Futurama Fridays – S2 E13 “Bender Gets Made”

Everyone’s favorite bending unit gets involved in organized crime.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) go to see the filming of a cooking show featuring Elzar (DiMaggio), everyone’s favorite imitation of Emeril Lagasse. During Elzar’s famous “kicking it up a notch,” Bender acts obnoxiously and leads him to accidentally blast Leela in the eye with a spice weasel, blinding her. To apologize and avoid a lawsuit, Elzar agrees to cook a fabulous meal at his restaurant for the Planet Express crew. After enjoying the dinner, however, the crew finds that the meal wasn’t free, leading them to be unable to pay the huge cost and getting arrested. Bender agrees to work for Elzar to pay off the debt.

S2ED - 1Arrest.png
They get cuffs and leg cuffs for failing to pay a bill. That’s the power of celebrity.

While working at the restaurant for a few days, Bender sees the Robot Mafia patronizing the establishment. He starts to kiss up to the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche), the head of the gang, who takes a liking to Bender. Bender is made an entry-level goon and sent on a delivery run. He realizes that the cops are expecting him, so he gets child robot Tinny-Tim (Tress MacNeille) to do the delivery while he distracts the police. This impresses the Donbot and Bender is allowed into the mob under the code-name “Blotto.” He’s recruited for a heist involving the Donbot, muscle Joey Mousepad (DiMaggio), and anger-prone Francis X. “Clamps” Clampazzo (LaMarche). To avoid work, he pretends to be sick, only to find out that the heist is the delivery he just bailed on. To make matters worse, the mob plans on killing the crew.

S2ED - 2Pats.png
Nothing suspicious about this location.

Bender waits until the mob blindfolds Fry for him to enter the ship and uses a fake British accent to keep the crew from knowing who he is. He pretends to beat up the “sick” Bender while the mob steals the cargo. He then convinces the mafiosos to leave him behind to burn down the ship, allowing him to pretend to be the hero who rescues everyone. He then quits the gang after receiving his cut of the loot.

S2ED - 3Heist.png
 Bender robs himself. 

END SUMMARY

The robot mafia contains elements of all of the famous mob movies at the time. There’s references to Goodfellas (including “I always wanted to be a gangster”), The Godfather, Scarface, even a reference to Sammy “The Bull” Gravano (real life Gotti crime family member and frequent film character in the 90s), but all of them are subverted or twisted in the traditional Futurama style. For example, being robots, their mob hideout isn’t through a hidden door in the freezer in Fronty’s Meat Market (Not a Front since 2997), but is actually just inside of the walk-in freezer. After all, machines need cooling and robots aren’t bothered by temperature. Also, their way of warning people is to riddle them with bullets, something that is apparently only a minor inconvenience to robots (despite other episodes showing it would destroy them).

S2ED - 4Frontys.png
Nothing suspicious here.

The members of the mob are introduced in this episode. We have the Donbot, who is a stereotypical mob boss, including having metal pieces resembling gold rings around all of his fingers. Despite the fact that he’s a robot and thus doesn’t need to wear clothes, he chooses to wear a brown hat and drape a brown jacket over his shoulders. Joey Mousepad is the dumb muscle, who tries to be articulate and fails spectacularly. There are a number of characters like this in mob films and the archetype is frequently parodied in this way in other media. I tend to think that it’s derived from Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) from The Godfather, who delivers an awkwardly eloquent benediction to Don Corleone (Marlon Brando) after rehearsing it multiple times. Then there’s Clamps, who is a scar-faced (and apparently was made with that disfigurement) torture-happy psychopath. He’s basically a combination of Tony Montana from Scarface and Joe Pesci’s Tommy from Goodfellas. As I said before, I think it’s great that they managed to combine so many sources to form the backbone of the robot mob. Despite only having 3 members, by making them these archetypes, it still feels like a real representation of the mob.

S2ED - 5Mob.png
Why make a short, fat robot?

Elzar’s character is expanded upon in this episode, making it clear that he’s mostly a jerk. I’m not sure if this is a shot at Emeril Lagasse, but the fact that the character is a combination of Emeril and Gormaanda from the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special says they probably don’t exactly like the Cajun cook. The character of Gormaanda was itself a parody of then-popular celebrity chef Julia Child and played by the amazing Harvey Corman. However, much like most of the special, the bit was confusing, ill-timed, tonally confused, and just not funny. Elzar, on the other hand, is hilarious.

S2ED - 6Knock.png
The Spice Weasel’s other end makes cumin.

FAVORITE JOKE

This one is actually in Alien 1, one of the two secret languages of Futurama. When you see an ambulance in the show, the word “Ambulance” is written backwards on the front like it is in real-life, so that a person seeing it in the mirror would read it correctly. However, below that is a string of alien language which one would think reads “ambulance.” In fact, it reads “Meat Truck” in reverse. Basically, aliens are, again, openly admitting that they’re eating people, but getting away with it by putting it in a foreign language. If you don’t think this happens in real life, I should mention that I was told at an internet cafe in China that the internet rates in English were higher and that the Chinese version of the rates contained the line “if you’re a foreigner who can read this, you get the discount rate if you don’t tell any of the others.” Bilingual people can get away with stuff.

