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 – S7E3 “Decision 3012”

People somehow believe a crazy theory about a President’s birthplace.

SUMMARY

Nixon’s head (Billy West) runs for a third term as President, because as a person without a body, he is exempted from the Twenty-Second Amendment, somehow. Leela (Katey Sagal) is the only member of Planet Express who doesn’t support Nixon (because Nixon gives out free beer). Leela decides to try and help candidate Senator Chris Travers (Phil LaMarr). Travers has a lot of progressive and common-sense views, which naturally make him extremely unpopular. Leela helps make him more of an everyman and eventually he wins the primary, becoming Nixon’s opponent. Everyone at Planet Express backs him, except for Bender (John DiMaggio), who conspires with Nixon to ruin Travers. Bender tries to find some dirt on Travers, but the best he can do is say that Travers’ middle name “Zaxxar” makes him sound like an alien. Based on this, Bender and Nixon start a rumor that Travers was not born on Earth and that he refuses to produce his “Earth certificate.” 

He sure looks like he was born on Earth.

Leela insists that Travers produce his Birth Certificate, but Travers says it’s just a way to distract from the issues. She goes to find his birth certificate anyway, only to learn that Travers has not been born yet. He is, in fact, from the future, having been sent back to prevent a robot uprising (led by Bender) that will be caused by Nixon’s mismanagement. Leela realizes that she can show Travers’ birth on television as a promotion to prove that he was born on Earth. It works and Travers wins the election. Leela asks Bender why he’s so calm, only for Travers to disappear and Nixon to now be the winner. It turns out that Travers can’t win the election, due to the paradox: If Nixon doesn’t win, Travers won’t be sent back. Only Bender realized this up front. Leela tries to say they almost made a difference, but in the new reality they never even left Planet Express. Nixon gloats, saying that he always wins.

END SUMMARY

This episode really doesn’t age well. It’s based on a very specific thing from the news that even people in 2020 have started to completely forget about, that there was a movement claiming that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, was not born in the US. Much like this episode indicates, at least some of the theory was derived from the fact that Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, sounded “foreign.” The most recent time it came up was when Barack Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, had to answer for the huge amount of time and money he spent promoting the completely unsubstantiated and easily disproved theory. It hasn’t really come up since and likely will be consigned to the dustbin of history in a few years. 

Obama didn’t provide a live video of his birth, however.

The ending of this episode, while it could easily have worked, actually doesn’t make any sense. Travers is shown to use the Time Code from Bender’s Big Score which was explicitly a paradox-correcting time code, but not one that prevented alterations of history. In fact, that film is all about Bender repeatedly messing with the past. As such, Travers should have been elected President, but then should also have been killed off because there were two of him in the new timeline. I do admit that it was funny to have Bender, the one who traveled through time the most of the entire cast, be the one who not only realized what would happen, but to be counting on it.

Well, Bender sure has a nice Death Army. And hat.

Overall, it’s not a bad episode if you remember what it’s mocking, but it doesn’t hold up as well otherwise. Perhaps the only thing that holds up well is that a candidate making rational points will basically be ignored by the public. I’m gonna go cry now.

FAVORITE JOKE

Honestly, there aren’t many I like in this episode. The funniest thing for me is Travers’ nominating convention which has a bunch of the states and countries of the Future. Some of the better ones include: Old Zealand (which is a big island in Denmark in 2020), Panem (the Hunger Games’s version of America), R’lyeh (where Cthulhu lies dreaming), Waterworld (like the movie), and Tri-State Area (which the mad scientist on Phineas and Ferb keeps trying to conquer). 

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

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Futurama Fridays – S6E26 “Reincarnation”

We get a look at three Futuramas that weren’t.

SUMMARY

This episode is comprised of three separate vignettes, each in a different animation style, that loosely connect.

