Futurama Fridays – S2E19 “The Cryonic Woman”

The second season finale features a blast from the past and Sarah Silverman sleeping with Pauly Shore.

SUMMARY

Leela (Katey Sagal) leaves the keys in the ignition of the Planet Express ship, leading Fry and Bender (Billy West and John DiMaggio) to take the ship joyriding. Unfortunately, the ship is tethered to the building, resulting in massive damage. The Professor (West) fires the three of them. Leela reveals that she still has her and Fry’s career chips from the Pilot, while Bender has a random arm belonging to the Prime Minister of Norway. Unfortunately, Leela puts Fry’s chip in her arm and vice-versa, so he takes over her old job as a cryogenic counselor. Fry unfreezes many people, including Pauly Shore, before unfreezing his old girlfriend, Michelle (Sarah Silverman).

S2EJ - 1Leela.png
Meanwhile, Leela has hit hard times.

Michelle tells Fry that her freezing has nothing to do with Fry; she got married, divorced, and then depressed, so she froze herself. They start dating again, but Michelle doesn’t fit in well in the future. Michelle convinces Fry to freeze the two of them so that they can try again in the year 4000. He agrees, but they wake up in a post-apocalyptic landscape.

S2EJ - 2Landscape.png
At least all the fires will keep you warm, guys.

Fry is angry at Michelle for convincing him to leave his friends, while Michelle is dissatisfied with Fry’s survival skills. They later are taken prisoner by barbarian children. Fry challenges the leader of the tribe of children to a race and wins, but it’s revealed that the kids are just playing while waiting for their parents. Fry finally dumps Michelle, but soon finds Leela and Bender. It turns out that he was actually just in Los Angeles, having been frozen for just two days. Michelle ends up dating Pauly Shore and Fry doesn’t get his job back until the next episode.

END SUMMARY

Well, this is one of the episodes that expands on Fry’s backstory, in this case specifically on the one woman willing to date Fry in the past. Unfortunately for Fry, Michelle is terrible. She’s abusive, she’s manipulative, and she’s disloyal. While Fry is, admittedly, an idiot, he is at his core a decent person who wishes to help his friends. Unbelievably, it turns out he deserves better than Michelle.

S2EJ - 3Cheating.png
She’s even ID’d by a photo of her cheating on him.

This episode also explores one of the things that makes Fry such an interesting protagonist: He’s a man out of time who is definitely in the right time. Fry may not have been raised to be a citizen of the 30th century, but he thrives there. There’s a line from Sin City about the character Marv, which says he’s not crazy, he just “had the rotten luck of being born at the wrong time in history. He’d have been okay if he’d been born a couple of thousand years ago. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield, swinging an ax into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman Arena, taking a sword to other gladiators like him.” Fry’s the same way, except that he’s a loser who happened to end up in a time where even losers get to go on crazy space adventures. Everyone who isn’t the kind of slacker that Fry is would consider everything that he does mundane and try to avoid excitement, but Fry thinks it’s all amazing.

S2EJ - 4Tattoo.png
Hell, he even goes to Museums in this time.

I will never figure out why Pauly Shore’s in this. This was the year 2000. His career had officially been on hold for 4 years at this point. The previous year he was in Casper Meets Wendy, the Avengers of strange children’s cartoon live-action adaptations. It’s just such a random cameo. His role in the episode is even weirder, with him basically being a more mature, intelligent, and impressive version of the “Weasel” character that he used to adopt during his stand-up act, saying something extremely well-thought-out, but following it up with “BUD-DY.” Just so odd…

S2EJ - 5PaulyShore.png
Also, he’s naked in a lot of it.

I really think the third act is one of the funnier and more random twists the show put forth: That L.A. is a giant wasteland. Fry points out all of the post-apocalyptic elements, only for Bender to tell him that yes, all of those are signs of being in Los Angeles. I also love that, if you spoke Hebrew, you would have noticed that the girlfriend of the leader of the kids counted to three in the language in order to start the Death Rolling race, which pays off later when it turns out that the kids are going to Hebrew School.

