Futurama Fridays – S4E3 “Love and Rocket”

Bender decides to start dating the Planet Express ship, only to suffer when he treats her like crap.

SUMMARY

Planet Express is entering into a contract with Romanticorp right before Valentine’s Day. The crew tours the factory of the company, finding out secrets like “lovey bears are actually corpses” or “candy hearts have earwig honey,” but they still end up taking the job. Based on the new influx of money, the Professor (Billy West) finally upgrades the Planet Express ship, including giving it a new AI which has a female personality voiced by Sigourney Weaver (APPLAUSE). Bender (John DiMaggio) quickly falls in love with the new ship’s computer while Fry (West) attempts to find the perfect pickup line to use on Leela (Katey Segal) from the trillions of candy hearts that Romanticorp makes. 

File:Lovey Bears.jpg
These bears are all culled for profit. Monstrous.

After a few dates that somehow still take place before Valentine’s Day, Bender gets sick of the ship and starts cheating on her with a number of cheap floozies. She sees him at Elzar’s restaurant with two of them and becomes suspicious, but Bender manages to talk his way out of trouble. The ship continues to grow more paranoid (justifiably), until Leela tries to talk her into dumping Bender, leading the ship to lash out. While the ship’s sanity starts to slip due to Bender gaslighting her, the crew delivers 20 Billion candy hearts to Omicron Persei 8’s rulers Lrrr and Nd-Nd (Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille). Unfortunately, one of the hearts uses the term “wuv,” which confuses and infuriates the Omicronian Monarchs. While the crew flees, Bender dumps the Planet Express Ship. Somehow, they still make it out alive. 

File:Omicronian castle 3.png
They can’t understand WUV, but they understand Sweeps-Week.

Leela tries to console the ship with girl-talk, but accidentally inspires the ship to fly into a Quasar in an attempt to force them to be together forever as a quantum singularity. Fry and Leela try to stop her, but she cuts life support and gravity. Bender tries to merge his consciousness with hers to distract the ship while Leela shuts down the computer’s brain. Fry keeps looking for the perfect heart message but notices that Leela is running out of oxygen. He tries to warn her, but she ignores him, so he hooks his oxygen tank up to her mask without her noticing. Meanwhile, in cyberspace, Bender is running from the incarnation of the ship as she slowly loses her intelligence. Leela finishes shutting off the ship’s computer, restoring life support. She finds that Fry is unconscious and revives him, finding the perfect heart: U leave me breathless. Bender is brought back out, and it seems he’s inherited some of the ship’s personality. The crew dumps the billions of candy hearts in the quasar, causing mystical love radiation to go across the universe, killing several planets, but making Earth feel the true Valentine’s spirit. 

File:U Leave Me Breathless candy heart.png
They wrote the whole story for this joke. You know it. I know it.

END SUMMARY

First of all, can we all agree that Sigourney Weaver is just amazing? I mean, she played the single most badass woman in film, possibly the most badass character ever, but here she plays the consciousness of a ship who gets gaslit into despair and she’s nailing it. I love the idea that she’s voicing the computer here, since several of her roles involve her fighting with an artificial intelligence. It also is worth noting that here she ends up being a parody of the HAL 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie WALL-E, Sigourney Weaver voices a ship’s computer and the counterpart of a HAL 9000-esque autopilot program, and I have to think that this role at least was part of the reason she was cast. 

File:Bender and the Planet Express ship 4ACV03.png
She makes “Me Want Engulf Bender” sound believable.

Second, my god, Bender is a giant a**hole in this. He is a total scumbag and honestly, even for a character who is supposed to be despicable, his conduct here stands out. It’s not because the conduct is worse than, say, that time he sacrificed his first born son to the robot devil, but because it’s so much more normal. Guys really do cheat on their girlfriends and then lie about it, just as brazenly as Bender does here. Moreover, some people really do feel no guilt for leading a partner on in a relationship, only to dump them and feel nothing. The episode tries to justify Bender somewhat by having the ship go crazy at the end, but I submit that she’s only in that irrational state because Bender has been gaslighting her and then treating her with complete disdain after he decided to move past her. It’s a complete d*ck move, and I don’t mean the quacking kind.

