt down the whale using 19th Century techniques. Amy (Lauren Tom) becomes the harpooner and Bender (John DiMaggio) mans the crow’s nest. 

Just remember, space actually does have giant diamonds. Maybe fund it?

During a “spaceberg” storm, Bender gets injured trying to catch one of the “bergs,” which turn out to be giant diamonds. Leela refuses to save him, leading the crew to mutiny against her increasing insanity. While they try to perform a rescue, the whale returns and swallows Fry, Bender, Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Amy. Leela attempts to kill the whale with a cheese knife, but gets swallowed. Zoidberg escapes back to Earth. Inside the whale, Leela meets the former captain, Lando Tucker (David Herman), and is told that the whale feeds on obsession, the kind that is found within spaceship captains. Having mostly drained Lando, it will now eat Leela. However, after Leela gets absorbed into the whale, she pilots it back to Earth, having overpowered it with her obsession. The crowd kills the whale and all of the whale’s victims reunite with their loved ones.

The whale has a scar because it looks cool. Otherwise, it would heal it.

END SUMMARY

This episode should be terrible, since it’s just a space parody of Moby Dick, a book that is famously difficult to adapt to film. However, they actually put enough effort into keeping it humorous that it ended up working out, and even played with the themes of revenge and obsession in an interesting way. Rather than having her obsession consume her at the end of the story, Leela’s obsession with doing her job is actually what saves the day. She then admits that her revenge against the whale was what made it a monster… only to change her mind and have people kill it out of revenge. Having Leela go crazy like this is actually pretty solidly within her character, so unlike many other parody episodes, this worked out organically.

She often seems like she wants to call the crew “space dogs.”

I love the concept of the 4-D space whale. It exists outside of our concept of reality, seemingly moving through time and space at will, but only emerging into 3-D space in order to hunt and, apparently, breathe in vacuum. While that may seem like an insane concept, if the whale were to exist outside of time, then normal cause and effect would not apply to its biology. Rather than filling its lungs with air, it always has air in its lungs and has to find a way to exhale while static in time. “Inhaling vacuum” might somehow also explain how it can accelerate through space. 

Also, it’s immune to cheese knives.

Overall, I like this episode pretty well. It’s a fun diversion that has no real impact on anything else in the series.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a countdown:

3) I love that Inez Wong says “My days of joy and luck are over, guess I gotta quit that club.” This is a reference to the Joy Luck Club, a book whose movie adaptation featured Inez Wong’s actress Lauren Tom. Just a fun line.

I think Amy’s first name comes from this.

2) The Tom Baker version of the Doctor from Doctor Who emerges from the space whale. Given that the Doctor is also a time-traveler via the TARDIS, it makes sense that the whale might be the only thing that can attack the TARDIS in flight. Later, Doctor Who actually had an episode with a space whale, so that’s a fun bonus.

I once saw him play first base.

1) The title of the episode, Mobius Dick. It combines Moby Dick with the mobius strip, a non-orientable surface. It’s such a funny term that it was my nickname in Mu Alpha Theta mathletics in high school. I have so many regrets. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 90: The Silence of the Clamps

NEXT – Episode 92: Law and Oracle

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Futurama Fridays – S6E10 “The Prisoner of Benda”

Futurama actually generates a mathematical theorem for a single plot device.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) finds out that Emperor Nikolai of Robo-Hungary (David Herman) is visiting New York and plans a scheme to rob him involving all of the Planet Express crew. They aren’t interested, but he finds out that Amy (Lauren Tom) and the Professor (Billy West) have built a mind-swapping machine and uses it to put his mind in Amy’s body to do the first part of the heist. The Professor puts his mind in Bender’s body so that he can live out his dream of extreme sports and Amy puts her mind in the Professor’s body so that she can eat without ruining her figure. Leela (Katey Sagal) then switches with Amy so that she can get discount tickets at the movies in the Professor’s body, which leads to Fry (West) finding her unattractive and her accusing him of being shallow. 

