Futurama Fridays – S3E18 “Anthology of Interest II”

The gang approaches the What-If machine for another bout of hypothetical hilarity… and also the Wizard of Oz.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) fine-tunes his What-If machine from the previous “Anthology of Interest” and starts taking requests. 

S3EI - 1WhatIf
Marvel is making a show based on this premise, which amuses me greatly.

The first is from Bender (John DiMaggio), who asks what it would be like if he were a human. In the simulation, the Professor builds a “reverse fossilization machine,” which turns machines into organic beings, like turning a toaster into a raccoon. Bender becomes human, but quickly starts to fall for human vices like smoking and drinking (which he did before but are now harmful to him) and soon discovers his love of sex and food. He goes on a week-long bender (oh, now I get it) until the crew manages to find him and bring him to Farnsworth’s presentation to the Nobel Prize committee. He’s revealed to now be essentially a gigantic ball of fat, leading the Prize committee to attack Farnsworth, but Bender intercedes and claims that everyone should try to live his way to see what indulgence can bring. A party ensues and everyone agrees that Bender’s lifestyle was amazing, but it’s revealed that Bender has been dead since the party started. He is saluted for teaching them the joys of excess, then rolled into the trash.

S3EI - 2HumanBender
Also drives home how much Bender is just Homer Simpson the Robot.

In the second vignette, Fry (West) wishes that life was more like a video game. In this new world, space travel resembles the game Asteroids and Donkey Kong is the ambassador of planet Nintendu 64, which is populated by video game characters. The Nintendians declare war on Earth and invade, being led by Lrrr (Maurice LaMarche). They attack using the ships from Space Invaders and Fry is tasked by the military to combat them using the tank from the game. Despite listening to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” Fry reveals that he never could get the last ship when playing the game. Lrrr lands and reveals the demands of their planet: A million allowances worth of quarters. Earth refuses, but agrees to let the invaders throw their laundry in with them to save on coins. 

S3EI - 4Mario.png
So many people think this is real.

In the last one, Leela (Katey Sagal) asks to find her one true home, but Farnsworth accidentally knocks her unconscious, resulting in her dreaming that she’s caught in a space cyclone and lands on Oz. Playing the role of Dorothy, Leela kills Scruffy (West), the Wicked Man-Witch of the East, and proceeds down the Yellow-Brick Road on the advice of Amy (Lauren Tom), the Cute Witch of the North. She meets with Fry who needs brains, Bender who needs a heart to pump blood out of his basement, and Zoidberg who needs courage for some reason. They’re found by the Mom (Tress Macneille), the Wicked Witch of the West, who sends her flying monkey sons Walt (LaMarche), Larry (David Herman), and Igner (DiMaggio) to attack the group. She reveals that she wants to raise Leela as a witch, something that makes Leela happy until Bender accidentally kills Mom with champagne. The group heads to the Professor’s lab in the Emerald City, where Leela uses the ruby boots to turn herself into a new witch until Zoidberg accidentally melts her. 

S3EI - 5Oz.jpg
Also, Bender tries to rob everyone. Because Bender.

Leela wakes up and the Professor laments that he can’t steal her organs. Hermes reminds her there’s always next year.

END SUMMARY

There was no next year. While there is another season in the original run of Futurama, this is the last Anthology of Interest. We do eventually get a number of other non-canon episodes, but they aren’t titled accordingly. 

S3EI - 6Holidays.png
Including the *sigh* holiday special.

Of the two Anthologies of Interest, I firmly believe this is the superior one. I think that the gag of Bender being human, while it’s a one-note joke, plays the absolute hell out of that note. Bender’s bender (oh NOW I get it!) is so over-the-top that its feelings of indulgence actually match the theme of what’s being depicted and benefits from being a well-paced time-lapse montage. When he’s finally unveiled in his true form, it actually manages to somehow be exactly what you imagined it would be and also more grotesque than you’d want to conceive of. I particularly love him hitting on a woman by offering her a grilled cheese he pulls out of his own fat fold. The fact that he actually is just flat-out dead at the end is the perfect cap-off for the segment.

S3EI - 3FatBender.jpg
If I had to see this, so do you.

The second segment is, in my opinion, the funniest of all of the six stories from the Anthologies, but unfortunately it also appears to have inspired the movie Pixels, which might have given me cancer. If you’re asking “did you even see it” or “didn’t it come out after you already had cancer,” I would state that you don’t understand how terrible that film is. Time and space are powerless against that much suck. Still, this segment is awesome. The references are used well, rather than just being name-dropped (*cough* Big Bang Theory *coughing for real now*), the new rules of the world are conveyed very quickly and mostly visually, and the jokes are all pretty funny.  I think it’s even more impressive that I get a kick out of things like Fry having an extra guy or randomly appearing Pac-Man cherries just because the episode successfully treats it like something that is just a normal part of their world. Nobody makes a big deal out of it, because, presumably, that’s just a natural occurrence in this version of reality. I also love that Fry, who asked for this simulation on the basis that he’s better at video games than anything else, is ultimately unable to win the battle, revealing that his brother always beat the last ship for him. Lrrr even tells him after landing that Fry never realized that he should shoot at where the ship was going to be, rather than where it was, which is the most annoying part of Space Invaders. This ending actually makes a lot more sense than if, say, Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Peter “I’m only taking this role because it has nothing to do with my height and therefore potentially opens up more opportunities for little people in acting” Dinklage managed to take out an alien invasion by humping Q*Bert. No, I didn’t see Pixels, but I did hear enough rants by people who did in order to know that is, in fact, a plot point. Also, I’m pretty sure that plot point was based on Q*Bert saying “Where can a guy get a pair of pants around here?” in this episode.

