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

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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. 

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.

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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

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Futurama Fridays – S6E16 “Law and Oracle”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

Guess that cat’s out of the ba… box.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

NEXT – Episode 93: Benderama

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 – S6E15 “Möbius Dick”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

Also, it’s immune to cheese knives.

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

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a countdown:

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

I think Amy’s first name comes from this.

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

I once saw him play first base.

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 90: The Silence of the Clamps

NEXT – Episode 92: Law and Oracle

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 – S6E14 “The Silence of the Clamps”

Bender gets stuck in witness protection and Zoidberg gets some respect.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew makes a delivery of a set of clamps to the estate of the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) of the Robot Mafia, which are, naturally, for Francis X. “Clamps” Clampazzo (LaMarche). The delivery is also the day of the Donbot’s daughter’s wedding, leading Bender (John DiMaggio) to gatecrash. During the celebrations, Bender meets the Donbot’s other daughter Bella (Tress MacNeille), and starts making out with her in the stables. While there, Bender witnesses the Robot Mafia beating up Calculon (LaMarche) for owing them money. Bender ends up telling the police about it, leading them to tell Bender that he has to testify in open court. While they try to hide Bender’s identity, the machine malfunctions and the Donbot realizes who is testifying against him. While the jury is about to convict the Donbot, Calculon arrives and, under mob threats, says that he attacked himself. Bender is put into witness protection.

We do get to see the Space Pope, though.

Planet Express starts looking for Bender’s replacement, leading the Donbot to send Clamps to take the position, hoping to track down Bender. Fry (Billy West) quickly tries to bond with Clamps, who goes by Francis, despite Clamps’ constant anger towards Fry. However, Zoidberg (West) becomes angry at Clamps, because people seem to prefer the clamps to Zoidberg’s pincers. Eventually, the crew makes a delivery to the moon, where they find Bender, now living under the identity of Billy West (HA! I get it). It turns out that Billy’s memory contains no traces of being Bender, only of his life as a farmer married to the Crushinator. Despite that, Clamps still tries to kill Billy, only to be stopped by Zoidberg, who cuts off Clamps’ clamps. However, Bella, angry that Bender is cheating on her with the Crushinator, arrives and kills him. The crew goes to mourn Bender at the pizza place next to Planet Express, only to find that Bender is working there. It turns out Billy West was just an innocent robot. Since the mob thinks he’s dead, Bender comes back to work. 

The joke is an innocent father and husband is dead. Way to go, writers.

END SUMMARY

So, I really don’t think highly of this episode. It’s premised on Bender testifying against the Donbot, something that seems out of character, particularly after the police refuse to give Bender more money. Bender is a career criminal and a coward, so it strains even the rather loose character continuity of this show to have him do this. The out of character moment is even weirder because the show points out that Bender is a criminal in the episode as a gag. Also, the idea that there are identical bending units has already been done multiple times, including twice with Flexo, which makes it weird that the crew is insisting that Billy is Bender. You’d think they could check his unit number or something. I realize these are weird nitpicks, but when you have to really stretch character traits to make the plot work, maybe just write another plot. 

Also, he doesn’t run from Bella when she wants to marry him.

I will say that I love Zoidberg’s role in this episode. After having been the brunt of so much ire from the other characters in the show, it’s kind of nice to see Zoidberg being the hero. It also helps that Zoidberg’s concern in this episode is actually kind of understandable. Zoidberg is a terrible doctor, and everyone constantly points it out, so it makes sense that he’d cherish the thing that he is still appreciated for. It’s also fun to see him stand up for himself so fiercely, including his angry swearing. 

John Bleeping Zoidberg

Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst either (since that was last week). A big problem is that the episode also isn’t super funny. 

FAVORITE JOKE

The funniest thing in this episode is probably the trial, particularly the scene in which the initial judge appears. He begins to state that he will not suffer any form of intimidation, only to be assassinated in the middle of the statement. He is immediately replaced by a mob-friendly judge who is otherwise identical. The timing and delivery of everything about this switch is pretty much perfect, including the judge deferring to the Donbot about whether he should recuse himself.

Why wouldn’t you have bulletproof judges?

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 89: The Futurama Holiday Spectacular

NEXT – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

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 – S6E13 “The Futurama Holiday Spectacular”

A trio of tales of holiday not-so-fun from the cast of Futurama

SUMMARY

There are three different segments to this episode.

