Futurama Fridays – S7E16 “T.: The Terrestrial”

Fry gets left on an alien world. A parody ensues.

SUMMARY

Lrrr, ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8, (Maurice LaMarche) is trying help his son, Jrrr (Lauren Tom), take over Earth in order to get a merit badge. Unfortunately, Jrrr is so meek that Nixon (Billy West) doesn’t take him seriously. At Lrrr’s insistence, Jrrr responds by accidentally killing the Headless clone of Agnew. Nixon places an embargo on Omicron Persei 8 in response. The Professor (West) reveals that he’s now in horrible pain because the “herbal supplement” that he uses for pain management is exclusive to Omicron Persei 8. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) orders the crew to fly to collect it, due to his love of Omicronic. While on the planet, Fry (west) and Bender (John DiMaggio) get separated and the crew gets evacuated. Bender abandons Fry and tells Leela (Katey Sagal) that Fry is on board, so Fry is left on the planet. He soon encounters Jrrr and frightens him, but the two soon bond. Fry, however, gets homesick.

For the record, that’s a good name for a pot brand.

Bender has to continue to construct elaborate lies to cover for his cowardice, but ends up making everyone assume that Fry is working harder than ever before. Bender begins to miss Fry, thinking him dead, but continues the ruse in progressively more elaborate ways. However, he eventually sees an S.O.S. that Fry and Jrrr have built on the planet. Lrrr catches Fry and has him imprisoned to be killed. Lrrr also comments that Fry is looking sick, which is because Fry has been eating Jrrr’s feces, thinking they were candy. Jrrr and Fry escape and flee on a flying love-powered bicycle, but when they get fry to a doctor, Drrr, he recommends killing Fry. Lrrr confronts Jrrr, but Jrrr stands up to him and earns his respect… only for Fry to die. Bender arrives and the Omicronic that Fry had consumed glows from Bender’s electromagnetism and his love for Fry. Fry revives and is taken home, only to find out that he is now more respected and loved than ever because of Bender’s ruse.

If the Vet is named Drrr, what’s the Doctor named?

END SUMMARY

This episode never quite hits as hard as it should for me. It’s got some funny moments, to be sure, but many of the E.T. parodies are just not quite what they should be. I think part of it is that they literally turned the iconic Reese’s Pieces scene into a poop joke and then didn’t just leave it. The joke wasn’t funny, but if we’d just left it alone, then it would just be a missed opportunity. Instead, the episode’s plot actually depends on the idea that Fry would be unable to stop eating Jrrr’s crap. Knowingly. It’s just doubling down on crap, literally.

Also, did they get rid of Ndnd just so this episode is single-parent like E.T.?

I will admit that the subplot about Bender pretending to be Fry actually works better than it should. When Bender is forced to use the single recording of Fry’s voice in clever ways in order to maintain the ruse, it usually produces a laugh. I also find it amusing that after the number of atrocities that Lrrr has committed on Earth in past episodes, including taking over multiple times, that the only thing that creates an embargo between the planets is the killing of the body of Spiro Agnew. It’s not even the last clone, either, and presumably they could just make more. I mean, how much could it take to grow Spiro Agnew? 

Looks like about 180 lbs.

Overall, it’s not a great episode, but it’s got its moments, at least.

FAVORITE JOKE

When Fry mentions that he is homesick, Jrrr takes him to a collection of extremely high-tech communications devices in order to let him “phone home,” a la E.T. However, Fry instead turns them into an S.O.S. message by pulling them into place. The key is that this actually ends up working, because Bender sees it, while all signals from Omicron are blocked by Earth. It’s a great gag because it’s the dumb thing that’s secretly brilliant.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E12 “Viva Mars Vegas”

It involves a Casino theft, like that movie about the Ocean.

SUMMARY

The Robot Mafia is escaping from a recent theft and dumps the loot into a dumpster. As the Planet Express crew plans to go to Mars Vegas casino, Amy (Lauren Tom) tells Zoidberg (Billy West) that he shouldn’t go because of his poor money management skills. He finds the loot and heads to the casino himself. He places a few bets and wins, only to lose everything by refusing to walk away. When he returns to the dumpster, however, the Robot Mafia wants the money. After using his ink defense, Zoidberg escapes inside, only to be hit with the Professor’s (West) ink remover, which makes ink invisible. Zoidberg, who is completely covered and saturated with ink, becomes undetectable by the eye. The Mafia can’t find him, which leads them to decide to take over the Wong family casino as well as all of the Wongs’ other properties. Amy devises a plan to get the money back with a heist.