S3EI - 7DonkeyKong
This should be most UN meetings.

The third segment had to be a dream sequence because, otherwise, it would completely spoil Leela’s eventual revelation as a mutant. After all, she does find her true home, it’s just on Earth with her parents and friends. Plus, otherwise it’d be hard to justify a Wizard of Oz parody. I love how they change it around, from having Fry be offended that everyone keeps telling him he needs a brain to the Wicked Witch actually just wanting a daughter to love. My personal favorite and weirdest aspect is that Zoidberg, the Cowardly Lobster, gets a gun, then Bender, the Tin Man, takes it. This means that the only one of the three characters who doesn’t hold a gun is Fry, the Scarecrow, who is the character that had a gun in the original film. If you think I just made that up, AU CONTRAIRE!

S3EI - 8Gun.jpg
WHERE DID HE EVEN GET A GUN?

Yes, that’s right, the Scarecrow has a gun in the original film and somehow people ignore that. 

Overall, all three of these segments are funny. For an anthology, this was really a step up, except that it may have caused Pixels

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, I admit that I love the second segment the most and, honestly, almost any line could do it, even just talking about Fry playing an all-Rush mixtape during the game. However, it’s a single line from the third segment that will always hold a special place in my heart.

S3EI - 9Monkeys
Fly, Fly My Stupids!!!

When Igner complains about being sent out as a Flying Monkey, he tells Mom “But Mom, you promised you’d bake monkey cake today.” She responds with one of my favorite lines:

By “monkey cake” I meant your ass!

Few things are as hilarious as an angry old woman shouting that line. Really, it just confirms that Tress MacNeille is a genius, because every single phoneme in it is perfect. I almost hope that the line was thought up and then they wrote the entire episode around it, but I doubt that’s the case. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 49: A Pharaoh to Remember

NEXT – Episode 51: Roswell that Ends Well

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 – S3E17 “A Pharaoh to Remember”

Bender manages to scam an entire planet in a bid for immortality. 

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) decides to commit a crime that will make him famous, but unfortunately circumstances thwart him when a witness misidentifies him and a building he defaces collapses. The Planet Express crew throw him a fake funeral to celebrate his life, but the crew fails to give Bender the memorial he wants, leading him to be outraged that he’ll be forgotten after he dies. The crew takes a giant sandstone block to Osiris 4, a planet that resembles Ancient Egypt, where they are taken as slaves to the Pharaoh Hamenthotep (David Herman). While Fry (Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) are appalled, Bender is more impressed with the fact that the Pharaohs all have such lavish memorial pyramids and statues, meaning they’ll be remembered forever. Bender becomes dedicated to the Pharaoh, telling the slave drivers how to make the slaves work harder and even whip better. Hamenthotep is pleased by the memorial and is about to free the slaves, but dies when a statue’s nose falls on him. 

S3EH - 1Hamenthotep.png
He’s surprisingly not instantly dead from a ton of rock falling on him.

The High Priest (Maurice LaMarche) says that a successor will be chosen from the Wall of Prophecy. That night, the slaves party, but Bender sneaks off and carves a new chapter on the wall. Despite it being so poorly made that even the High Priest gets confused, Bender is selected as the next Pharaoh. Unfortunately, Bender is actually much more cruel as Pharaoh than his predecessor, making them build a statue of him that is 1 Billion Cubits tall, so tall it goes into space, only to tell people that it’s too big because people will remember the statue and not him. The slave drivers and the priests are incensed by this and proceed to tie Bender up like a mummy and throw him into the crypt, claiming he “suddenly died,” to great applause. On his way down, Bender asks for servants, so Fry and Leela are thrown in after him. 

S3EH - 2Pharaoh.png
He’s not a good friend.

It turns out that Bender’s tomb is actually a casino, complete with a bar that contains explosive liquor. Leela wants to get out by detonating the alcohol, but Bender refuses to let her destroy his memorial. Fry and Leela pretend to not remember Bender until he gives in. The explosion destroys the statue, killing Bender’s dream, but Leela reminds him that he’ll be remembered for his cruelty, and he vows to take over Earth. 

END SUMMARY

This is an episode that clearly was designed to supply interesting gags around a ridiculous premise and it pretty much does exactly that. However, in retrospect, this is also one of the first episodes focused on Bender’s quest for immortality through fame, something that would probably hit its peak after the show came back to Comedy Central. 

S3EH - 3Statue
BTW, 1 Billion Cubits should actually be much bigger. It’d go past the moon of Earth.

