Futurama Fridays – S6E26 “Reincarnation”

We get a look at three Futuramas that weren’t.

SUMMARY

This episode is comprised of three separate vignettes, each in a different animation style, that loosely connect.

The first is animated as a 1920s cartoon a la Betty Boop. Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) discovers a comet made of diamondium, the hardest substance in the universe, and sends the crew to gather a sample. Fry (West), having trouble with his relationship with Leela (Katey Sagal), decides to propose to her by blowing up the comet using one of the Professor’s bombs to create an engagement ring. He miscalculates and the explosion forms a completely new color in a rainbow (depicted in black and white), but also coats the Earth in diamond dust, trapping Fry and Leela in a giant gem.

I love how they don’t look ahead.

The second is animated as an Atari game. The Professor uses a piece of the diamondium comet to create a microscope powerful enough to see the fundamental unit of the universe. After getting past all of the other levels, it’s revealed that the core unit of matter is a pixel. The Professor uses this information to create a successful Theory of Everything which explains how all of the fundamental forces interact. Unfortunately, this means he has effectively solved physics, which removes any purpose to studying the field. He is cheered up when Fry asks why the universe works that way, realizing that now he can search for what led to the creation of the universe. 

Combine the first two and you get Cuphead.

The third is animated as a 1970s anime show. A race of aliens that communicate only through dance worship the diamondium comet and are enraged when the Planet Express crew blows it up. The Planet Express crew, here the Action Delivery Force, try to dissuade the attacking aliens, but cannot get through to them due to the communication barrier. Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) try to do a dance to convince them of Earth’s intentions for peace, but fail. Zoidberg ultimately succeeds only after losing his shell and giving an extremely powerful dance (visualized as him standing still while the camera moves).

They’re not angry, they’re just intense.

END SUMMARY

Of the three anthology episodes of Futurama that Comedy Central did, consisting of the Futurama Holiday Spectacular, Naturama, and Reincarnation, this is by far the best one. Each of these segments pays a loving tribute to a particular style of animation, and each of them is among the earliest for their respective styles. The first is done in the form of the earliest Western animations, the second in that of the first fully-animated computer games, and the last in the form of the first distinct Japanese anime. Each one pokes fun at the limitations of their particular genre while also paying tribute to it. The 1920s style sketch pretends to create a new color by working in greyscale, the Atari sketch depicts a fundamental particle by just showing a black pixel, and the anime sketch features a character dancing with subtlety by just moving the camera over a still frame, the same way that such series saved money using that technique. 

I love the fact that child labor is implied just because it’s old-timey.

Even more interesting is that the sketches aren’t truly independent. Even though this kind of episode would usually necessitate unconnected shorts, instead the mission to get the diamondium lens from the first segment and Fry blowing up the comet both set the stage for the second and third short. I know that may seem like a small thing, but I actually think it’s a brilliant way to shorten the amount of set-up needed for the other segments. It’s so seamless that you never really consider that we already saw the comet explosion kill the cast. 

This isn’t canon to the other stories, but it’s adorable.

Overall, really solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Okay, so, when the Professor starts to use the diamondium lens in the second segment, he decides to use “a log [he] found in a hole in the bottom of the sea.” This is a reference to the song “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” He then does the first few parts of that song, up to “there’s a snail on the tail on the frog on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea,” but then the Professor starts saying the smaller elements as “cells, molecules, [and] atoms.” Fry retorts that “those things don’t rhyme,” only for the Professor to say “things only rhyme below 10-5 angstroms.” He then names a bunch of subatomic particles: ions (not really a particle) and pions, muons and gluons, neutrinos and gravitinos. I love this joke because it turns a children’s rhyme into a comment about the absurd naming conventions in subatomic physics. 

The 80s predicted what Neutrinos would look like.

Taking a break to do 30 Day Movie Challenge.

See you in October meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 101: Overclockwise

NEXT – Episode 103: The Bots and the Bees

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Futurama Fridays – S6E25 “Overclockwise”

Bender enhances his robotic intellect so much that he becomes nearly omniscient.