I don’t think that’s supposed to be Olympus Mons, but it’s big.

Using a shrimp cart to cover Zoidberg’s smell, they get Zoidberg into the vault where he eats all of the money and a black box. Once he consumes the objects, they also become invisible. However, he becomes too sick to move, so the crew have to carry him. They try to escape to the roof, but Zoidberg causes the elevator to fall to the ground floor. They almost make it to the exit until a blind guard stops them. Amy offers him a deal, which the native Martian is skeptical of due to the Wong family’s prior actions. Amy reveals that the Wongs only bought Mars for 100 years, and that the planet is now reverting back to the native Martians. The native Martians kick out the mafia and, out of gratitude, give the Wongs back their mansion and another casino. 

Hermes and Bender basically do a Trading Places bit.

END SUMMARY

It has bothered me every time I watch this that Mars is back to normal. In “A Farewell to Arms,” Mars gets blown out of its orbit and the native Martians all leave the planet. While Futurama doesn’t really have a strong continuity, that was a really big thing to just undo without any kind of reference to it. We also have completely obliterated any continuity on who owns what part of Mars and how. Originally the native Martians were pissed at the Wongs for cheating them, only for it to be revealed that Wong paid a fair price for it and they left the planet. Then they were back, but were just grabbing their stuff because they knew Mars was doomed. Now they’re back again only to reveal that they work for the Wongs and live on reservations above ground? Even for a show with loose continuity, this gets a little too much.

I also love the fact that the sci-fi magic element is a tattoo removing laser.

The heist element is done pretty well, mostly because it keeps pointing out heist tropes, particularly ones that make no sense. The best line may be when Amy is asked if people will smell Zoidberg, only for her to respond: “No, and to keep you on your toes, I’ll only explain why after the heist begins.” That’s a perfect shot at so many heist movies where members of the heist are intentionally misled about what is going to happen, usually for no good reason. It’s a trope that honestly will never make any logical sense and is a sign of a weak screenplay. If you want a good movie that averts it, watch Rififi. I appreciate them taking shots at the formulaic nature of heists, even if they seem to do it with kid gloves compared to other shows (like Rick and Morty).

Although no movie has used a smelly shrimp cart yet.

Overall, not a bad episode, but not the best either.

FAVORITE JOKE

Honestly, it’s the song from the episode. The style is almost a perfect cover for the original song “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity, and the lyrics are a perfect adaptation to Zoidberg. It contains a decent amount of potential euphemism, it matches the Vegas setting, and it just works for me. Here’s a clip:

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E11 “31st Century Fox”

Bender gives hunting a shot. GET IT????

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), Leela (Katey Sagal), Amy (Lauren Tom), and Zoidberg (West) get their uniforms destroyed by a giant Moth. When they complain to the Professor (West) about getting new uniforms, he rebuffs them until the moth appears and destroys his outfit as well. The crew go to a discount uniform store and buy the outfits that the Professor had failed to pay for a year ago, but Bender also buys a 20th Century fox hunting outfit and decides to take up the sport. Angered by the notion, Leela objects, but Bender invites the crew to a fox hunt. During the hunt, Leela tries to disrupt the Huntmaster (Patrick Stewart), only to be repeatedly thwarted. She stops protesting, however, when it’s revealed that the fox is a robot, and thus no animals are being harmed. This leads Bender to switch sides and revolt against the fox hunt. 

I disagree with giving this little thing the “-zilla” name.

Bender forms an animal robot rights group called Bender’s Animal Robot Front and starts committing minor acts of theft and vandalism. They don’t quite work out, but Bender declares victory and sets out to save the robot fox. The crew gets the fox away but Bender stays behind to mock the hunters. This, naturally, leads them to hunt him. At the same time, the fox starts to drive the crew insane with its destructive behavior. The fox ends up running back to the hunting grounds and, together with the fox, Bender turns the tables on the Huntmaster and traps him. The Huntmaster tries to kill him, but the fox attacks the Huntmaster and reveals him to be a robot. Ultimately, everyone decides that the irony was so heavy that they just kill and mount the Huntmaster.