The theory of extraterrestrial involvement in building the pyramids of Egypt (and other places around the globe) has long been a hallmark of conspiracy theorist lore and speculative fiction. When Fry finds out that the Osirans were in Egypt, he even shouts “I knew it! Insane theories, one; regular theories, a billion.” However, this episode turns this completely on its head by having the aliens reveal that they learned how to build pyramids from the Ancient Egyptians, then amplifies it by revealing that the Egyptians taught them space-travel, despite the Osirans having visited Earth in the first place… somehow. Naturally, Fry doesn’t seem to recognize the inherent problem here, choosing instead to laugh at the fact that mummies scare Abbott and Costello. Also Wolfman. Fun fact I can’t ever pass up telling people: Bela Lugosi, one of the greatest actors to ever play Count Dracula, only played him twice, first in the original Dracula from 1931, then again in Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. You just learned something. You are now better than you were a moment ago, if only a little. You are welcome.

S3EH - 4Thoth.jpg
Also, this is a priest of Thoth, who might be part Ibis.

What’s really impressive about this episode is that it doesn’t actually have a B-plot and yet the pacing always feels on point. It has acts, to be sure, divided by the commercial breaks, but the focus is solely on the Bender plot. Bender first is seeking fame, or rather infamy, for his crimes, but it becomes clear at his “funeral” that it is because he is worried about being forgotten after he dies. He ends up envying the pharaohs for their memorials, but ends up lampshading that it’s a terrible way to try and be remembered when he names the Pharaohs as “Anopsis… Pleotut… Whatshisname… he was the greatest of them all.” After all, can you name who all of the pyramids are dedicated to? I mean, there’s the Great Pyramid of Cheops, but that’s only one of the three big ones, and that’s only 3 out of over 100 pyramids. We truly do remember the memorial rather than the man or woman. Which brings me to the one reference that the episode seems to intentionally avoid making:

I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert… near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

That is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” and I think it’s possibly the most direct reference to the theme of this episode (and also Breaking Bad‘s). It’s a poem about a statue of Ramesses II, an Egyptian Pharaoh, which was found in the desert. The theme of the poem is that ultimately even the most magnificent empire, like that of Ramesses, something so huge that the world had likely not seen anything on the same scale before then, will eventually just be dust. Sic transit gloria mundi, motherf*ckers. How is that not something that comes to mind in this episode, which ends with Bender’s statue being rendered in the same shape as the statue that inspired the poem? 

The other thing is that this episode is just really freaking funny. Almost all of the jokes work, in my opinion, which helps to balance out the ultimately kind of depressing subject matter. Overall, just a really well-done episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Hard to pick in this episode, except that it’s not, because nothing makes me laugh as much as the wall of prophecy, in which the priests are exceptionally candid about what they’re doing, while concealing it in chanting and ritual. 

S3EH - 5Prayer.jpg

High Priest: Great Wall of Prophecy, reveal to us God’s will that we may blindly obey.

Priests: [chanting] Free us from thought and responsibility.

High Priest: We shall read things off you.

Priests: [chanting] Then do them.

High Priest: Your words guide us.

Priests: [chanting] We’re dumb.

S3EH - 6Prophecy.png

This is like someone consulting their horoscope while also stating outright that it’s just so they can pretend that there is more order to the universe. I love it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 48: A Leela of Her Own

NEXT – Episode 50: Anthology of Interest II

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 – S3E16 “A Leela of Her Own”

Turanga Leela decides to pursue a career in the Majors based entirely on her utter lack of talent.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) notices that a new pizza place is opening across the street from Planet Express. Its owners are revealed to be Cygnoids, cockroach-like aliens that are mostly stereotypes of European Immigrants from the 1910s. The crew go to meet the new neighbors, but it turns out that their restaurant is terrible. Fry tries to help them learn to be Earthicans, including advising them to learn Blernsball, the Earthican pastime. The Planet Express crew agree to play against them and Leela (Katey Sagal) takes the mound. It’s quickly revealed that due to her eye, Leela can only throw a fastball into the head of the batter, much to the amusement of passers-by. She is approached by the owner of the New New York Mets, Abner Doubledeal (Tom Kenny) who signs her as the first professional female Blernsball player. She agrees, though he makes it clear it is just a publicity stunt.

S3EG - 1Pizza.jpg
Yeah, this was the winner for “funny slogans.”

Bender (John DiMaggio) becomes Leela’s agent and her “bean balls” quickly make her popular, despite the fact that she has never struck a single person out. During a signing, she is confronted by Jackie Anderson (Dawnn Lewis), a college Blernsball player, who was set to be the first female professional Blernsball player. Jackie rails at Leela for making female athletes a joke. Leela, realizing the effect her career is having on people, vows to become “not the worst” Blernsball player. They go to visit the Blernsball hall of fame and meet with Hank Aaron XXIV (Hank Aaron), the worst Blernsball player ever, who agrees to help her train to actually throw strikes. He somehow succeeds and Leela learns how to not hit the batter with the ball. 

S3EG - 2Aaron
Wade Boggs later won by cameoing in It’s Always Sunny.