First, it’s Xmas and the crew are preparing to deal with the attack of Robot Santa Claus (John DiMaggio). Fry (Billy West) feels depressed that Xmas has changed, but can’t quite figure out what he misses. Santa then shows up and attacks the crew while singing a song about Christmas Trees. The Professor (West) takes the crew to the Svalbard seed vault to get Pine Tree seeds in order to try and revive the extinct species. They get the seeds, but it turns out they’ve been contaminated by the nearby Germ Warfare Repository. Fry plants it anyway and it grows until Richard Nixon (West) steals it and plants it on the White House lawn. When it is lit, the tree grows enormous and starts to sprout explosive pine cones. Each cone makes a ton of trees which continue the process until trees are everywhere, making the Earth oxygen-rich. Bender (DiMaggio) promptly ignites the atmosphere and kills everyone. Merry Xmas!

Welcome to the greeting card season.

After Xmas is over, the crew are destroying undelivered gifts, but Bender complains that people ignore the Robot Holidays, like Robanukah, meaning he has to work. In song, Bender tells them that Robanukah needs petroleum oil in order to hold a fembot wrestling match. After it’s determined that the Earth is out of oil (after Bender oils the fembots up for a month), Bender has the Professor build a drill to get to the center of the Earth for more oil. After dealing with an albino humping worm, the drill gets crushed by pressure. Bender, the only survivor, amuses himself by singing for five hundred million years, discovering that the crew has become petroleum oil. He heads back to the surface, but finds that the fembots are still wrestling without the oil, an apparent Robanukah miracle.

The building managed to age pretty well.

Hermes (Phil LaMarr) invites the crew over to celebrate Kwanzaa. At the dinner table, Zoidberg (West) asks about Kwanzaa, leading Kwanzaabot (Coolio) to show up and sing about it, but also to advise them that they need real beeswax candles. Due to colony collapse, the Earth no longer has bees so they head to the Space Bee hive. Unfortunately, the space bees are suffering from parasites that make them racist, so Hermes uses the principles of Kwanzaa to help the Queen save the hive. He succeeds, but that just unites the bees against people, leading the bees to make the crew into candles.

Jesus, this is nightmare fuel.

Also, everything was sponsored by Gunderson’s nuts. 

END SUMMARY

This is usually considered one of the worst episodes of Futurama and I am sad to say that it is earned. I don’t actually know if this is the worst episode, but it’s in my bottom five for sure. A big part of it is that it’s a holiday special that is based around creatively killing off all of the main characters in each story, something that never feels right. Killing off the entire cast of a comedy show can be hilarious (ask Blackadder), but none of these are particularly funny. They’re either too sudden or too disturbing to be funny, or both. The running gag of being sponsored by a nut company isn’t much better.

We get it, old specials had sponsors.

While the idea of having a song for each of the holidays isn’t bad in itself, the songs aren’t particularly funny or entertaining, with the exception of Coolio’s presentation about Kwanzaa. Given that most of Matt Groening’s shows, including this one, have great original songs, the letdown is all the greater.

Overall, this really isn’t that funny, and that’s pretty much the greatest sin the show can commit. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Honestly, I laugh less in this episode than almost any other. I think the only line that always gives me a chuckle is when Kwanzaabot breaks through the wall and Dwight calls him Kool-Aid. However, that might be due to Family Guy doing so many Kool-Aid gags that I honestly just enjoy an animated Kool-Aid reference. \

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 88: The Mutants are Revolting

NEXT – Episode 90: The Silence of the Clamps

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 – S6E12 “The Mutants are Revolting”

Leela and Fry lead a devolution revolution… featuring DEVO.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew are hired for their 100th delivery to the wealthy Mrs. Astor (Tress MacNeille). She invites the crew to a fundraiser for the United Mutant Scholarship Fund, which is revealed to be a way to keep mutants segregated from humanity. When tempers start to flare, Fry (Billy West) accidentally tells the guests that Leela (Katey Sagal) is a mutant living illegally on the surface. In response, she is banished to the sewers. Fry tries to appeal to the city, but accidentally gets the rest of the crew, minus Bender (John DiMaggio), who is throwing an epic party, banished as punishment for harboring Leela. Fry tries to empathize with Leela’s plight now that he’s been in the sewers, but Leela tells him the only way he could understand would be to mutate himself in the toxic lake. He avoids jumping in, angering Leela further.