The first is animated as a 1920s cartoon a la Betty Boop. Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) discovers a comet made of diamondium, the hardest substance in the universe, and sends the crew to gather a sample. Fry (West), having trouble with his relationship with Leela (Katey Sagal), decides to propose to her by blowing up the comet using one of the Professor’s bombs to create an engagement ring. He miscalculates and the explosion forms a completely new color in a rainbow (depicted in black and white), but also coats the Earth in diamond dust, trapping Fry and Leela in a giant gem.

I love how they don’t look ahead.

The second is animated as an Atari game. The Professor uses a piece of the diamondium comet to create a microscope powerful enough to see the fundamental unit of the universe. After getting past all of the other levels, it’s revealed that the core unit of matter is a pixel. The Professor uses this information to create a successful Theory of Everything which explains how all of the fundamental forces interact. Unfortunately, this means he has effectively solved physics, which removes any purpose to studying the field. He is cheered up when Fry asks why the universe works that way, realizing that now he can search for what led to the creation of the universe. 

Combine the first two and you get Cuphead.

The third is animated as a 1970s anime show. A race of aliens that communicate only through dance worship the diamondium comet and are enraged when the Planet Express crew blows it up. The Planet Express crew, here the Action Delivery Force, try to dissuade the attacking aliens, but cannot get through to them due to the communication barrier. Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) try to do a dance to convince them of Earth’s intentions for peace, but fail. Zoidberg ultimately succeeds only after losing his shell and giving an extremely powerful dance (visualized as him standing still while the camera moves).

They’re not angry, they’re just intense.

END SUMMARY

Of the three anthology episodes of Futurama that Comedy Central did, consisting of the Futurama Holiday Spectacular, Naturama, and Reincarnation, this is by far the best one. Each of these segments pays a loving tribute to a particular style of animation, and each of them is among the earliest for their respective styles. The first is done in the form of the earliest Western animations, the second in that of the first fully-animated computer games, and the last in the form of the first distinct Japanese anime. Each one pokes fun at the limitations of their particular genre while also paying tribute to it. The 1920s style sketch pretends to create a new color by working in greyscale, the Atari sketch depicts a fundamental particle by just showing a black pixel, and the anime sketch features a character dancing with subtlety by just moving the camera over a still frame, the same way that such series saved money using that technique. 

I love the fact that child labor is implied just because it’s old-timey.

Even more interesting is that the sketches aren’t truly independent. Even though this kind of episode would usually necessitate unconnected shorts, instead the mission to get the diamondium lens from the first segment and Fry blowing up the comet both set the stage for the second and third short. I know that may seem like a small thing, but I actually think it’s a brilliant way to shorten the amount of set-up needed for the other segments. It’s so seamless that you never really consider that we already saw the comet explosion kill the cast. 

This isn’t canon to the other stories, but it’s adorable.

Overall, really solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Okay, so, when the Professor starts to use the diamondium lens in the second segment, he decides to use “a log [he] found in a hole in the bottom of the sea.” This is a reference to the song “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” He then does the first few parts of that song, up to “there’s a snail on the tail on the frog on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea,” but then the Professor starts saying the smaller elements as “cells, molecules, [and] atoms.” Fry retorts that “those things don’t rhyme,” only for the Professor to say “things only rhyme below 10-5 angstroms.” He then names a bunch of subatomic particles: ions (not really a particle) and pions, muons and gluons, neutrinos and gravitinos. I love this joke because it turns a children’s rhyme into a comment about the absurd naming conventions in subatomic physics. 

The 80s predicted what Neutrinos would look like.

Taking a break to do 30 Day Movie Challenge.

See you in October meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 101: Overclockwise

NEXT – Episode 103: The Bots and the Bees

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Futurama Fridays – S6E25 “Overclockwise”

Bender enhances his robotic intellect so much that he becomes nearly omniscient.