At the big game, Leela manages to convince the coach to put her in, but she is shocked to find that the batter is none other than Jackie Anderson. Leela throws two strikes, but Anderson hits the third pitch so hard that the elastic on the ball snaps and the ball goes in the “Hit it here and win the game” slot in the wall. Leela retires in disgrace, but Anderson consoles her by telling her that she’s inspired women everywhere to prove that they’re not as terrible or pathetic as Leela was. 

END SUMMARY

So, this episode had a long-standing position as the lowest-rated episode by Futurama fans. It’s still the lowest of the original run and the third-lowest rated in the entire series. There have been multiple discussions on Futurama fan boards about why this episode is so lowly rated, ranging from lack of funny jokes, failure to capitalize on the premise, a lousy B-plot about trying to make the Cygnoids successful, and, of course, several saying that the episode sucks because it focuses on Leela (ignoring that several of the Highest-rated episodes focus on her). I will say the following: This episode is definitely not one of the highlights of the show’s run, but I don’t think I can clearly say it’s the nadir of the original series. Hell, I actually remember laughing more at this episode than I did at “That’s Lobstertainment!” which is from the same season. 

S3EG - 3Beans
Hey, she endorses beans, cuz she “beans” people. GET IT?

That said, I’ll fully admit that a lot of the failure of the humor and the plot arise from similar problems to “That’s Lobstertainment” or “I Dated a Robot,” in that the premise can’t hold up as genuine under the circumstances and they don’t go far enough into the parody for us to ignore that. The plot is a Futurama take on a familiar trope, the first person to break into a new society/sport/industry. The episode tries to play parts of that straight in order to give some kind of gravitas, but it’s pretty much shot down from moment one when Leela is told that she’s only being allowed in so that she can be terrible. Like, they’re telling her that she’s essentially going to be a clown, proceeds to become popular for losing the game for her team, and we’re supposed to believe she’s surprised when someone points it out? They try to gloss over it by having her somewhat ignore Doubleday pointing it out, but man, that’s a stretch. Moreover, the idea that Blernsball, a sport which has dozens of species playing it has never allowed female players before now is a somewhat excessive suspension of disbelief. 

S3EG - 4Aliens.jpg
Yes, the octoperson who likely has no gender in human terms beat out the one with a vagina.

The gags in the episode are also pretty lame. I even remember groaning audibly the first time I heard Hank Aaron say “I think there’s a rash goin’ around” when Leela says she wasn’t just belly-itching. Seriously, that’s a joke that someone would write in a movie as an example of a failed joke. The Cygnoid jokes all fall flat, because they’re just the same hackneyed “immigrant” jokes shows had done since the 60s, but with alien customs instead of whatever country Balki is from. Hell, the overarching humor focus, Blernsball, had to have multiple edits during the writing because the writers thought that this episode was coming too close to actually explaining it, and the joke is that it’s too confusing to be explained. I agree that showing us only clips of this incomprehensible game was a nice running gag, so why ruin it by spending an episode on it? It’s not that this is bad television, but for Futurama, it’s pretty damned unfunny.

S3EG - 5Aaron.jpg
Hank Aaron calls himself a fungo. What even is that?

Overall, I don’t think it’s the worst episode, but it’s pretty bad. Fortunately, we’re about to start a sequence of mostly awesome episodes. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Everything involving Bob Uecker.

S3EG - 6Uecker
Rest in laughter, sir.

Bob Uecker had one of the most recognizable voices out there to any baseball fan and his humor and delivery were always amazing. Johnny Carson even called him “Mr. Baseball” and had him guest star on the Tonight Show over 100 times. He played the father on the show Mr. Belvedere, something the episode even references, and was the voice of the Cleveland Indians in the Major League films. He is famous for his self-deprecating humor and despite how bad the lines he’s given in this episode are, he still makes them work. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 47: I Dated a Robot

NEXT – Episode 49: A Pharaoh to Remember

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 – S3E15 “I Dated a Robot”

Fry manages to get Lucy Liu to go out with him… by downloading her personality into a robot that is programmed to go out with him.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) tries to convince the Planet Express crew that everything in the future is better than it was in 1999 after he sees a mind-altering ad for the Discount Shoe Outlet. They agree to take Fry on a trip to do all of the things that he wanted to do in the past, such as riding a dinosaur and seeing the edge of the universe. An hour and a half later, the only things Fry hasn’t done is be naked in a chocolate factory or be romantically linked with a celebrity. In order to satisfy the latter, the team logs onto the internet and goes to Nappster, a company that uploads celebrity personalities into robot bodies. Fry selects Lucy Liu and downloads her into a robot that is instantly in love with him and somehow convincingly sexually aggressive despite just being a metal entity with a hologram covering. 

S3EF - 1BlowUp.png
Fry also blows up a (Hopefully dead) planet.

Fry and Lucy start dating, but Bender (John DiMaggio) is against humans and robots dating. Leela (Katey Sagal) agrees to help him break up the couple and the Professor (West) shows him a propaganda film saying that dating robots destroys society, but Fry continues to just make out with his robot Lucy Liu. Bender and the crew decide to take down Nappster, but they discover that the company has actually been holding celebrities hostage and that their real name is Kidnappster. They rescue the real Lucy Liu and plan on taking her to the authorities to get rid of the company. In response, Nappster activates all of the other Lucy Liu robots in New New York and sets them to track down and kill the crew. The only one that seems unaffected is Fry’s. Fry, Bender, and Zoidberg (West) take down one of them, which makes the real Lucy start falling for Bender, but they are quickly chased by an army of Liu-bots.