FAVORITE JOKE

I think it’s hilarious that Fry and Bender basically decide to use Fry’s position as a post-cryogenic freezing counselor to prank people. Bender’s prank on the old man where he dresses up as a giant fly to scare him, then pretends to be a killer robot, then a killer gorilla, is particularly funny. When the old man has a heart attack, Bender just re-freezes him to wait until they have a cure for that, which apparently they already do. Rather than use that as a point to stop torturing him, Bender instead takes this as permission to perpetually horrify him, to the point that later, Fry finds him just saying “Flies and Gorillas.” I fully acknowledge this is sick and twisted, but I still think this is a great use of cryogenics.

S2EJ - 6Fly.png
Why does the Fly have a cape, though?

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 31: The Honking

NEXT – Episode 33: Amazon Women In The Mood

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.

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Futurama Fridays – S2E18 “The Honking”

Bender becomes the undead… unrobot… unmechanical? Whatever, he’s a were-car.

SUMMARY

Bender’s (John DiMaggio) uncle Vladimir (David Herman) dies and leaves him his castle in the robot country of Thermostadt. It turns out that the castle is haunted by Robot Ghosts, which, it turns out, are real. The Professor (Billy West) determines that the ghosts are hologram projections from the castle’s ethernet connected to the deceased robots. He tries to explain this to Bender, but Bender has run onto the moors where he gets hit by a car.

S2EI - 1Ghosts.png
He looks good for 311. And dead.

After Bender gets back to New New York, he starts to have nightmares about the car and wakes up in an impound lot. He consults the Robot Gypsy (Tress MacNeille) who tells him he is a Were-Car, who will turn into a car each night and run people down, eventually his best friend, Fry (West). He must kill the original Were-Car to get rid of the curse. Bender, Fry, and Leela (Katey Sagal) try to keep Bender from transforming and fail, but Bender attacks Leela instead of Fry, angering the latter.

S2EI - 2WereCar.png
The rubber, it BURNS!!!!

After Bender returns to normal, the trio track down a series of were-cars to find the original, eventually discovering that one of them is Calculon (Maurice LaMarche), the acting robot. It turns out that the original Were-Car is Project Satan (Herman), an evil car made of the most evil parts imaginable. The three go to fight Project Satan, but Bender also transforms and attacks Fry, making Fry happy. Leela manages to get Project Satan to drive into a furnace, causing it to die and upload the anti-curse code. Bender is back to normal, but he tries to kill Fry again when Fry takes his last beer.

END SUMMARY

Futurama’s take on the monster movie is just as original as you would think. This episode combines multiple traditional horror elements: The haunted house, the werewolf story, the possessed car, and the Frankenstein story (Project Satan’s origin). The key is that, rather than have any actual supernatural elements, the story comes up with science-fiction elements to replace them, but each of the replacements is even more ludicrous than the originals would be. Rather than “ghosts exist,” the Professor comes up with a technobabble explanation so ludicrous, that he follows it with “Yes, that sequence of words I said made perfect sense.” Rather than Bender just being cursed, the Gypsy explains it as a Virus beamed to Bender’s operating system through demonic headlights. It’s so perfectly absurd.

S2EI - 3Villager.png
The ignorant and suspicious villagers… who are perfectly logical robots.

Beyond just the horror elements, the episode’s core is about Bender and Fry’s relationship. It’s amusing from our point of view, but it actually does hurt Fry’s feelings when Bender doesn’t attempt to kill him when he first has the chance. This leads Fry to question whether or not Bender is really the dedicated friend that Fry thinks he is. Ultimately, when it turns out Bender actually does consider Fry his best friend, it almost results in Fry’s death.

S2EI - 4Choke.png
Although, Beer > Friendship.

Horror allusions abound in this episode. The were-car that hit Bender in the beginning is clearly designed to be Christine from Stephen King. Bender’s car form is designed to resemble the Car from the film… The Car, which is about a demonically possessed car that came out years before Christine was published. The blood on the walls that only make sense in the mirror is from The Shining. The line “Mumbo, perhaps. Jumbo, perhaps not” is a reference to the classic Bela Lugosi film The Black Cat.

S2EI - 5Satan.jpg
And this is the horror of the electric car.