END SUMMARY

I never think about this episode when I look back on Futurama and that’s probably not a great sign. Honestly, if it weren’t for Patrick Stewart voicing the antagonist, I would probably have forgotten it altogether. There are a few fun lines in it, but it mostly just kind of chugs along until it finally resolves with a weird conclusion that everything that just happened was stupid. I mean, it doesn’t have a real B-plot, and the A-plot’s big payoff is that everyone is a hypocrite and that no one can really tell what is or is not a robot, but that’s not really explored in a satisfying way. It’s not that you can’t just have a simple episode, but it’s also just not that funny. It’s like they figured they would insert the jokes later and then forgot.

A horse named “Sea Gasket” was supposed to be a major laugh.

It’s interesting that this was the first episode where they swapped the order in this season, moving it to air later so that they could advertise the voice cameo of Patrick Stewart for the finale. Then, apparently, they just didn’t do that. Maybe the marketing people watched it and said “let’s not call too much attention to this episode.” I don’t want to say that it’s bad, but it’s pretty low on my list of Futurama. Aside from the favorite joke, I will call attention to the fashion montage at the uniform place. We get a stillsuit from Dune (modified to be kosher), a Star Trek uniform, Stormtrooper armor, the outfit from Barbarella, and the space plane uniform from 2001: A Space Odyssey, culminating in Farnsworth in the famous outfit from Zardoz. It’s pretty funny.

R.I.P. Sean Connery.

Overall, though, just not a mind-blowing episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

In the episode, in an attempt to confuse the robot hunting dogs that are chasing him, Bender pulls out a bag of Newmar’s Own Catnip. This is a reference both to Newman’s Own, the brand owned by actor Paul Newman, and to Julie Newmar, the actress who played Catwoman on the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman series. However, when Bender uses it, it instead causes a huge number of cats to jump on him. It’s made even funnier because Bender uses it after saying “I know what’ll confuse these dogs! Catnip!” Just a solid joke.

Eartha Kitt’s version was banned by the Johnson Administration. She knows why.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 112: Near Death Wish

NEXT – Episode 114: Viva Mars Vegas

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Futurama Fridays – S7E7 “The Six Million Dollar Mon”

Hermes becomes a cyborg and apparently that’s addictive.

SUMMARY

Hermes (Phil LaMarr) conducts a performance review and determines that he is massively inefficient for the company. He fires himself and is replaced by a robot accountant, much to Zoidberg’s (Billy West) chagrin, as he believed he was Hermes’ best friend. Hermes and LaBarbara (Dawnn Lewis) go for a walk and are mugged by Roberto (David Herman), but are saved by Smitty and URL (West and John DiMaggio). Hermes observes URL’s robotic body and decides he could upgrade himself with robot parts, getting a harpoon put in his chest. He rehires himself at Planet Express, but soon starts to respond to any problem, no matter how minor, by getting a robotic upgrade. Despite LaBarbara telling him to stop getting more parts replaced, Hermes soon is completely made of automaton parts, aside from his hair and brain. Meanwhile, Zoidberg has collected the discarded parts of Hermes and has been using them in a ventriloquist act. 

Mark 7-G is actually Homer Simpson’s computer evolved over 1000 years. #Canon.

Hermes decides to get his brain replaced with a computer, but his back alley surgeon refuses. Hermes and Professor Farnsworth (West) dig up a dead robot brain, but it turns out it was Roberto’s. As Farnsworth is about to perform the brain transplant, LaBarbara arrives and tells Hermes she’ll divorce him if he goes through with it. Farnsworth refuses, but Hermes, now near emotionless, threatens the group until Zoidberg does the operation. However, he places the brain into the ventriloquist dummy, which brings it back to life as the normal Hermes, only for Roberto’s brain to take over Hermes’ robot body. Roberto tries to eat Hermes, only to have the heat of Hermes’ Jamaican food burn through his metal frame, melting him. Hermes ends up thanking Zoidberg, even though he still hates him.