SUMMARY

Cubert (Kath Soucie), Fry (Billy West), and Bender (John DiMaggio) are playing a WWII combat game online, but keep losing badly to Walt, Igner, and Larry (Maurice Lamarche and DiMaggio), Mom’s (Tress MacNeille) idiot sons. Cubert says Bender is the weak link, something that Bender acknowledges due to his hardware being out of date. Cubert overclocks Bender’s CPU to compensate and Bender quickly becomes much more intelligent. Mom, discovering that Cubert violated Bender’s user agreement, sends an army of robots to reclaim him and has Cubert and the Professor (West) arrested. Bender manages to overclock his own secondary processor, making him smart enough to avoid Mom’s attacks and continually increase his own intellect. He leaves Planet Express to find seclusion from Mom. 

Graphics are a bit lackluster for 1000 years in the future.

At the same time, Fry and Leela (Katey Segal) are discussing their relationship when she starts to express doubt about the future. Eventually, when the Professor and Cubert are put on trial, Leela leaves Planet Express to go find a new purpose. Fry tries to find a new friend in Randy (DiMaggio), but ends up trying to kill himself by going over Niagara Falls. He survives and finds a cave containing Bender, who is now a mostly non-corporeal existence. Bender has hacked himself so much that he is now using reality as a processor, giving him essential omniscience. He informs Fry that Cubert and the Professor are going to be convicted and declines to explain if Fry and Leela will end up together.

Mom has pin-ups of herself. That’s disturbing and vain.

At the trial, the deliberations conclude, only for Bender to show up a few moments later. He is denied the opportunity to testify, but then mentions loudly that the Jury probably won’t convict Cubert. Mom makes the prosecutor drop the case against Cubert, but Bender then points out that Cubert and Farnsworth are the same person, legally, so dropping a case against one drops them both. He is then picked up by Mom’s robots and reset to his old intellect. Leela later comes back to see Fry and ask Bender about their future. It’s revealed that Bender wrote down how Fry and Leela will end up. The pair read it and, although the audience doesn’t see what it says, it indicates that the two will be happy.

END SUMMARY

This is the third of Futurama’s four finales along with “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” and “Meanwhile.” I’ve stated before that all of these are excellent episodes, but this one feels the least like an actual finale, possibly because it focuses the least on Fry and Leela, who really were the emotional core of the show. However, this episode is still excellent, even if the ending feels a little tacked on, as does the C plot of Leela questioning her and Fry’s relationship. Also, it’s weird that this isn’t the season finale, given that it was originally the series finale.

Hey, I just realized that the mutants can be jurors. That’s progress.

This episode does a good job of having the A and B plots both arise from the same incident, which is a useful narrative tool in sitcoms, particularly since they both sort of represent two different viewpoints on modern computing. Bender’s plotline involves overclocking his central processing unit, which is a term for attempting to increase a CPU’s clock rate, or how often a computer sends an electrical pulse to synchronize all its components. When this is increased it can theoretically make a component’s operating speed higher, but it risks causing overheating issues or power issues if not done properly. If it works, though, you can make parts exceed their factory settings. On the other side, though, most companies will either consider a part warranty void if the part is overclocked (which makes sense as it reduces the lifespan of the component), or, as in this episode, will require users to sign contracts stating they won’t overclock it. That policy, as is stated in this episode, is kind of crazy, because it means that a person who has a part in their computer cannot use it as they want without it potentially violating that agreement. Moreover, some software actually contains licensing agreements (remember, you don’t actually own your software, which is a discussion for another time) which ban the software from being run with overclocked parts. So, you can’t improve your own property. I appreciate that this episode addresses the issue in a funny way.

And yes, you probably have some of these right now.

Overall, aside from the part where Fry and Leela just spontaneously have a weird talk about being on-again off-again, this is a pretty great episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m going to do two. First, the fact that Bender uses Niagara Falls as both a power source and a cooling source is a reference to an apocryphal prediction by a supposed “Professor of Electrical Engineering” from New York. If you take an electrical engineering class, you’ll probably hear some mention of a supposed professor from before the microchip was invented who predicted that supercomputers were impossible, because you’d need Niagara Falls to cool all of the Vacuum Tubes required. Nowhere on the internet have I even seen someone try to name this professor, which should tell you how real the quote is, but it still gets around. 

All is Bender. All will be Bender.

Second, one of the books that Bender reads is Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged. This is a combination of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the classic Rand McNally Atlases. I love this one because, before this episode aired, I used the same joke at a trivia night I was hosting for a “Before and After” clue.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 100: Cold Warriors

NEXT – Episode 102: Reincarnation

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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.