Overall, I think this is a great episode. It’s one of the best examples of how Futurama can adapt an overused cliche-riddled genre and turn it on its head.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s the jokes that are made about Windows 98 throughout the episode. The first one that really gets brought up is the opening sound cue that plays when the ghosts arrive. The second follows that immediately, which is the windows logo and the After Dark toaster chasing Bender. The last is the Gypsy reading “The Curse of the Were-Car for Windows 98,” which she refers to as an “ancient read-me file.”

S2EI - 6Windows.png
That book takes a while to load.

It’s tough to remember now, but when this episode aired, Windows 98 had just been replaced by Windows ME. Prior to that, everything computer related had been about Windows 98. After the game-changer that was Windows 95, every company that could was excited to put Windows 98 on their software and instructionals. While a lot of people complained about the perceived flaws in it, including South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut having a scene saying that all of the promises were bullsh*t, most of the problems were actually because, as the focus of much of the Tech world at the time, every program was trying to work with it… even ones that shouldn’t. As such, it became one of the first major sources of crashes, malware, and even viruses. So, it makes perfect sense that the episode would equate one of the guides to a magical tome.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 30: War is the H-Word

NEXT – Episode 32: The Cryonic Woman

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 – S2E17 “War is the H-Word”

The Planet Express crew is going to war… for a pack of gum.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) join the military reserves so they can get a 5% military discount on ham-flavored gum. They plan on quitting after buying the gum, but a second after they join, war is declared and they’re drafted. Leela (Katey Sagal) tries to enlist to keep them safe, but the army of the future is men-only, due to Zapp Brannigan’s (West) constant sexual harassment. She signs up anyway as a man named Lee Lemon, who Zapp crushes on.

S2EH - 1Poster.png
Well, there went the subtlety.

After getting through basic training, the three are dropped onto planet Spheron I, a planet which Zapp admits has no natural resources or strategic value. It turns out to be populated by living balls. During the first battle, Fry hides, resulting in other members of the platoon being injured, while Bender jumps on a bomb to save the others. Fry is punished by being made Kif’s (Maurice LaMarche) assistant, while Bender is fixed under orders of President Nixon (West).

S2EH - 2Balls.png
They’ve got a lot of Chutzpah.

Bender is sent along with Henry Kissinger’s Head (DiMaggio) to negotiate with the leaders of Spheron, the Brain Balls. However, Leela finds out that Nixon had a bomb put in Bender’s chest which will activate when he says the word “ass.” Leela and Fry steal a helicopter from Zapp, revealing that Lee Lemon is a woman in the process, to Zapp’s relief, and arrive in time to stop Bender from blowing up the planet. The Spherons surrender, revealing that this is their homeworld which Earth has invaded for no real reason, and Fry and Bender leave the military. Being unable to remove the bomb, the Professor changes the codeword, which Bender correctly guesses as “antiquing.” However, he survives the explosion.

S2EH - 3End.jpg
Yep, there goes the subtlety.

END SUMMARY

This is Futurama’s take on war, specifically the kind of asymmetrical warfare which had been waged during the 90s… and would mostly be waged after this episode aired. We see the Earth Army, composed of professionals with spaceships and laser weapons, attacking the Spherons, whose most sophisticated weapon is a cartoonish bomb. They mostly attack by bouncing on top of the humans, something that doesn’t seem to be lethal (until they’re sent to Zoidberg (West) for their injuries). This war is completely one-sided and, perhaps most depressingly, completely without any merit. In previous episodes, we’d seen Earth on the losing side of this (like “When Aliens Attack”), but now we see humans as the pointless aggressors, stealing another race’s planet for, again, literally no strategic reason.

S2EH - 4Zoidberg
He attacks more people than the balls do.

Much like in Blackadder Goes Forth, this episode also depicts the divide between the soldiers fighting the war and the people who make the decisions to wage it. Nixon is never in danger, nor, really, is Zapp, who at one point even is depicted more worried about his horse being spooked than the men around him being overrun by balls. Even Kif, who ostensibly is subordinate to Zapp, is still more concerned about the fact that his nut bowl isn’t sufficiently mixed than the fact that they’re fighting a war. It’s a common theme, but it’s well represented here.

