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.

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Futurama Fridays – S3E14 “Time Keeps on Slippin’” 

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

S3EE - 7Wendy.png
Dark. Super Dark.

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

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 45: Bendin’ in the Wind

NEXT – Episode 47: I Dated a Robot

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

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

Futurama Fridays  – S3E13 “Bendin’ in the Wind”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

S3ED - 5Singing

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

S3ED - 1Map
Fun fact: Nukevada is a Dukedom

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

Are any of those any good? Let me know.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 44: The Route of All Evil

NEXT – Episode 46: Time Keeps on Slippin’

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S3E10 “Where the Buggalo Roam”

Welcome to Mars, where the men are men, the women are ladies, and the meat is primarily insectoid.

SUMMARY

Planet Express goes to visit Mars to see Amy Wong’s (Lauren Tom) parents, Leo (Billy West) and Inez Wong (Lauren Tom). It’s revealed that the Wongs have long owned the entire Western Hemisphere of Mars, having bought it from the native Martians for a single bead. Zapp Brannigan (West) helps prepare Lt. Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche) for meeting his potential future in-laws. Kif fails to impress them due to not being “manly” enough. While Amy consoles him, a dust storm comes across the farm. After it passes, all of the Buggalo, the prize Wong crop, have been taken. Kif decides to go after the rustlers who took them and the Professor (West) sends Fry (West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) along with him.

S3EA - 1RJ.png
We also got the answer to whether marketing can come to life.

They camp on Olympus Mons, finding the missing Buggalo in the crater at the top. After Kif uses explosives to free them, the sand storm returns, revealing that the rustlers are the Native Martians who are riding flying Buggalo and are trying to get revenge on the Wong family. Amy accidentally identifies herself, so they kidnap her. After Kif returns the Buggalo, the Wongs call in Zapp Brannigan to rescue Amy. Along with Kif, Fry, Leela, and Bender, Zapp goes into the underground Martian Reservation. Brannigan quickly antagonizes the native Martians, who call up another sandstorm to kill everyone, but Kif flies a Buggalo to rescue Amy, which calms the Martians, who establish that only those beloved by Mars can fly Buggalo.

S3EA - 2Herd

Unfortunately, when Kif is invited to smoke the peace pipe with them, he coughs, which make the Martians want to kill him. They try to crush him with the bead that they got in exchange for the land of Mars, but it turns out that it is an absolutely massive diamond. The Martians had always just assumed that they’d been cheated, but are informed that the gem is worth enough to find them a new planet, which leads them to leave Mars. The Wongs are told what happened, but they don’t believe Kif could be that awesome. Amy tells Kif that if her parents liked him, she wouldn’t.

END SUMMARY

Futurama managed to combine the Sitcom meeting the parents episode and the Western, which is pretty great. Leo and Inez have already been established to be more than a little mean towards Amy, particularly since they just seem to want her to find a man and have children, despite the fact that she is actually a doctoral engineering candidate. In this episode, she finally brings a man home with whom she is in a serious relationship, something that should please them, but instead they just start disrespecting Kif for not being manly enough. It’s basically the perfect example of how bad parents can treat their kids on television before it goes to “uncomfortably abusive.” I imagine that may change over time, however.

S3EA - 3Wongs
I already see complaints about Leo being voiced by a white guy.

The idea of Mars being a Western setting inherently conflates the American Frontier with Space, the next frontier that humans will have to take over. Much like the American Frontier, it’s revealed that this new territory is populated by native peoples who the colonizers will suppress. The Native Martians are about as thin of a metaphor for the Native Americans as it gets. However, in what I have to consider an amazing subversion, it’s revealed that the Wongs actually DIDN’T cheat the native Martians, showing that perhaps in the future humanity actually will have learned from at least some of its atrocities. Granted, it doesn’t bode well for us that our reputation for exploitation is so strong that the Native Martians automatically assumed they were fooled and didn’t even check to see if the diamond was worth something. Still, some hope.

S3EA - 4NativeMartians.png
And yet, they had space travel before Earth had indoor plumbing.