S2ED - 9Ambulance.png

I enjoy this episode. It’s about average for Futurama, but that’s still pretty good.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 25: The Deep South

NEXT – Episode 27: Mother’s Day

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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.

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Futurama Fridays – S2 E12 “The Deep South”

The Planet Express Crew takes a trip to the South’s best-kept secret.

SUMMARY

Due to a mix-up by Hermes (Phil LaMarr), Planet Express receives a mandatory fishing license, so everyone heads to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the ship and starts fishing. Eventually, Bender (John DiMaggio) uses the unbreakable diamond tether on the ship’s winch to try and catch a big fish. He hooks a colossal-mouth bass which is larger than their craft and it starts dragging them to the bottom of the ocean, about 3 miles deep, before getting off the line. The ship doesn’t work underwater, so the Professor (Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) set about fixing the engines while Bender, Zoidberg (West), and Fry (West) go along the ocean floor to find food. Fry is only able to survive due to a suppository from the Professor that counteracts the pressure.

S2EC - 1Harpoon.png
This is also the first time we see Leela’s Harpoon which does, eventually, recur.

While exploring, Fry comes across a mermaid named Umbriel (Parker Posey) who starts to flirt with Fry, but no one believes him when he says he saw her. Later, Umbriel comes to the ship and takes Fry on a date. The two fall in love while doing underwater activities. The ship gets fixed, but Fry is still gone, so everyone heads to look for him. They’re shocked when they find out that they’re in the ruins of the city of Atlanta.

S2EC - 2FryPeek.png
I’m pretty sure he’s checking out her rack in this shot.

It’s revealed that Atlanta was moved to an island as a way to improve commerce, but the city grew too large and sank. Many of the inhabitants remained and, with the help of Coca-Cola, mutated into merfolk. Fry chooses to stay behind with Umbriel, rather than go back to the surface, but quickly changes his mind when it’s revealed that having the bottom half of a fish means she mates like a fish. Fry manages to make it back to the surface inside of the colossal-mouth bass, which Bender has caught again.

S2EC - 3PromoVideo.png
Look, I’m not pointing out that there’s only one black person in this tourism video, but…

END SUMMARY

I wasn’t in the room when this plot was pitched, but I have to believe that it was conceived by someone making a joke about the song “Atlantis” by Donovan. It’s such a ridiculous idea that it’s kind of inherently funny and  the parody of the song is probably the most solid joke within the episode.

S2EC - 4Donovan.png
Donovan seemed to tack Jane Fonda on. Clearly, she saw the divorce coming.

Umbriel is one of the more remarkable of Fry’s relationships, not just because she’s a mermaid, but because she’s pretty much the only one that Fry actually breaks up with. Technically, he breaks up with Morgan in the previous episode, but she also was basically out of the relationship before that happened. In this case, we don’t actually see it, but it’s pretty likely that Fry did, in fact, tell Umbriel that he wasn’t ready to try and fertilize a clutch of fish eggs. Somehow, though, they avoided making a joke about the fact that fish eggs that have recently hatched are called “Fry.” I don’t know what the joke would be, but it’s there somewhere.

S2EC - 5Bra.png
Looks like a Sea-cup.

Umbriel’s name is a reference to Ariel from The Little Mermaid, which probably surprises no one, but it derives from the fact that Umbriel and Ariel are both names of moons of Uranus. If that doesn’t surprise you, congrats on being Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

The version of Atlanta that we see isn’t particularly accurate to the actual urban Atlanta area, but instead is a parody of the rural antebellum South… despite also having futuristic technology. The Colonel (David Herman) is probably the most extreme example, who leads Bender to hum “Dueling Banjos.”

S2EC - 6Colonel.png
He makes good fried seahorse.

FAVORITE JOKE

While underwater, Doctor Zoidberg finds an empty giant shell and decides to make it his home. Later, when the crew is leaving, Zoidberg finds out that he can’t stay because his shell has burned down, despite the fact that A) shells don’t burn well and B) THEY’RE UNDERWATER. He questions how it could have happened, something that Hermes says is a very good question. In response, Bender finds the cigar he left in Zoidberg’s house and smokes it, something that Hermes says raises even further questions, because they’re still underwater.

S2EC - 7ZoidbergHome.png

This scene is so absurd that it’s actually the page quote on TV Tropes for “Voodoo Shark.” A Voodoo Shark is when you try to explain a plot hole, but the explanation actually creates a way bigger plot hole. The term comes from the novelization of Jaws: The Revenge which tried to explain away the fact that sharks shouldn’t be capable of revenge plots by saying that the Brody family had been cursed by a Voodoo Shaman. What it doesn’t tell you is why the shaman would do that, how that gave the shark the ability to swim from New England to the bahamas as fast as a plane flies there, and, oh yeah, when the hell did Jaws involve magic? This episode takes that exact same concept, but instead plays it for laughs, never even trying to give an explanation that makes sense.