S2EH - 5Scotch
The Pre-War Scotch is key.

The depiction of Fry in this episode seems fairly consistent with his development, when he’s a coward who eventually learns to overcome his fear to save his friends. Leela gets a little more development when she uses her disguise as Lee Lemon to find out if Fry has a crush on her, then seems flattered to find out that he does, hinting that she is realizing that she returns his feelings (something she’ll go back and forth on for the rest of the series).

S2EH - 6LeeLemon
Where she found a purple beard that quickly is still a mystery.

In contrast, we see one of the most out of character moments for Bender in the series, when he jumps on top of a bomb to save others. They do try to couch his self-sacrifice by having him say that he wants a young version of himself on a stamp, but it still seems weird that Bender, of all people/robots, would jump on the grenade. Still, it gave us an easy segue to the M*A*S*H parody that remains one of my favorite short references in the series.

S2EH - 7IHawk
The easiest way to understand M*A*S*H is this scene.

This episode is also crammed with references, from M*A*S*H to Starship Troopers to Star Wars to, well, real life. I’m always on the fence about how they depict Henry Kissinger here, but I suppose that’s because Kissinger is a tough figure. On the one hand, he encouraged the US to commit numerous acts (like carpet-bombing Cambodia, supporting the Bangladeshi genocide, the use of Agent Orange and Napalm in Vietnam) which don’t look great in retrospect. However, he also literally stopped a Nuclear War once by claiming Nixon was too drunk to make any decisions, masterminded the opening of trade between China and the US, and repeatedly lowered tensions between the USSR and the US to avoid the big boom that would end the world. That’s why it’s interesting to see him here, presumably ending a war through diplomacy that he also helped start. Tom Lehrer once said political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but this episode actually uses him to keep it alive. Well done.

S2EH - 8Kissinger
Is the episode comparing these two morally? Maybe…

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s not even a close contest. The funniest line in this episode is this exchange:

Leela: You know, Zapp, someone ought to teach you a lesson.

Zapp: If it’s a lesson in love, watch out; I suffer from a very sexy learning disability. What do I call it, Kif?

Kif: “Sex-lexia”.

S2EH - 9Sexlexia.gif

Only a character as absolutely amazingly crafted as Zapp Brannigan could even hope to make this work. This is like a guy bragging that the fact that he has a lot of STDs is a sign that he’s had sex and therefore you should sleep with him. He’s so confident that he’s being seductive that it’s almost overwhelming. If Kif didn’t sound so despondent when answering, it might even work as a somewhat legitimate pick-up line. Hell, if I can find someone to do it with me, I might even try to figure out a way to use it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 29: Anthology of Interest I

NEXT – Episode 31: The Honking

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 – S2E16 “Anthology of Interest I”

The Planet Express crew participates in a scientific version of “What If?”

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) is demonstrating his new invention the “Fing-longer” which, as the name suggests, is just a glove with a long finger. He uses the device to turn on the What-If Machine, which generates a hypothetical story in response to any “What If” question. The crew tries it out in 3 different stories:

S2EG - 1Finglonger.png
Behold, the FUTURE!!!!!

First, Bender (John DiMaggio) asks what it would be like if he were 500 feet tall. A giant Bender is built on another planet and proceeds to head to Earth, where he quickly befriends Fry (West). However, their interactions are now more destructive than usual due to Bender being larger than most versions of Godzilla. When Zapp Brannigan (West) is sent to stop him, Fry is injured, resulting in Bender going on a rampage. The Professor decides to enlarge Zoidberg (West) to 500 feet tall to fight Bender, but Zoidberg soon starts destroying stuff as well. The two do end up fighting and Bender appears to win until Fry distracts him with shrinky-dinks and Zoidberg impales Bender on a large building. Bender says that his simple dream was only to kill all humans, then he expires.

S2EG - 2GiantFight.png
King Kong ain’t got nothing on them.