S6EA - 1MindSwap
Welcome to PLOT DEVICE!

Bender, in Amy’s body, gets captured by Nikolai, who reveals he wants to be normal. So, after dragging in Zoidberg (West), Fry, and Scruffy’s robot washbucket (Tress MacNeille), Nikolai and Zoidberg (in the Washbucket and Fry) try to be roommates, Fry goes to date Leela as Zoidberg, and Bender becomes Nikolai. Meanwhile, the Professor, in Bender’s body, joins a circus as a stuntman and Amy (in Leela) switches with Hermes (Phil LaMarr) so that she doesn’t wreck Leela’s body with her overeating. Fry and Leela, as Zoidberg and Farnsworth, have a contest to disgust the other… until they end up making out. Bender then gets attacked by Nikolai’s cousin Count Basil (Maurice LaMarche) who is trying to steal the throne. 

S6EA - 2Date
Not the worst date I’ve seen.

Zoidberg and Nikolai blow up Fry and Bender’s apartment, the Washbucket (in Amy) tries to seduce Scruffy (Herman) but is rebuffed, and the Professor uses a cannon to save Bender at the United Nations. After everyone agrees to switch back, the Professor realizes that, due to the machine not allowing people who swapped to swap back directly, he needs help from the Globetrotters to solve the problem using math. They end up solving it and realize that no matter how mixed up the swaps are, they can always get back to normal by adding two more people. Everyone gets back to normal… and Bender realizes that he forgot the crown he stole in Nikolai’s body.

END SUMMARY

This is the only episode of television, to my knowledge, which had a theorem written and published solely for the purpose of resolving the plot and I admire the show immensely for that. The “Futurama Theorem” was developed by writer Ken Keeler, math PhD and massive nerd, and it proves, conclusively, that no matter how many mind switches occur using the mind-switcher in this episode, all parties can be put back in their original bodies using two additional blank people. Essentially, you use the two spare bodies as placeholders for minds while you just change each of the bodies down the line. Keeler also illustrated that, to resolve the situation in the show using the method, you’d only need 13 swaps to get everyone back. Of course, as nerds watch this show, numerous proofs of more efficient paths to solutions have arisen and the Infosphere seems to indicate the minimum number is 9.

S6EA - 3Theorem
Math, it’s FUNdamental.

In terms of humor, this episode does a good job of intertwining all of the plots in a humorous fashion which works perfectly for the theme. I like the Professor’s discussion with Big Bertha in which he offers to put her into a new body which isn’t broken, but she refuses because every scratch on her body is a memory. It’s not exactly a message of “be happy with what you have,” but more saying “don’t forego who you were.” 

S6EA - 4Bertha
Her appearance is canon.

Overall, I think this is a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

In a rarity, I think the best joke in this episode is actually the Title Caption, which reads “What happens in Cygnus X-1, stays in Cygnus X-1.” The structure of the sentence is based on “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” which was itself based on the old musician and professional athlete motto of “what happens on the road/tour, stays on the road/tour.” The gag is that Cygnus X-1 was one of the first sources of X-rays from the Cygnus Constellation, which led to a bet between Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureate Physicist Kip Thorne over whether or not it was caused by a star becoming a black hole. Ultimately, Hawking lost the bet after it became extremely likely that Cygnus X-1 does contain a black hole. In other words, whatever happens in Cygnus X-1 likely happens inside of the event horizon of a black hole and will not be able to escape (although black holes do emit radiation sometimes).

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 85: A Clockwork Origin

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Futurama Fridays – S6E9 “A Clockwork Origin”

It turns out that creationism might have a point, just not the one you think.

