Futurama Fridays – S2 E9 “A Bicyclops Built for Two”

Leela’s the focus for this episode exploring her tragic backstory.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) finally connects to the internet, which is a giant virtual-reality world that feels vaguely Tron-ish. Amy (Lauren Tom) and Leela (Katey Sagal) go into a chat room where they both intimidate all of the men by virtue of being actual women. Later, they join Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), Zoidberg (West), and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) in a video game where Fry dominates due to wasting so much of his life gaming. Leela, however, meets another cyclops named Alcazar (David Herman) who Fry immediately vaporizes. On their next delivery, Leela receives a message from Alcazar with information about the Cyclops homeworld, so she heads there with Fry and Bender.

S2E9 - 1Alcazar
Anyone else think he should have one giant nipple? No? Just me? Okay then.

On the planet, Alcazar tells Leela that the planet was blown up by the eyeless Mole People of Subterra 3 out of anger that the Cyclopes had sight. Alcazar survived by being in a pool at the time, while Leela was a baby sent to Earth by a scientist to save her life. Leela then tells him that the species doesn’t have to end with them and they have sex. The next morning, Alcazar starts acting like Al Bundy from Married with Children, with Leela taking on aspects of Katey Sagal’s previous role as his wife Peg. Despite the fact that they now fight all the time, Leela agrees to marry him to keep the species going. Fry, however, decides to search the forbidden valley on the planet to try and find something to convince Leela not to marry him.

S2E9 - 2SexyTimes.png
Leela has so far only had pity sex and “save the species” sex. That’s disturbing.

The staff arrives for the wedding, but after questing for a little while, Fry and Bender find four identical kingdoms. They return just in time for the wedding with four other women, revealed to be all of Alcazar’s other fiances. It turns out that he’s a shapeshifter who just found it easy to get laid by marrying women who are the last of their species. The weddings are all called off and Leela continues to wonder where she comes from.

S2E9 - 3TrueForm.png
It’s a nice day for a green wedding…. yeah.

END SUMMARY

This episode kind of feels like it was just a set-up to the joke of reprising Katey Sagal’s character from Married With Children. It’s one of those things that was basically inevitable and I think that doing it in Season 2, without letting the necessity build, meant that they could get away with only dedicating about 2 minutes of the episode to it, rather than make it the focal point of the episode. Still, it’s pretty funny to watch Leela, who usually responds to everything with violence, throw all these verbal barbs with Alcazar, with the pig and the rat couple providing the audience hooting and reactions in place of the shows usual live studio audience. Also, I love that Leela immediately questions why the set-up has changed to be more similar to Married with Children but Alcazar insults her rather than answering her question. It’s one of my favorite lampshade hangings in the series.

S2E9 - 4MWC.png
That couch clashes with the ornate palace.

The representation of the internet in this movie is a little dated, since “chat rooms” no longer exist as they did in the 90s, celebrity nudes are no longer all fakes, and AOL dial-up is mostly a thing of the past. However, some elements have definitely held up, like the idea that many guys who talk big on the internet would collapse in the presence of a real woman, that video games are becoming more virtual reality based, and that underage people will claim to be 18 to see nudity online. It’s also impressive that they mostly avoided any references to The Matrix despite the fact that this episode came out almost a year to the day after that movie, which means this would have been written shortly after that movie was everywhere. The only one I caught is when Hermes dodges a pop-up ad by limboing, which is right after they make several references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Birds, and Tron, so it feels like they’re just spamming movie jokes right then. Again, it’s a decent amount of restraint, given the subject matter and the time. It’s also possible that the writers just thought The Matrix wouldn’t hold up in the cultural zeitgeist as well as it did.

S2E9 - 5AmyNaked.png
I also love the “Girls Wanted” sign on the other site.

The final reveal of Alcazar is pretty clever. It’s a funny bit to reveal each of the alien brides to him and watch Alcazar try to cover for them all, but ultimately it’s watching Leela’s last moments contemplating the fact that she almost married someone that she knew was treating her terribly just so she could feel like she belonged. It’s one of the most real moments of Leela’s character in the entire series, because it feels so human to do something stupid in order to stop feeling alone. The last shot, however, is pure Futurama emotional gut-punch when she asks how many planets there could be and the camera pans out to remind us that space is incomprehensibly large. There are over 100 Billion stars estimated to be within the Milky Way Galaxy alone, each of which usually has at least one planet in orbit, and in Futurama the crew regularly travels all the way across the universe, meaning that almost any galaxy or planet in the universe is a possibility. There are estimated to be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the entire visible universe, again, each with likely one or more planets. That means that if you searched 1 planet every milli-second for 5 billion years, you’d be roughly… .02% of the way there.

SPACE IS BIG, Y’ALL!!!

This is actually a very nice use of Cosmic nihilism for the audience, but since Leela doesn’t acknowledge it, it isn’t as sad as it usually is. Plus, Leela had addressed the opposite of it earlier in the episode, self-determination. She now realizes that she doesn’t need a home to define her as long as she knows who she is. Granted, eventually she will know her history, but that’s still a mystery right now, and it’s nice to watch her make some level of peace with the mystery.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the women Alcazar is set to marry is a Yithian from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time.”