This episode really solidifies the longstanding joke in Futurama that cattle have become extinct. We’ve often seen Buggalo mentioned as meat and even have Amy say that she’s eaten cow when Fry says that anchovies are the best extinct animal to eat, but it’s not until you actually see how viable the replacement is that you can accept that people don’t eat cows anymore. It’s also probably a reference to the speculation that people will have to start consuming more insect meat in the future due to the need for more efficient sources of protein than most mammals and fowl can provide. I probably would be okay with it if they looked like Buggalo rather than, say, scorpions or mealworms.

S3EA - 5Buggalo
But I will never try the milk. Ever.

Zapp Brannigan is great in this episode, with several of my favorite Zappisms. I think my favorite is “I am the man with no name: Zapp Brannigan.” It’s the least impressive way to introduce yourself that I’ve heard. It’s a double undercutting of the badass Clint Eastwood character from the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Westerns and it always makes me laugh.

S3EA - 6Zapp.gif

Overall, it’s a pretty solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Bender sings a cover of the theme song to the show Bonanza. Specifically, he sings:

We’ve got a right to pick a little fight with rustlers,

Somebody wants to pick a fight with us,

He’d better bite my ass! Yee-haw!

S3EA - 7Banjo.png
And the Banjo is back.

What’s crazy is that this is extremely similar to the actual lyrics to the song for Bonanza which were considered so horrible that, after the initial airing of the pilot, they were NEVER USED AGAIN. The actual lyrics are:

We’ve got a right to pick a little fight, Bonanza,

Somebody wants to pick a fight with us

He’s gonna fight with me! Yee-haw!

And allow me to say that this truly has to be experienced in order to recognize how bad it is. Despite the fact that almost no one would ever have seen the episode containing the song until the DVD was released, they decided to make the perfect parody of it by just having Bender drop all the pretense and just express that the song is about telling someone to screw off. I just wish they had done that before singing the song:

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 41: The Cyber House Rules

NEXT – Episode 43: Insane in the Mainframe

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 – S3E4 “The Luck of the Fryrish”

Futurama spends an entire episode setting us up for a punchline, but instead decides to gut punch us with emotion.

SUMMARY

This episode constantly bounces between Fry’s life in the 20th Century and his life in the 30th Century.

In the 20th Century, we see Fry (Billy West) being born on the day that the Mets win the World Series (which doesn’t really track, since the Mets won in 1986 but Fry is 25 in 1999. Presumably in the Futurama universe this is 1973 and the “You Gotta Believe” Mets team didn’t lose to the Oakland Athletics in Game 7. This is all the baseball I know.). His father, Yancy Sr., (John DiMaggio) names him Philip after the screwdriver. Fry’s brother, Yancy Jr. (Lauren Tom as kid, Tom “Ice King” Kenny as adult), quickly establishes a trend of being jealous of anything Fry has, including the name “Philip.” As kids, Fry is shown to be worse than Yancy at most things, until Fry finds a seven-leaf clover which makes him unnaturally lucky, even at things which would normally be considered skill-based, like basketball or break-dancing. Yancy is always jealous when Fry is successful and tries to take the clover, but Fry runs home and hides it in a Ronco Record Vault inside The Breakfast Club’s soundtrack.

S3E4 - 1Clover
Such Clover. Much Luck. So Wow.

In the future, Fry is having a streak of bad luck at the racetrack. Not only does Bender (DiMaggio) drug Fry’s horse, resulting in a shameful loss, but when his last dollar gets blown onto a power line, he gets struck by lightning, twice, and blown into a dumpster. Back at Planet Express headquarters, Fry mentions the clover and Zoidberg (West) points out that it might still be in the ruins of Old New York. Fry, Bender, and Leela (Katey Sagal) head underground to the remains of the New York of the 20th Century and make their way to Fry’s old house. However, the clover is no longer in the vault. The three give up on finding the clover, only to run into a statue of Fry’s brother with the clover in his lapel and the nameplate reading “Philip J. Fry.” Fry, incensed, punches the statue and breaks his hand, declaring that his brother “stole his life.”