END SUMMARY

The premise of this episode is pretty solid. Hermes, a person obsessed with efficiency, is a natural candidate for a cybernetic upgrade. It honestly boggles the mind why he hasn’t already gotten some kind of high-efficiency enhancement, or at least LASIK. Tying it into his feelings of inferiority make it somewhat more relatable, particularly since he needs it for his job at the beginning. However, they never lose the humorous bits by having many of the upgrades being wildly impractical, including the chest harpoon that starts the whole thing. The final reveal that the thing that saves the crew is Hermes’ body being impossibly spicy is both foreshadowed and just freaking hilarious.

MechaHermes cares not for goat. Or symmetry.

This episode does mark a notable increase in Roberto’s craziness, particularly since he moves to being much more blatantly homicidal and strangely obsessed with eating skin. I guess there’s a little bit of a precedent for this from when he threatened to turn Fry’s lungs into hamburger patties in another episode, but it still feels like a massive deviation from his usual crazy. It also seems ridiculous to me that Hermes would steal his brain for the surgery. While I could buy the Professor or Bender getting a robot brain without caring to look at the source, this is the new extremely obsessed Hermes. 

Genuinely creepy.

Overall, still a good episode, particularly for this season.

FAVORITE JOKE

Zoidberg self-harmonizing while singing a parody of “Monster Mash” while replacing Hermes’s brain with a robot CPU. Even writing that sentence is amazing. It’s insane enough that Zoidberg apparently does medicine correctly, for once, but that he does it to a musical number and harmonizes with his own ventriloquist dummy just elevates it to another level of funny. Even Amy has to call out the fact that it’s ridiculous. 

He was actually pretty impressive.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E6 “The Butterjunk Effect”

Leela and Amy take the world of competitive floating by storm. 

SUMMARY

Fry and Leela (Billy West and Katey Sagal) are on a double date with Amy and Kif (Lauren Tom and Maurice LaMarche) where the ladies keep making catty comments to each other. Later, on a delivery, they attend a Butterfly Derby, a sporting event where women fight each other while floating using butterfly wings. Leela and Amy agree to compete, only to be beaten. However, they do well enough that they are offered a position as a competitive team named The Wingnuts. Unfortunately, they still lose every match, leading them to take the steroid-like Ocephalus Nectar. It improves their musculature and their performance in matches, but makes them mean and aggressive. They eventually qualify for the championships, but the entire Nectar supply is bought by their opponents. The crew journeys to Kif’s homeworld in order to harvest more. 

I’m sure rule 34 hit this hard.

At the butterfly sanctuary where the nectar can be found, they are warned not to provoke the males. Fry soon does and is sprayed by a foul-smelling liquid. However, Amy and Leela both find the scent arousing, as the liquid was butterfly pheromones and the Nectar ingested have made the two act like female butterflies. They decide to go cold turkey while Fry slowly builds a cocoon around himself. During the match, the now normal Wingnuts are getting beaten badly, but Fry hatches as a butterfly and their opponents fly to him due to their Nectar abuse, saving the girls. Fry sheds his butterfly body and returns to normal.

END SUMMARY

I seem to have a soft spot for this episode despite not really thinking it’s a particularly well-written one. I like it mostly because I think the Butterfly Derby was one of the funnier “theoretically possible” things this show ever came up with. I don’t know if you can do it on the moon, but people, like XKCD, have pointed out that you can definitely do it on some of the moons of Saturn. Perhaps you can do it on the moon if there is a false atmosphere in place. Maybe if it’s more oxygen rich? I dunno. I could do the math but I haven’t slept in two days and I’m pretty sure I’d add it up to Llama. Llamas are bigger than bullfrogs. No, I’m not planning on editing this. 

You could do this on a bridge.

Doing an episode about steroid abuse for laughs is a bit overused. I think the Simpsons have done it at least twice. Hell, South Park did it with the Special Olympics, something that they probably should apologize for, honestly. The subplot about Fry becoming a butterfly is kind of weak because you do know that eventually he’s going to come flying out. You probably even get the eventual twist because they already revealed he’s irresistible to Nectar addicts. However, I still think his final random popping out is pretty well-timed. They even mention that he has no brain activity and that is no different than normal.