S2E9 - 6Yithian.png
The Purple One.

The Yithians are a race that previously inhabited Earth over 66 Million Years Ago and they gained a form of near-omniscience through their ability to switch out their minds with other species in the future. However, despite this, they were annihilated by a species of Flying Polyps. However, since they knew they were going to be destroyed, they switched all of their minds with another race that will take over the Earth after humans are dead, the Coleopterous race. The coleopterous race is described as “beetle folk,” resembling a great number of different humanoid insects… just like Alcazar’s true form. In other words, his Yithian bride would likely be the last of her race, but if she wanted to marry another Yithian, they’d look like a giant insect. Additionally, she’s the only one who doesn’t say anything about his true form, so it’s possible she’s just pissed about the fact that he was going to marry 4 other women. Either way, a Yithian/Bug Creature wedding was a weird but interesting reference and I dig it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 21: Raging Bender

NEXT – Episode 23: A Clone of My Own

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

 

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Futurama Fridays – S2 E8 “Raging Bender”

Bender somehow becomes involved in professional robot wrestling, despite the title being a reference to a boxing movie.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew heads to the movies where Bender (John DiMaggio) is a complete and total jerk to the other patrons. In particular, he won’t stop aggravating the guy in front of him, who appears to be a stereotypical nerd, including insulting his girlfriend. However, when he goes too far, the nerd turns out to be the giant wrestler The Masked Unit (Tom Kenny) who attacks Bender. The Masked Unit then slips on some popcorn and is knocked out. The commissioner of the Ultimate Robot Fighting League, Abner Doubledeal (Kenny), happens to be in the theater and offers to make Bender a wrestler.

S2E8 - 2MaskedUnit.png
He’s opening up a file of whoopass. That’s a quote.

Bender is excited at the prospect of being a wrestler until he realizes that he might actually get hurt. He tries to quit, but  Leela (Katey Sagal) uses her tragic past involving martial arts to convince him to stay and let her train him. Despite his incompetence, he does actually manage to win his first match… because it was fixed. It turns out that Robot Wrestling is fake and that the most popular fighter always wins. Bender, now wrestling as Bender the Offender, starts to dominate the league through his antics. Since it’s fake, he stops training, which annoys Leela. Eventually, though, his popularity wanes and Doubledeal decides to rebrand him as a loser, the Gender Bender, an effeminate transvestite. Bender refuses at first, but is then told that his opponent is Destructor (Maurice LaMarche), an unbelievably powerful killer robot who can beat him in a fake match or a real one if need be. He agrees to lose.

S2E8 - 3Destructor.png
Destructor’s use in combat is a war crime. And hilarious.

Bender begs Leela to help him win the fight, which she agrees to do only after learning that her sexist martial arts instructor Fnog (David Herman) is Destructor’s trainer. The bout takes place at Madison Cube Garden, but it turns out that Bender is completely outclassed. When Leela tries to call it off to save Bender’s life, she discovers that Destructor is being controlled by Fnog. Leela battles Fnog while Bender fights the uncontrolled Destructor, resulting in Leela KO’ing her tormentor and Bender getting flattened. Bender is in pain, but Leela is happy that she got vengeance.

S2E8 - 4Fnog.png
SWEEP THE LEG!!!!

END SUMMARY

I was a decent wrestling fan as a kid, because it was 1992, I was 5, and Ric Flair was the man. WOOOOOOOOO!!! Later, of course, I found out that A) it was fake, B) some of these guys were completely different outside of the ring, and C) they were still amazing athletes and performers. So, I wasn’t exactly happy about this episode which mostly portrays wrestling as involving effortless and cheesy performances. I’m not denying that wrestling performances are cheesy, they absolutely are. Sometimes in the best way, like Randy Savage (R.I.P.), sometimes in the worst way, like the Shockmaster (sorry Fred Ottoman, I’m sure you’re a good guy), but they often are. However, they are absolutely not effortless as Mick Foley (or Mankind) will tell you. These are damned impressive physical performers and dedicated method actors and they deserve that respect.

s2E8 - 5MachoMan.jpg
Oh yes, sir. Oh yes, indeed. I will snap into a Slim Jim today.

Having said that, I think the satire of wrestling in this episode is freaking hilarious. The robot characters are all insane stereotypes (Billionaire Bot, Chain Smoker, Foreigner… these are the actual names) just like in most 80s-90s wrestling, the heels and faces are clearly defined, they get re-branded as necessary, and the product endorsements are dead-on (Bender endorses a brand of French milk bath soaps). It’s mostly put forth in one single montage, but I think the line that stands out most for me is the Foreigner’s intro:

I’m not from here! I have my own customs! Look at my crazy passport!

It’s a perfect tribute to how wrestling is based on giving you characters that can be identified down to their whole histories and motivations within just a few lines. There’s no nuance, it’s just character archetypes, and that can sometimes be beautiful. Watch Glow on Netflix if you want an entire series built around justifying this as an art form.

S2E8 - 6ChainSmoker.png
The Chainsmoker is less creative, I admit.