S6EC - 1100
That’s almost 10 per year, due to cancellations.

While wandering the sewers, the crew finds the wreckage of the Land Titanic, a bus that was designed to be like the Titanic and which sank under the surface. On board, they find a Quantum Force Gemerald which shoots out powerful energy blasts, and a passenger manifest. Fry, unable to sleep due to his fight with Leela, walks into the toxic lake and mutates horribly. Sick of living beneath the ground, Leela organizes a revolt. Fry and Bender bend the West Side Pipeway so that all of the sewage in New New York goes back to the streets. Mayor Poopenmeyer stores all of the sewage in Madison Cube Garden. When Leela leads the mutants to the surface to demand equal rights, Mrs. Astor, a blatant anti-mutant racist, has her butler attack the mob by sending a wave of the sewage. Fry appears and uses the Quantum Gemerald to save the crowd. He then reveals that the passenger list to the Land Titanic included Mrs. Astor’s husband Mr. Astor (Maurice LaMarche) as well as mutants. Leela’s Grandmother appears, revealing that she was on the Land Titanic and that Mr. Astor gave her his seat on the “life car.” This leads Mrs. Astor to ask the mayor to let mutants onto the surface, to which he agrees. Fry and Leela kiss, but Fry suddenly is sheds his mutated outer layer, revealing it to be a mutated Mr. Astor. The crew head home to party and celebrate their hundredth delivery.

S6EC - 2Fry
Fry needs a spa day.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the rare Futurama episodes that actually has long-lasting ramifications on the series. After this episode, mutants stop being restricted to the sewers, so even background shots start featuring them. Honestly, I can’t think of any other episode that so easily divides the series by the events, and that’s including the films. Given that we saw the mutants first in the beginning of Season 2, it’s strange to think that we made it through 3 and a half seasons without seeing any of the non-Turanga mutants on the surface. I guess it made sense to make such a big change on what they consider the 100th episode.

S6EC - 3Pipeway
And they finally reference Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

This is also one of the many episodes that tackles a social topic, although in this case the metaphor is so broad that it could easily be applied to any number of groups that have been oppressed in the past. The episode references the Million Man March, and the subsequent Million Woman March, with the Million Mutant March, but also references the 1969 Stonewall Riots with the title, as newspapers covered Stonewall with the image of a sign that said “Homosexuals are revolting.” Basically, just a reminder that segregation is segregation and oppression is oppression, no matter what the reason or the group. If we start drawing lines based on race, sexuality, or number of eyes, we are inherently reducing the humanity of someone.

S6EC - 4Revolt
The newspapers mocked this, as you would expect.

The only thing I really don’t like about this episode is that the ending is mostly a bunch of quick coincidences that wrap everything up, rather than someone actually realizing how horrible it is for mutants to be oppressed. Fry ends up being perfectly normal again, Leela’s back on the surface, and all it really took was one rich woman asking the Mayor. They try to sort-of apologize for it by having Zoidberg sarcastically say “Hooray, a happy ending for the rich people,” but it’s still kind of depressing that equality is won by making a single wealthy woman feel empathy, rather than any societal recognition.

S6EC - 5Astors
Hooray, a happy ending for the rich people. 

Overall, though, still a good episode. Also, I love that Devo are presented as mutants.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s this call and response:

Dwayne the giant head mutant: “Are we not men now?”

Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo: “I’m forty percent potato, but close enough!”

I love this because it’s like four layers of humor. “Are we not men now?” is part of the first Devo album title, Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!. That album’s title comes from Devo’s song “Jocko Homo,” which takes its name from an anti-evolution work in the 1920s and focuses on the idea that humanity is de-evolving, the inspiration for the band’s name. However, “Are we not men?” is taken from the movie Island of Lost Souls, which is an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. “Are we not men?” is the call and response that the anthropomorphic animals of the island chant when they say what distinguishes them from animals, before ultimately devolving back into them. So, this is drawing a parallel between the concept of man as just an elevated animal and the idea that mutants are just the natural step of humanity after it de-evolves. The next part, “I’m forty percent potato” is just a reference to the fact that Devo’s fans are called “spuds.”

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 87: Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences

NEXT – Episode 89: The Futurama Holiday Spectacular

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 – S6E11 “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences”

Did we need an episode that is about the marital problems on Omicron Persei 8? Yep.