S3EF - 2Kidnappster.png
WHY EVEN MAKE THE SIGN?

The group flees to a movie theater where  Fry and his Liu-bot are watching a Charlie’s Angels III: The Legend of Charlie’s Gold. Fry’s Liu-bot sacrifices herself to kill the other robots with popcorn. Fry ends up shutting her down at the behest of the real Lucy Liu, who is now in love with Bender.

S3EF - 3Lius.png
Sexiest. Army. Ever.

END SUMMARY

This episode honestly is only okay. I think there are some good jokes and the premise is pretty funny, but it just doesn’t have the same level of punch as most of the other episodes of the show. 

S3EF - 4Madelyn.png
Replacing Lucy Liu with Madelyn Albright does make me smile a bit, though.

A big problem with it is that they’re clearly trying to make a comparison between dating a robot and the old stereotypes behind interracial dating, with Bender even calling it “Robo fever.” The problem is that dating a robot is completely different, because the robot is literally a pre-programmed entity who has no free will (at least, the Liu-bots are) whereas a person of a different race is STILL A PERSON. There are legitimate philosophical questions to be brought up about giving something some semblance of sentience but also chaining it to you, as well as questions about copying someone’s consciousness and modifying it. It just doesn’t come off as a fair analogy. I do admit that the anti-robosexuality propaganda film comes off as one of the homophobic propaganda movies that some organizations used to put out mixed with Reefer Madness, which is clever, but other than that, I just don’t think they handle the issue as well as they do a few seasons later.

S3EF - 5DontDateRobots.png
Doesn’t have a musical version, though.

The Napster reference is so dated that even I have a problem remembering what the hell Napster was, but I do admit the idea of crafting something illegally out of a celebrity’s image is way ahead of its time. Hell, we have organizations already warning us about Deepfakes, how long is it until we can just make a sexbot out of any celebrity?

Like I said, it’s not a bad episode, but it’s only okay.

FAVORITE JOKE

I think the best joke just has to be the episode of The Scary Door that opens the episode. It goes through at least a half-dozen Twilight Zone cliches in only a minute, including having a guy think he’s in heaven, then realize he’s in hell, then being on an airplane with a gremlin, then being Hitler, then Eva Braun turning into a fly. Even though Bender’s response of “saw it coming” is incredibly predictable and cliche, it’s still funny.

S3EF - 6Fly.png

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 46: Time Keeps on Slippin’

NEXT – Episode 48: A Leela of Her Own

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 – S3E14 “Time Keeps on Slippin’” 

Planet Express screws up the universe in order to win a basketball game against the Globetrotters… then the ball’s in Farnsworth’s court.

SUMMARY

The Globetrotters, a race of aliens who also come from Harlem somehow, come to Earth to challenge the planet to a game of basketball with absolutely no consequences whatsoever aside from embarrassment. The Professor (Billy West) decides to take up the cause of representing the Earth by making a team of atomic supermen. Unfortunately, they’re only atomic superbabies at this stage, so the Professor sends Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) to get “chronitons,” a particle which controls the flow of time. The particles are extracted from the Tempus Nebula, causing cracks in space when they’re removed, but the team doesn’t pay any attention to it. The Professor gives the babies the chronitons and they grow into five giant atomic monstrosities in basketball outfits. Space Jam could not be reached for comment.

S3EE - 1Globetrotters.png
The day the Earth stood like jive turkeys.

The Globetrotters and the supermen face off, with Earth taking the lead throughout the first half, something that the Globetrotters claim is intentional. In the middle of the second half, time suddenly starts skipping forward, leading to the death of one of the supermen. Fry offers to take over the spot of fifth man due to the team being up 35 with two minutes left. Time skips again and the Globetrotters win by 158 points. Everyone blames Fry, but no one knows what he did.

S3EE - 2Team.png
Atomic Supermen are so cliche. Give me some solar powered ones, like… well, Superman.

Farnsworth tries to figure out how to stop the skips and is joined by the head of the Globetrotters, Bubblegum Tate (Phil LaMarr), one of Bender’s heroes. As they work to solve the problem, time continues to skip forward, often in hilarious ways. At the same time, Fry attempts to figure out how to get Leela to go out with him, failing miserably. Farnsworth and Tate come up with a plan to move stars using a gravity pump in the hopes that it diverts the time skips to another part of the universe. Leela manages to move the stars into place and it appears the skips have stopped. Fry tries to convince her to go out with him again, showing her that he learned how to fly the ship and the gravity pump. She’s just in the middle of telling him no when time skips again to their wedding. 

S3EE - 3Wedding.png
It’s a nice day to start again?