Yeah, Rule 34 loved this episode.

Overall, not the best episode, but I still think it’s got a certain charm to it.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s the exchange between Leela and the Professor about Nectar. When he says that the nectar worries him, the following follows:

Leela: Professor, there’s nothing wrong with Nectar. It’s all natural.

Farnsworth: So are carrots, but you don’t see me injecting them between my toes!

While this would be funny enough, he proceeds to put a carrot in his mouth and light it like a cigar before smoking it. This one amuses me to the point that I feel like I have thought of it every time I try to eat a carrot since. 

High as f*ck.

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 – S6E20 “Neutopia”

Let’s destroy gender stereotypes by embracing gender stereotypes! Wait…

SUMMARY

Planet Express faces foreclosure due to mismanagement. The crew brainstorms ways to save it and Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests they do commercial airfare using the ship. This is shot down in favor of a nude calendar, which features Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and LaBarbara Conrad (Dawnn Lewis). Unfortunately, with only three women the project fails, so they finally try the airline idea (without giving Leela credit). Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and Fry (Billy West) are made pilots while the girls are made stewardesses, despite the fact that only Leela can fly a ship. The flight goes awry and they crash on a barren rocky planet. The passengers and crew total 16, eight men and eight women, and they immediately become divided over who should lead. 

This is a Star Trek reference.

The fight is interrupted by a rock alien (David Herman) who asks to speak with the leader, then becomes fascinated by the concept of gender. It decides to pose a series of tests to decide which gender is better, but ultimately decides to test their ability to reach shelter as the planet becomes uninhabitable. Both groups fail miserably at reaching the cave, but each realize that they can use Bender and the fembot refrigerator to avoid dying. Hermes and LaBarbara try to steal parts from each other, but end up having angry sex. When they awaken, the planet is burning, so both groups are about to die until they’re saved by the rock monster. Because of their failure, he lost a bet to another alien, so he uses his powers to make everyone gender neuter. 

While at first the crew and passengers work better without their sexual characteristics, eventually they miss screwing, so they demand their genitals back. The alien obliges, but ends up reversing everyone’s genders. Zapp Brannigan (West) then kills it. When they get home, both sides try to adjust to their new bodies, and the former men now pose for the remaining pages of the calendar. The calendar does well and the company is saved. A meteor crashes into the building and another alien, the Borax Kid (Maurice LaMarche) arrives to fix their bodies. Everyone is put right… except Scruffy, the Janitor. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is interesting in that it plays up sexism a lot in its characters in order to deconstruct sexism. The problem is that A) the jokes aren’t super funny and B) they had already done this back in “Amazon Women in the Mood.” For example, jokes about the inferiority of women countered by the fact that Leela and Amy are among the most competent characters in the show. What’s crazy is that they could probably have done a better job by playing up the gender swap subplot of the episode, but it ends up being a very short part of the episode. Even worse, most of the stuff in the gender swapped act is not particularly funny, like LaBarbara saying she needs to get up 5 times a night to play Xbox. However, I do admit that Hermes screaming “your manwich” when his wife makes love to him is pretty funny. 

At least it’s good to know their love isn’t just physical.

The one part of this episode that does tend to stand out is the Rock Monster’s ridiculous competition between the two parties. It’s completely random, starting out with who can drink the most sulfur, then going into a number of very pointed questions like “which is larger, and Italian size 4 or an American Apparel medium” or “name any twelve of the Desperate Housewives,” followed by the hilariously vague “how was your day.” They’re still sexist, but at least these are so farcical they’re funny. 

I also love the design of the Borax Kid.