Still, this episode is pretty amusing, and I do love the sweet Fry and Leela subplot, so I still enjoy this. 

FAVORITE JOKE

I will always laugh at the Romanticorp tour, but particularly the Romance Acceleration lab. It features two wire-mesh dummies who deliver pick-up lines. The first one delivers the horrible “Is heaven missing an angel? ‘Cause you’ve got nice cans!” That line is so perfectly bad that it gets a chuckle. The second dummy delivers the sincere line “My two favourite things are commitment and changing myself,” something that even gets the tester to make out with him. Leela even asks if he has a brother. Is this a little bit of a stereotype and an old trope? Yes, but it’s still funny as hell. 

Because I really want to talk about it, I’ll say that the second best joke in this episode is the title. It’s a reference to the comic Love and Rockets and potentially to the band who took their name from the comic. Love and Rockets was a comic created by three brothers and primarily written by two of them, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. What’s notable about the series is that the brother did not really coordinate their stories in any way, with Gilbert’s taking place in Central America and featuring a magical realism storyline and Jaime’s taking place in Los Angeles and being more grounded. I think that the juxtaposition of fantastic and grounded, human stories has influenced many subsequent series, and I would have to believe that Futurama is one of them. If you haven’t ever read it, give it a try. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 56: Leela’s Homeworld

NEXT – Episode 58: Less Than Hero

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

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

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Futurama Fridays – S4E1 “Kif Gets Knocked Up A Notch”

Amy and Kif have been getting serious, but somehow forget the old adage “no glove, no love.” 

SUMMARY

Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche) and Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) have been dating long-distance for a while, but the lack of contact is starting to hurt their relationship. The crew of the Planet Express ship is sent on a delivery near Kif’s ship, so Amy smuggles herself onboard and re-directs the ship while the others are asleep. When they finally arrive at Zapp Brannigan’s (Billy West) ship The Nimbus, Kif takes Amy onto the Holo-Shed, where he tries to romance her until it malfunctions and brings a number of evil beings to life. Amy and Kif flee to the bridge where Zapp shoots a hole in the ship. In the process of saving Kif from explosive decompression, he loses his right glove and has skin contact with everyone in the room. After the situation is resolved, it’s revealed that Kif is pregnant, as his species can reproduce from absorbing genetic material from anyone they touch if they’re in love with someone.

S4E1 - 1Gun
Zapp actually doing some Zapp-ing.

Kif is happy, but Amy isn’t ready for kids. The Professor (West) tests Kif’s offspring against everyone in the ship (and Zoidberg (West), who was sleeping in the testing machine), it’s revealed that Leela (Katey Segal) is the one whose DNA impregnated Kif. Kif points out that in his culture, it doesn’t matter who the DNA was from, but who caused Kif to become fertile that is considered the mother of the offspring, so he names Amy his “smizmar.” At the baby shower, Amy’s parents talk about her new responsibilities, leading Amy to run away.

S4E1 - 2KifPregnant
Kif, finding out he may be a single father/mother.

Kif goes into labor and is returned to his home planet in order to give birth, accompanied by Bender (John DiMaggio), Fry (West), Leela, and Zapp. They meet the Grand Midwife (Tress MacNeille), who begins the birthing ceremony without Amy, until she arrives to assist in the birth of Kif’s tadpoles and defend them from predators. Kif reveals that the babies will come out of the swamp in 20 years and Amy says she’ll be ready then.

END SUMMARY

This episode’s a good inversion of the traditional unplanned pregnancy story that shows tend to do, like Murphy Brown having to give birth alone after the father of her baby wanted nothing to do with her. For reasons that are mostly because humans tend to anthropomorphize protagonists even if they aren’t human, the pregnant character in most stories pretty much had to be female. Because of this, most stories about a male character having a baby makes the focus the shock THAT a male can have a baby, rather than dealing with it as a normal pregnancy like this episode. However, aside from that, this episode doesn’t have much to distinguish it in the 2nd or 3rd acts, aside from Tress MacNeille’s hilarious work as the Grand Midwife. Also, if anyone points out the movie Junior, I’ll be really disappointed in you. 