SUMMARY

Lrrr, Ruler of the Planet Omicron Persei 8 (Maurice LaMarche) is once again fighting with his wife Ndnd (Tress MacNeille); this time it’s over his lack of world-conquering aspirations. He invades Earth, but lands in Comic-Con and is mistaken for a cosplayer. After he fails to conquer anything, Ndnd kicks him out. He heads to the Planet Express building looking for shelter. Suffering from a mid-life crisis, Lrrr gets “horn extensions,” new clothes, and goes out with Bender (John DiMaggio) to a club where he almost hooks up with a young “trans-species” woman named Grrrl (Katee Sackhoff).This leads him to realize that Leela (Katey Sagal) is right and that he needs to get back together with his wife. The Planet Express crew uses the head of Orson Welles (LaMarche) to do a version of War of the Worlds to fool Ndnd into thinking that Lrrr conquered Earth, but accidentally fools Earth into surrendering. 

S6EB - 1Car
Ah, the Midlife Crisis. Truly universal.

In a subplot, Fry (Billy West) attempts to write a comic book, but continually makes the hero character either too overpowered or completely ineffectual. His work is degraded by the entire staff and fails to impress Leela. The only thing people like about it is that it has ads for goofy products in the back, some of which are the Professor’s (West).

S6EB - 2Fry
Still better than Liefeld.

While Lrrr rules over Earth, Leela constantly chides him about being honest with his wife, which leads Ndnd to become suspicious of them. Grrl returns to try and win Lrrr’s affections, but Ndnd zaps Grrl with her own ray gun. Ndnd says that Lrrr sleeping with Grrl doesn’t bother her, but Leela nagging Lrrr does, because that’s a wife’s job. Ndnd challenges Leela to Rrrmrrrmrrrfrrrmrrr or consequences, the Omicronian rite of deciding. Lrrr is given a ray gun and told to shoot one of the women. He ends up firing at Leela, but Fry jumps in the way and gets disintegrated. Ndnd affirms her love for Lrrr because he fired at Leela and they depart. Grrl returns to try again, leading them to realize that the ray gun she brought was just Farnsworth’s teleporter ray, so they find Fry safe, having finally completed his comic book, which Leela thinks is pretty good.

END SUMMARY

Maurice LaMarche does a lot of the heavy lifting in this episode, for which he won an Emmy. Not only does he play Lrrr, but he revives his famous impression of Orson Welles, having previously used it in Pinky and the Brain, Ed Wood, The Critic, and The Simpsons. He’s essentially the go-to Orson Welles voice and, in this episode, he nails it once again when he starts criticizing the script to the fake invasion in the way that Orson Welles famously criticized the Ad Copy for Findus Peas in the 1970s. If you haven’t heard the original, I’m putting it here. It’s absolutely amazing.

This episode mostly benefits from having such a generic A-Plot that they could really play around with it. They end up with a ton of top-tier jokes because of that freedom. An episode based around the Honeymooners-esque Lrrr and Ndnd on the rocks has been done multiple times, but this is the first one where they actually seem to separate, so it’s the first one where we really see how Lrrr is on his own. It turns out that he needs someone to nag him to feel whole. 

S6EB - 3Welles
When you make Citizen Kane, you’re allowed to have high standards.

Overall, it’s a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Much of the Comic Con of the future could be in here, particularly the fact that multiple characters cosplay as other characters in the show, but the best gag is probably the fake version of Futurama that Matt Groening presents at Comic Con. It’s called “Futurella” and it takes place in the future year of 4000. We find out literally nothing else about it, because Fox cancels it about 10 seconds into the first episode teaser. Groening and the staff can only admire how much Fox has streamlined cancelling TV Shows. They follow this up by mentioning Joss Whedon, because let’s remove all of the subtlety.

S6EB - 4Groening
Groening still takes Simpsons requests harshly. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 86: The Prisoner of Benda

NEXT – Episode 88: The Mutants are Revolting

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 – S6E10 “The Prisoner of Benda”

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

SUMMARY

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

S6EA - 1MindSwap
Welcome to PLOT DEVICE!

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

S6EA - 3Theorem
Math, it’s FUNdamental.

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

S6EA - 4Bertha
Her appearance is canon.

Overall, I think this is a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 85: A Clockwork Origin

NEXT – Episode 87: Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences

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.