Leela accuses Fry of tricking her somehow and divorces him. He tries to figure out what he did to get her to marry him, but his attempts are frustrated because time keeps on slippin’ (oh, that’s why they called it that). Farnsworth and the Globetrotters come up with another plan to get rid of the chronitons by using a doomsday device to implode the nebula. Farnsworth is revealed to have many of them. The team sets off the device, just in time for Fry to find out what he did to make Leela give him a chance: He wrote a love letter with the stars themselves. Sadly, it’s destroyed before she sees it and everything goes back to normal.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best episodes of this show on a lot of levels. 

First, the Globetrotters are hilarious from minute one. They’re explicitly non-threatening in a very threatening manner. They treat all of their joking antics with a level of seriousness that should get old, but somehow never does. Bubblegum Tate’s insistence that there are no stakes whatsoever is given the gravitas of threatening destruction and essentially treated as such by Farnsworth. When people laugh at their antics, Bubblegum claims to be angered that their behavior is being misunderstood. It’s basically like if the Harlem Globetrotters actually took their role of constantly beating the Washington Generals to be a serious event. The fact that they’re then revealed to all be mathematicians and physicists who still obey the traditional Globetrotter rules for heightening tension and amusing people elevates the joke even more. 

S3EE - 4Trotters.png
Their algebra is all razzamatazz.

Second, this is one of the first times we get confirmation that Fry and Leela might actually work out, because it’s revealed that once Leela gave him a chance, they ended up getting married. It turns out Fry really was willing to go out and do something amazing just to prove that he’s serious about her. That said, something did bug me on this re-watch. As the audience, we see that Leela is actually fairly interested in Fry, so it feels justified that he keeps going, but from his perspective she’s just repeatedly rejecting him politely. He should probably have stopped asking at this point. That said, it does end up working out for them, so… hell, I dunno what to think about it. Pass.

S3EE - 5Note.png
He did remember the comma, though.

Third, the mechanism of the time-skips makes this one of the most efficient and humorous episodes of the show. We get so many great gags out of watching everything skip ahead in time because it’s basically an in-universe jump cut. It’s so great to watch the characters themselves experience a narrative device with the same impact that it has on us. I particularly love when Hermes claims to have a solution only for it to jump cut to everyone in a nude conga line, something even Hermes can’t rationalize. 

S3EE - 6Conga.png
Probably for the best that Zoidberg’s not grabbing anyone.

Overall, this is just a great episode. The jokes are rapid-fire and almost all of them are great. The Globetrotters are one of the best running gags the show ever came up with. Just an amazing half-hour of television.

FAVORITE JOKE

All of the time skips pretty much could be on here, but the best one is probably also the darkest. There’s a set of four skips in a row where Linda the newscaster ends up saying the following stream of lines:

Time continues to skip forward randomly. Details at 11. [Skip] This is the news at 11. The mysterious and unexplained– [Skip] Turning to entertainment news, teen singer Wendy might just be the latest– [Skip] –won three Grammys last night– [Skip] –found dead in her bathtub.

S3EE - 7Wendy.png
Dark. Super Dark.

It’s a horrifying joke about the nature of the music industry that these artists so frequently die young after achieving notoriety. It’s made even more disturbing by the fact that the album that Wendy is shown on is clearly designed after Britney Spears’ debut album “…Baby One More Time,” and this episode actually came out before Spears’ very public meltdown. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 45: Bendin’ in the Wind

NEXT – Episode 47: I Dated a Robot

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  – S3E13 “Bendin’ in the Wind”

Bender gets broken and tries to find himself as a folk singer… also, Beck is there. 

SUMMARY

S3ED - 2WhaleOil.png
It’ll be a whale of a time.

Fry (Billy West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) come across a broken down VW Microbus and Fry pushes it to Planet Express. He tries to fix it up but finds out that petroleum no longer exists and everyone now uses whale oil.  Bender tries to open a can of the substance, but he gets caught by the magnet in the can-opener and pulled into it, mangling him horribly. At the robot hospital, Bender is informed that he will never be able to move again. He starts to despair, only to find out that he is in the hospital with Beck, the musician-poet who transcends genres even as he reinvents them. He also did “Loser.” Beck, now just a head in a jar, tells Bender that even without a working body he can still lead a rich life. Beck gives him a pair of small mechanical arms which Bender can control and which he can use to pull across his torn-up torso as a washboard. Beck invites Bender to come on tour with him.

S3ED - 3Broken
He can still cabbage patch, so he’s fine, right?

Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), Amy (Lauren Tom), and Zoidberg (West), follow Bender and Beck on tour in the Microbus. While at a laundromat, Zoidberg’s shell runs, ruining their money but making all of their shirts Tie-Dye. Accordingly, they adopt a life as poor hippies. Bender sees a group of broken robot fans being disposed of and decides to organize a charity concert for broken robots and he starts writing his own song about being broken. After he finishes it, Fry and the others visit him at his hotel and Bender miraculously finds out that his hydraulics have started working again and he can move.

S3ED - 4Hippies
Zoidberg should keep that coat. It works.

 Worried that his returned mobility will ruin his career, Bender opts to pretend to still be broken. He heads to the concert while the others take the bus. When they get to the concert, Dr. Zoidberg begins vomiting from eating too much dirt, but it turns out that he’s vomiting up beautiful blue pearls which the gang sells for money. Bender sings his song “My Broken Friend,” but he gets so caught up in it that he starts dancing, exposing his lies. The Robots now hate him as a faker, Beck hates him for exploiting him, and the fans hate him for being a phony. Bender hops in the VW bus and drives off with the others while Beck and the other musicians at the concert follow. 