S3E4 - 2House.png
You can go home again, but it looks like crap.

A video on the internet informs the crew that the Philip J. Fry that is immortalized on the statue was actually a massive celebrity in the 20th century, famous for his perpetual luck, culminating in him being the first man on Mars (if you don’t count the native Martians). He was buried with the clover, so Fry tells everyone that they’re going to go rob the grave. At the graveyard, Fry, Leela, and Bender start digging up the body, but Fry knocks some of the moss off of the other Philip’s grave.

S3E4 - 3Statue.png
He looks taller than Fry, too.

In the past, Yancy breaks into the Ronco Record Vault to find music for his wedding and takes the clover in memory of Fry. Later, Yancy and his wife name their first son Philip after the brother Yancy says he misses every day. In addition to the name, he gifts young Philip with the clover.

In the Future, Fry finds out the truth: The Philip J. Fry they’re digging up is actually his nephew, who was, per his tombstone, “named for his uncle, to carry on his spirit.” Although Bender does dig up the clover, a tearful Fry leaves it to rest in his nephew’s grave and smiles, realizing that his brother wasn’t taking his legacy, but making sure it endured.

S3E4 - 4Grave
Dear everyone who makes TV: We need more of this.

END SUMMARY

Holy flaming carp, this episode. I mean, everyone remembers “Jurassic Bark,” and I already have cookies ready to deal with that episode’s punch to the feelings, but this one’s not far behind for me. The difference is what kind of emotions this episode evokes compared to that one, and the fact that this one actually could potentially have been building up to a comical misunderstanding, but instead decided to change it into a powerful dramatic moment.

S3E4 - 5Grave
Definitely better than a comical misunderstanding.

Throughout this episode, the B-plot in the past portrayed Yancy as the kind of person who actually would bother to steal his dead brother’s name, because from the day Fry was born, Yancy wanted to be Philip. The show presents this idea to us in a little bit of a deceptive manner, showing us a few objective moments of Yancy, while the rest of the time we’re only hearing about Yancy through Philip’s perception of him as jealous. The few objective moments we have don’t contradict Fry’s perception, so it cements that image in our minds. That’s why it’s so surprising when it’s revealed that, upon losing Fry, Yancy spent the rest of his life missing his brother, to the point of entrusting his son with Fry’s legacy. That’s why the moment we share with Fry is so powerful, because we’re going through the realization about Yancy’s true nature at the same time as Fry. We aren’t hit with a wave of sadness like watching a dog waste away waiting for its master, it’s more of a complex series of emotions related to the realization that people aren’t always who you think they are, but that sometimes you don’t learn that until after they’re gone. It’s sad that Fry couldn’t find this out about his brother while he was alive, but he does finally get closure and a reassurance that they did love each other, which is still beautiful.

S3E4 - 6PhilipII.png
I cried a little while screenshotting this.

The key to this episode is the perfect interplay between the A and B plots, allowing for both of them to progress rapidly by letting the audience just assume that nothing important happened between the time that we leave one plot and return to the other. If you’re looking for some gold-standard examples of this, check out the Rick and Morty episode “Meeseeks and Destroy” or the I Love Lucy episode “Job Switching,” but this episode also uses it to great effect, particularly with how it finally has the two plotlines converge into something beautiful and meaningful to both. Interestingly, Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, and writer Ron Weiner used The Godfather II as a model for writing two timelines simultaneously and organizing them by using different colored storyboards.

Overall, this is one of my favorite episodes of the show. It’s also typically rated in the top 10 on most fan polls, so I don’t think I’m insane for that. I don’t think it’s the best, nor even the second or third best, but it is brilliant and touching and writing this review made me tear up a few times.

