Futurama Fridays: S7E5 “Zapp Dingbat”

Zapp Brannigan decides to date his ex’s mom.

SUMMARY

Leela (Katey Sagal) hosts a party for her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, as Leela talks about their lives, her mother, Munda (Tress MacNeille) becomes angry at her husband, Morris (David Herman), for never taking her into outer space. She’d always dreamed of seeing the universe, going so far as to get a degree in alien languages, while Morris just wanted to surf the sewers. This leads them to divorce quickly. Leela takes her mother out with Fry and Bender (Billy West and John DiMaggio) where they run into Zapp Brannigan (West), with whom Leela had a one-night-stand. Twice. Zapp almost starts an intergalactic war, but Munda’s knowledge of languages saves him. They soon begin dating, infuriating Leela. Zapp even hires Munda as his translator so they can travel the universe together. Morris goes on a surfing trip with Bender and Fry in order to cope with the divorce.

Surfing a tide of sewage. That’s a metaphor, probably.

Leela attempts to break up Zapp and Munda by seducing him, but he rejects her and proposes to Munda, who accepts. Fry convinces Leela to accept Munda’s decision and support her, but when Zapp reveals that he is planning to massacre a peace summit, Munda calls off the wedding. Unfortunately, she tells the aliens what Zapp intended, so they start shooting up the ship. The Nimbus’s controls are disabled, but Morris arrives and uses his surfing skills to help the ship ride the aliens’ energy wave attacks. Morris and Munda then remarry. 

This was an awkward moment on many levels.

END SUMMARY

This episode has one of the strangest title choices in the show’s entire run. “Zapp Dingbat” is a reference to Zapf Dingbats, a wingdings-like font composed entirely of symbols, as well as a reference to the fact that Zapp is an idiot. I’m thinking that the fact that it’s about a font relates to Munda’s study of alien language like the symbolic languages that the show used, but I still find it a bizarre choice. The working title of the episode was “Blue Munda,” which, honestly, is a much better choice. Blue Munda would be a reference to Blue Monday, a day in January which is considered the most depressing day of the year, which would reference the fact that Munda is depressed and wants change. It was also a song by New Order that contains multiple lines that could reference this episode. It’s like they had a solid idea then went with a bizarre pun instead. 

Although, she wasn’t the sad one in the divorce.

The idea of one of your exes, even just a person you had a brief fling with, dating a parent is probably horrifying to almost everyone. This episode combines that with a story about parents splitting up due to their differences. The former plotline feels a little forced, particularly since everyone in Leela’s circle of friends is aware that Zapp is an incompetent idiot and Munda doesn’t seem to be a fool herself. However, the latter actually makes a decent amount of sense. Munda has been dreaming of getting out of the sewers for most of her life, whereas Morris always seems to be happiest at home or with his friends. That’s been apparent since the reveal of their characters and throughout the series since. 

His negotiation with the shark people is also an example of his idiocy.

Overall, though, it’s an okay episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

While I don’t think there are a lot of great stand-outs in this episode, I will say I always chuckle when Leela says “I don’t want to put a rat in your face cage, or whatever you kids say nowadays…” to her father. First, referring to her father, who is going through a midlife crisis as a kid is pretty funny, particularly since he just asked if he could call her “dude.” Second, Leela, who is herself not that old, using the phrase “whatever you kids say nowadays,” is ridiculous. Lastly, though, “rat in your face-cage,” which has never been an expression, is a reference to one of the most infamous scenes in George Orwell’s 1984, in which Winston Smith is threatened with having rats put in a cage around his cage which ends up breaking him of his independent worldview. Given that she wants her father to quit his new lifestyle and return to his previous state with Munda, this is an apt expression.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E2 “A Farewell to Arms”

The Mayan Calendar was only off by a millennium. 

SUMMARY

While on a walk, Fry (Billy West) offers Leela (Katey Sagal) his hand in an act of chivalry, but she ends up getting attacked by a tentacle monster because of it and Fry’s pants get wet. When he puts them out to dry, they get caught by a weather balloon launched by the Professor (West). Fry catches up to his pants, only for a badger to take them down a hole. In the hole, Fry finds walls covered in strange symbols. Leela falls into a deeper hole, with Fry offering his hand, only for her to fall again, injuring her leg. The crew follows her, discovering a giant buried pyramid and a stone calendar with writing on it. Amy (Lauren Tom), able to read the words, determines them to be Ancient Martian and that they’re predicting the world ending in 3012. 

Yes, he took his pants off without taking his shoes off.

Farnsworth explains that his recent weather studies confirm the world is ending. The event starts by disabling all electronics on Earth with a solar flare, including the ships required to escape. Amy reveals that the pyramid they found is actually a buried spaceship made of stone. Without electronics, it can still fly with 30,000 people in it. Zapp Brannigan (West) immediately commandeers it. Nixon (West) orders a machine to choose the people who get to fly. Everyone is selected for the ship, except for Leela. Fry secretly sacrifices his ticket so that she can go.

I’m pretty sure this was in Alien vs. Predator.

On Mars, the survivors start to build a new city, but Singing Wind (West), leader of the Native Martian, arrives to tell them that Amy mistranslated the prophecy. Earth’s not getting destroyed, Mars is. That’s why the Native Martians sold the planet. As the final solar flare hits Mars, instead of Earth, it launches Mars mere feet past Earth. Everyone jumps off the planet back onto Earth, except Leela, whose leg is injured. Fry extends his hand to her, only for her arm to rip off, then his. Luckily, she gets saved anyway and appreciates that Fry was willing to sacrifice himself for her.