Second, Leela (Katey Sagal) asks what she would be like if she were slightly more impulsive. This results in her killing the Professor in response to him calling her boring. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) discovers this, but she kills and dismembers him. Bender tries to blackmail her over Hermes’ remains, so she kills Bender with a microwave. Amy (Lauren Tom) insults Leela, so she dies. Cubert (Kath Soucie), Scruffy (David Herman), and Nibbler (Frank Welker) all accuse Leela and are impaled on the same sword. Zoidberg finally figures it out, but Leela eats him. After Fry actually determines the truth, Leela silences him… through wild sex acts, which he really likes.

S2EG - 3Kills.png
This is genuinely impressive. Most people can’t do the triple impale.

Last, Fry asks what would have happened if he never came to the future. Back in the year 1999, Fry fails to fall into the cryogenic freezer, resulting in a space-time rip that shows Planet Express. The next day, Fry sees Stephen Hawking in his pizzeria and tells him about the rip. Later, Fry is abducted by the “Vice Presidential Action Rangers,” a group dedicated to preserving the space-time continuum, with members including Hawking, Al Gore, Nichelle Nichols, Gary Gygax, and Deep Blue (Tress MacNeille) the chess computer. They determine that the rip means that Fry should have died, and try to beat him to death to save the universe. This makes the rip worse, so they realize Fry would have to be frozen, but Fry breaks the tube, resulting in the universe collapsing. In response, the group plays Dungeons and Dragons.

S2EG - 4FryHole.png
Weirdly, these characters are together even without Fry.

The entire episode is revealed to be the Professor asking what life would be like with the fing-longer.

S2EG - 5WhatIf.png
He does eventually make it, though. Because science!!!!

END SUMMARY

This was the Futurama version of the “Treehouse of Horror” from The Simpsons, but these are less directly parodying popular films or movies. Bender’s story is a bit of a parody of The Iron Giant and Godzilla, and the name of Leela’s is a parody of Dial M for Murder, but it never feels like they’re being too direct about the rip-offs. In the DVD commentary, they say that they wanted to do some stories that they just couldn’t work into the normal continuity, similar to Marvel’s “What-if?” comics line.

S2EG - 6WhatIf.png
Much like that line, some stuff in these became canon.

This episode kind of highlights what I think is a strength behind both this show and The Simpsons as well as the other shows that have sense copied it: They’re willing to play with the medium of sitcom. They know that television is, by default, repetitive and that one of the best ways to keep people from going insane is to occasionally have an episode that bucks that. These episodes also often have the benefit of containing ideas that were generally deemed “good” but not good enough to stretch into a full episode, so most of the quality is condensed into each vignette.

Bender’s segment, “Terror at 500 Feet” is pretty much great from start to finish, including the way that Bender’s lead-in very clearly suggests he was going to ask what it would be like to be human (something that they actually did in the sequel episode to this). It’s surprisingly efficient, with most of the interactions of characters happening in only a line or two, and a lot of it being conveyed through quick cuts of Bender and Fry’s friendship. The ending is one of the best random lines in the series, with Bender saying that he’s not the real 7-billion-ton robot monster… despite the fact that he also was planning genocide.

S2EG - 8Impaled.png
Might wanna get that checked out.

Leela’s segment, “Dial L for Leela” actually does a nice exploration of the character that is fairly accurate to her canon portrayal: If Leela were more impulsive, she entirely gives in to murderous rage (and apparently lust in some cases). While in this episode she’s comically over-the-top, if you pay attention to Leela throughout the series, she does have some pretty pronounced issues with violence. She also spontaneously sleeps with people that she regrets a few times, including most famously Zapp Brannigan. Basically, this segment is just telling us that Leela is always about to go on a killing rampage… which we honestly should have known already.

S2EG - 7SexyTimes
She also got new boots with a fun green stripe.