PREVIOUS – Episode 98: Fry am the Egg Man

NEXT – Episode 100: Cold Warriors

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Futurama Fridays – S6E22 “Fry Am The Egg Man”

Fry tries to hatch an egg and ends up creating a monster.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) stop by Fishy Joe’s restaurant after a mission, but Leela becomes upset about the fast food restaurant’s lack of healthy options and questionable ingredients. In response, Leela forces the crew to start buying their food at a farmer’s market. She buys a bunch of eggs that a farmer found in the woods and blackmails the entire Planet Express staff into doing brunch. After discovering that the eggs are fertilized, Fry refuses to eat his and instead decides to hatch it. Eventually, it hatches into a tiny blue alien with acid spit that Fry names “Mr. Peppy.” The group wants to kill it, but Fry tells them he plans on raising it.

Lrrr also orders at Fishy Joe’s. Try the veal.

After a few weeks, Mr. Peppy becomes extremely large, to the point that it can easily rip Bender’s limbs off. Professor Farnsworth (West) eventually discovers that Mr. Peppy is a Bone Vampire, a species that sucks the bones out of its victims. After finding out that Bone Vampires are extinct on their home planet, Doohan 6, the Scottish planet, and reproduce asexually, Leela suggests releasing Mr. Peppy to repopulate the species. After letting him go, the crew goes to a local pub on Doohan 6. They meet Handsome Major Angus McZongo, Esq. (Maurice LaMarche), who hits on Leela before informing them that the planet’s residents had killed all of the Bone Vampires because they kept eating all of the livestock. Fry insists that Mr. Peppy isn’t dangerous, so McZongo agrees to let the creature live for a few days while he tries to woo Leela. 

Mr. Peppy clearly doesn’t like “cuddles”

Soon they find a collection of boneless sheep and McZongo declares that Mr. Peppy must die. Fry insists on putting his pet down himself. After hunting for hours, Fry finally shoots at the figure attacking the sheep, but it turns out to be Angus McZongo. It’s revealed that he pretended to be the Bone Vampire in order to regain his popularity as a hunter, due to Mr. Peppy being a vegetarian. They soon discover that Mr. Peppy has abandoned his vegetarian ways, however, and gone back to eating the bones from sheep. Rather than killing him, the villagers celebrate, because after the sheep get killed, they’re now just boneless hunks of mutton which can be easily sold. Leela and the crew later head to Fishy Joe’s again, where Leela orders the mutton, reasoning that at least they know where it comes from now.

Handsome is relative on Doohan 6.

END SUMMARY

This episode always seems like a natural extension of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart hatches what he believes are two bird eggs only for them to be ecosystem-wrecking lizards, which was itself a twist on the episode of The Andy Griffith Show called “Opie the Birdman.” The Simpsons episode was written by David X. Cohen, one of the creators of Futurama along with Matt Groening. It always feels like I’m glimpsing something about how fiction represents society’s progression when you see a plotline that starts with a sincere parable about parenting eventually becomes a sarcastic tale of good intentions wrecking a town and eventually a nearly surreal story of a monster that saves a village of strange Scotsmen in space. If you look over how fiction usually evolves, this tends to be cyclical, so maybe one day in the future we’ll be back to sincere emotional tales as the thing that people want to see again. Or maybe sincerity is dead forever. It’s hard to tell as of 2020.

Lisa gets that this is horrifying.

This episode does have one of the more satisfying setups, because it doesn’t just get dropped after the plot moves to the second act. Instead, there’s a nice final scene where Leela accepts her small victory, even though she ends up putting a ton of cheese filling in her supposedly “natural” meal. Just like the rest of us, Leela’s only willing to try a certain amount to stand on principle before accepting a big bucket of fried goodness. 

Plus, this guy’s at the Farmer’s Market.

Overall, I enjoy parts of this episode, but the actual scenes with Fry hatching the egg and raising Mr. Peppy take like 7 minutes and are not particularly entertaining. 

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the people on Doohan 6 originally speaks in Gaelic when they meet him, which is understandable for a Scottish planet. Hilariously, Leela insists that they speak English, despite this planet likely being as strongly anti-English as it gets (just look up the history of Scotland for why that would be). However, the next two times they see him, he doesn’t speak Gaelic, but instead shouts a series of words with a heavy accent. The first time it’s “Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff,” a reference to three of the Hogwarts houses. The second time, it’s “Dersu Uzala, Yojimbo, Rashomon,” the titles of three films by famed Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. I wish they’d thought of a few more of these, but the gag still makes me chuckle. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 97: Yo Leela Leela

NEXT – Episode 99: All the Presidents’ Heads

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Futurama Fridays – S6E21 “Yo Leela Leela”

So it’s come to this, a show within a show. Again.