S4E1 - 3Midwife
I love that they brought her back later.

The funniest part of the episode is absolutely the first act where the holo-shed figures come to life, mostly because the show immediately throws out a few of the horrible repercussions that could come out of that or even out of having a “holo-shed.” It’s not just the idea of bringing random horrible villains to life, but Zapp points out that last time it happened he got stuck with a bunch of paternity suits. In other words, in this universe the holo-deck is actually used for EXACTLY what everyone knows that technology would be used for in real life. To paraphrase The Good Place, humans will immediately use any nascent technology for porn. In addition, the randomness of the assortment of the holo-shed villains is hilarious (see below). 

S4E1 - 4HoloShed
No relation to any decks from Star Trek.

The one thing that really bugs me about this episode is: Why didn’t Kif mention this is a thing his species does? If he’s in love with Amy, then every time they kiss they’re risking him getting pregnant and that’s DEFINITELY the kind of thing that you should be telling a partner before intimacy. 

S4E1 - 5Babies
Just a few hugs, then BAM! Tadpoles.

Other than that, this episode is kind of middle of the road for Futurama, but still funny.

FAVORITE JOKE

7 Words: Real holographic simulated Evil Lincoln is BACK!!!

S4E1 - 6Lincoln.png

Seriously, the emergence of the random villains in the holo-shed is the best part of the episode. They are: Attila the Hun, Jack the Ripper, Professor Moriarity (of Sherlock Holmes fame), and, of course, Evil Lincoln. I love this assembly: One real figure (Attila), one real figure of unknown identity (Jack the Ripper), one character from real fiction (Moriarity), one character from speculative fiction (Lincoln). It’s just so perfectly odd.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 54: The 30% Iron Chef

NEXT – Episode 56: Leela’s Homeworld

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 – S3E21 “Future Stock”

It’s time to get a heavy dose of the 1980s in the year 3000. It’s awesome… awesome to the max.

SUMMARY

Planet Express is having a stockholder meeting and Fry and Zoidberg (Both Billy West) sneak off to find food at another meeting. First, they go to a Bot-Mitzvah, which doesn’t let Zoidberg in due to not permitting Shellfish or Swine (get it?). They then go to a recovery group for people who were cryogenically frozen, like Fry, where he meets “That Guy,” (David Herman), a 1980s stockbroker who had himself frozen to get a cure for his terminal boneitis. Fry invites him to join the Planet Express company at the stockholder meeting, then nominates him to be CEO of the company. He ends up being elected by 1 vote, due to Scruffy the Janitor (Herman) having four times the shares of anyone else and Hattie McDoogal, the crazy cat lady (Tress MacNeille), hating the Professor (West). 

S3EL - 1Vote.png
Democracy: It totally works every time.

Now that That Guy (real name Steve Castle, but it’s never mentioned) is in charge of the company, he makes Fry Vice-Chairman and decides to attack Mom’s Friendly Delivery Company, the leading package company. Mom (MacNeille) vows revenge, but with That Guy’s 80s know-how, he gives the company a complete makeover to raise its stock price, then sells it to Mom, firing everyone.

S3EL - 2Mom.png
Fry’s executive intimidation is underwhelming.

Fry tries to block the takeover to save everyone’s jobs, but it turns out that Zoidberg sold all his shares to That Guy for a sandwich, giving That Guy majority control over the company. Just as the takeover is approved, That Guy dies of boneitis, which he never bothered to cure. Fry takes over the company, then ends up deciding to turn it back over to Professor Farnsworth. Leela (Katey Segal), Bender (John DiMaggio), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Amy (Lauren Tom), show up and try to convince Fry to sell the company, because as major stockholders they’d all be wealthy, only to find out that giving it to Farnsworth made the company worthless again. The crew ends up going back to work.

S3EL - 3Boneitis.png
What a funny name for a horrifying disease.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the funniest episodes of the show and certainly one of the episodes that I most frequently quote. It’s basically putting Gordon Gekko in Futurama and watching how it plays out. Naturally, this results in the episode completely and totally satirizing the common image of 80s stockbrokers as greedy, soulless, monsters by making That Guy the greediest monster imaginable, having no real substance as a person.