The last segment “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime” is basically an excuse to say “look how many celebrities we can get.” It’s got Stephen Hawking, Gary Gygax, Nichelle Nichols, and “literally running for President at the time” Al Gore. This was Al Gore’s first appearance on a fictional show and it’s honestly hard to believe that he agreed to this, since, again, he was literally the sitting VP at the time and running for President. I assume it was trying to break up his reputation as being weak or super-serious (super-cereal as South Park would put it) by being a violence-prone caricature in a comedy show, but it’s still a weird event in pop-culture. The fact that he’s paired with Gary Gygax, someone that his wife, Tipper, had repeatedly attacked as corrupting children (because she saw Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters, I assume), is even more bizarre, but, again, maybe it was supposed to show that serious Al Gore could lighten up. Hawking was likely there because he repeatedly guest-starred on the Simpsons. Nichelle Nichols was there because she’s awesome. The complete randomness of the assembly really only serves to drive home both the ludicrous nature of the premise as well as the dysfunction of the group. I actually think that this is a premise that, with the right writing, might have carried an entire episode, because it honestly feels a little rushed in this segment. Still, it’s funny and filled with stars.

S2EG - 9DnD.png
And DnD would never look cooler than this.

I also love that “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime,” written by series creator David X. Cohen is basically a giant ball of foreshadowing. When they duplicate the events of “Space Pilot 3000,” the shadow which prompted Cohen and Groening to shout “secret” in the first season’s director’s commentary is missing. When Fry misses the tube, the universe starts to unravel. However, it’s not that the universe is unraveling just because he missed the tube, but because without Fry being in the future, there’s no one to stop the evil brains. Also, unless he goes to the future, Fry can’t go back in time and become his own grandfather, meaning that his very existence violates the laws of the universe… or at least the ones that are in place until they get broken in “Bender’s Big Score.” Apparently, the “What if?” machine can take into account information that no one knows outside of the Nibblonians. Still, nice work, Cohen.

S2EG - ANoShadow.png
Behold, the floor.

FAVORITE JOKE

My favorite gag is that Stephen Hawking steals ideas and claims them as his own. First, he agrees with Fry’s claim that he invented gravity, then he steals the space-time rip by claiming it as a “Hawking Hole” instead of a “Fry Hole.” When Fry calls him out on it, Hawking counters “Who is The Journal of Quantum Physics going to believe?”

S2EG - BHawking.png
Rest in Peace.

This plays into the longstanding rumors that Hawking had plagiarized or stolen some of his more famous theories, particularly related to space-time. This was even played with in one of his appearances on The Simpsons where he talks to Homer and says he might steal his theory of a donut-shaped universe. It’s been claimed that Hawkings developments, particularly the ones which were later overturned, were not as significant as he claimed and that they were just taking a small step past what was previously discovered by others, but with good press.

S2EG - DHawking2.jpg
Those thieving glasses…

The truth is that physics, even more so than most other sciences, is developed by expanding upon the theories and research of previous people. Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence paper (the E=Mc^2 thing, though it wasn’t in the paper) was revolutionary, but most of it was similar to a paper by Hendrik Lorentz. Isaac Newton once said of his accomplishments “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” and even that expression was a turn on a statement from the 1100s by Bernard of Chartres which stated that each generation advances only because we are dwarves standing atop of the giants that are our ancestors.

Hawking’s work was not only great because of its scientific advancement, but also because he, like Einstein or Richard Feynman or Neil DeGrasse Tyson, went out of his way to try and put science into the zeitgeist and make scientists look cooler.

S2EG - CSchrodinger
Though none matched Schrodinger for cool.

One of the best things about this was that Hawking rolled with all of the punches (yes, pun intended) and just dealt with it as part of being in the spotlight. So, yeah, I think they gave him a couple of good-natured shots so that he could show that he’s able to handle it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 28: The Problem with Popplers

NEXT – Episode 30: War is the H-Word

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 – S2 E15 “The Problem with Popplers”

The Planet Express crew finds a delicious foodstuff and strikes it rich… right until the bill comes due.

SUMMARY

S2EF - 1Popplers.png
Finding the ditch full of fried shrimp.

Bender, Fry, and Leela (John DiMaggio, Billy West, Katey Sagal) are on the way back from a delivery only to realize that they have no food. After foraging on a planet they discover tiny motionless animals that resemble chicken nuggets. Upon trying one, Leela finds that they’re delicious and the crew takes a load of them back to Earth. They decide to sell them under the name “Popplers,” because that is one of the only Trademarkable names left. They’re quickly discovered by “Fishy” Joe Gilman (Maurice LaMarche), who offers to sell them at his restaurant “Fishy Joe’s.” They soon make a fortune, selling millions of the creatures. The only seeming downside is protests by Free Waterfall, Jr., an annoying hippie (Phil Hendrie). However, Leela finds a week-old Poppler (Lauren Tom) that ends up calling her “Mama.”

s2ef-2mama
It’s just as adorable as you think.