SUMMARY

Cubert (Kath Soucie), Fry (Billy West), and Bender (John DiMaggio) are playing a WWII combat game online, but keep losing badly to Walt, Igner, and Larry (Maurice Lamarche and DiMaggio), Mom’s (Tress MacNeille) idiot sons. Cubert says Bender is the weak link, something that Bender acknowledges due to his hardware being out of date. Cubert overclocks Bender’s CPU to compensate and Bender quickly becomes much more intelligent. Mom, discovering that Cubert violated Bender’s user agreement, sends an army of robots to reclaim him and has Cubert and the Professor (West) arrested. Bender manages to overclock his own secondary processor, making him smart enough to avoid Mom’s attacks and continually increase his own intellect. He leaves Planet Express to find seclusion from Mom. 

Graphics are a bit lackluster for 1000 years in the future.

At the same time, Fry and Leela (Katey Segal) are discussing their relationship when she starts to express doubt about the future. Eventually, when the Professor and Cubert are put on trial, Leela leaves Planet Express to go find a new purpose. Fry tries to find a new friend in Randy (DiMaggio), but ends up trying to kill himself by going over Niagara Falls. He survives and finds a cave containing Bender, who is now a mostly non-corporeal existence. Bender has hacked himself so much that he is now using reality as a processor, giving him essential omniscience. He informs Fry that Cubert and the Professor are going to be convicted and declines to explain if Fry and Leela will end up together.

Mom has pin-ups of herself. That’s disturbing and vain.

At the trial, the deliberations conclude, only for Bender to show up a few moments later. He is denied the opportunity to testify, but then mentions loudly that the Jury probably won’t convict Cubert. Mom makes the prosecutor drop the case against Cubert, but Bender then points out that Cubert and Farnsworth are the same person, legally, so dropping a case against one drops them both. He is then picked up by Mom’s robots and reset to his old intellect. Leela later comes back to see Fry and ask Bender about their future. It’s revealed that Bender wrote down how Fry and Leela will end up. The pair read it and, although the audience doesn’t see what it says, it indicates that the two will be happy.

END SUMMARY

This is the third of Futurama’s four finales along with “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” and “Meanwhile.” I’ve stated before that all of these are excellent episodes, but this one feels the least like an actual finale, possibly because it focuses the least on Fry and Leela, who really were the emotional core of the show. However, this episode is still excellent, even if the ending feels a little tacked on, as does the C plot of Leela questioning her and Fry’s relationship. Also, it’s weird that this isn’t the season finale, given that it was originally the series finale.

Hey, I just realized that the mutants can be jurors. That’s progress.

This episode does a good job of having the A and B plots both arise from the same incident, which is a useful narrative tool in sitcoms, particularly since they both sort of represent two different viewpoints on modern computing. Bender’s plotline involves overclocking his central processing unit, which is a term for attempting to increase a CPU’s clock rate, or how often a computer sends an electrical pulse to synchronize all its components. When this is increased it can theoretically make a component’s operating speed higher, but it risks causing overheating issues or power issues if not done properly. If it works, though, you can make parts exceed their factory settings. On the other side, though, most companies will either consider a part warranty void if the part is overclocked (which makes sense as it reduces the lifespan of the component), or, as in this episode, will require users to sign contracts stating they won’t overclock it. That policy, as is stated in this episode, is kind of crazy, because it means that a person who has a part in their computer cannot use it as they want without it potentially violating that agreement. Moreover, some software actually contains licensing agreements (remember, you don’t actually own your software, which is a discussion for another time) which ban the software from being run with overclocked parts. So, you can’t improve your own property. I appreciate that this episode addresses the issue in a funny way.

And yes, you probably have some of these right now.

Overall, aside from the part where Fry and Leela just spontaneously have a weird talk about being on-again off-again, this is a pretty great episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m going to do two. First, the fact that Bender uses Niagara Falls as both a power source and a cooling source is a reference to an apocryphal prediction by a supposed “Professor of Electrical Engineering” from New York. If you take an electrical engineering class, you’ll probably hear some mention of a supposed professor from before the microchip was invented who predicted that supercomputers were impossible, because you’d need Niagara Falls to cool all of the Vacuum Tubes required. Nowhere on the internet have I even seen someone try to name this professor, which should tell you how real the quote is, but it still gets around. 