S3EL - 4ThatGuy.png
He has whiskey with Boesky and cookies with Milken… both billionaire felons.

That Guy is just a perfect pastiche. He only ever references the 80s and its culture, from the music (Safety Dance) to the language (Awesome… Awesome to the max) to the commercials (the Apple 1984 Commercial) to the business ethics (“Friendship to me means that for two bucks I’d beat you with a pool cue till you got detached retinas”). He is focused solely on profit through appearance, rather than through actual work (noted by the fact that after he takes over, Planet Express stops delivering packages). His focus is solely on tearing down the work of other people for his own gain. Even more than Gordon Gekko, That Guy is self-aware that he’s being a complete monster, and he relishes every second of it. He considers being an 80s guy who wants to make as much money as possible as the whole of his identity, to the point that he forgets to cure his boneitis just because he gets too caught up on trying to capitalize on Planet Express. I have to give a special recognition to David Herman’s performance, because no matter how insane the things That Guy says can get, I always genuinely feel like he’s really trying to sell them to the listeners. He makes me think of Alec Baldwin’s speech from Glengarry, Glen Ross, but done by a muppet (sadly, that video is not yet real):

This episode also brings back Mom as an antagonist, something that I never realized only happened once per season for the first three seasons, but this time she’s really not directly trying to destroy Planet Express. Instead, she’s just serving as an equally plutocratic ally to That Guy, while simultaneously being a target for his own plot. Despite the fact that Mom hates That Guy’s attacks on her, she still gives in and agrees to his terms for the buyout, something that would have made him richer than ever. I suppose maybe vengeance just works differently for billionaires?

Overall, this is just a fun episode from start to finish. If you aren’t quoting it now, watch it and I guarantee that you will. 

FAVORITE JOKES

So many of the jokes in this episode are amazing that it’s basically just a string of hits. From the beginning where they do the Bot Mitzvah and the Cryo Support Group to the final sequence of watching the price of Planet Express fluctuate with every line Fry says, I think it’s all gold. That’s why it’s pretty hard for me to pick, so I’ll do the top 3:

1) When Hermes tells That Guy that they can’t compete with Mom

Hermes: We can’t compete with Mom! Her company is big and evil! Ours is small and neutral!

That Guy: Switzerland is small and neutral! We are more like Germany, ambitious and misunderstood!

2) That Guy’s first speech to the team:

That Guy: Let’s cut to the chase. There are two kinds of people: Sheep and sharks. Anyone who’s a sheep is fired. Who’s a sheep?

Zoidberg: Uh, excuse me? Which is the one people like to hug?

That Guy: Gutsy question. You’re a shark. Sharks are winners and they don’t look back ’cause they don’t have necks. Necks are for sheep. I am proud to be the shepherd of this herd of sharks. 

3) The stocks on the exchange, including Kirk – 1.25 and Gorn +2 (because Gorn would really win the fight), are all hilarious, but it’s the one that I spotted this time that takes the cake: eπi -1. That’s a reference to Euler’s identity (e^(i*π) = -1), one of the most profoundly beautiful equations in math. It’s quick, but I love that Futurama is filled with math jokes.

S3EL - 9Joke.png

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 52: Godfellas

NEXT – Episode 54: The 30% Iron Chef

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 – S3E20 “Godfellas”

In what I consider to be not just the best episode of this show but one of the best half-hours of television ever made, Bender is god and meets God. It’s already on my list of the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time

SUMMARY

S3EK - 2Pirates.jpg
He’s like 350% of a human pirate.

While on a delivery, the Planet Express crew are attacked by Space Pirates (they’re like pirates, but in space). Bender (John DiMaggio) is trying to take a nap in a torpedo tube and ends up getting shot at the pirates’ ship. Since the Planet Express ship was already going at max speed when they fired him, they cannot ever catch up with him, leaving Bender to drift through the cosmos, alone, until an asteroid lands on him. The asteroid is populated by tiny people called “Shrimpkins,” who quickly start worshipping Bender as the “Great Metal Lord.” 