SUMMARY

Leela (Katey Sagal) visits her old Orphanarium to read a story to the orphans, but finds out they have eaten the books due to budget cuts. Leela tries to improvise a story, but it’s terrible and the children make their displeasure clear. She tries to write a better children’s tale and, unable to concentrate at work, heads into space to work on it. When she returns, she reveals that she’s invented a happy fantasy world called Rumbledy-Hump inhabited by singing creatures called the Humplings. The children love it and Leela is approached by Abner Doubledeal (Tom Kenny) to create a show based on the characters. She hesitates, but the children encourage her. 

The future still doesn’t fun welfare programs. Fun.

Leela and the rest of the crew work on the show together, with Leela writing in her “special place.” Despite her not thinking much of the series, it becomes a sensation and she soon becomes arrogant. When she has to come up with a script quickly, she heads off to write, only for Bender (John DiMaggio), who was getting a massage on the ship, to stumble out and discover that Leela actually isn’t writing the show. Instead, she found a planet populated by cute little singing creatures and just copies what she sees them do. Bender blackmails her with this information, but the show goes on as normal. When the orphans visit and tell Leela that they were inspired by her, however, she comes clean. She takes the kids and the crew to the real Rumbledy-Hump and they meet the Humplings. Doubledeal, realizing that the Humplings are real, just decides to film the creatures rather than make a show. He adopts all of the orphans to work on the set. Leela is horrified by the corruption of the innocent, but it’s revealed that literally everyone is happy with the arrangement except for her. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is yet another story about a member of the crew becoming a celebrity, but this time it’s Leela that lets the fame go to her head. Unfortunately, the episode suffers because it hits a lot of the same general beats as “Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television,” “Bendin’ in the Wind,” and even “A Leela of Her Own.” Leela becomes famous, then she becomes arrogant, then she’s revealed to largely be a fraud. The only difference in this is that, after Leela is shown to be faking, nobody really gets upset with her. However, that ending, combined with some of the fun satire of the nature of children’s television, does still make this a fairly enjoyable episode.

She has a statue of a man that she watched die.

Rumbledy-Hump being real is probably the most predictable “twist” in the series, but the revelation that the Humplings actually prefer the convenience of modern “future” society was a solid subversion. It turns out that all of the innocence in the world is secondary to indoor plumbing. The creatures themselves were well-made, containing a nice sampling of all of the characters that kids shows usually like to feature: The moral center (Lady Buggle), the big eater (Doingg), the sweet girl (Princess Num Num), the coward (Feffernoose), and the one with the strange speech pattern (Garbly). I have nieces that are extremely young and I can confirm that this lineup seems pretty standard. 

The cheap sets and costumes are also accurate.

Overall, kind of a middle of the road episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Most of the insane songs that the Humplings sing are pretty amusing, but my favorite is still the implied song that gets cut off by the ad break. After Leela says “Oh, Hell” when Bender finds out that she’s just been copying what the Humplings say, they say that she said a Rumbledy-Hump “no-no!” In response, they sing the song about words that you shouldn’t say, which apparently is 98 words long. The words include “poo-poo” and “pee-pee” and “penis” and “gay,” which leads to a tremendous amount of speculation as to exactly what the other 94 words must have been. Did the creatures say “f*ck” and “sh*t” and “craptacular” in the process of describing all of the things they can’t say? That’s like using George Carlin to actually explain what words can’t be said on Network TV. Also, one of the words is “gay,” which apparently is an allusion to the then-recent bill in Tennessee that banned any teacher from even saying the word “gay.” That part makes me sad. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 96: Neutopia

NEXT – Episode 98: Fry Am The Egg Man

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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

NEXT – Episode 97: Yo Leela Leela

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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 – S6E19 “Ghost in the Machines”

Bender dies and his spirit seeks revenge. Also, Ghostbusters.

SUMMARY

On Parade Day (the day with all the parades), Fry (Billy West) dives in front of a runaway float and saves a human, letting a robot die in the process. Bender (John DiMaggio) yells at him because this act indicates that Fry values human life more than robot life, something Fry admits is true. Bender threatens to kill himself, but the crew point out that he regularly says that and never does it. When he goes to the suicide booth, it turns out that the booth is Lynn (Tress MacNeille), one of Bender’s exes. Lynn kills Bender, leading the crew to believe that he really did commit suicide. 