S2EC - 8Cigar.png
Hermes is having none of this.

Overall, solid episode, but it’s pretty shallow in terms of themes. A lot of it is just playing on the image of Southern Stereotypes with fish bodies. Fortunately, that was funny enough to keep me watching.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 24: How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back

NEXT – Episode 26: Bender Gets Made

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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 – S2 E14 “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”

This is the rare episode that for me has only gotten better over time because the more I deal with bureaucrats, the more I realize this satire is dead-on. It’s time for an episode focused on the Rastafarian Accountant, Hermes Conrad.

SUMMARY

Hermes Conrad (Phil Lamarr) is up for a promotion as a bureaucrat. However, the evening before his inspection, Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) host a poker night with Leela’s coworkers from the pilot and Zoidberg (West). During the game, Bender cheats and gets caught, resulting in the others beating him up in Hermes’ office, wrecking it. When the inspector, Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn), shows up, Hermes threatens suicide, but his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille in this episode, normally Dawnn Lewis) talks him out of it. He is subsequently fired and despondent. Zoidberg recommends Hermes and LaBarbara go to a Spa planet called Spa 5, which turns out to actually be a forced labor camp. Morgan takes over as Planet Express bureaucrat.

S2EB - 1Suicide.png
Sweet pavement dive of Babylon 5!

Morgan begins to inspect Planet Express, criticizing for inane things such as not putting a zipper on a jacket alphabetically at the bottom, before she finds Fry’s locker, which is the most disgusting thing she has ever seen. As a lifelong neat-freak, Morgan finds Fry’s slovenly ways arousing and starts a secret affair with him. Morgan antagonizes most of the staff until Bender catches the two in bed together. He threatens blackmail, but Morgan downloads his brain onto a floppy disk and sends it to the Central Bureaucracy.

S2EB - 2Kissing.png
He made cottage cheese in his hat. 

Fry, Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and the Professor (West) fly to the Central Bureaucracy to get Bender’s brain back. They discover that the disk is in the massive “in” pile, something that never gets sorted. However, Hermes appears, having optimized the force labor camp so much they only needed a single worker, and requests a massive file-sort, for which he is given four minutes. He proceeds to sort the entire pile while singing “The Bureaucrat Song” and manages to get Morgan fired by pointing out a minor clerical error she had made years ago. Hermes is rehired and reinstated as a bureaucrat.

S2EB - 3InPile.png
This is also the image for the national debt. #alwaystopical

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best episodes of the series. If you’re going to introduce someone to the series, this might be one of the most appropriate episodes to show them. The parody of the Central Bureaucracy is one of the most on-point in the show’s history and it elevated Hermes from mostly background character to one of the most entertainingly wacky members of the Planet Express staff. Yes, it’s clearly inspired by the movie Brazil, but it makes the organization here much less threatening and more comical than in that movie.

S2EB - 4CBSquare.png
If you’ve ever dealt with licensing, this is hilarious to you.

The concept of an organization dedicated to perpetuating bureaucracy that literally thrives on tedium and mistreating the masses is just too damned funny to put into words. The Central Bureaucracy is what everyone expects is at the heart of every bureaucratic organization: A giant mess perpetuated by people who just want to avoid accountability and strictly enforce rules by their word rather than intent. Having worked for the government for a decent percentage of my adult life, I can say that this is mostly wrong… except when it is completely right. In any organization of sufficient complexity, there emerge a certain percentage of people that somehow serve almost no real discernible purpose within the productive flow. Often, they become managers, much like Hermes’ position within the company.

S2EB - 5Dilbert
Scott Adams is a self-centered jackass, but he nailed this one.

Now, Hermes does, apparently, actually know how to increase efficiency, given that he points out all of the flaws in the set-up of the forced labor camp. At the same time, we see that any bureaucrat who does things more efficiently than prescribed is punished, so this episode suggests that there IS merit in having supervisors who point out wasted energy, but that the system which creates them is also the system than hinders them.

S2EB - 6Drill
Though, the efficiency improvement screws the workers and benefits literal slave-drivers.

This is one of the first episodes which has slight dependence on continuity, since Leela invites the workers from the pilot to the poker game. It doesn’t make much of a difference in the episode or anything, but it’s still more continuity than most of the series.

Morgan’s lust for Fry being based on all of the things that normally would make him repellant to women is a pretty great exaggeration of opposites attract. Fry goes with it for the stated reason that he was “desperate,” which is refreshingly frank.

The best part of the episode, though, is the “Bureaucracy Song.” It’s catchy, it’s clever, it includes the line “pooh-pooh’d my electric frankfurter,” and it comes from an odd stance in that it takes the position that bureaucrats actually love their jobs, something that most humor tends to oppose.

Bureaucrat Song from user4803634 on Vimeo.