These two are finally starting to work it out.

END SUMMARY

I remember in 2012 when everyone was trying to create an apocalypse episode, but you would think that Futurama taking place 1000 years later would have allowed them to avoid it. Instead, they went all in with this fairly nonsensical and mostly forgettable episode. I will admit that the recurring joke about Fry’s gestures always ending poorly was used well, but the ultimate revelation that the entire plot was based around Amy completely misunderstanding the calendar was weak. I also wasn’t a fan of the joke about Fry’s “lucky pants,” although the punchline of Fry getting a ticket based on them was a little fun. The title of the episode, “A Farewell to Arms,” was actually pretty clever, both because it foreshadows Fry and Leela losing their limbs and also because Arms is an anagram for Mars. 

This was the grossest sweet shot ever.

Overall, though, I just don’t care about this episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

The Great Reveal-o. I love the concept. In the episode, when Fry gives Leela his ticket, they ask how he did it. Fry says “A magician never reveals his secrets. Except the great Reveal-o.” Zoidberg then insults the magician. Later, when the new Martian city is unveiled, we see a magician produce celebratory doves, only for him to explain that the doves weren’t magic, only crammed into the netting sewn into his sleeves. I absolutely love the idea of a magician who immediately explains the trick. It completely undermines the entire point of seeing the show and I wish he was real.

That’s a lot of doves. I’m not sure he’s not really magical.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E1 “The Bots and the Bees”

Okay, kids, it’s time to learn about… oh, right, it’s in the title.

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) reveals that he purchased a new vending machine named Bev (Wanda Sykes) for the office. Fry (West) quickly becomes addicted to Bev’s Slurm Loco, leading him to start glowing green and not sleeping. Bender (John DiMaggio) starts off hostile towards Bev, but she turns out to be better at insults than she is. He goes out to a bar to drink away his pain and picks up two robot floozies. He takes them back to Planet Express, but Bev ends up insulting the girls and spraying them with Slurm until they leave. Bender and Bev start fighting, but then eventually move to having sex. The next day, Bev gives birth to a tiny robot who looks like Bender. Bender denies paternity, until the baby says “Wipe my tiny metal ass.” 

She’s a big lady and Bender is down with that.

Bev starts to take care of the child and Bender is wary of fatherhood. When asked how it’s possible for him to impregnate another robot, Bender is shown a video explaining that robots can reproduce sexually. Bender decides to relinquish paternity, something Leela (Katey Sagal) endorses, as she believes Bender would be a terrible parent. When he tries, however, Bev instead leaves the child, Ben (Phil LaMarr), with Bender and takes off. Bender tries to raise the child, bonding with him over their love of bending. Ben wants to learn how to bend as well, but it turns out that bending is matrilineal. Farnsworth, taking a look at Ben’s specs, informs Bender that Ben only has one slot for memory in his head, meaning he can’t have a bending card installed. Ben will never bend. At his 13 day old celebration, he is set to be upgraded to a manbot. He thanks Bender for being a great dad, only for Bev to return to reclaim him.

Why do robots get acne?

Bender refuses to give custody to Bev, but she reveals Bender’s original certificate of abandonment, allowing her to take Ben. Bender eventually rescues Ben from Bev’s trailer, but the pair are pursued by the police. Bender mangles his arms trying to bend a helicopter and needs Ben to bend a set of steel bars. Unfortunately, Ben can’t and the police and Bev catch up. However, Bev gives birth to another baby, courtesy of police officer URL (DiMaggio). Because this gives her another child, Bev lets Bender keep Ben. However, Ben’s dream is to bend, so Bender has Ben’s memory, including his memories of Bender. Bender tries to take Ben to enroll in Bending College, but the registration is in an hour and the air is filled with fog. Fry, now glowing radioactively, acts as the Rudolph so that the ship can fly.

END SUMMARY

This episode has one of the most ridiculous premises in a show often filled with ridiculous premises. I would say that they needed to get an unplanned pregnancy storyline in, but they sort of already did that in “Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch.” I guess it’s more of an unplanned fatherhood episode, then. By using Bender, they could give us a full parenting episode that wouldn’t have to take several years. However, they also had to somehow justify how a robot can be a parent accidentally. The concept of robot sex has always been insane, but now we find out that robot sex does actually have a mechanical purpose. They don’t really explain how robots age, but let’s be fair, that would be too much to handle. 

Ben can lift a girder at like 2 days old. Does he get stronger?

This episode barely has any subplot, with the closest thing to a B plot being Fry’s addiction to Slurm, but they needed to focus on Bender bonding with Ben so that at the end of the episode Bender could actually have an emotional connection that requires him to make an uncharacteristic sacrifice. Then again, we never see Ben again, so maybe he just wanted out of parenting. At least at the end they tie Fry back in, even if it’s extremely convoluted.

It’s nice to see Bender be genuinely nice.

Overall, at least it’s an entertaining episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Hands down, this is the Temple of Robotology’s sign: Happy ln(bΩmer). The ln means the natural log and the omega here represents resistance, which is measured in Ohms. So, this translates to “Happy Natural Log(B(Ohm)mer.” This is a reference to the Jewish Holiday Lag BaOmer, which celebrates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the disciple of Rabbi Akiva. I don’t think there’s any further connection between the holiday and the episode, but a math pun is always a win.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 102: Reincarnation

NEXT – Episode 104: A Farewell to Arms

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.