Overall, the episode is okay, but it really just retreads something that the show already did better. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Well, my favorite joke is definitely Hermes shouting “Your Manwich!” when LaBarbara takes him in a manly fashion, but I already used that one. So, instead, I think I’ll say it’s the nude calendar. First, many of the images are references to famous pin-ups, ranging from Fry as Barbarella to Farnsworth as Farrah Fawcett. Naturally, all of these are slightly unnerving because of the subjects, which makes for a fun parody if you know the source material. Second, the episode states that they need eleven million dollars in order to stay afloat and they have a single day of sales in which to generate it. They pull it off, somehow. Since a Google search tells me that most 12-image nude calendars are under 20 dollars and the world of Futurama has a similar rate of exchange to ours, that means that they had to sell over half a million calendars in a day. Leela thanks the fans for being such huge perverts. This is a swipe at the Futurama fandom, which another Google search tells me is, indeed, full of people who are dedicated to making a lot of porn of the characters. 

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E15 “Möbius Dick”

It’s time to hunt the deadliest game: Space Whale. Why do people think it’s Man? 

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) is celebrating the anniversary of the loss of his first crew, aside from Zoidberg (West), who doesn’t remember what happened to them. He orders the current crew to pick up their memorial statue. Due to Leela (Katey Sagal) noticing a grammatical error, the job takes longer than expected and requires the crew to fly back via the Bermuda Tetrahedron, the very same place that the first crew was lost. They find the wreckage of the first Planet Express ship and inspect it, only to find out that a giant space whale ate it. The crew is attacked by the whale, which eats one of their engines and then the statue they were delivering. Leela resolves to kill the whale. She orders the crew to use “Solar Sails” to propel the ship and starts trying to hunt down the whale using 19th Century techniques. Amy (Lauren Tom) becomes the harpooner and Bender (John DiMaggio) mans the crow’s nest. 

Just remember, space actually does have giant diamonds. Maybe fund it?

During a “spaceberg” storm, Bender gets injured trying to catch one of the “bergs,” which turn out to be giant diamonds. Leela refuses to save him, leading the crew to mutiny against her increasing insanity. While they try to perform a rescue, the whale returns and swallows Fry, Bender, Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Amy. Leela attempts to kill the whale with a cheese knife, but gets swallowed. Zoidberg escapes back to Earth. Inside the whale, Leela meets the former captain, Lando Tucker (David Herman), and is told that the whale feeds on obsession, the kind that is found within spaceship captains. Having mostly drained Lando, it will now eat Leela. However, after Leela gets absorbed into the whale, she pilots it back to Earth, having overpowered it with her obsession. The crowd kills the whale and all of the whale’s victims reunite with their loved ones.

The whale has a scar because it looks cool. Otherwise, it would heal it.

END SUMMARY

This episode should be terrible, since it’s just a space parody of Moby Dick, a book that is famously difficult to adapt to film. However, they actually put enough effort into keeping it humorous that it ended up working out, and even played with the themes of revenge and obsession in an interesting way. Rather than having her obsession consume her at the end of the story, Leela’s obsession with doing her job is actually what saves the day. She then admits that her revenge against the whale was what made it a monster… only to change her mind and have people kill it out of revenge. Having Leela go crazy like this is actually pretty solidly within her character, so unlike many other parody episodes, this worked out organically.

She often seems like she wants to call the crew “space dogs.”

I love the concept of the 4-D space whale. It exists outside of our concept of reality, seemingly moving through time and space at will, but only emerging into 3-D space in order to hunt and, apparently, breathe in vacuum. While that may seem like an insane concept, if the whale were to exist outside of time, then normal cause and effect would not apply to its biology. Rather than filling its lungs with air, it always has air in its lungs and has to find a way to exhale while static in time. “Inhaling vacuum” might somehow also explain how it can accelerate through space. 

Also, it’s immune to cheese knives.

Overall, I like this episode pretty well. It’s a fun diversion that has no real impact on anything else in the series.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a countdown:

3) I love that Inez Wong says “My days of joy and luck are over, guess I gotta quit that club.” This is a reference to the Joy Luck Club, a book whose movie adaptation featured Inez Wong’s actress Lauren Tom. Just a fun line.

I think Amy’s first name comes from this.

2) The Tom Baker version of the Doctor from Doctor Who emerges from the space whale. Given that the Doctor is also a time-traveler via the TARDIS, it makes sense that the whale might be the only thing that can attack the TARDIS in flight. Later, Doctor Who actually had an episode with a space whale, so that’s a fun bonus.

I once saw him play first base.