Leela’s subversion of the Karate Kid-esque (Bender even does Crane Stance) master-student bond is a great B-plot. Despite being a prodigious martial artist, Leela is condemned by Fnog (which I assume is just a parody on the common fake-martial artist name Master Fong) just for being a girl. His sexism is so ludicrous that he awards the victory in the spar to Leela’s completely unconscious opponent, which makes his ultimate ass-whipping all the more of a foregone conclusion that is still pretty satisfying.

The episode also has one of my favorite minor C-plots involving Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and the brain slug. During vacation, Hermes apparently made a stop at the brain slug planet and a slug took him over. He then proceeds to blatantly try to get brain slugs onto the others in comically inept ways, only succeeding with Fry. Fry’s brain slug then starves to death. Given the later reveals in the show, it would be thought that Fry’s slug starved because Fry lacks the Delta Brainwave, but the commentary for the episode reveals that the joke is solely that Fry is stupid and nothing else.

S2E8 - 7BrainSlug.png
Hermes should have used a garlic shampoo.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a tie between Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot’s cameos at the movie, advising Bender not to talk during the film, and the title of the theater as “א-null-plex.” I’d write it correctly, but I’m having formatting issues and the picture’s going to be below anyway. See, א, which is pronounced “aleph,” is the mathematical symbol representing infinities in set theories. Aleph-zero, or Aleph-null, is the lowest infinite set, the countable infinite, which is what most people think of when they think of “infinite.” Basically, it means if there is a way you can set up a system with the numbers that has a correspondence to the natural numbers, like the multiples of 7 or the powers of 11 or the prime numbers. I’ll attach a fun video explaining this concept below, because knowledge is power. The joke here is that the theater is a pun on the theater term “multiplex” which, in most shows, is parodied as the “infiniplex.” Futurama is just taking it one step further by saying that this is specifically the smallest-level of infiniplex, because they like to wave their math d**ks around. Yes, they have math ducks.

S2E8 - 1Aleph.png
Math jokes are mathemagical.

As to Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, the joke is obvious if you’ve seen Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you haven’t seen it, I’ve now done two reviews on it and it’s on Netflix. CHECK IT OUT NOW!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 20: Put Your Head on my Shoulders 

NEXT – Episode 22: A Bicyclops Built for Two

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E7 “Put Your Head on my Shoulders”

Season 2 continues to have some episodes more focused on the other Planet Express employees and this one is on the ditziest, and only, Martian trillionaire engineering grad student in the show: Amy Wong.

SUMMARY

S2E7 - 1Opening.png
This is one of my favorite intro lines.

Amy (Lauren Tom) got all Cs on her report card and therefore decides that her parents should buy her a new car. She proceeds to buy a brand new Beta Romeo and take it for a spin on Mercury with Fry (Billy West). They proceed to run out of gas due to their own incompetence and have to call for help. While waiting for help, they start talking and realize that they have a lot in common, resulting in them having some extremely casual sex (“Wanna do it?” is Amy’s ultimate seductive line). After they tell the Planet Express staff, the team immediately begins to talk about how good Fry and Amy are as a couple. However, Amy tells Fry she enjoys “hanging out” with him which leads him to freak out about things becoming too serious. He tries to bring Dr. Zoidberg (West) along with them on a date, however, when Fry tries to break up with Amy, Zoidberg crashes the car. Fry’s body is badly injured, so Zoidberg sticks his head on Amy’s body. Despite this, Fry breaks up with Amy, who immediately goes back to dating other people.

S2E7 - 2Kissing.png
They still kiss weird. Or do I kiss weird and they kiss normal?

At the same time, in the B-Plot, Bender (John DiMaggio) attempts to create a dating service (after his initial plans to create a prostitution ring prove illegal). He charges people money to participate in his “computer dating” program, which is actually just Bender randomly matching couples. Zapp Brannigan (West) is the first among his desperate clientele, but eventually even Leela (Katey Sagal) joins. When Amy reveals she has a Valentine’s Day date, Fry also ends up asking Bender for help.

S2E7 - 3Dating.png
It consists mostly of punch-cards.

On Valentine’s Day, Bender does indeed provide Fry a date: Petunia the ancient hooker (Tress MacNeille). It turns out that all of Bender’s “matches” are just random lowlifes he found at a bus stop. Despite being an old prostitute, however, Petunia still believes that she’s too good for Fry and leaves. Amy’s date with a handsome banking industry regulator named Gary (Maurice LaMarche) goes very well, with the pair about to take themselves (and Fry) back to the bedroom. Leela saves Fry by stepping in and distracting Gary for the evening. Fry gets his body back and thanks Leela who says she enjoyed “hanging out” with him, something that he doesn’t object to.

S2E7 - 4Coffee.png
Most third wheel to ever third wheel.