S3EK - 1BenderColony
I’m amazed that he can somehow sustain an atmosphere.

Bender attempts to be a god to the Shrimpkins, choosing one, Malachi (Maurice LaMarche), as his prophet. Bender orders them to make him alcohol, which quickly starts to ruin the Shrimpkin’s society, causing massive deaths, maimings, and crime rates. Bender sheds a tear for the plight of the people (which he caused), which causes a flood that threatens Malachi, Jr. (Lauren Tom). Bender saves Malachi, Jr., earning him praise and prayers from the rest of the people. He attempts to answer the prayers. The ones that pray for wealth are given a quarter, which kills them. The ones that pray for sun are burned by Bender reflecting light and then blown into space by Bender when he tries to extinguish it. Bender begins to realize that his actions tend to harm the Shrimpkins more than they help.

S3EK - 3Crime.png
I mean, the drive-bys alone are really hurting Shrimpkin property values.

On Earth, Fry (Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) go to meet the Monks of either Dschubba (a star) or maybe Teshuvah (Hebrew for “Answer”), the possessors of the most powerful radio telescope in the universe, to try and search for Bender. When Fry actually asks them for permission to use it, they refuse, but when they are revealed to be pacifists, Leela locks them in a laundry room. Fry tries to survey the entire universe, but Leela points out that even if he spent his entire life there, he wouldn’t even be able to check even one billionth of the observable universe, because duh. 

S3EK - 4Priest.jpg
They also visit the first Amalgamated church of Earth.

Malachi warns Bender that the colony of Shrimpkins on his ass have turned into non-believers because he doesn’t talk to them (which is weird, because A) he can turn his head 180 degrees and talk to them and B) they could easily move). Bender refuses to intervene in the conflict, citing the fact that he keeps making things worse. The two sides start a sudden nuclear conflict that obliterates everyone except Bender. As Bender goes through space, he spots a galaxy signalling him in binary. He signals back and the Galaxy (West) talks to him, leading Bender to suspect that the Entity is actually God or at least a computer that collided with God. Bender and the Entity talk about the nature of being God, with the Entity giving him the advice: “If you do too much, people get dependent on you. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch like a safecracker or a pickpocket.” The Entity reveals that it can’t send Bender back at this time. 

S3EK - 5God
What? You thought God was a white dude with a beard? That’s Santa.

On Earth, Fry is about to give up searching, when he randomly spins the dial and broadcasts a message saying “I wish I had Bender back,” which happens to be beamed directly to the Entity, who sends Bender back to Earth, resulting in him landing directly in front of Fry and Leela. As they start to leave, they realize that they left the monks locked inside. Tempted to just let them pray for help, Bender says that God told him that they can’t trust God to do anything, so he leads them back to release the monks. The image pans out to God laughing that “’When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.”

END SUMMARY

Look, this is a masterpiece. The writer, Ken Keeler, wrote 14 episodes of Futurama, most of them excellent, but this is his magnum opus. This entire episode has provoked hours of thought from me and when a work manages to inspire an amount of introspection that is dozens of times longer than it takes to consume, then it has officially gone above and beyond just entertaining. 

S3EK - 6Showoff
Keeler, seen here being a show-off.

There are so many different ways to look at the events of this episode. Honestly, you might have more questions than you got answers from the viewing. Bender certainly seems to have received almost no definitive answers from talking with the Entity, which is, appropriately, exactly what the Entity was trying to convey:

If you’re doing things right, you aren’t going to give people the answers, you’re only going to remind them that the answers exist, and then let them find things on their own. 

Basically, in this episode, the purpose of a god is to have a source of hope when things seem hopeless, not to give you the power to part seas or command bears to kill children (II Kings 2: 23-24). Without hope, people turn to despair, and when people despair, they don’t give a thought towards preserving or improving the world. This has long been a position adopted by a number of schools of philosophy and philosophers (including, famously, Voltaire). Here, we find out that this idea has so much merit that even God decided it was the best way to do things. 

S3EK - 7Voltaire.jpg
I mean, not from this quote exactly, but this is the famous one.