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) discovers that anti-evolution advocates are protesting Cubert’s (Kath Soucie) school. The Professor gets into a fight with the protestors and their head advocate Dr. Banjo (David Herman), a talking orangutan. Banjo makes a claim that if evolution is real, there wouldn’t be a “missing link,” despite the fact that the professor maps out dozens of evolutionary ancestors to modern man. In order to find the “last” missing Link, the Professor and the crew go to Africa and dig, finally finding a new hominid skull. He submits the new “Homo farnsworth” to the museum, only find out that Dr. Banjo is the museum’s curator and that he has used the new hominid to set up a display that “disproves” evolution. The Professor decides that he doesn’t want to live on Earth anymore, so they take him to an asteroid so he can live out the rest of his days in solitude. He uses nanobots to work on detoxifying a pond, but the microscopic robots start evolving into “trilobots” and eat the Planet Express Ship.

S6E9 - 1Dinos
This is actually from the creationist museum in Kentucky.

The crew hide in a nearby cave, but discover that they have no edible food (because they got pineapple on their pizza). They have some dehydrated food, so they run out of the cave to get to the pond, only to find that the trilobots have gone and that there is a metallic jungle which is populated by robotic dinosaurs. Fry (West) is carried off by a robot pterodactyl and the rest are attacked by a roboT-Rex, only to be saved by a massive solar flare that wipes out all of the dinosaurs without hurting the crew or smaller, mammalian robots. The Professor builds a new spaceship out of dino-parts, but they have to wait a day for the solar battery to charge. The next morning, they find that Leela and Amy (Katey Sagal and Lauren Tom) get kidnapped by robot cavemen. Farnsworth makes a slingshot to fight them, but it takes him 12 hours, so they have to wait for the next day to rescue the girls. 

S6E9 - 2Fry
Even Fry admits this is a cool way to die.

Once they awaken, they find that Amy and Leela have already escaped and that the cavemen have evolved into sentient androids. They meet a scientist robot named Dr. Widnar (Tress MacNeille) who is astounded that organic life has evolved. They go to a robot museum, only for the Professor to reveal that he created the first nanobots that evolved into the androids only days ago. He also inadvertently shows her a picture that is almost identical to the one that Dr. Banjo generated using the Homo Farnsworth, leading Dr. Widnar to say that she doesn’t want to live on her planet anymore. The Professor is put on trial for crimes against science, but is acquitted when, after a day of deliberation, the robots evolve beyond the physical plane and stop caring about him. Farnsworth later admits to Banjo that it’s possible some higher being seeded life on Earth. There’s also a B-Plot of Zoidberg (West) trying to parent Cubert, but it’s better to ignore it.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the number of Futurama episodes which were written with a specific agenda in mind, and this episode is sadly still topical. While this story mostly serves as a rejection of the Kansas State Board of Education’s push to teach “intelligent design” and the subsequent “teach the controversy” and “critical analysis of Evolution” movements, it also deals with the anti-intellectualism movement in the US as a whole. As I write this in 2020, we are currently dealing with a number of protests against a science-backed stay-at-home order to deal with the Coronavirus and an almost insane number of people posting proposed “cures” for the disease, including ingesting or inhaling bleach or similar disinfectants. It’s safe to say that anti-science attitudes are still prevalent. 

S6E9 - 3Pasta
The same decision that led to Flying Spaghetti Monster now gets represented by it.

However, ultimately this episode does remind us that the theory of Evolution is not necessarily incompatible with the idea of a higher power, because evolution only tells us how life can become more complex over time and why certain species and mutations have survived. It doesn’t tell us where life came from in the first place (although there are a number of theories on that which do not require the existence of a creator). It also reminds us that anti-intellectualism will always use any further scientific proof to support itself, even if it has to be massively illogical to do it, as best evidenced by Dr. Banjo’s line: 

“Things don’t exist simply because you believe in them. Thus sayeth the Almighty Creature in the Sky!”

Overall, really a solid episode and one that will probably always be relatable.