FAVORITE JOKE

First, a joke amendment that I didn’t find out until this episode. When looking into Fry’s stuff, there’s another pennant for the Whitefish from Coney Island College, the same roller-coaster college Fry says he dropped out of in “Mars University.” At the time, I thought that the choice of whitefish for Coney Island was a hilarious joke about how crappy the university was. It turns out I missed two pieces of information:

  1. “Coney Island Whitefish” is a song by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts about a guy who is a complete waste of time who never tries to improve or do anything. That kinda fits Fry during the 20th century.
  2. Coney Island Whitefish is also a slang term for a discarded used condom, because humanity is gross. I’m hoping this doesn’t apply to anything on the show.

I’ve updated the previous entry in “Mars University” and now I never need to admit to making a mistake.

Second, a wonderful observation and set-up is the fact that Fry’s dad, brother, and his great-grandfather are all named Yancy, as were all of the other men in the line going back to the Revolutionary War. The fact that Fry’s dad doesn’t mention his father is also named Yancy is the first hint we get that there is something unusual in Fry’s lineage, because the Yancy name skips one generation… due to Fry being his own grandfather. Also, I can never prove it, but I think the name Yancy was picked because Billy West who voices Fry also voiced Doug Funnie on Doug. Doug’s middle name was Yancy, and he hated his middle name with a passion.

S3E4 - 7Yancy
It was interesting to see what kind of people made Fry.

Last, the actual best joke, when the horses cross the finish line at the race, they announce a measurement by Electron Microscope which results in a winner by “Quantum Finish.” The Professor (West) immediately shouts out: “No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!” This is one of the best jokes in the series, because 1) it works if you just think the Professor is complaining that he was going to win until they announced a different winner and 2) it works better if you know that the Professor is referencing the Observer Effect of Quantum Physics, which suggests that the mere act of measuring something on a quantum level inherently changes the outcome. This is a perfect example of Futurama’s humor: Works if you know the joke, works if you don’t.

S3E4 - 8QuantumFinish

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

NEXT – Episode 37: The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz

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 – S3E2 “Parasites Lost”

Fry eats a bad egg salad sandwich and finds himself infected with awesomeness.

SUMMARY

While at a gas station, Fry (Billy West) buys an egg-salad sandwich from the men’s room vending machine. Despite the awful taste, he ends up eating the whole thing. While she’s cleaning the windshield, several truckers insult Leela (Katey Sagal). Fry tries to defend her honor, but ends up insulting her more. When they get home, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) are sent to fix the building’s boiler, because Scruffy (David Herman), the Janitor, is too busy reading pornography. The boiler explodes and a pipe is lodged in Fry’s abdomen. Surprisingly, Fry seems fine, until the pipe suddenly is cut in half and the hole in Fry’s stomach regenerates. Zoidberg (West) gives Fry a deep colonoscopy and determines that his body is actually filled with superintelligent worms, which were actually the eggs in the egg-salad.

S3E2 - 1Bathroom
Best place to buy food at a truckstop.

In order to get the parasites out, the Professor (Billy West) creates a series of micro-droids remotely controlled by the crew and a miniature planet express ship. They are going to journey into Fry’s body (without his knowledge, because the worms know everything he knows) and travel to the pelvic splanchnic ganglion to cause Fry to completely void his bowels (including the worms). Leela distracts Fry by taking him on a date, but it’s revealed that the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him stronger, smarter, better looking, and healthier, something that impresses Leela immensely, especially when he beats up one of the truckers that insulted her.

S3E2 - 2City
I love that the worm city has forks and knives, like they’re the only things the worms knew.

Realizing that Fry is actually better because of the worms, Leela travels inside his body and kills the micro-droids of the crew before they can tickle the ganglion. The crew explain to Fry what happened, and Fry elects to keep the worms. Later, Leela takes Fry to her place and he plays a piece he wrote on the Holophonor, an instrument which creates an elaborate holographic art film as he plays it, causing Leela to become completely infatuated with him. Unfortunately, Fry realizes that it might be the worms she loves, not him. He goes inside his own body and orders the worms to get them out. When they refuse, he starts to damage his own brain, threatening to kill himself if they don’t. They concede and leave.

S3E2 - 3Holophonor
That’ll get you laid, man.