S3ED - 5Singing

Bender tries to outrun Beck, but accidentally drives the bus off of the Golden Gate Hover-Bridge. Bender grabs a cable and saves them (incidental to saving himself), but Leela lets go of him and he is flung into the sky, crashing near Beck. Bender claims to now be really crippled and to have learned a lesson, but Beck sees through it immediately. Beck still forgives him, though, after taking the check back. Bender and the crew start paddling home, despite the insanity of that statement.

END SUMMARY

Well, we finally get that episode of Bender living his dream of being a folk singer that has been hinted at periodically until now and… it’s exactly that. I mean, it’s a little oblique since Bender mostly only follows as Beck’s accompaniment and his fame comes less from his talent and more from his disability, but still, this is technically him trying to fulfill his dream. It just really didn’t explore much beyond him singing “My Broken Friend,” which, due to the circumstances, comes off as even more insincere that Bender usually is. 

S3ED - 7LoveBeads
At least the Love Beads were sincere.

The premise of Bender being crippled might fall a little short if it weren’t for the “twist” that he’s actually perfectly fine. I mean, think about it, Bender’s somehow crippled, but in other episodes he’s survived being flattened, disassembled, and shot full of holes. Hell, one episode’s entire plot revolves around him SELLING HIS BODY FOR MONEY and not in the way that my readers are used to. I realize that all of the rules in Futurama are pretty loose and can be re-written to fit the gags, but still, it made more sense to reveal that he wasn’t actually crippled than to suggest that he somehow was ruined without any damage to his head. 

S3E9 - 4Chest
He let a child live in him. Have you met kids? They destroy everything!

Beck’s presence in this episode feels strangely like a Simpsons cameo, except that it’s central to the plot. He shows up as a slightly goofy and exaggerated version of himself, which works well because Beck is kind of weird to begin with, but it just keeps going more and more self-derogatory and mocking. The only reason why it works is that the shots Beck takes at himself are mostly exactly the kind of shots that you imagine that someone like Beck would take at himself. It’s honestly fun to see him defend some of his more odd choices using things like the “Becktionary” or forgetting what his own compositions are about. He also has a nice enough image that everyone can kind of believe him sincerely wanting to help but also being able to satirize the folk music industry a little. 

S3ED - 8Becktionary.png
The Spanish to English Becktionary is just Soy un Perdador.

The B-Plot of the rest of the Planet Express crew following Bender as hippies is pretty funny at times, although it also produces some wildly out of character moments with regards to Leela and Amy. Amy’s money gets destroyed in the wash, but, since she’s a trillionaire, they never explain why she doesn’t just get more. I mean, again, the show does have a very loose continuity, but Amy being spoiled and rich is her biggest character trait. It’s like if you were to make a version of the Archie comics where Jughead doesn’t eat a burger for an entire season, it just seems like you’re using the character in name only (Note to self: Kill everyone involved in Riverdale). Still, it did give us the great image of the rednecks of the future saying “You heard him, freaks. We don’t like your type around here. These are the types we like.”

S3ED - 6Poster.png
When your racism gets more inclusive?

Overall, it’s not a bad episode, but this season’s got better on the way.

FAVORITE JOKE

Tie between Beck and Bender playing Sexx Laws for 3 hours because they “got into a serious thing… and then [Beck] forgot how it ended” and the image of what the future United States looks like as they go on tour. Here’s a list of the states of the future:

New New York, New New Jersey, Sylvania and the Penn Republic, East West Virginia, West Virginia (guess they won the second Civil War), Washington A.C. (because AC > DC, ya dig?), eHIO, ‘Ucky (Cuz “Kent” is a liberal name), Muontana, Washingtron, WyΩing (where the Buffalo RΩ), User ID:aho, XORegon, Nukevada, Human Farm (Formerly Utah), 24 Bit Colorado, and High Cal and Low Cal (ifornias). Are most of these names used only for this gag and contradicted later in the show? Hell yes, but this is the kind of fun sight gag that I can just accept and move on from.

S3ED - 1Map
Fun fact: Nukevada is a Dukedom

For the states that were missed, I propose (in alphabetical order by current name): AI-abama, Alaxxka (a subsidiary of Exxon), Verizona, NotYourKansas, DirectConnecticut, Dellaware, Floridampandhotallthef*ckingtime (guess where I grew up?), BoyGeorgia, Hawhyyyyyy, Licensetoillinois, NativeAmericana, Iowannaseesomecorn, Kansysadmin, Lou’s Anna, MaineLine, Marylandingsite, Taxachussetts, Michigone (it’s just a gap in the map), Mini-sota, Mississippi (they didn’t give up the Confederate Flag, you think they’ll give up a name?), Re-Mixouri, Mailerdaemontana, Nextbraska, New New New New Hampshire (they had a lot of marketing issues), New Mexico but not that New Mexico, South West Virgina (North Carolina), The Dakota Without Mt. Rushmore, OkCupidlahoma, The Island Formerly Known as Rhode, Charleston and Friends, The Dakota with Mt. Rushmore, Elevenessee, Real Texas vs. The Austin Alliance at Wrestlemania MXXXII, Verminty, and Wisnotfromconcentrateson. 