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Tie. First, the Beholder from Dungeons and Dragons being at the Central Bureaucracy. It’s just sleeping, then it awakens with flashing lights viciously coming out of its many eyes… only for it to ask the crew not to tell its supervisor that it was sleeping. It’s such a great gag that even the Beholder, one of the mightiest monsters in fiction, capable of destroying small armies on its own, is reduced to begging people to let it nap in peace within the Bureaucracy.

S2EB - 7Beholder.png
Also, he’s only level 11. 

Second, one of the most quoted lines in the series is from this episode: “You are technically correct – the best kind of correct.” This is the most concise statement of the nature of bureaucrats within the episode and one of the most absurd ideas the episode conveys: that it’s better to be within the letter than the spirit, particularly when the letter subverts the spirit.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 23: A Clone of My Own

NEXT – Episode 25: The Deep South

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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 – S2 E10 “A Clone of My Own”

We have an episode focused mostly on Professor Hubert Farnsworth and his attempt to secure his legacy.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) is brought up on academic charges by Mars University. However, after he begins an angry rant about blackmailing and ruining all of the other professors, it’s revealed that it’s really a surprise party for his 150th Birthday. The crew of Planet Express show him a video about his accomplishments, but it has the opposite effect, making him believe that his life has been a giant waste. Leela (Katey Sagal) tells him that at least he has 10 years left to live, revealing that all 160 year old people are forcibly retired by robots to live out their days in the mysterious “Near-Death Star.” The Professor decides to name a successor and elects his own clone, Cubert Farnsworth (Kath Soucie).

S2EA - 1CubertTank.png
He’s from a growth on the Professor’s back.

Cubert is released from the Clone-O-Mat and immediately starts getting on everyone’s nerves due to his habit of pointing out logical flaws in the way the business is run and criticizing all of the impossible science used in the show. The Professor tries to technobabble explanations for much of it, saying that the point of science is to make the impossible into the possible, but Cubert ends up telling him that he doesn’t want to be a scientist. This breaks the Professor’s heart and leads him to reveal that he is actually 160 years old and has alerted the Sunset Squad Robots to take him away.

S2EA - 2Sunset.png
They have a pretty standard outfit.

The Crew uses the Smell-O-Scope to track down the Professor. At the Near-Death Star, Leela and Bender (John DiMaggio) impersonate robots and Fry (West) pretends to be the Professor while Cubert is his hump. They use Cubert’s blood to present a DNA sample from the Professor. It’s revealed that all of the old people are hooked into Matrix-esque virtual reality systems that simulate retirement homes. They are found out and flee until the ship’s engine is blasted. On the way out, Cubert is knocked unconscious and when he wakes up he now wishes to be an inventor, fixing the engines (which are revealed to not move the ship at all, but instead move THE REST OF THE UNIVERSE around the ship). The crew escapes and the Professor is happy to have a successor.

S2EA - 3PlanetEx.png
Yes, this is the ship standing still.

END SUMMARY

This episode is a shot at bad fans, like all of the people out there who can’t just enjoy shows without trying to point out logical flaws in the science of the shows. As someone who does occasionally do that, I felt attacked, but as a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000’s opening lyric “If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes/ and other science facts/ just repeat to yourself/ it’s just a show / I should really just relax” I also accept that you should never let ancillary science issues distract from a good story. Suspend that disbelief, y’all.

S2EA - 4Bender.png
Bender, calmly explaining drama to the fans.

According to the commentary, Cubert was actually created before the show started airing and he was just going to be present throughout the series calling out scientific impossibilities in the show before the fans could start doing it. Given how his outlook changed by the end of the episode and that aspect of his personality seems to go to the wayside for the rest of the series, apparently they realized that was going to get annoying. Besides, they put in the obnoxious fan for an episode, that got the point across.

That said, I absolutely love the responses that the show gives for some of the science fiction elements. For example, faster-than-light travel is impossible, so scientists just decided to raise the speed of light to the point that you can still cross the galaxy in a few hours. This would naturally just raise even MORE issues about how the physics of this universe work, but it’s such a great example of technobabble. The final revelation of the episode is even more insane: The Professor’s engines somehow are MORE efficient because they choose to move the entire universe rather than the ship. However, the sequence in which they represent that looks freaking awesome, so all is forgiven.

S2EA - 5TimeMachine.png
However, time travel is impossible… for another few episodes.

The concept of seniors being forcibly retired is present in a lot of science fiction, but I would imagine the most famous one is probably Logan’s Run, the sci-fi book which shows a world where everyone is executed on their 21st birthday and the movie adaptation where everyone is executed on their 30th. In the book, the “Sandmen” who collect the people who are set to die are depicted dressed in black and occasionally robed as reapers, like the Sunset Squad robots. In the movie, the Sandmen dress more like the other citizens in what the 1970s thought the future would look like, with black bodysuits. Given that they make other references in the series to that film, I’m guessing that this is what inspired the plotline of this episode.

S2EA - 6LogansRun
Yep, this is how we dress in the 2010s.