1) The title of the episode, Mobius Dick. It combines Moby Dick with the mobius strip, a non-orientable surface. It’s such a funny term that it was my nickname in Mu Alpha Theta mathletics in high school. I have so many regrets. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 90: The Silence of the Clamps

NEXT – Episode 92: Law and Oracle

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 – S6E14 “The Silence of the Clamps”

Bender gets stuck in witness protection and Zoidberg gets some respect.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew makes a delivery of a set of clamps to the estate of the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) of the Robot Mafia, which are, naturally, for Francis X. “Clamps” Clampazzo (LaMarche). The delivery is also the day of the Donbot’s daughter’s wedding, leading Bender (John DiMaggio) to gatecrash. During the celebrations, Bender meets the Donbot’s other daughter Bella (Tress MacNeille), and starts making out with her in the stables. While there, Bender witnesses the Robot Mafia beating up Calculon (LaMarche) for owing them money. Bender ends up telling the police about it, leading them to tell Bender that he has to testify in open court. While they try to hide Bender’s identity, the machine malfunctions and the Donbot realizes who is testifying against him. While the jury is about to convict the Donbot, Calculon arrives and, under mob threats, says that he attacked himself. Bender is put into witness protection.

We do get to see the Space Pope, though.

Planet Express starts looking for Bender’s replacement, leading the Donbot to send Clamps to take the position, hoping to track down Bender. Fry (Billy West) quickly tries to bond with Clamps, who goes by Francis, despite Clamps’ constant anger towards Fry. However, Zoidberg (West) becomes angry at Clamps, because people seem to prefer the clamps to Zoidberg’s pincers. Eventually, the crew makes a delivery to the moon, where they find Bender, now living under the identity of Billy West (HA! I get it). It turns out that Billy’s memory contains no traces of being Bender, only of his life as a farmer married to the Crushinator. Despite that, Clamps still tries to kill Billy, only to be stopped by Zoidberg, who cuts off Clamps’ clamps. However, Bella, angry that Bender is cheating on her with the Crushinator, arrives and kills him. The crew goes to mourn Bender at the pizza place next to Planet Express, only to find that Bender is working there. It turns out Billy West was just an innocent robot. Since the mob thinks he’s dead, Bender comes back to work. 

The joke is an innocent father and husband is dead. Way to go, writers.

END SUMMARY

So, I really don’t think highly of this episode. It’s premised on Bender testifying against the Donbot, something that seems out of character, particularly after the police refuse to give Bender more money. Bender is a career criminal and a coward, so it strains even the rather loose character continuity of this show to have him do this. The out of character moment is even weirder because the show points out that Bender is a criminal in the episode as a gag. Also, the idea that there are identical bending units has already been done multiple times, including twice with Flexo, which makes it weird that the crew is insisting that Billy is Bender. You’d think they could check his unit number or something. I realize these are weird nitpicks, but when you have to really stretch character traits to make the plot work, maybe just write another plot. 

Also, he doesn’t run from Bella when she wants to marry him.

I will say that I love Zoidberg’s role in this episode. After having been the brunt of so much ire from the other characters in the show, it’s kind of nice to see Zoidberg being the hero. It also helps that Zoidberg’s concern in this episode is actually kind of understandable. Zoidberg is a terrible doctor, and everyone constantly points it out, so it makes sense that he’d cherish the thing that he is still appreciated for. It’s also fun to see him stand up for himself so fiercely, including his angry swearing. 

John Bleeping Zoidberg

Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst either (since that was last week). A big problem is that the episode also isn’t super funny. 

FAVORITE JOKE

The funniest thing in this episode is probably the trial, particularly the scene in which the initial judge appears. He begins to state that he will not suffer any form of intimidation, only to be assassinated in the middle of the statement. He is immediately replaced by a mob-friendly judge who is otherwise identical. The timing and delivery of everything about this switch is pretty much perfect, including the judge deferring to the Donbot about whether he should recuse himself.

Why wouldn’t you have bulletproof judges?