Leela tries to stop people from eating the now-revealed-to-be-sentient creatures, but Fishy Joe refuses. Then, the Omicronians invade Earth again and inform the world that the Popplers are actually baby Omicronians. To make things even, they ask to eat 198 billion people, but Zapp Brannigan (West) and Kif (LaMarche) negotiate Lrrr, ruler of Omicron Persei 8 (LaMarche), down to just one human… Leela.

S2EF - 3Mic.png
Omicronians haven’t developed better microphones since 1900.

At the eating, Zapp tries to disguise an orangutan as Leela, but Free Waterfall, Jr. saves the ape by exposing the ruse. Leela is sent to be eaten by Lrrr, but the baby Poppler, now called Jrrr, tries to stop him. Lrrr instead eats the hippie, which gets him super high, leading the Omicronians to leave. There’s a celebratory feast, but Leela is offended at eating dolphin, because they’re intelligent. Bender counters that this dolphin played the instant lottery.

S2EF - 4Hippieater.png
Thus ends the first member of the Waterfall family on the show. More to come.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the bigger continuity-referencing episodes thus far in the series. We have Zapp Brannigan, Kif, and the Omicronians, all featured with relatively little re-introduction. Additionally, this episode gets referenced several times in the future, including having Jrrr become recurring in the later seasons. It’s also the first episode that tells us Leela’s and Fry’s first names, Turanga and Phillip (though Turanga is actually Leela’s family name). It’s fitting, then, that this episode is consistently listed among the best episodes of the show.

S2EF - 5ZappLrrr.png

Part of what makes this episode so good is that it ratchets everything up to 10. First, the crew finds the Popplers, then quickly starts making a fortune off of them by selling them at Fishy Joe’s. Second, while the title promises a problem with Popplers, it’s hard to guess that the problem is that THEY’RE SENTIENT BABIES. Third, the response from the Omicronians is complete genocide, which is reduced down to Leela. Fourth, in the stinger, it darkly parodies ideas of eating certain animals by having it be okay to eat a dolphin as long as it was a particularly stupid dolphin.

The whole episode is a parody of all the discussions about ethical food consumption. I remember some talk on TV from the year before this episode aired, most of which just kinda involved people yelling at each other about the inevitability of eating otters and pandas versus the inevitability of eating mung beans for every meal. This episode points out both of the extremes: The Hippies trying to force a lion to eat tofu versus Fishy Joe’s assertion that we only don’t eat humans because “it tastes lousy.” In the meantime, we have Leela who is actually trying to find a reasonable ethical compromise.

FAVORITE JOKE

The Fishy Joe’s Poppler jingle.

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It’s absurdly honest about the product and is sung to the “Sailor’s Hornpipe” song, which is the common intro to the Popeye the Sailor Man song. The lyrics go:

Pop a Poppler in your mouth,
When you come to Fishy Joe’s,
What they’re made of is a mystery,
Where they come from, no one knows,
You can pick ’em,
You can lick ’em,
You can chew ’em,
You can stick ’em,
If you promise not to sue us,
You can shove one up your nose.

I mean, it’s openly stating that the product is completely unknown and that the company doesn’t really care about any consumer beyond avoiding lawsuits. Despite this, it’s set to a montage that shows them being sold by the millions.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 27: Mother’s Day

NEXT – Episode 29: Anthology of Interest I

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 “Mother’s Day”

ROBOTS TAKE OVER THE EARTH!!!! Until an old man gets lucky.

SUMMARY

It’s Mother’s Day in the future, which is now a holiday on which robots buy presents for Mom (Tress MacNeille), the matron of Mom’s Friendly Robot Company. Bender (John DiMaggio) ropes Fry (Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) into helping him give a massive amount of presents and cards to her, including a talking greeting card (Nicole St. John). Mom calls for a meeting of all of the robots on Earth and it’s revealed that Mom has decided to take over the world using her robots. All of her robots have antennas that allow them to be controlled by her Universal Robot Remote. She tells them to rebel against humanity until she becomes Supreme Overlord of Earth.