The episode as a whole is obviously about the conflict between generations. Cubert initially represents the rebellion children usually display against their parents who they feel are completely dissimilar, summarized by his great line “ I may be identical to you in every possible way but that doesn’t mean I’m anything like you.” At the end of the episode, however, Cubert does finally gain some insight into Professor Farnsworth’s personality, which ends up bridging the gap between the pair.

FAVORITE JOKE

Two small ones.

First, Cubert’s first line in the series is “What, you’ve never seen a genius’s weiner before?” to which Fry responds “well, once in the park.” The timing and absurdity of it, combined with the fact that this is a recurring character’s introduction, always makes me laugh.

S2EA - 7MarsUniversity.png

Second, the unbelievably dark joke that is the motto of Mars University. The university’s motto is “Knowledge Brings Fear.” On its surface, this is both true and also one of the worst observations about consciousness, because yeah, if we didn’t know about all the things that could happen to us that are bad, we’d never be afraid. But the real darkness is that this is a reference to another famous motto: “Work Brings Freedom.” Fans of the comic Maus will probably recognize that as being a translation of the phrase “Arbeit Macht Frei,” which was featured above the entrance to Auschwitz. You’d think that they might not have known about this and it’s a coincidence, but 1) the way it’s displayed on Mars University is very similar to how it appeared at Auschwitz, 2) it’s a change from the original motto of Mars University (A Giant Pulsating Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste), and 3) the line before it was about saving Hitler’s brain. So, in essence, knowledge of an atrocity in the past brings forth the underlying reference to the joke and changes the meaning to something even darker and scarier… thus, Knowledge Brings Fear.

S2EA - 8Maus.jpg
Such a sunny reference.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 22: A Bicyclops Built for Two

NEXT – Episode 24: How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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 – S2 E9 “A Bicyclops Built for Two”

Leela’s the focus for this episode exploring her tragic backstory.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) finally connects to the internet, which is a giant virtual-reality world that feels vaguely Tron-ish. Amy (Lauren Tom) and Leela (Katey Sagal) go into a chat room where they both intimidate all of the men by virtue of being actual women. Later, they join Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), Zoidberg (West), and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) in a video game where Fry dominates due to wasting so much of his life gaming. Leela, however, meets another cyclops named Alcazar (David Herman) who Fry immediately vaporizes. On their next delivery, Leela receives a message from Alcazar with information about the Cyclops homeworld, so she heads there with Fry and Bender.

S2E9 - 1Alcazar
Anyone else think he should have one giant nipple? No? Just me? Okay then.

On the planet, Alcazar tells Leela that the planet was blown up by the eyeless Mole People of Subterra 3 out of anger that the Cyclopes had sight. Alcazar survived by being in a pool at the time, while Leela was a baby sent to Earth by a scientist to save her life. Leela then tells him that the species doesn’t have to end with them and they have sex. The next morning, Alcazar starts acting like Al Bundy from Married with Children, with Leela taking on aspects of Katey Sagal’s previous role as his wife Peg. Despite the fact that they now fight all the time, Leela agrees to marry him to keep the species going. Fry, however, decides to search the forbidden valley on the planet to try and find something to convince Leela not to marry him.

S2E9 - 2SexyTimes.png
Leela has so far only had pity sex and “save the species” sex. That’s disturbing.

The staff arrives for the wedding, but after questing for a little while, Fry and Bender find four identical kingdoms. They return just in time for the wedding with four other women, revealed to be all of Alcazar’s other fiances. It turns out that he’s a shapeshifter who just found it easy to get laid by marrying women who are the last of their species. The weddings are all called off and Leela continues to wonder where she comes from.

S2E9 - 3TrueForm.png
It’s a nice day for a green wedding…. yeah.

END SUMMARY

This episode kind of feels like it was just a set-up to the joke of reprising Katey Sagal’s character from Married With Children. It’s one of those things that was basically inevitable and I think that doing it in Season 2, without letting the necessity build, meant that they could get away with only dedicating about 2 minutes of the episode to it, rather than make it the focal point of the episode. Still, it’s pretty funny to watch Leela, who usually responds to everything with violence, throw all these verbal barbs with Alcazar, with the pig and the rat couple providing the audience hooting and reactions in place of the shows usual live studio audience. Also, I love that Leela immediately questions why the set-up has changed to be more similar to Married with Children but Alcazar insults her rather than answering her question. It’s one of my favorite lampshade hangings in the series.

S2E9 - 4MWC.png
That couch clashes with the ornate palace.

The representation of the internet in this movie is a little dated, since “chat rooms” no longer exist as they did in the 90s, celebrity nudes are no longer all fakes, and AOL dial-up is mostly a thing of the past. However, some elements have definitely held up, like the idea that many guys who talk big on the internet would collapse in the presence of a real woman, that video games are becoming more virtual reality based, and that underage people will claim to be 18 to see nudity online. It’s also impressive that they mostly avoided any references to The Matrix despite the fact that this episode came out almost a year to the day after that movie, which means this would have been written shortly after that movie was everywhere. The only one I caught is when Hermes dodges a pop-up ad by limboing, which is right after they make several references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Birds, and Tron, so it feels like they’re just spamming movie jokes right then. Again, it’s a decent amount of restraint, given the subject matter and the time. It’s also possible that the writers just thought The Matrix wouldn’t hold up in the cultural zeitgeist as well as it did.