END SUMMARY

Sometimes I almost feel like this episode was designed to destroy fans who were “shipping” Fry and Amy. Yes, they’re both young and kind of dumb. Yes, they talk similarly and are both slightly removed from the “real world” of the year 3000 (Amy by her wealth, Fry by his anachronism). So yeah, they make sense as a couple, except that they both would drag each other down. Neither of them has any ambition, focus, or sense of personal responsibility, the things that partners should bring out in each other, and when they’re together they just reinforce each others’ worst tendencies. Plus, they largely only connect on a superficial level to the point that Amy isn’t contemplating anything deeper and Fry gets scared from just thinking she’s considering it. That’s why it’s so great that they each end up with people that they connect more deeply with and that help them grow as people. Also, I was already shipping Fry and Leela hard by this point, so I like that this episode pretty much kills any implication that he and Amy might end up together. The asymmetry of Fry freaking out about Amy saying “hanging out” but Fry being pleased when Leela says the same thing really drove it home.

S2E7 - 5Leela.png
They’re cute, even when he has an Asian co-ed’s body. Maybe especially then.

Caveat: There is nothing wrong with casual sex, friends with benefits, hook-ups, or having non-sexual romantic partners or friends that are emotionally as close as lovers. As long as your relationships are healthy, it’s nobody’s damned business how you conduct them. You do you.

This is another example of the show taking a classic premise (guy gets scared of intimacy and is put into forced intimate situation) but putting a sci-fi spin on it. However, I think the best subversion is that Fry still breaks up with her quickly. In most sitcoms where the person is stuck with the person that they are planning to break up with, they struggle for a while to just deal with it to avoid the awkwardness (Check out… most of Seinfeld, really, if you want examples), but Fry, despite now being physically connected with Amy, just goes ahead and ends things. This leads to the hilarious fallout when Amy, rather than being devastated or thinking that Fry’s head is an inconvenience, just goes ahead with her dating life immediately.

S2E7 - 6Amydump.png
Also, Fry’s a dick to her in this episode. Boo, Fry. Boo.

This episode does play straight the old trope of a guy who is in a relationship believing that he is better off single only to quickly find out that he is less desirable than he thought and that the woman he just left is much more successful at being single. I’d say watch Seinfeld for this one too, but you could also just observe almost any relationship where both people are in their early 20s.

FAVORITE JOKE

Well, the real answer to this is when the episode smash-cuts from Bender clearly supposed to be thinking of his dating service and instead being revealed to be trying to be a pimp. “Stupid Anti-Pimping Laws” would be my bumper sticker if I drove a Cadillac. Sadly, that joke’s short, so here’s another one related to it.

S2E7 - 7DatingService.png
The best jokes are Math Jokes.

Bender’s dating service is advertised as being “Discreet and Discrete.” The first is the more commonly used homonym, meaning something that is not openly practiced or is clandestine. The second is a bit more… varied in how it could be applied. Discrete means something that is not continuous, but when applied to mathematics it typically deals with non-continuous math concepts, such as logic. There are a ton of separate sub-fields that could, theoretically, apply to a dating service: Combinatorics, Game Theory, Information Theory, Computer Science, etc. I think the fact that there are about a dozen ways to interpret this joke within Discrete Mathematics that all make sense is why I love this joke so much. Also, I have a soft spot for puns.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 19: The Lesser of Two Evils

NEXT – Episode 21: Raging Bender

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E6 “The Lesser of Two Evils”

Bender finds out he has a Star Trek mirror universe-esque twin, complete with goatee.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio), Fry (Billy West), and Leela (Katey Sagal) go to visit “Past-O-Rama,” a theme park which celebrates the 2000s, but with an insane amount of anachronisms, such as Einstein and Hammurabi being in a hot-air balloon. As they go through the park, seeing various exhibits of the hilarious inaccurate interpretation of the 20th century by the 31st, until finally Fry tries to drive a car, despite never having driven much, and runs into another Bending unit named Flexo (DiMaggio).

S2E6 - 1EinsteinHammurabi.png
Hammurabi’s catchphrase is “Dy-No-Mite!” As it was written.

Flexo, who looks identical to Bender except for his goatee, quickly becomes close friends with Bender. Fry immediately comes to dislike him due to his pranks and insults, despite the fact that they’re basically the same as the ones that Bender does to him. The rest of the Planet Express crew, probably accurately, chalk this up to jealousy, but Fry insists that Flexo is evil.

S2E6 - 2Flexo
Dun Dun DUUUUUUUUN

Later, the Professor (West) reveals that Planet Express has been hired to deliver the crowning Jumbonium atom for the tiara that is awarded to the winner of the Miss Universe pageant. The Professor determines that they need more security, which results in him hiring Flexo as the extra muscle. Leela orders Bender, Fry, and Flexo to watch the atom in shifts. Fry tries to warn Bender that Flexo is going to steal it, but Bender accuses Fry of being prejudiced against people with goatees. Fry chooses to stay up and watch Flexo during Flexo’s shift, then falls asleep during his own. When he awakens during the ship’s arrival, Flexo has disappeared and the atom is gone. Fry thinks that Flexo is disguising himself as Bender, but it turns out that Bender just chose to cover his chin with things for random reasons.

S2E6 - 3Jumbonium.png
Those aren’t electrons, obviously, those are other molecules orbiting the Jumbonium Nucleus.