The episode also shows us the fault in the alternative: Granting everyone’s wishes would make them complacent if done perfectly, and would likely come with a ton of unexpected side-effects if done poorly. Bender tries to be a helpful god to the Shrimpkins, but giving them what they want only brings about their destruction, albeit in a more gradual manner than when he fails to heed them at all.

S3EK - 8Nukes.png
I mean, this is about as “failed as God” as it gets.

The episode also indirectly addresses one of the greatest questions in theology: Why do we praise God for saving us from himself? Bender is praised and worshipped for the “miracle” of saving Malachi, Jr. from a flood that he actually caused. Similarly, people who are saved from fires or even have their bible saved from a fire that takes their home and kills their pets often praise God for that small salvation, seemingly missing that God could have just stopped the fire in the first place… or not started it. In this episode, the answer is not “god is a dick,” but more “everything is part of a plan too grand to be comprehended.” Is that a satisfying answer to why kids get cancer and die or why earthquakes devastate entire countries? No, but it’s enough to keep you from despair. 

Ironically, despite the fact that the episode often interacts with the Entity as if he is the Judeo-Christian God, the message of “when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all” is closer to the teachings of Taoism, which states that when a master governs well, the people will believe they did everything themselves. At the end of the episode, we don’t know exactly whose wishes are being answered. Does the Entity send Bender back because Bender wants to go? Or because Fry prayed for it? Or because the monks are praying to get out? Is it all of them or none of them? We don’t know, and that’s the point of this literal Deus Ex Machina… involving both God and a machine.

Faith is believing that things are being done for a reason, even if it’s one that we’re never able to fathom. It’s believing that there is something watching over the universe. This episode tries to not only justify faith, but also to justify why faith is supposed to be difficult. If you knew God existed for sure, you can’t have faith. If the universe seems completely without meaning, then you can’t have hope (although, other episodes on this list have posited philosophical answers to that). For a 22-minute cartoon about a robot, this episode manages to touch upon and convey an incredibly complex set of concepts, and, true to the nature of such things, leaves it to the viewer to find their own answers. 

The craziest part? “Roswell that Ends Well” was sent for consideration at the Emmy Awards rather than this episode. It won, so I’m glad that the Emmys recognized the fact that Futurama deserved it. I imagine they just thought it would be controversial to submit an episode where God tells someone “You were doing well until everyone died.” 

FAVORITE JOKE

Oddly, I don’t think there are that many great jokes in this episode, because the episode itself is so much more than just the usual series of gags. That said, my favorite joke is when Bender finds a candelabra within the swag he stole from the Space Pirates and the ensuing scene:

… [w]hat good is a candelabra without– Wait! I know! 

S3EK - 9Piano.png
Given that Bender can fit that inside him at all times, he might actually BE a god.

Ah, the pity. Fated to drift forever through the void as gravity’s plaything. Oh, cruel fate, to be thusly boned. Ask not for whom the bone bones. It bones for thee. The only thing that keeps me sane is the thought that I have all eternity in which to perfect my art. 

Naturally, he immediately breaks the piano when he misses a note twice. This whole scene is just so wonderfully odd, while also encompassing what a being who is facing an eternity of solitude might feel. It basically gets us through all of Bender’s initial existential crises that arise from dealing with his situation, allowing the episode to move on from there. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 51: Roswell That Ends Well

NEXT – Episode 53: Future Stock

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 – S3E18 “Anthology of Interest II”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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Including the *sigh* holiday special.

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

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

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

S3EI - 7DonkeyKong
This should be most UN meetings.

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

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WHERE DID HE EVEN GET A GUN?

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

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

By “monkey cake” I meant your ass!

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

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 49: A Pharaoh to Remember

NEXT – Episode 51: Roswell that Ends Well

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S3E15 “I Dated a Robot”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

S3EF - 6Fly.png

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 46: Time Keeps on Slippin’

NEXT – Episode 48: A Leela of Her Own

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S3E14 “Time Keeps on Slippin’” 

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

S3EE - 7Wendy.png
Dark. Super Dark.

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

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 45: Bendin’ in the Wind

NEXT – Episode 47: I Dated a Robot

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

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