S6E9 - 4Planet
Yeah, I get it, man.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m sure most of you are going to think it’s Farnsworth’s extremely mimetic line “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore,” and I was tempted to say that’s it, because that line is so perfect and so relatable that it really does deserve the proliferation that it has gotten. However, having watched this episode repeatedly, the best line for me and the one that absolutely drives me to laugh and cry at the same time is the woman who is leading the anti-evolution protest. 

S6E9 - 5Thinkers
Oh god, it hurts.

Her lines are so perfectly representative of the anti-intellectual mindset that I basically hear it anytime I listen to certain television and radio personalities. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 84: That Darn Katz

NEXT – Episode 86: The Prisoner of Benda

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 – S6E5 “The Duh-Vinci Code”

Professor Farnsworth finds out that one of his heroes isn’t quite what he expected.    

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) goes on a gameshow called “Who Dares to be a Millionaire” and misses the first question, which affirms his stupidity to the crew. The Professor (West) explains that he particularly dislikes Fry’s stupidity because great minds have inspired him, including his hero Leonardo da Vinci. When Fry plays with da Vinci’s beard, he finds a scroll with da Vinci’s lost invention on it. Fy offers to help the Professor decode it, but is knocked out by a hoverbus when walking across the street. When he gets home two weeks later, the Professor has been working non-stop on the invention. Bender (John DiMaggio) arrives with “The Last Supper,” which the Professor analyzes, only to determine that St. James was a robot. The crew then heads to Rome to find the remains of the Saint. 

S6E5 - 1Supper
Also, Zoidberg knows what Pentimento is.

In the catacombs under the Vatican, the crew finds a clockwork robot in St. James’ grave. The robot reveals that he is Animatronio (David Herman), who was built by da Vinci to be an artist’s model. Animatronio says that he was guarding da Vinci’s biggest secret for the Shadow Society of Intellectuals. Realizing that the Professor was not a member of the Society, the robot chooses to die rather than say more. The Professor deduces where the next clue is and the crew heads to the Trevi Fountain, where Bender finds a giant coin with the Vitruvian Man on it. They end up in the Pantheon where they find a hidden laboratory. Animatronio attacks the crew, having faked his death, but is knocked out by Bender after he reveals that all of the devices in the lab fit together. The Professor and Fry end up getting caught up by the mechanism which is revealed to be a spaceship that launches with them inside.

S6E5 - 2Animatronio
HI ANIMATRONIO!!!!

The pair land on Planet Vinci, where they are greeted by Leonardo da Vinci (Maurice LaMarche). It turns out he was an alien from a planet of hyper-intelligent humans, who look down on him because he is the stupidest person in the world. Leonardo explains that he quit inventing and left Earth when he lost the plans for his masterpiece, the Machina Magnifica. Fry shows him the sketch he found in the beard, which turns out to be the Machine. Fry and Leonardo build it together while the Professor tries to learn from the people of Vinci, who ridicule him as an idiot. Finally, Fry and Leonardo unveil the Machina Magnifica, which is revealed to be a doomsday device. The Professor supports Leonardo killing the population, but Fry ends up stopping the machine, which kills Leonardo. The Professor bonds with Fry over having been perceived as a moron.

END SUMMARY

To me, this episode is bottom-tier Futurama. It’s not a particularly fun or clever parody of the source material, it doesn’t have much emotional appeal, and I don’t find most of the jokes funny. The concept of Leonardo da Vinci being an alien isn’t bad, and the concept of a planet of people so smart they give the Professor a complex should be funny, but mixing them together just made the whole thing feel jumbled and rushed, like they only had two half-ideas rather than a whole one. It doesn’t help that for this episode Fry’s intelligence seems even a level or two below his normal stupidity. While Fry is usually lampooned for being an idiot, the fact that he twice mistakes a hammer for a nail in this episode is below even Homer Simpson level dumb. 

S6E5 - 3Fry
How is it everyone can get on a game show but me?