They go to the pageant and report the theft to the pageant host, Bob Barker, who threatens to skin them if they don’t find the atom. Fry spots Flexo and Bender starts to fight him, resulting in a classic “I don’t know which one to shoot” scenario. Eventually, Leela knocks them both down and the atom is found… in Bender’s chest. It turns out that Flexo was going to tell Bob Barker about the theft. However, Barker mistakes Flexo for Bender and has him arrested, letting Bender get off scot-free.

S2E6 - 4BobBarker
For a guy in a show that’s about guessing right, he guessed wrong.

END SUMMARY

This episode seems to have been crafted out of three fun ideas they came up with and just blended together. That’s probably actually how writing works on a show like this, but I’m impressed that it works so well.

S2E6 - 5CopDepartment

I can’t go skip talking about the opening sequence featuring “Cop Department,” the parody of Cops that the show definitely needed to do. The exchange between the Centipede Man and the two cops, Smitty and Url (West and DiMaggio), is like watching an actual episode of the show.

Centipede man: C’mon, man, I didn’t fire off no laser.

Smitty: Then why is there a smoking hole in your ceiling, sir?

Centipede man: What? Crazy upstairs lady must’ve been shooting down.

URL: Sir, you’re on the top floor of this particular domicile.

If you haven’t seen Cops, this exchange is like 90% of the show. I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen at least one person in a trailer argue that his upstairs neighbor was shooting at him.

Past-O-Rama is pretty funny for the massive anachronisms, but it’s also an accurate shot at how the past is often butchered in media portrayals. Sure, the hover-bike riding cowboys harpooning mammoths are inaccurate, but are they less accurate than, say, putting Stonehenge on a coastal island in King Arthur, or that the Scots in Braveheart wear kilts which wouldn’t exist for centuries, or that the maps in Raiders of the Lost Ark show the country of “Thailand,” even though that country wouldn’t exist for 3 more years? Well, yes, they ARE less accurate, but that’s the point of satire. It’s just good to know that people 1000 years from now are just as bad at history as we are. I also love that Fry longs for the “good old days,” but is immediately mugged, something that apparently was so common in the “good old days” that he doesn’t realize that it isn’t an act. This is another great shot at the romanticization of the past that occurs in movies or theme parks: They either ignore the horrors of the past or they turn it into “part of the fun.”

S2E6 - 6ButterChurns.png
Like how the Butter Churn place in in Greenwich Village

What I mostly appreciate about the Bender/Flexo plotline is that everyone keeps pointing out that Flexo is not more evil than Bender and that Fry is just jealous. When Flexo appears to have actually committed the crime, it seems to vindicate Fry’s accusations, even if he was doing them for the wrong reasons, but this is perfectly undercut by the, unsurprising, revelation that Bender was the criminal. During the episode, Flexo’s dialogue, while annoying, is mostly harmless, as opposed to Bender who admits that he did “something” to the coffee Fry is drinking that resulted in him being on a police procedural reality show. And then didn’t warn Fry about it. The fact that they give Flexo the Star Trek “Mirror, Mirror” goatee (although, it’s not really the same shape as Evil Spock’s) just pokes fun at the cliche of an evil-twin plot.

The Miss Universe pageant is a joke that you knew they’d do eventually and I applaud the restraint in waiting until the second season. The aliens were appropriately creative as well. I also like that the winner is the Paramecium from Vega 4, a species that is consistently described as trying to wipe out humanity within the series.

S2E6 - 7MissUniverse
Leela’s momentary victory was a nice twist.

FAVORITE JOKE

Bender and Flexo bond over the fact that Bender’s Serial number is 2716057 and Flexo’s is 3370318, both of which are expressible as the sum of two cubes. Specifically, Flexo’s is 119^3 + 119^3 and Bender’s is 952^3 + (-951)^3. This is a clue from the beginning that Bender is the evil twin, because one of his cubes is negative. Additionally, the sum of two cubes is a reference to a number that comes up frequently in Futurama: 1729. See, 1729 became famous in mathematical circles because of a story related by Mathematician G.H. Hardy when visited the famous math prodigy Srinivasa Ramanujan in the hospital. Hardy came in cab 1729, which Hardy lamented was a boring number. Ramanujan countered that it was an interesting number, because it’s the smallest number which can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways: 1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103. Basically, this is a great joke if you love math and math history… which I do.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 18: Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love?

NEXT – Episode 20: Put Your Head on my Shoulders 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E5 “Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love?”

This season we start getting episodes focused on the other Planet Express employees and this one features the Decapodian Doctor, John Zoidberg.

FuturamaZoidberg
Why not indeed?

SUMMARY

Amy (Lauren Tom) and Leela (Katey Sagal) guilt the Planet Express crew members into joining a gym. While there, Dr. Zoidberg (Billy West) starts to become enraged, attacking everyone and having to be restrained. It’s determined that Dr. Zoidberg has entered the mating period of his species, so Fry (West), Leela, and Bender (John DiMaggio) take him back to his home planet of Decapod 10 so that he can participate.

S2E5 - 1Pool.png
This is how men look when horny. All of them.