All is Bender. All will be Bender.

Second, one of the books that Bender reads is Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged. This is a combination of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the classic Rand McNally Atlases. I love this one because, before this episode aired, I used the same joke at a trivia night I was hosting for a “Before and After” clue.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 100: Cold Warriors

NEXT – Episode 102: Reincarnation

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Futurama Fridays – S6E24 “Cold Warriors”

Fry dooms humanity to die in a plague. This is timely.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) catches a cold from an ice fishing trip, recalling the time that he fell through the ice when fishing with his father Yancy (John DiMaggio) and got sick. However, it turns out that the common cold had been eliminated several centuries prior, meaning that humanity has now lost all immunities to the disease. The Planet Express building is quarantined as everyone gets sick and Bender (DiMaggio) is asked to take care of the crew. He quickly gets fed up with feeding people and breaks out of the quarantine, infecting the surrounding EMTs, medical staff, and police. It quickly starts to infect everyone in New New York and everyone blames Fry for it. Richard Nixon (West) orders that the entire island of Manhattan be shrink-wrapped and thrown into the Sun in order to eliminate the virus completely. Farnsworth (West) reveals that he can make a vaccine, but they’ll have to find an unmutated strain of the virus, which only exists in Fry. In order to get it from him, the Professor will have to grind Fry into a paste.\

Tissue Walrus is an endangered species.

Flashing back to when he was getting over a cold as a kid, it’s revealed that Fry, having been put down by his father, decided to try and win the Science Fair and defeat his rival, Josh Gedgie (David Herman). The winner’s experiment would be sent into space. Fry tried to train his guinea pig to be an astronaut while Gedgie ended up winning by doing a study on virus propagation. 

The guinea pig unfortunately did not survive Buzz Aldrin.

Fry realizes there’s a sample of the virus on the Nerd Search satellite containing the science fair winners and the crew busts out of containment to find it. They find it on the moon Enceladus and discover that Gedgie’s virus was so well-preserved that it is still viable. Farnsworth successfully makes the vaccine. The episode ends on a flashback to ice fishing with Fry and his father and a sincere moment of bonding between them.

END SUMMARY

This is one of those Futurama episodes that kind of sucker-punches you with the emotional finale. It’s particularly surprising since Fry’s father, Yancy, has always been such a hard-ass towards his son. This episode recontextualizes all of the times he seemed to abandon Fry to his future as Yancy really just having faith that Fry will be okay.  I sometimes feel like this was part of the Comedy Central run’s attempts to rectify the more harsh parts of Fry’s backstory the way that “Bender’s Big Score” tried to soften the impact of Seymour’s fate. This would come up again in the next season towards the final run of the show with “Game of Tones,” where Fry gets to try and fix his relationship with his mom. 

It’s a cute moment.

As for the future plot, I didn’t find it to be one of the funnier episodes, but the concept was actually pretty solid. There’s no advantage to developing antibodies if you aren’t exposed to disease, meaning that mothers won’t transfer antibodies to their children, so eventually resistance would break down. It’s a little ridiculous that there wouldn’t be any saved vaccines archived somewhere, but after a few centuries, particularly with the implied periods of Earth being overthrown by aliens, it’s not the craziest proposal. 

Wow, you mean a government can respond effectively to a virus?… bullsh*t.

Overall, I have a soft spot for this episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Fry’s experiment in the past was to try and make his guinea pig into an astronaut. During his attempts, we see a montage of Fry subjecting the pet to a number of simulations of NASA training exercises. First, he’s bounced into the air via trampoline and given a tiny parachute to land. Then, he’s shot into the air in a shampoo bottle. Then he’s spun around on top of a record player at high speed. During this montage, the song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” keeps playing. At the end, the record that the guinea pig is riding is revealed to be the soundtrack to Mannequin, the film for which the song was written by Starship, the band that spun off of Jefferson Starship. So, the guinea pig’s space training montage is set to Starship, which I just find hilarious.