Hence the takin’ off hats.

Unbeknownst to them, Bender is now a ghost. He doesn’t realize it at first, until the Robot Devil (Dan Castellaneta) tells him he’s dead and haunting the computational cloud. The Robot Devil offers Bender a deal: scare Fry to death and Bender gets to live again. If he fails, then he spends eternity in hell. Bender discovers that, although Fry can’t see him, he can possess technology and use it to scare Fry. The crew don’t believe Fry until Bender takes control of Leela’s (Katey Sagal) wristlojackimator. They call in the robot Gypsy (MacNeille), who tells them that a robot ghost is haunting them. The Reverend Preacherbot (Phil LaMarr) is called in to banish the ghost, which ends up working by providing Fry with a “sacramental firewall” that keeps Bender 20 feet away. Bender pushes through the firewall and possesses it, using the software to project horrifying images onto Fry, causing him to have a heart attack.

The devil is famous for his fair dealings.

Bender returns to the Robot Devil to collect, but it turns out Fry is still alive. Fry is sent to the Amish Homeworld, where electronics are forbidden, so that he won’t get shocked again. As Bender tries to kill him one last time, Fry laments that he misses Bender and that he now respects robot life. So, Bender stops trying to kill Fry and follows him to the Amish Homeworld to watch over him. When the rest of the crew comes to visit Fry, the Robot Devil also comes to visit. He tricks Bender into scaring some oxen, which causes a giant dome to roll towards Fry. Bender possesses the Robot Devil and uses his body to save Fry. This leads Fry to head home and Bender to head to Robot Heaven. However, Bender annoys Robot God into kicking him back into his body. 

God formerly dated WALL-E, I think.

END SUMMARY

I love almost any episode with the Robot Devil and this is no exception, despite how little he actually appears in this one. The idea that the Robot Devil bears a grudge against Fry for taking his hands in “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” is amusing because it’s so petty. He’s literally got an entire underworld to run, but he also still complains about how his hands smell like candy corn because of Fry. The episode also takes a bunch of shots at some of his previous appearances, mostly his tendency to punctuate everything with a song. This time he does make it much more clear that the songs themselves are actually a big part of the torment of Robot Hell, including the fact that he’s rehearsing the exact song that he played for Bender in his debut episode. Admittedly, he does manage to rhyme pyrrhic later when improvising, so he clearly has a lot of talent.

His band is the drums, a saxophone, and a piano. Truly, it’s hell.

The concept of a robot afterlife has long been played with in the show, but this is the first time that we consider the ramifications of Artificial Intelligence existing as data outside of a physical body. I think this is a fun reflection of how much technology developed during the run of this show, because when the show started cloud computing had only been in its infancy, and wasn’t really commercially viable until after the show was cancelled the first time. However, by the time this episode was produced in 2010, Amazon and Google had both started to offer cloud computing services. If computer science were to advance to a certain point, then it is possible that the cloud could eventually process, transmit, and store an amount of data that is greater than the sum total of a human, or artificial, consciousness. Maybe it is inevitable that, like Bender in this episode, we’ll find out that we can create afterlives for our own consciousness. Am I saying this episode is a prequel to Black Mirror’s “San Junipero?” Yes, yes I am. 

San Junipero would have been much more interesting with technokinesis.

There are a number of other fun future touches in this episode that round it out. I think it’s hilarious that the Amish eventually move off-planet in order to maintain their lifestyle, but that, due to the passage of time, they still end up advancing technologically. Rather than just barns, they now live in geodesic domes. There’s a day dedicated solely to parades because there are too many holidays, which makes sense when you consider that Earth has been unified for hundreds of years. Also, this episode only makes sense because we learned in “Lethal Inspection” that Bender is mortal.

I love that the Amish have wooden spacecraft.

Overall, I think this is one of the better episodes of Season 6. 