When they get to the planet, Zoidberg gets to work trying to attract a mate but fails miserably. He then sees Edna (Tress MacNeille), a high school classmate of his who is, by Decapodian standards, apparently super hot. She rejects him, but Fry offers to help Zoidberg win her hearts through the human male art of lying. Zoidberg pitches woo outside of her apartment using Fry’s words and it seems to work. Later, after Leela hears some of Fry’s lines being pitched by Zoidberg, she tries to explain away how terrible they are, but it turns out that Edna’s been loving them and now she’s enamoured with Fry. She attempts to seduce him and Zoidberg catches them. Assuming the worst, Zoidberg challenges Fry to Claw-Plach, a fight to the death.

S2E5 - 2Edna.png
This scene haunts my nightmares.

At the fight, Fry gains the upper hand but refuses to kill Zoidberg. Zoidberg responds by cutting off Fry’s arm, which Fry then uses to beat Zoidberg mercilessly until they notice that all of the Decapodians have left. Zoidberg catches sight of Edna, who is now mating with the Decapodian Emperor (David Herman). It’s then revealed that Zoidberg’s people die after mating, something that nobody had brought up until now. Zoidberg apologizes to Fry and attempts to reconnect his arm… poorly.

S2E5 - 3Armed.png
I bet you think I’ll make a joke about him being “unarmed” or “disarmed.” Shame on you.

END SUMMARY

This episode is a send-up of the Star Trek episode “Amok Time,” in which Spock experiences the pon farr, the Vulcan mating drive. Basically, it makes him crazy aggressive until he gets his freak on. Much like Zoidberg with Edna, Spock’s intended mate has someone she prefers and she invokes ritual combat to avoid her commitment with Spock, but she famously surprises everyone by picking Captain Kirk to fight rather than her mate. Kirk agrees right before he learns the fight is to the death. The fight leads to Spock not mating. Like I said, a lot of this episode comes from that, blended with elements of Twelfth Night and Cyrano de Bergerac.

S2E5 - 4PonFarr.jpg
KIRK SMASH!!!!

The scene of Fry coaching Zoidberg to seduce Edna below her window is a direct copy of Cyrano de Bergerac’s most famous scene. If you don’t know that play, then maybe you saw the movie Roxanne which has the same sequence, but with Steve Martin as an added bonus. The difference is that in this version, Cyrano is Fry and therefore not a master seducer but a complete and utter idiot. However, since Edna’s planet doesn’t have seduction, even Fry’s advice, which is basically “pretend you don’t want to bang her,” works perfectly. The fact that she then falls in love with him just creates a horrifying love-friendship-triangle much like the one in Twelfth Night.

S2E5 - 5Cyrano.png
The show benefits from the fact that people don’t read and think this is original.

The focus of the episode is Zoidberg and I think it must have worked out well for the viewership numbers, because he definitely starts to be present more in the series after this. Not that he wasn’t around before, but the amount he’s allowed to have the spotlight in scenes increases. Personally, Zoidberg is one of my favorite characters, since he’s basically a collection of comedic tropes mixed together: Wacky doctor, failed comic, super-poor person, incompetent surgeon, etc. I especially love that they consistently maintain that he IS a good doctor, maybe even one of the best, but only for non-human patients, which doesn’t help Planet Express much.

The fight between Fry and Zoidberg is hilarious. Bender taking bets against Fry, Fry using a nutcracker as a weapon, Zoidberg cutting off Fry’s arm in the middle of Fry’s speech about friendship, all of it is perfectly timed. I also love that they play the “Decapodian National Anthem,” which is the theme music from the Star Trek episode mentioned above, “Amok Time.”

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Crack kills, kids. 

The end of the episode is brilliant, since so many marine species actually DO die after mating. It also makes it clever in retrospect that the Emperor of Decapod 10 established that he has taken a vow of celibacy, since the civilization wouldn’t want such frequent changes in leadership. When first mentioned, it seems to be a throw-away line, even when we later see the Emperor choose to mate with Edna. At the time, it just appears that the Emperor is breaking his vow, but shortly after we learn that he actually dies from this, meaning he’s essentially eliminating the leadership of the planet to get laid.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m not going to be highbrow about this. I still chuckle whenever I hear the exchange:

Professor: We, by which I mean you, will have to rush him to his ancient homeworld, which will shortly erupt in an orgy of invertebrate sex.

Fry: Oh, baby, I’m there!

Leela: Fry, do you even understand the word invertebrate?

Fry: No, but that’s not the word I’m interested in. No need to pack pants, people! Let’s roll!

I just love the idea that Fry becomes so excited by the concept of an orgy that he doesn’t think about the fact that he knows that Zoidberg is a crab-like alien. I frequently reference this one by telling people “No need to pack pants.”

Overall, this is just a great episode that has a lot of solid jokes. Loved it then, love it now.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 17: Xmas Story

NEXT – Episode 19: The Lesser of Two Evils

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E4 “Xmas Story”

Welcome to the first Futurama ho-ho-holiday spectacular! Prepare to die!