I do admit to liking the character of Animatronio a lot, mostly because Fry keeps greeting him with “Hi Animatronio,” but it still falls flat eventually. I also wish that the show would explain how the hell Fry and the Professor survived a month flying in a small, sealed capsule when they could just have said the trip was instantaneous. Overall, just not a great episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Pretty much all of the actual clues of the The Da Vinci Code parody. The first one is the revelation that St. James the Lesser was originally painted as a robot based on a series of completely ridiculous statements based on the painting of the Last Supper. The second is when they find the Roman Numerals in the catacombs that indicate the paces to St. James’ tomb. It’s 2^11 – (23×89)… which is just 1. The last is when the Professor is trying to identify the fountain containing the secret laboratory. He sees a statue of Neptune and says that Neptune has a trident, which has three, or trey, points and a V in place of the U in Neptune. He puts together Trey and V and arrives at the Trevi Fountain. Even the crew questions this logic until the Professor just shouts it down, but it turns out he’s right. These are all great shots at the weird deductive reasoning found in the source material, which I appreciate. 

S6E5 - 4Math
Math! It’s FUN-damental.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 80: Proposition Infinity

NEXT – Episode 82: Lethal Inspection

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 – S6E2 “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela”

Leela and Zapp Brannigan get marooned in a garden of Earthly delights.

SUMMARY

A death sphere has been seen destroying planets and is now headed for Earth. Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) fails to come up with a plan, so Richard Nixon (West) asks the Professor (West again) to come up with a plan. The Professor sends Leela (Katey Sagal) in a stealth ship to attack the death sphere and Zapp forces her to take him along, much to Leela’s frustration. Although the ship is invisible, Zapp and Leela are not. They make it to the death sphere, which is revealed to be called V-GINY. They get attacked by the ship and crash on a tropical planet. Leela awakens pinned under a tree which Zapp can’t move. Leela and Zapp strip to avoid overheating, but Zapp courteously provides her leaves to hide their naughty bits and forages for food.  

File:Bachelor Chow 6ACV02.png
I’m impressed with how Leela can steer like that.

Back on Earth, Fry (West) starts to worry about Leela, something that annoys Bender (John DiMaggio). Farnsworth determines that V-GINY was formed by the collision of a military satellite and an FCC satellite. He concludes that the death sphere is destroying “indecent” planets. He tries to convince the citizens of Earth to be less indecent so that V-GINY might not destroy them, but his efforts fail. Brannigan surveys the planet that they landed on and determines that the ship is destroyed and the planet contains no intelligent life. He and Leela watch on in horror as V-GINY destroys Earth. Leela, dehydrated, starts to imagine a talking snake comparing them to Adam and Eve of a new planet. As they discuss repopulating, an apple falls on Leela’s head.

File:6ACV02 promotional picture Adam and Eve.jpg
Those are some very form-fitting leaves.

The two start to kiss, but when Leela bites the apple, she gets momentarily rehydrated and starts to ask Zapp questions about his story. Slowly, it’s revealed that: The ship is working fine, Zapp’s been eating chocolates and drinking mineral water while she starved, he kept her dehydrated so that she’d be easier to trick, they’re on Earth which he faked the destruction of, and he put the tree on Leela. Literally everything has been so that Leela would bang him. Fry arrives and reveals they’re on a Pacific Island where the Planet Express crew went to do a purity chant to hopefully deter V-GINY. V-GINY arrives and explains the Earth may be redeemed if Leela and Zapp prove to be Adam and Eve by having sex. Leela complies to save the world and Fry is forced to watch as V-GINY labels it approved for all audiences. 

END SUMMARY

I think this episode was first conceived as a Simpsons gag, due to the fact that they did an episode based on Homer and Marge being nude throughout and famously had the entire Springfield Methodist Church sing “In The Garden of Eden” by I. Ron Butterfly. It was fitting, much like this episode’s title, since the song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly is literally a mispronunciation of “In The Garden of Eden.” 