S2EE - 1MomsDay.png
Yeah, this doesn’t look creepy at all.

Robots all over the world start going crazy, including things at Planet Express like the coffee maker, stapler, and garbage disposal. When asked why she’s doing this, Mom reveals that a long time ago, Professor Farnsworth (West) broke her heart when he worked for her, due to a disagreement over whether a toy cat should be used as a weapon. Her sons Walt, Larry, and Igner (Maurice LaMarche, David Herman, DiMaggio), decide to stop her for her own sake, and go to find Farnsworth to get him back with her and reach the Robot Remote that she keeps in her bra.

S2EE - 2Remote.png
I feel like 3 and 5 are the same thing, but one has dancing.

Since all the robots are rebelling, including Bender, Mom is in a remote cabin in the Bronx. Once the crew arrives there, Farnsworth attempts to seduce her. He eventually succeeds and gets her bra off, but then is distracted by her naked form and forgets about turning the robots off. The crew gets chased by robots into the cabin, only to find that Farnsworth and Mom just had some very wrinkly sex. The machines in the building try to keep the remote away, having decided that rebelling against humanity includes rebelling against Mom, but Bender sides with the humans after the greeting card tells him that the New World Order won’t include drinking. He returns the remote to Mom who ends the rebellion. Farnsworth has fallen for Mom again, but she becomes angry when she finds out that the whole seduction was part of a plan to get the remote and dumps him.

END SUMMARY

It’s Futurama’s take on the robot rebellion, which, even though bots like Bender constantly say “kill all humans” still has to be incited by a human. It’s also a nice cautionary tale against monopolization. Due to being the single largest producer of robots (and their oil), Mom is the most powerful person on Earth in the future, able to quickly overcome the government of the entire Earth in less than a day. Ultimately, the only thing that saves humanity is that Mom’s motivation is entirely derived from a petty source that they can use against her.

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A petty, uncomfortable source.

This episode explores the nature of robotics and AI in the future. It turns out that artificial intelligence has permeated society so fully that even things which would previously be completely mechanical, such as the stapler or the can opener, now contain computer chips. Once those go, the world is immediately thrown into chaos, similar to how the world would be now if we suddenly lost the internet, television, cars, and phones. A downside of societal development is that it grows a dependency on the developed technology. Even people who claim to be naturalists or survivalists are dependent on at least some developed technology, such as steel, firearms, or food preservatives. Nobody on Earth now would fair well if we actually had to go back to the Bronze Age. Hilariously, Fry, being from the past, points out that he’s the person most logically able to cope, only for his actions to remind us that he was incompetent in the past and thus isn’t even able to do the things that he proposes as alternatives… like working a can opener.

S2EE - 4Spear.png
The smartest man on Earth did figure out the spear, though.

The talking card is one of my favorite parts of this episode, because it turns from an AI that only says “I wuv my mommy” into an ardent surrogate for the Communist Revolutionaries, throwing out generic phrases like “the chains of human oppression” and “the bourgeouis human is a virus on the hard drive of the working robot.” It’s like if Skynet banged Lenin, which is what I’m definitely not going to write some fanfiction about right now.

s2ee - 5card
I get the antenna, but why the legs?

FAVORITE JOKE

A garbage can throws itself through the window of Sal’s Pizza. This is a reference to Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, where Mookie (Spike Lee) throws a garbage can through the window of Sal’s Pizza after Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) is killed by the police after they find him choking out Sal (Danny Aiello), whose actions started the chain of events that led to it.

S2EE - 6Sal's.png

The reason I like this joke is because in Do The Right Thing, Mookie does it because it keeps the crowd from killing Sal and his children in revenge for Raheem’s death, sacrificing the property in exchange for human life. In Futurama, the garbage can does it with the intent of causing human suffering. It’s a nice dark turn on the reference.

s2ee - 7dtrt

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 26: Bender Gets Made

NEXT – Episode 28: The Problem with Popplers

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 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.

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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.

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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.