SUMMARY

It’s Christmas, now pronounced “X-Mas,” and Fry (Billy West) is feeling lonely at his first holiday season in the 31st Century. The rest of the Planet Express crew try to cheer him up, but he ultimately keeps complaining, even after Leela (Katey Sagal) is also feeling down because she’s the only one of her species. Meanwhile, Bender (John DiMaggio) pretends to be homeless to get free stuff and attention from the press down at the soup kitchen. Fry feels guilty for making Leela sad, so he decides to go downtown to buy a pet.

S2E4 - 1Parrot.png
He gets her one hell of a parrot.

What Fry doesn’t seem to really understand, despite being told directly, is that in the year 2801 scientists built a Robot Santa (John Goodman) who comes to Earth every year to decide who was naughty and who was nice and give presents accordingly.  The robot malfunctioned, setting its standards for “nice” too high, resulting in it judging everyone as naughty and turning him into an omnicidal maniac. Fry stays out too late trying to recapture Leela’s new parrot after it escapes, resulting in her coming to save him from Santa’s attack.

S2E4 - 2Santa
Ho-Ho-Holy Hell, you’re all gonna die.

While fleeing, they run into Bender and Tinny-Tim (Tress MacNeille) a crippled orphan robot. When Santa accuses Bender of being naughty, he tries to frame the orphan, something that’s so naughty it distracts Santa as he tries to add it to his list. They all make it back to Planet Express, but Santa also gets inside and threatens everyone (except for Zoidberg (West), who is apparently “nice”). As Santa tries to blow them up, they manage to force him into a blast chamber, sending him flying into the sky. They all sing a carol called “Santa Claus is Gunning You Down” as Santa vows revenge.

S2E4 - 3Nudity.png
The Professor wishes you a happy holiday and a modest new year!

END SUMMARY

The crazy homicidal robot Santa is yet another great character by Futurama. He basically makes everyone feel thankful for what they have by promising to do his best to take it away from them. In that sense, as the show repeatedly points out, he actually does the job of making people celebrate the season just as well as Santa Claus does. They avoid any discussion about the “true meaning” of Christmas or other religious issues, which limits the functions of Xmas solely to the secular parts of Christmas, making Santa much more important. I guess you could say that they took the Christ out.

S2E4 - 4Conan.png
They did get Conan, however, which… is not at all similar.

This is one of the first times since the Pilot that Fry shows that he does, in fact, miss his old life and family at times. Despite all of the things he seems to say about his parents, and even his brother, it is clear from other episodes in the show that they did actually have some warmth within the Fry household. I think that Fry telling everyone that his mom would make “Goose burgers” and that his dad would make special eggnog out of “bourbon and ice cubes” is a great way to humorously show his reminiscing. It adds a level of levity to the harsh reality that everyone Fry knew has been dead for many centuries. I also love that Fry is only broken from his sadness by the realization that someone else is just as alone as he is. However, this also appears to be the first time that he really seems to get that she’s ALWAYS been alone. He at least has happy memories of his family, she just has a void.

S2E4 - 5Freela.jpg
Fortunately, he fills it…. giggity?

I think the idea of people with nobody finding a family with each other is something that the show does well, particularly with Fry and Leela. Fry had a family, even if it wasn’t a great one, but now he’s lost everyone. Leela never had a family and has been isolated due to her appearance. Each one can argue that they have the worse situation, but each one often thinks that the other has the worse lot. Is it worse to be sick your entire life or to be healthy and have it taken from you? This is a question that people have fought over for centuries and this show is just taking that in a different direction with loneliness instead of illness.

Bender’s plotline in the episode, pretending to be homeless in order to steal food and attention from the needy, is ridiculously dark. He literally steals food from an orphan and then laughs at it. He then takes some robots, including said orphan, on a crime spree. He’s so incredibly evil that it dives straight past inhuman, tunnels through despicable, and emerges somewhere around hilarious. As with the Marx Brothers or Deadpool, it’s truly amazing that a character so objectively horrible is so likable.

S2E4 - 6ShoeTree
He even stole her little shoe-tree. The monster.

FAVORITE JOKE

The new version of the Gift of the Magi that happens between Hermes (Phil LaMarr), Amy (Lauren Tom), and Zoidberg (West). In the original story by O. Henry, a man and his wife each give up something extremely valuable to them, in the man’s case his watch and in the woman’s case her hair, only to find out that they’d each bought the other a gift that was dependent on what they gave up, a watch chain and decorative combs. They each realize how much they loved each other if they were willing to do this much to make the other happy.

S2E4 - 7Bald.png

In Futurama’s version, however, Zoidberg buys Amy a set of combs, only for Amy to realize that she sold her hair to buy combs for Hermes, who sold HIS hair to buy combs for Zoidberg, who reveals that he now has both of their hair grafted onto his head. There are four parts to this that are so off that I find it hilarious. 1) Zoidberg buys hair and also buys combs, despite constantly being broke. 2) Neither Amy nor Hermes are broke (in fact, Amy’s rich), so it makes no sense that they’d have to sell their hair to buy gifts. 3) Hermes bought combs for Zoidberg who didn’t have hair. 4) EVERYONE BOUGHT COMBS. Seriously, who the hell buys decorative combs as a go-to gift? It’s just such a bizarre subversion and tribute that I’m forced to applaud it.