S2E9 - 5AmyNaked.png
I also love the “Girls Wanted” sign on the other site.

The final reveal of Alcazar is pretty clever. It’s a funny bit to reveal each of the alien brides to him and watch Alcazar try to cover for them all, but ultimately it’s watching Leela’s last moments contemplating the fact that she almost married someone that she knew was treating her terribly just so she could feel like she belonged. It’s one of the most real moments of Leela’s character in the entire series, because it feels so human to do something stupid in order to stop feeling alone. The last shot, however, is pure Futurama emotional gut-punch when she asks how many planets there could be and the camera pans out to remind us that space is incomprehensibly large. There are over 100 Billion stars estimated to be within the Milky Way Galaxy alone, each of which usually has at least one planet in orbit, and in Futurama the crew regularly travels all the way across the universe, meaning that almost any galaxy or planet in the universe is a possibility. There are estimated to be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the entire visible universe, again, each with likely one or more planets. That means that if you searched 1 planet every milli-second for 5 billion years, you’d be roughly… .02% of the way there.

SPACE IS BIG, Y’ALL!!!

This is actually a very nice use of Cosmic nihilism for the audience, but since Leela doesn’t acknowledge it, it isn’t as sad as it usually is. Plus, Leela had addressed the opposite of it earlier in the episode, self-determination. She now realizes that she doesn’t need a home to define her as long as she knows who she is. Granted, eventually she will know her history, but that’s still a mystery right now, and it’s nice to watch her make some level of peace with the mystery.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the women Alcazar is set to marry is a Yithian from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time.”

S2E9 - 6Yithian.png
The Purple One.

The Yithians are a race that previously inhabited Earth over 66 Million Years Ago and they gained a form of near-omniscience through their ability to switch out their minds with other species in the future. However, despite this, they were annihilated by a species of Flying Polyps. However, since they knew they were going to be destroyed, they switched all of their minds with another race that will take over the Earth after humans are dead, the Coleopterous race. The coleopterous race is described as “beetle folk,” resembling a great number of different humanoid insects… just like Alcazar’s true form. In other words, his Yithian bride would likely be the last of her race, but if she wanted to marry another Yithian, they’d look like a giant insect. Additionally, she’s the only one who doesn’t say anything about his true form, so it’s possible she’s just pissed about the fact that he was going to marry 4 other women. Either way, a Yithian/Bug Creature wedding was a weird but interesting reference and I dig it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 21: Raging Bender

NEXT – Episode 23: A Clone of My Own

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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 – S2 E8 “Raging Bender”

Bender somehow becomes involved in professional robot wrestling, despite the title being a reference to a boxing movie.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew heads to the movies where Bender (John DiMaggio) is a complete and total jerk to the other patrons. In particular, he won’t stop aggravating the guy in front of him, who appears to be a stereotypical nerd, including insulting his girlfriend. However, when he goes too far, the nerd turns out to be the giant wrestler The Masked Unit (Tom Kenny) who attacks Bender. The Masked Unit then slips on some popcorn and is knocked out. The commissioner of the Ultimate Robot Fighting League, Abner Doubledeal (Kenny), happens to be in the theater and offers to make Bender a wrestler.

S2E8 - 2MaskedUnit.png
He’s opening up a file of whoopass. That’s a quote.

Bender is excited at the prospect of being a wrestler until he realizes that he might actually get hurt. He tries to quit, but  Leela (Katey Sagal) uses her tragic past involving martial arts to convince him to stay and let her train him. Despite his incompetence, he does actually manage to win his first match… because it was fixed. It turns out that Robot Wrestling is fake and that the most popular fighter always wins. Bender, now wrestling as Bender the Offender, starts to dominate the league through his antics. Since it’s fake, he stops training, which annoys Leela. Eventually, though, his popularity wanes and Doubledeal decides to rebrand him as a loser, the Gender Bender, an effeminate transvestite. Bender refuses at first, but is then told that his opponent is Destructor (Maurice LaMarche), an unbelievably powerful killer robot who can beat him in a fake match or a real one if need be. He agrees to lose.

S2E8 - 3Destructor.png
Destructor’s use in combat is a war crime. And hilarious.

Bender begs Leela to help him win the fight, which she agrees to do only after learning that her sexist martial arts instructor Fnog (David Herman) is Destructor’s trainer. The bout takes place at Madison Cube Garden, but it turns out that Bender is completely outclassed. When Leela tries to call it off to save Bender’s life, she discovers that Destructor is being controlled by Fnog. Leela battles Fnog while Bender fights the uncontrolled Destructor, resulting in Leela KO’ing her tormentor and Bender getting flattened. Bender is in pain, but Leela is happy that she got vengeance.

S2E8 - 4Fnog.png
SWEEP THE LEG!!!!