This was hard to screenshot.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E23 “All the President’s Heads”

It’s another time-travel episode, but this time we kill George Washington.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) gets a night job at the Head Museum, feeding the heads of the former US Presidents. He invites the crew over to the museum for a party, but when they drink the liquid around the heads, they find themselves transported back in time. Farnsworth (West) hypothesizes that the opal used to make the head fluid keeps the heads trapped in a temporal bubble. After learning from George Washington’s head (Maurice LaMarche) that one of his ancestors was a traitor to the US, Farnsworth, Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) travel back to stop him from betraying the revolution. The four encounter Ben Franklin (LaMarche), who tells them that Farnsworth’s ancestor, David Farnsworth (David Herman), is working as a counterfeiter and they discover that he’s at Paul Revere’s smithy in Boston. They capture David and destroy his counterfeits, but in the process Fry grabs a lantern from the Old North Church just as they are pulled back to the future.

Chester Z. Arthur will be elected in 2520 and impeached for eyebrow in 2521.

They emerge on an Earth that is now British. All of North America is now West Britannia, due to the UK winning the Revolutionary War. It turns out that Fry taking the lantern led to Revere warning of the British coming by land, instead of sea, leading to a swift defeat. David Farnsworth was knighted for killing George Washington, making Farnsworth a lord and a rich man. However, upon finding out he’s also the consort to the horrible queen of England, Farnsworth steals her opal and uses it to go back and change history again. This time, he almost kills David Farnsworth, leading to the name being cleared, and Bender being on a flag. 

Oh, you have to have sex with a British woman in exchange for a mansion. How terrible.

END SUMMARY

This episode would be completely forgettable if it weren’t for Ben Franklin. Yes, the man too interesting to be allowed into the play Hamilton somehow saved an episode of Futurama. That’s because he somehow got some of the only memorable lines in it, or was the subject of others.

Not wearing bifocals, though.

First, when asked if Franklin is in Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson responds “When he’s not in Charlotte, or Maribel, or Louisa!” Fry doesn’t get it. When they arrive at Franklin’s house, Louisa answers the door, leading Fry to finally say “Now I get it!” This is a reference to Franklin’s legendary womanizing, which is SO MUCH more than you would think. Second, he invented the “Franklinator,” a club with a badger tied to it. I have been trying to incorporate that device into a fantasy setting ever since this episode. I’m thinking it’d be a combination of bludgeoning damage with a bite bonus. Also, randomly you get the one with the chipmunk that does nothing. Last, he’s the only one who got to call our leads “sh*theads” on television, by mocking the ambiguous printing of S in the 1770s. Since it looked like f, Franklin gets away with mocking their ignorance by saying they’re “ftupid fhitheads.” 

Franklinator? It’s probably Milhouse.

Aside from those moments, most of this episode was just unimpressive. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Aside from the Franklin jokes, I have two other things I like in the episode. First, there’s a short cartoon in the intro featuring Zoich, the mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Zoich, as you might guess from looking below, was based on the Hypnotoad from Futurama. I like the fact that the show acknowledged they had some real-world impact. The other thing that amused me was the part where FDR’s head says “The only thing we have to fear… is running out of beer.” This would make running out of beer equivalent to fear itself, which… yeah, tracks.

All Glory to Zoich

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 98: Fry am the Egg Man

NEXT – Episode 100: Cold Warriors

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Futurama Fridays – S6E22 “Fry Am The Egg Man”

Fry tries to hatch an egg and ends up creating a monster.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) stop by Fishy Joe’s restaurant after a mission, but Leela becomes upset about the fast food restaurant’s lack of healthy options and questionable ingredients. In response, Leela forces the crew to start buying their food at a farmer’s market. She buys a bunch of eggs that a farmer found in the woods and blackmails the entire Planet Express staff into doing brunch. After discovering that the eggs are fertilized, Fry refuses to eat his and instead decides to hatch it. Eventually, it hatches into a tiny blue alien with acid spit that Fry names “Mr. Peppy.” The group wants to kill it, but Fry tells them he plans on raising it.