Are any of those any good? Let me know.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 44: The Route of All Evil

NEXT – Episode 46: Time Keeps on Slippin’

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 – S3E12 “The Route of All Evil”

It’s time to focus on the important things in the future: The terrible, terrible children.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) decide to brew their own beer inside of Bender. The joke is that Bender looks and acts like he’s pregnant throughout the episode. It’s funny, but there’s really nothing else plot-wise.

S3EC - 1BenderPreg
Feeling fermentation sounds like a thing that you shouldn’t do.

Professor Farnsworth (West), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille) find out that their sons, Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (LaMarr), were suspended from boarding school for salting a bully (he was a blob). While bored at the office, the pair send the crew on a fake mission which takes a week, resulting in the Professor and Hermes telling the boys to get a job. They decide to start a competing delivery service, a paper route, called Awesome Express. The kids use a pedal-powered spaceship to deliver the paper and quickly become extremely successful, gaining over one-million customers on their route and Awesome Express starts to actually make more money than Planet Express.

S3EC - 2Delivery
Dogs are still a problem.

The kids try to gain their fathers’ respect, but the Professor and Hermes, clearly insecure about the boys’ success, pretend they’re unimpressed. In response, Cubert and Dwight decide to completely crush Planet Express, hiring Fry, Leela, and Bender for themselves. The men try to counter by working with what they have left, but it turns out that Cubert actually inherited the company when the Professor was declared dead after taking a nap in a ditch. They place Planet Express under Awesome Express and fire their fathers, who quickly become depressed over the situation.

S3EC - 3MoneyPile
Most parents appreciate a money pile more.

Bender finally gives birth to an ale, and it is revealed that Dwight and Cubert have never actually been delivering the papers, since they broke the window of their bully and have been scared to go on the route since. They run crying to Hermes and the Professor, who deliver all of the papers and take the kids to the Blob household to apologize for the window. Mr. Blob  (Maurice LaMarche) refuses to accept their apology, leading the two dads to attack him and get beaten to a pulp. Mr. Blob comes to apologize at the hospital and the fathers all share a bottle of Bendërbrāu, but his son proceeds to eat Dwight and Cubert.

S3EC - 4Blob
He’s angry at automation. Yes, really.

END SUMMARY

This episode addresses having kids in both plotlines, but in very different ways. Fry, Leela, and Bender are dealing with the actual pregnancy and the positive expectations of parenting, while the Professor and Hermes deal with one of the scary realities that one day your kids are going to grow up and take your place. Hermes even says “We just wanted a few more years of being better than them.” In the end, we see all of the happy parents enjoying time with their kids, though in Bender’s case he’s drinking his offspring which is disturbing in retrospect. Still, I think it’s a clever way to play two plots on a similar theme.

S3EC - 5AwesomeExpress
And some shots at corporate business, I guess?

Even though the idea of Bender being pregnant with beer seems like it would be a one-note joke, they do manage to address enough of the aspects of pregnancy in clever enough ways that the joke actually works, right up until Dwight says “this is a delivery company, not a delivery room.” When you do implied but indirect analogies the whole episode, doing an explicit comparison kind of falls flat. Other than that, though, I think the idea is actually well done.

S3EC - 6Ruined
The kids also get mad at the beer, which is… age appropriate?

Hermes’s and the Professor’s behavior is simultaneously ridiculous and relatable. When they first see their kids are trying to start a business, they treat it as if it’s just children playing a game. The minute they discover that it’s a competing delivery company, the two start to sabotage their kids, until they understand it’s a paper route, at which point they consider it a joke again. It goes back and forth like this, with the men underestimating the boys or denigrating their efforts until finally the boys overtake the men. The fact that at no point do they consider just talking openly and honestly with their sons about how they feel is either a shot at the fragility of masculinity, a hilarious commentary on the nature of pride, or both. In the end, though, their love for their children outweighs their insecurity, which hopefully is what actually happens in these situations.

Like I said, I think this is a solid episode for managing to thematically connect such disparate situations.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the hallmarks of humor is surprise. You need to deliver a punchline that’s simultaneously unexpected and also still reasonable, because just going pure surrealist will never have as much impact. This episode somehow has one of the best examples of a surprising punchline that should also have been completely expected.

When Cubert and Dwight first take over the company, Cubert and Leela have the following exchange:

S3EC - 7AwesomeExpress.png

Cubert: Hey, Leela, help me apply these flame decals I got in my cereal. They’ll make the ship go faster.

Leela: And what’s your scientific basis for thinking that?

Cubert: I’m 12.

Cubert, a literal genius, responds with a huge amount of self-awareness about choosing to believe something completely irrational. It simultaneously makes total sense and also none whatsoever. I love the hell out of this simple exchange. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 43: Insane in the Mainframe

NEXT – Episode 45: Bendin’ In the Wind

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.