END SUMMARY

I was a decent wrestling fan as a kid, because it was 1992, I was 5, and Ric Flair was the man. WOOOOOOOOO!!! Later, of course, I found out that A) it was fake, B) some of these guys were completely different outside of the ring, and C) they were still amazing athletes and performers. So, I wasn’t exactly happy about this episode which mostly portrays wrestling as involving effortless and cheesy performances. I’m not denying that wrestling performances are cheesy, they absolutely are. Sometimes in the best way, like Randy Savage (R.I.P.), sometimes in the worst way, like the Shockmaster (sorry Fred Ottoman, I’m sure you’re a good guy), but they often are. However, they are absolutely not effortless as Mick Foley (or Mankind) will tell you. These are damned impressive physical performers and dedicated method actors and they deserve that respect.

s2E8 - 5MachoMan.jpg
Oh yes, sir. Oh yes, indeed. I will snap into a Slim Jim today.

Having said that, I think the satire of wrestling in this episode is freaking hilarious. The robot characters are all insane stereotypes (Billionaire Bot, Chain Smoker, Foreigner… these are the actual names) just like in most 80s-90s wrestling, the heels and faces are clearly defined, they get re-branded as necessary, and the product endorsements are dead-on (Bender endorses a brand of French milk bath soaps). It’s mostly put forth in one single montage, but I think the line that stands out most for me is the Foreigner’s intro:

I’m not from here! I have my own customs! Look at my crazy passport!

It’s a perfect tribute to how wrestling is based on giving you characters that can be identified down to their whole histories and motivations within just a few lines. There’s no nuance, it’s just character archetypes, and that can sometimes be beautiful. Watch Glow on Netflix if you want an entire series built around justifying this as an art form.

S2E8 - 6ChainSmoker.png
The Chainsmoker is less creative, I admit.

Leela’s subversion of the Karate Kid-esque (Bender even does Crane Stance) master-student bond is a great B-plot. Despite being a prodigious martial artist, Leela is condemned by Fnog (which I assume is just a parody on the common fake-martial artist name Master Fong) just for being a girl. His sexism is so ludicrous that he awards the victory in the spar to Leela’s completely unconscious opponent, which makes his ultimate ass-whipping all the more of a foregone conclusion that is still pretty satisfying.

The episode also has one of my favorite minor C-plots involving Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and the brain slug. During vacation, Hermes apparently made a stop at the brain slug planet and a slug took him over. He then proceeds to blatantly try to get brain slugs onto the others in comically inept ways, only succeeding with Fry. Fry’s brain slug then starves to death. Given the later reveals in the show, it would be thought that Fry’s slug starved because Fry lacks the Delta Brainwave, but the commentary for the episode reveals that the joke is solely that Fry is stupid and nothing else.

S2E8 - 7BrainSlug.png
Hermes should have used a garlic shampoo.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a tie between Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot’s cameos at the movie, advising Bender not to talk during the film, and the title of the theater as “א-null-plex.” I’d write it correctly, but I’m having formatting issues and the picture’s going to be below anyway. See, א, which is pronounced “aleph,” is the mathematical symbol representing infinities in set theories. Aleph-zero, or Aleph-null, is the lowest infinite set, the countable infinite, which is what most people think of when they think of “infinite.” Basically, it means if there is a way you can set up a system with the numbers that has a correspondence to the natural numbers, like the multiples of 7 or the powers of 11 or the prime numbers. I’ll attach a fun video explaining this concept below, because knowledge is power. The joke here is that the theater is a pun on the theater term “multiplex” which, in most shows, is parodied as the “infiniplex.” Futurama is just taking it one step further by saying that this is specifically the smallest-level of infiniplex, because they like to wave their math d**ks around. Yes, they have math ducks.

S2E8 - 1Aleph.png
Math jokes are mathemagical.

As to Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, the joke is obvious if you’ve seen Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you haven’t seen it, I’ve now done two reviews on it and it’s on Netflix. CHECK IT OUT NOW!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 20: Put Your Head on my Shoulders 

NEXT – Episode 22: A Bicyclops Built for Two

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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 – S2 E7 “Put Your Head on my Shoulders”

Season 2 continues to have some episodes more focused on the other Planet Express employees and this one is on the ditziest, and only, Martian trillionaire engineering grad student in the show: Amy Wong.

SUMMARY

S2E7 - 1Opening.png
This is one of my favorite intro lines.

Amy (Lauren Tom) got all Cs on her report card and therefore decides that her parents should buy her a new car. She proceeds to buy a brand new Beta Romeo and take it for a spin on Mercury with Fry (Billy West). They proceed to run out of gas due to their own incompetence and have to call for help. While waiting for help, they start talking and realize that they have a lot in common, resulting in them having some extremely casual sex (“Wanna do it?” is Amy’s ultimate seductive line). After they tell the Planet Express staff, the team immediately begins to talk about how good Fry and Amy are as a couple. However, Amy tells Fry she enjoys “hanging out” with him which leads him to freak out about things becoming too serious. He tries to bring Dr. Zoidberg (West) along with them on a date, however, when Fry tries to break up with Amy, Zoidberg crashes the car. Fry’s body is badly injured, so Zoidberg sticks his head on Amy’s body. Despite this, Fry breaks up with Amy, who immediately goes back to dating other people.