Image result for simpsons nude episode
Homer wasn’t comfortable with these guys.

I admit to not thinking much of this episode. Part of it is that, right after we finally got Futurama back, this episode basically conveys that Fry and Leela are not in a relationship, despite the fact that one episode prior, and one movie before that, we had them establish that they are in love. It didn’t feel like there had been anything to merit this change, except that the writers wanted them to go back so they could keep using some of their unproduced scripts. Also, a lot of the jokes in this episode feel cheap, which apparently is because this was them getting a bunch of the lines out that FOX wouldn’t have allowed them to use. I mean, V-GINY just isn’t that funny beyond the first use, and they never use it for anything more than just “ha, it sounds like vagina.” 

File:V-Giny.PNG
Ha. Sounds like vagina.

Overall, this remains a bit of a let down. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Actually, although the name V-GINY really isn’t that funny, I do appreciate that the plot is a reference to two different Star Trek sources. The idea of a probe gaining sentience and having a name that’s a corruption of a longer term is based on V’Ger, the evolved Voyager 6 probe from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The idea of two probes colliding and merging into one entity with combined form and mission comes from the original Star Trek episode “The Changeling.” I just appreciate that they managed to mash the two ideas up, much like the probe in the episode.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS –  Episode 77: Rebirth

NEXT – Episode 79: Attack of the Killer App

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.

Netflix Mini-Review – Paradise PD (Seasons 1 and 2): Not For The Sober

Much like its sister-show Brickleberry, this show tries to be edgy but really just comes off as derivative.  

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

The Police Department of the City of Paradise, one of the worst cities in the world, is basically the least competent police force ever. The Chief, Randall Crawford (Tom Kenny), is a racist, sexist, narcissist. His son, Kevin (David Herman), is an idiot, but also the newest member of the force. The others include hyper-violent sexual predator Gina Jabowski (Sarah Chalke), her morbidly obese victim Dusty Marlow (Dana Snyder), the elderly pervert Stanley Hopson (Snyder), PTSD sufferer Fitz (Cedric Yarbrough), and the drug addicted police dog Bullet (Kyle Kinane). They have to deal with a cast of colorful criminals creating chaos. 

ParadisePD - 1Cast
They do have their own version of the couch gag.

END SUMMARY

If you’re a fan of Daniel Tosh, or were in college in the early 2010s, you probably remember hearing about the show Brickleberry. It was about the worst crew of park rangers in the world who monitor the worst park in the world, and was created by Roger Black and Waco O’Guin, just like this show. It was filled with dirty jokes relying on stereotypes, shock value, and scatological humor with basically no other substance or types of comedy present. It got three seasons, because of course it did, and for the most part was forgotten quickly. Then Netflix decided to reboot it, but since they didn’t have the rights (Hulu does), they just let the creators come up with an almost identical premise, something the show itself has mocked repeatedly. 

ParadisePD - 2Brickleberry
This doesn’t seem familiar at all.

While I admire their candor in admitting their unoriginality, I still just don’t like this show that much. The biggest issue I have is that there seems to be nothing to the characters. Any of them can be suddenly given a new and contradictory character trait or background and it’s just used for the episode and never referenced again. This wouldn’t bother me as much, except that the show is actually a loosely formatted serial with a continuous plotline, meaning that the events of one episode happened, but the character trait that led to those events might not have happened. I am sure a lot of people can deal with that, but it just ticks me off.

ParadisePD - 3Cops
There’s an episode dedicated to handicapped cop jokes as a Police Academy reference.

Also, I just don’t think it’s super funny. They can pull off a solid joke every few minutes, but all of the failed ones just aren’t worth it and sometimes they make one that just makes me feel unclean as a human. If you enjoy the humor of the first episode then it seems like it stays pretty consistent throughout, but I can say that it never got much better. I think I would enjoy it if I was watching it with a crowd that had been drinking to the point that silly talking dogs are inherently funny, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort. 

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.