FAVORITE JOKE

This one is going to hurt a bit. I think my favorite joke is when Hermes is going to call someone to “bust” the ghost of Bender. When asked “who you gonna call,” he starts to say Ghostbusters, but is interrupted by a voice that tells him that the number he is dialing has been lame since 1989. Why 1989? Well, I think there are three reasons: First, that’s the year that Ghostbusters II came out and, let’s be fair, that movie is not as good as the first. While I don’t think it’s a bad movie, it still represents a controversial sequel to an amazing film. Second, in 1989, Ghostbusters was supposed to release a game on the Atari 2600. This ended up being so late in the Atari cycle that it was never actually put out, a sign that the franchise was behind the times. Last, Arsenio Hall stopped voicing Winston on The Real Ghostbusters in 1988, so I think we can agree that was when the cool started to leave that show and therefore the franchise. Still, I do love the hell out of the original.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 94: The Tip of the Zoidberg

NEXT – Episode 96: Neutopia

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 – S6E18 “The Tip of the Zoidberg”

We finally see why someone would hire Zoidberg.

SUMMARY

After his incompetence causes a massive number of issues in the staff, the Planet Express crew demands that Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) fire Doctor Zoidberg (West). Farnsworth refuses, saying that Zoidberg is an expert in alien biology. It’s revealed that Zoidberg was assigned to accompany Farnsworth on a mission to kill a “Tritonian Yeti” decades ago. During the trip, Farnsworth became infected with hypermalaria, a horrible disease that can remain dormant for decades. After Zoidberg helps Farnsworth kill the yeti, saving the Professor’s life, Farnsworth hires Zoidberg so that Zoidberg can kill him if he starts to suffer from hypermalaria. 

Look at how young they were.

In the “present,” Farnsworth starts to show signs of the disease, so he tells Zoidberg that he has to kill him, but that it needs to be by surprise. After a number of failed attempts, the crew catches Zoidberg trying to kill the Professor and imprisons him. However, Zoidberg discovers a white hair on a lab coat, which leads him to realize that the Professor doesn’t have hypermalaria. He escapes to meet with Mom (Tress MacNeille), who is revealed to still have the Tritonian Yeti’s head. The Professor tells the crew that Zoidberg was trying to help kill him, so they build a giant Rube-Goldberg-Esque murder machine. As it goes off, Zoidberg returns to reveal that the Professor actually has Yetism. The Professor turns into a yeti, but Zoidberg cures Farnsworth using the former Yeti’s pineal gland. Zoidberg and the Professor celebrate as friends.

His glasses seem to grow.

END SUMMARY

I have a soft spot for episodes in which Zoidberg actually gets some kind of positive treatment, because he was always one of my favorite characters and he usually gets the short end of the stick. In this episode, we finally find out two key things about the character: Why he was hired and that he actually is pretty good at his job. The only problem is that his job is not actually what his title would indicate, because while he is a good doctor for alien biology, he doesn’t know anything about human anatomy. While it’s odd that he didn’t learn anything about human medicine in the ensuing 80 years of employment, I guess I would counter that most people don’t learn skills outside of their job or hobbies. Since the Professor was never going to fire him, and was his friend, there really wasn’t that much of an incentive to care about being a good human doctor. Also, you have to be a little impressed that he can keep removing and replacing spinal columns without killing anyone.

I mean, Scruffy being alive is impressive, honestly.

The idea of hypermalaria is similar to certain slow viruses or latent diseases, like rubella or chagas disease, but ironically not malaria. While malaria can recur if untreated, recurrences are usually lighter than the initial attack. The idea of having a lifelong condition that can spontaneously kill you, however, is one of Futurama’s darker bases for a gag or a story set-up. Of course, there was no chance that they were going to kill off the Professor, so the ending was kind of inevitable, but having Zoidberg save the day was still nice. 

In the meantime, we just feed the owls.

Overall, I admit this is in the bottom half of Futurama, but I still have a soft spot for it.

FAVORITE JOKE

Fry’s illnesses that Zoidberg causes at the beginning of the episode. First, he gets Simpson’s jaundice, a disease that makes him look like a character from the Simpsons, who are famously all yellow. Then, he turns orange and becomes grumpy, getting a condition called Garfield syndrome, like the comic cat. This is caused by an organ rejection, which I think is a reference to the fact that most hospitals do scheduled organ transplants on Monday so that the patient will have full staff for as long as possible. Garfield hates Mondays, so he hates the organs. Next, he gets “Muppet gangrene,” which makes him act like Kermit the Frog. He rightly states that it’s not easy being gangrenous, like Kermit would say it isn’t easy being green. Lastly, he gets an unspecified disease that makes him look like a Smurf. I think this is a subtle reference to Fry being near dead, because turning blue is a sign of not having enough oxygen. 