Fry comes back to Leela’s apartment and tries to play the holophonor again, but does it terribly. Leela realizes he’s an idiot again. He attempts to seduce her his way, but fails immediately. Leela kicks him out. He is later seen taking a lesson in playing the holophonor.

END SUMMARY

This is easily in my top 10 episodes of Futurama. Maybe in the top 5. It has some of my favorite one-liners, contains one of the more perfect twists on a sci-fi premise in the show, and really cements that Leela might reciprocate Fry’s feelings if he would just work on himself. It’s also an episode that is referenced, either directly or indirectly, multiple times throughout the rest of the series. Even the original series finale “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” directly references this episode and Fry’s effort to play the holophonor at the end of this episode forms the last shot of that episode, and the series, until the restart.

S3E2 - 4Kiss.png
Yeah, this was a good ending to the show.

The bulk of the episode is a tribute to the film Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of people shrink down to microscopic size to remove a blood clot. In this episode, the Planet Express crew instead controls tiny robots, because Professor Farnsworth can’t afford the “tiny atoms” which are required. I’d point out that the tiny robots also solve the issues of how being tiny would make you super dense, freeze you to death because your body wouldn’t generate enough internal heat, and that you couldn’t breathe enough oxygen to stay alive at that size, even scaled down, but I’m not going to do that because that would make me a nerd. The great twist on the episode is that unlike the clot, the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him superhuman. Futurama often does these nice twists on classic media, but I still think the idea of the mysterious parasites being a good thing is one of the better ones.

S3E2 - 5Swords.jpg
Also, the tumor didn’t have swords.

It’s also notable that this episode has the fewest speaking roles in the series. It’s focused almost exclusively on the internal workings (haha) of the Planet Express Crew. Every one of them has at least one solid joke, too. In fact:

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Everyone has a great line in this, so I’m going to do all of them:

Zoidberg: (After Fry is said to be as strong and flexible as Gumby and Hercules) Gumbercules? I love that guy!!!

Fry: Leela, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time but every time I try I get nervous and my mouth feels like it’s stuffed with peanut butter, even when it’s not.

Professor: Listen, this is gonna be one hell of a bowel movement. Afterwards he’ll be lucky if he has any bones left!

Amy: (On seeing Fry’s bowel) It’s gorgeous. That place used to be a big dump.

Leela: I don’t have words to say how wonderful you are, Fry. I haven’t felt this happy since double-soup Tuesday at the orphanarium.

Bender: (After Fry’s been dumped)  If it’s any consolation, my life is great! Babes! Bucks! I got it all!

Hermes: (describing his famous “Jerk Prunes”) I call it “Caribbean Drain-o”!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 33: Amazon Women in the Mood

NEXT – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

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 – S3E1 “Amazon Women in the Mood”

An episode on chauvinism also gives us every man’s chosen way to die: DEATH BY SNU-SNU.

SUMMARY

Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) has been receiving calls on her cell-phone. They feature a man’s voice breathing heavily, but no words. It turns out that the person on the other end is none other than Lieutenant Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche), who has been trying to work up the courage to ask Amy out since their sudden romance on the Titanic. He decides to ask Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) for advice, who agrees to set up a double-date as long as Leela (Katey Sagal) goes out with him. Amy talks Leela into it.

S3E1 - 1Zoidberg.png
Meanwhile, Zoidberg goes wild.

The four go out on a date to an orbiting restaurant, but Zapp’s advice to Kif backfires at every turn. Finally, Kif tries to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” at karaoke, but Zapp does a spoken-word version of “Lola” with Leela’s name substituted. It’s so terrible that the people in the restaurant all leave, resulting in Zapp trying to fly the restaurant and crashing it into a planet. Searching the area, the group finds that they’re on Planet Amazonia, which is populated by giant women that capture them.