S2E4 - 8Hair.png
He looks as pretty as a strange ironic ending.

Runner up, though it’s short, is Robot Santa’s anti-mistletoe T.O.W. Missile, only because I didn’t know that was a real thing until years later. T.O.W. stands for Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided, and is a standard anti-tank missile, so that means that the wordplay has been there forever, it just took Futurama to pull David from the marble.

S2E4 - 9TOW.png

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 16: A Head in the Polls 

NEXT – Episode 18: Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love? 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E3 “A Head in the Polls”

NIXON’S BACK, BABY!!!

SUMMARY

It’s election season and the candidates for both parties are literally clones. However, Leela (Katey Sagal) forces the Planet Express crew to start being politically active. She takes Fry (Billy West) to register to vote, resulting in a humorous scene of all of the future parties being on display, including the two major parties, the Fingerlicans and the Tastycrats. Shortly after, a titanium mine collapses on Titan, which makes the titanium in Bender’s (John DiMaggio) body extremely valuable. Despite the logistic issues, Bender actually sells his body, making him now just a head. Living it up with his newfound wealth, Bender visits the Head Museum where he encounters the preserved heads of all of the presidents, including the bitter Richard Nixon (West). After hearing from them, Bender realizes he wants his body back. However, it turns out that Nixon has purchased it so that he can run for office again, pointing out that the 22nd Amendment bars any body from being president more than twice, and he now has a new body.

S2E3 - 1NixonBody.jpg
Reminder, Nixon once met Robocop. That should be a movie.

With Bender’s body, Nixon quickly takes the lead in the election, despite the fact that he’s objectively horrible. Fry, Leela, and Bender decide to steal Bender’s body back, so they break into Nixon’s hotel room, which happens to be the Watergate, and record Nixon admitting that he plans on selling children’s organs for meat and breaking into people’s houses. They trade him the tape for Bender’s body, but Nixon replaces it with a giant robot with heavy weapons. Election night comes and, completely due to the Robot vote, Nixon is elected. It’s revealed that he won by a single vote, because neither Fry nor Leela voted.

END SUMMARY

First, the 22nd Amendment says “person” not “body,” so Nixon would not be allowed to be president, assuming that the Earthican Constitution is just the US Constitution expanded. That was going to bug me if I didn’t correct it.

Second, I love Nixon. Not the real one so much, but I love that this is a Nixon that just gives no f*cks. He says it himself: He’s just bitter and crazy and thinks that most voters are too stupid to care. Unfortunately for Earth, he’s immediately proven right, although this is less because humans are just as dumb 1000 years in the future (he’s estimated to have 0 human votes), but because Robots love his willingness to go on a rampage. I’m glad they abandon the giant robot body after this episode, but he’s still such a bastard that he does more damage without it.

S2E3 - 2RoboNixon.png
… I mean, I get why they vote for him.

The political satire in this episode is, surprisingly, always pretty fresh. It wasn’t addressed at anything directly about the 2000 election, so instead it just took a shot at the American electoral system at large, attacking low voter turnouts, the tendency for both major parties to support donors over policy, the general insanity of third parties, and the fact that most people are completely apathetic towards the entire process. In the 16 years since, it’s hard to argue that any of that has changed, except that pretty much everyone is slightly more insane. Or much more insane, depending on your perspective.

S2E3 - 4BullMoose.jpg
However, we have yet to get a Bull Space Moose Party, which is sad.

There are a lot of sight gags in this episode, particularly at the Head Museum, where we’re treated to literal top row and bottom row ordering of celebrities. For example, the top row of B-movie stars includes John Turturro and Eric Stolz, while the bottom row is Martin Lawrence and Sarah Michelle Gellar. They even put Katey Sagal on the bottom row of TV stars which, let’s be honest, isn’t entirely inaccurate. However, they put Lucille Ball next to her, and that’s some bullsh*t. Oh, and Jesse “The Head” Ventura is a future president, apparently.

S2E3 - 5Heads.jpg
Also, the bottom shelf porn star is “Samuel Genitals.” Man, they stopped trying with the names.

The opening to this episode includes the introduction of The Scary Door, a show within the show which is basically a condensed parody of The Twilight Zone. This episode’s version is a parody of “Time Enough at Last” but, in addition to breaking his glasses, the bibliophile played by Burgess Meredith also loses his eyeballs, hands, and tongue for seemingly no reason.

S2E3 - 6ScaryDoor.jpg
I mean, the reading is no longer the major concern.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s got to be the future of the NRA, the National Ray-Gun Association. At the NRGA, they’re dedicated to removing the three-day waiting period on doomsday devices for mad scientists, something that Professor Farnsworth (West) apparently takes to heart. My favorite part is that the NRGA’s representative carries a canister of mutated Anthrax around, but claims it’s just for “duck hunting.”

This episode is perfectly timed here, because we have another election on Tuesday. GO VOTE!!!!

Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 15: Brannigan, Begin Again

NEXT – Episode 16: XMas Story

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.