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 89: The Futurama Holiday Spectacular

NEXT – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

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 – S6E10 “The Prisoner of Benda”

Futurama actually generates a mathematical theorem for a single plot device.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) finds out that Emperor Nikolai of Robo-Hungary (David Herman) is visiting New York and plans a scheme to rob him involving all of the Planet Express crew. They aren’t interested, but he finds out that Amy (Lauren Tom) and the Professor (Billy West) have built a mind-swapping machine and uses it to put his mind in Amy’s body to do the first part of the heist. The Professor puts his mind in Bender’s body so that he can live out his dream of extreme sports and Amy puts her mind in the Professor’s body so that she can eat without ruining her figure. Leela (Katey Sagal) then switches with Amy so that she can get discount tickets at the movies in the Professor’s body, which leads to Fry (West) finding her unattractive and her accusing him of being shallow. 

S6EA - 1MindSwap
Welcome to PLOT DEVICE!

Bender, in Amy’s body, gets captured by Nikolai, who reveals he wants to be normal. So, after dragging in Zoidberg (West), Fry, and Scruffy’s robot washbucket (Tress MacNeille), Nikolai and Zoidberg (in the Washbucket and Fry) try to be roommates, Fry goes to date Leela as Zoidberg, and Bender becomes Nikolai. Meanwhile, the Professor, in Bender’s body, joins a circus as a stuntman and Amy (in Leela) switches with Hermes (Phil LaMarr) so that she doesn’t wreck Leela’s body with her overeating. Fry and Leela, as Zoidberg and Farnsworth, have a contest to disgust the other… until they end up making out. Bender then gets attacked by Nikolai’s cousin Count Basil (Maurice LaMarche) who is trying to steal the throne. 

S6EA - 2Date
Not the worst date I’ve seen.

Zoidberg and Nikolai blow up Fry and Bender’s apartment, the Washbucket (in Amy) tries to seduce Scruffy (Herman) but is rebuffed, and the Professor uses a cannon to save Bender at the United Nations. After everyone agrees to switch back, the Professor realizes that, due to the machine not allowing people who swapped to swap back directly, he needs help from the Globetrotters to solve the problem using math. They end up solving it and realize that no matter how mixed up the swaps are, they can always get back to normal by adding two more people. Everyone gets back to normal… and Bender realizes that he forgot the crown he stole in Nikolai’s body.

END SUMMARY

This is the only episode of television, to my knowledge, which had a theorem written and published solely for the purpose of resolving the plot and I admire the show immensely for that. The “Futurama Theorem” was developed by writer Ken Keeler, math PhD and massive nerd, and it proves, conclusively, that no matter how many mind switches occur using the mind-switcher in this episode, all parties can be put back in their original bodies using two additional blank people. Essentially, you use the two spare bodies as placeholders for minds while you just change each of the bodies down the line. Keeler also illustrated that, to resolve the situation in the show using the method, you’d only need 13 swaps to get everyone back. Of course, as nerds watch this show, numerous proofs of more efficient paths to solutions have arisen and the Infosphere seems to indicate the minimum number is 9.

S6EA - 3Theorem
Math, it’s FUNdamental.

In terms of humor, this episode does a good job of intertwining all of the plots in a humorous fashion which works perfectly for the theme. I like the Professor’s discussion with Big Bertha in which he offers to put her into a new body which isn’t broken, but she refuses because every scratch on her body is a memory. It’s not exactly a message of “be happy with what you have,” but more saying “don’t forego who you were.” 

S6EA - 4Bertha
Her appearance is canon.

Overall, I think this is a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

In a rarity, I think the best joke in this episode is actually the Title Caption, which reads “What happens in Cygnus X-1, stays in Cygnus X-1.” The structure of the sentence is based on “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” which was itself based on the old musician and professional athlete motto of “what happens on the road/tour, stays on the road/tour.” The gag is that Cygnus X-1 was one of the first sources of X-rays from the Cygnus Constellation, which led to a bet between Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureate Physicist Kip Thorne over whether or not it was caused by a star becoming a black hole. Ultimately, Hawking lost the bet after it became extremely likely that Cygnus X-1 does contain a black hole. In other words, whatever happens in Cygnus X-1 likely happens inside of the event horizon of a black hole and will not be able to escape (although black holes do emit radiation sometimes).

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 85: A Clockwork Origin

NEXT – Episode 87: Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences

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.