S2E7 - 2Kissing.png
They still kiss weird. Or do I kiss weird and they kiss normal?

At the same time, in the B-Plot, Bender (John DiMaggio) attempts to create a dating service (after his initial plans to create a prostitution ring prove illegal). He charges people money to participate in his “computer dating” program, which is actually just Bender randomly matching couples. Zapp Brannigan (West) is the first among his desperate clientele, but eventually even Leela (Katey Sagal) joins. When Amy reveals she has a Valentine’s Day date, Fry also ends up asking Bender for help.

S2E7 - 3Dating.png
It consists mostly of punch-cards.

On Valentine’s Day, Bender does indeed provide Fry a date: Petunia the ancient hooker (Tress MacNeille). It turns out that all of Bender’s “matches” are just random lowlifes he found at a bus stop. Despite being an old prostitute, however, Petunia still believes that she’s too good for Fry and leaves. Amy’s date with a handsome banking industry regulator named Gary (Maurice LaMarche) goes very well, with the pair about to take themselves (and Fry) back to the bedroom. Leela saves Fry by stepping in and distracting Gary for the evening. Fry gets his body back and thanks Leela who says she enjoyed “hanging out” with him, something that he doesn’t object to.

S2E7 - 4Coffee.png
Most third wheel to ever third wheel.

END SUMMARY

Sometimes I almost feel like this episode was designed to destroy fans who were “shipping” Fry and Amy. Yes, they’re both young and kind of dumb. Yes, they talk similarly and are both slightly removed from the “real world” of the year 3000 (Amy by her wealth, Fry by his anachronism). So yeah, they make sense as a couple, except that they both would drag each other down. Neither of them has any ambition, focus, or sense of personal responsibility, the things that partners should bring out in each other, and when they’re together they just reinforce each others’ worst tendencies. Plus, they largely only connect on a superficial level to the point that Amy isn’t contemplating anything deeper and Fry gets scared from just thinking she’s considering it. That’s why it’s so great that they each end up with people that they connect more deeply with and that help them grow as people. Also, I was already shipping Fry and Leela hard by this point, so I like that this episode pretty much kills any implication that he and Amy might end up together. The asymmetry of Fry freaking out about Amy saying “hanging out” but Fry being pleased when Leela says the same thing really drove it home.

S2E7 - 5Leela.png
They’re cute, even when he has an Asian co-ed’s body. Maybe especially then.

Caveat: There is nothing wrong with casual sex, friends with benefits, hook-ups, or having non-sexual romantic partners or friends that are emotionally as close as lovers. As long as your relationships are healthy, it’s nobody’s damned business how you conduct them. You do you.

This is another example of the show taking a classic premise (guy gets scared of intimacy and is put into forced intimate situation) but putting a sci-fi spin on it. However, I think the best subversion is that Fry still breaks up with her quickly. In most sitcoms where the person is stuck with the person that they are planning to break up with, they struggle for a while to just deal with it to avoid the awkwardness (Check out… most of Seinfeld, really, if you want examples), but Fry, despite now being physically connected with Amy, just goes ahead and ends things. This leads to the hilarious fallout when Amy, rather than being devastated or thinking that Fry’s head is an inconvenience, just goes ahead with her dating life immediately.

S2E7 - 6Amydump.png
Also, Fry’s a dick to her in this episode. Boo, Fry. Boo.

This episode does play straight the old trope of a guy who is in a relationship believing that he is better off single only to quickly find out that he is less desirable than he thought and that the woman he just left is much more successful at being single. I’d say watch Seinfeld for this one too, but you could also just observe almost any relationship where both people are in their early 20s.

FAVORITE JOKE

Well, the real answer to this is when the episode smash-cuts from Bender clearly supposed to be thinking of his dating service and instead being revealed to be trying to be a pimp. “Stupid Anti-Pimping Laws” would be my bumper sticker if I drove a Cadillac. Sadly, that joke’s short, so here’s another one related to it.

S2E7 - 7DatingService.png
The best jokes are Math Jokes.

Bender’s dating service is advertised as being “Discreet and Discrete.” The first is the more commonly used homonym, meaning something that is not openly practiced or is clandestine. The second is a bit more… varied in how it could be applied. Discrete means something that is not continuous, but when applied to mathematics it typically deals with non-continuous math concepts, such as logic. There are a ton of separate sub-fields that could, theoretically, apply to a dating service: Combinatorics, Game Theory, Information Theory, Computer Science, etc. I think the fact that there are about a dozen ways to interpret this joke within Discrete Mathematics that all make sense is why I love this joke so much. Also, I have a soft spot for puns.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 19: The Lesser of Two Evils

NEXT – Episode 21: Raging Bender

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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.