S3E2 - 2Zapp.png
Zapp Brannigan: 10% Kirk, 90% Shatner

Fry (West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) take the Planet Express ship to save the girls, but they are quickly captured. When going through a tour of the village, Zapp, Fry, and Bender all mock the various feminist aspects of the culture, including their comedy and basketball. The Amazons take them to their leader, the Femputer (Bea Arthur). The Femputer, upon learning that the men all mocked their civilization, orders the men to be killed… by snu-snu, the Amazon word for sex. It’s also revealed that all the men on Amazonia died from this. Bender points out that he can’t have sex, so he is pardoned. Zapp and Fry are somewhat excited about dying mid-coitus, but Kif is horrified. Facing death, he finally confesses his feelings to Amy.

S3E1 - 3Amazons.png
Oddly, the society divides Snu-Snu up by physical appearance.

The girls come up with a plan to save the three men. They send Bender to try and hack the Femputer while Amy pretends to be an Amazon to save Kif (Fry and Zapp are enjoying their violent snu-snu). Bender finds out that the Femputer is actually a Fembot, who he seduces into forcing the other Amazons to release everyone. Now free, Kif and Amy start going out.

END SUMMARY

My opinion on this episode has shifted a lot throughout my life. A lot of the humor is derived from the women on Amazonia behaving like overblown stereotypes and the men responding to them… as overblown stereotypes. At times, it seems like a lot of the jokes are just too easy to be funny, but, well, no, they’re still freaking funny. The fact that there are so many jokes that are easy make it all the better that there are so many really, really clever jokes embedded in the episode, and it also serves to highlight the absurd premise.

S3E1 - 4BBall.png
Admittedly, the shot at the WNBA was REALLY cheap.

A lot of what makes this episode work is the heavy dose of Zapp Brannigan. While he’s always fun to have along for the ride, this features him without any restrictions whatsoever. His book of pick-up lines include such gems as “if I said you had a beautiful body would you take your pants off and dance around a little?” and “I find the most erotic part of the woman is the boobies.” He tries to seduce Leela with a spoken-word version of “Lola,” a song about a drag-queen. He attempts to wrangle a threesome out of Amy and Leela by arguing it’s to repopulate the human race (not being smart enough to remember that Leela isn’t human… yet). When Kif is frightened of being killed by snu-snu, Zapp assumes that something is wrong with his sexuality. Basically, he’s the perfect male chauvinist to feature in an episode picking apart chauvinism.

S3E1 - 5Smile.png
Death by Snu-Snu is a bag of mixed emotions.

I think that the final twist in the episode, that the Femputer is a Fembot, ends up being doubly hilarious when she reveals that she only has taken over Amazonia because she lived on a planet which she discovered was run by a chauvinist Manputer which was actually a Manbot. She decided that the best way to deal with an oppressively masculine society was to create an oppressively feminine society. Despite this, she asks Bender if he can understand what it’s like to live in a social structure that’s engineered towards the other gender, and he ends up not even understanding the question. If that’s not social commentary… well, it is, so I don’t need to contemplate the rest of that sentence.

S3E1 - 6Fembot.png
Also, it’s Bea Freaking Arthur.

Amy’s and Kif’s romance really begins in this episode, and it’s one of the most interesting relationships in the show, since they seem to have literally nothing in common. Amy is a wild party girl who isn’t much into monogamy, while Kif is socially awkward and a little obsessive towards her. Despite this, the show manages to actually sell that the two should be together, because they each make the other better. It’s weird to realize, in retrospect, that it started with him semi-stalking her.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m a sucker for calling out double standards, and this episode has one of the most succinct and funny ones in media. When informed that the leader of Amazonia is a Femputer, this exchange happens:

Fry: A female leader? Hahahahaha.

Leela: Fry, shut up.

Fry: Yes, captain.

This episode makes this shut-down funnier than it normally would be because, while encouraged by Zapp and Bender, Fry is actually being more of a stereotypical male than he usually is. This line reminds us that the status quo is still operating, and that Leela is still not just in charge, but the most competent person on the team.

S3E1 - 7Salute.png

Oh, and DEATH BY SNU-SNU. Everything about it is hilarious.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 32: The Cryonic Woman

NEXT – Episode 34: Parasites Lost

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.