Lrrr also orders at Fishy Joe’s. Try the veal.

After a few weeks, Mr. Peppy becomes extremely large, to the point that it can easily rip Bender’s limbs off. Professor Farnsworth (West) eventually discovers that Mr. Peppy is a Bone Vampire, a species that sucks the bones out of its victims. After finding out that Bone Vampires are extinct on their home planet, Doohan 6, the Scottish planet, and reproduce asexually, Leela suggests releasing Mr. Peppy to repopulate the species. After letting him go, the crew goes to a local pub on Doohan 6. They meet Handsome Major Angus McZongo, Esq. (Maurice LaMarche), who hits on Leela before informing them that the planet’s residents had killed all of the Bone Vampires because they kept eating all of the livestock. Fry insists that Mr. Peppy isn’t dangerous, so McZongo agrees to let the creature live for a few days while he tries to woo Leela. 

Mr. Peppy clearly doesn’t like “cuddles”

Soon they find a collection of boneless sheep and McZongo declares that Mr. Peppy must die. Fry insists on putting his pet down himself. After hunting for hours, Fry finally shoots at the figure attacking the sheep, but it turns out to be Angus McZongo. It’s revealed that he pretended to be the Bone Vampire in order to regain his popularity as a hunter, due to Mr. Peppy being a vegetarian. They soon discover that Mr. Peppy has abandoned his vegetarian ways, however, and gone back to eating the bones from sheep. Rather than killing him, the villagers celebrate, because after the sheep get killed, they’re now just boneless hunks of mutton which can be easily sold. Leela and the crew later head to Fishy Joe’s again, where Leela orders the mutton, reasoning that at least they know where it comes from now.

Handsome is relative on Doohan 6.

END SUMMARY

This episode always seems like a natural extension of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart hatches what he believes are two bird eggs only for them to be ecosystem-wrecking lizards, which was itself a twist on the episode of The Andy Griffith Show called “Opie the Birdman.” The Simpsons episode was written by David X. Cohen, one of the creators of Futurama along with Matt Groening. It always feels like I’m glimpsing something about how fiction represents society’s progression when you see a plotline that starts with a sincere parable about parenting eventually becomes a sarcastic tale of good intentions wrecking a town and eventually a nearly surreal story of a monster that saves a village of strange Scotsmen in space. If you look over how fiction usually evolves, this tends to be cyclical, so maybe one day in the future we’ll be back to sincere emotional tales as the thing that people want to see again. Or maybe sincerity is dead forever. It’s hard to tell as of 2020.

Lisa gets that this is horrifying.

This episode does have one of the more satisfying setups, because it doesn’t just get dropped after the plot moves to the second act. Instead, there’s a nice final scene where Leela accepts her small victory, even though she ends up putting a ton of cheese filling in her supposedly “natural” meal. Just like the rest of us, Leela’s only willing to try a certain amount to stand on principle before accepting a big bucket of fried goodness. 

Plus, this guy’s at the Farmer’s Market.

Overall, I enjoy parts of this episode, but the actual scenes with Fry hatching the egg and raising Mr. Peppy take like 7 minutes and are not particularly entertaining. 

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the people on Doohan 6 originally speaks in Gaelic when they meet him, which is understandable for a Scottish planet. Hilariously, Leela insists that they speak English, despite this planet likely being as strongly anti-English as it gets (just look up the history of Scotland for why that would be). However, the next two times they see him, he doesn’t speak Gaelic, but instead shouts a series of words with a heavy accent. The first time it’s “Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff,” a reference to three of the Hogwarts houses. The second time, it’s “Dersu Uzala, Yojimbo, Rashomon,” the titles of three films by famed Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. I wish they’d thought of a few more of these, but the gag still makes me chuckle. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 97: Yo Leela Leela

NEXT – Episode 99: All the Presidents’ Heads

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 – S6E21 “Yo Leela Leela”

So it’s come to this, a show within a show. Again.