PREVIOUS – Episode 93: Benderama

NEXT – Episode 95: Ghost in the Machines

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 – S6E17 “Benderama”

It’s the grey goo scenario, but the goo is drunk off its nano-butt.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) unveils his newest invention, the Banach-Tarski Dupla-Shrinker, a machine that can create two smaller copies of anything that it scans, and can be fueled by any other matter. The Professor asks Bender (John DiMaggio) to fold his sweaters, but Bender decides to duplicate himself so that each of his copies will only have to fold a single sweater. Bender places the Dupla-shrinker into his torso, eats a bunch of matter, then duplicates himself. Bender tells each of the smaller duplicates to fold the sweaters, but they don’t, instead just hanging out and drinking with Bender. The three join Fry (West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) on a delivery, where they mock a giant’s (Patton Oswalt) ugly appearance. Fry, naturally, tries to console the giant, which enrages it, making the crew have to escape. Back on Earth, Bender asks his duplicates for cigars, so they make copies of themselves using the copy of the scanner in their torsos to divide the work further. These four, similarly, keep finding reasons to divide themselves, resulting in Planet Express being overwhelmed by small Benders. 

I am told that it would be mean to say this looks like Patton Oswalt.

Bender is fine with the army of mini-hims, but the Professor explains that the Benders will keep duplicating until they consume the entire planet. The Planet Express crew hunt down all of the mini-Benders and believe they got them all, only to find that they missed one. That Bender quickly multiplies into a ton of subatomic Benders, which move as a grey goo. Eventually, the Bender army consumes all of the alcohol on Earth, which leads the Professor to hypothesize that they’ll soon die from lack of booze. However, the Benders start making alcohol directly at the molecular level, eliminating all the potable water on Earth. As a result of water becoming booze, the Earth gets wasted. The giant arrives on Earth and is insulted by all the drunks, leading him to go on a rampage. Fry asks Bender to save them, since he’s still sober. Bender contacts all the nano-Benders and tells them that he’ll fold the sweaters if they help him get rid of the giant. They form a giant bender and defeat the monster. Bender asks them to help him defeat other monsters, like poverty and disease, which leads them all to abandon Earth to avoid dealing with it. The day is saved, sort of.

Bite his 63 generations of divisions of a shiny metal ass.

END SUMMARY

I’ve always been a fan of media dealing with the Grey Goo scenario, because it seems like one of those inevitable threats in the future. There are more of them than you would think. As exemplified here, the Grey Goo scenario is the idea that a series of microscopic robots, able to alter matter on the subatomic level, could, in theory, duplicate to the point that they consume all of the available matter on Earth. It’s often viewed as a cautionary tale about the dangers of creating nanotechnology or artificial intelligence. This episode creates a humorous twist on a sci-fi apocalypse, something that is pretty much perfect for Futurama

How did they get so many tiny beers? Oh, right, the machine.

Perhaps the most bizarre thing in the episode that I keep coming back to is how Bender defines work. Bender views folding two sweaters as doing 2 things, whereas beating the giant is somehow only doing one-quintillionth of a thing, because the Benders all do it together. It’s like an embodiment of the idea that “The lazy man works hardest.” 

And kicking that ugly butt is hard work.

Overall, not a bad episode. I do like Patton Oswalt’s portrayal of the giant with anger issues, although he doesn’t get used enough.

FAVORITE JOKE

In a rarity for the series, I think the best joke is the device that drives the episode, the Banach-Tarski Dupla-Shrinker. The name is a reference to the Banach-Tarski paradox, which states that if you split an object up into a finite number of pieces composed of an infinite number of sets of points, then you can reassemble the object into two separate copies of itself that are equal in size to the original. Obviously, we cannot get this to work in reality because of conservation of matter. This episode would seem to solve that by having Bender consume matter in order to make the clones. While instinctively you might think that you’d have to use the material of a full-sized Bender in order to make 2 half-sized copies, that’s not the case. Since each of the clones is ½ of each of the previous generation’s dimensions, that means each one is, in fact, only ⅛ of the volume (½ length x ½ width x ½ height = ⅛ volume). So, to create 2, you only need ¼ of the mass of the previous model. It’s a fun play on an existing math paradox, so it was a gimme for the best joke.

This is how I got that they’re each half of the size of the original.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 92: Law and Oracle

NEXT – Episode 94: The Tip of the Zoidberg

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 – 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

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.