SUMMARY

Leela (Katey Sagal) visits her old Orphanarium to read a story to the orphans, but finds out they have eaten the books due to budget cuts. Leela tries to improvise a story, but it’s terrible and the children make their displeasure clear. She tries to write a better children’s tale and, unable to concentrate at work, heads into space to work on it. When she returns, she reveals that she’s invented a happy fantasy world called Rumbledy-Hump inhabited by singing creatures called the Humplings. The children love it and Leela is approached by Abner Doubledeal (Tom Kenny) to create a show based on the characters. She hesitates, but the children encourage her. 

The future still doesn’t fun welfare programs. Fun.

Leela and the rest of the crew work on the show together, with Leela writing in her “special place.” Despite her not thinking much of the series, it becomes a sensation and she soon becomes arrogant. When she has to come up with a script quickly, she heads off to write, only for Bender (John DiMaggio), who was getting a massage on the ship, to stumble out and discover that Leela actually isn’t writing the show. Instead, she found a planet populated by cute little singing creatures and just copies what she sees them do. Bender blackmails her with this information, but the show goes on as normal. When the orphans visit and tell Leela that they were inspired by her, however, she comes clean. She takes the kids and the crew to the real Rumbledy-Hump and they meet the Humplings. Doubledeal, realizing that the Humplings are real, just decides to film the creatures rather than make a show. He adopts all of the orphans to work on the set. Leela is horrified by the corruption of the innocent, but it’s revealed that literally everyone is happy with the arrangement except for her. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is yet another story about a member of the crew becoming a celebrity, but this time it’s Leela that lets the fame go to her head. Unfortunately, the episode suffers because it hits a lot of the same general beats as “Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television,” “Bendin’ in the Wind,” and even “A Leela of Her Own.” Leela becomes famous, then she becomes arrogant, then she’s revealed to largely be a fraud. The only difference in this is that, after Leela is shown to be faking, nobody really gets upset with her. However, that ending, combined with some of the fun satire of the nature of children’s television, does still make this a fairly enjoyable episode.

She has a statue of a man that she watched die.

Rumbledy-Hump being real is probably the most predictable “twist” in the series, but the revelation that the Humplings actually prefer the convenience of modern “future” society was a solid subversion. It turns out that all of the innocence in the world is secondary to indoor plumbing. The creatures themselves were well-made, containing a nice sampling of all of the characters that kids shows usually like to feature: The moral center (Lady Buggle), the big eater (Doingg), the sweet girl (Princess Num Num), the coward (Feffernoose), and the one with the strange speech pattern (Garbly). I have nieces that are extremely young and I can confirm that this lineup seems pretty standard. 

The cheap sets and costumes are also accurate.

Overall, kind of a middle of the road episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Most of the insane songs that the Humplings sing are pretty amusing, but my favorite is still the implied song that gets cut off by the ad break. After Leela says “Oh, Hell” when Bender finds out that she’s just been copying what the Humplings say, they say that she said a Rumbledy-Hump “no-no!” In response, they sing the song about words that you shouldn’t say, which apparently is 98 words long. The words include “poo-poo” and “pee-pee” and “penis” and “gay,” which leads to a tremendous amount of speculation as to exactly what the other 94 words must have been. Did the creatures say “f*ck” and “sh*t” and “craptacular” in the process of describing all of the things they can’t say? That’s like using George Carlin to actually explain what words can’t be said on Network TV. Also, one of the words is “gay,” which apparently is an allusion to the then-recent bill in Tennessee that banned any teacher from even saying the word “gay.” That part makes me sad. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 96: Neutopia

NEXT – Episode 98: Fry Am The Egg Man

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.