Rick and Mondays – S3 E4 “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

Morty forces Rick to go along on an adventure with the Vindicators, a superhero team whose name is definitely not derivative of anything.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) receive a call from the Vindicators, a superhero team that they had previously assisted. Rick refuses, but Morty uses his right to choose every tenth adventure from winning the bet in “Meeseeks and Destroy” to force Rick to do it. They join the Vindicators on their spaceship base and are informed that a villain named Worldender is out to take over the galaxy. Rick wastes no time in being hostile towards all of the Vindicators: literal starchild Supernova (Gillian Jacobs), cyborg reptile Crocubot (Maurice LaMarche), conductor of a ghost train Alan Rails (Lance Reddick), hive-minded ant colony Million Ants (Tom Kenny), and renegade starsoldier Vance Maximus (Christian Slater). The only one he gets along with is the janitor Noob-Noob (Roiland).

Morty believes this is the second time that the Vindicators have assembled and is dismayed to be told that it is actually the third. Rick and Morty weren’t invited to the last one due to Rick’s horrible personality. Rick is amused that the Vindicators hate him so much and points out that he routinely beats much more powerful enemies than the Vindicators face, but is then hurt when Morty says that the Vindicators are heroes, unlike Rick.

The next morning, Rick is found on the conference table passed out in his own feces. Morty and the Vindicators head towards Worldender’s lair with the unconscious Rick in tow. They manage to make it through multiple defenses, but then are stymied by turrets. They wake Rick up, who stops the turrets. Once they’re inside, they find all of Worldender’s minions dead and Worldender himself impaled and dying. It’s revealed that he was killed by none other than Rick, while Rick was blackout drunk. Drunk Rick has set up a series of death traps designed to torment the Vindicators. Vance is killed quickly trying to escape while Morty solves the first death-trap.

In the next room, Drunk Rick challenges the Vindicators to tell where they would never be found. Crocubot is killed after he reveals that the Vindicators killed an entire planet during Vindicators 2 due to not being able to track down a shapeshifter named Doom-nomitron, who Rick could easily have located. It turns out that Rick was talking about Israel, which Rick defends as just being “complicated,” but not “anti-Semitic.” After that, Drunk Rick tells them to make a series of three-pointers, which they do easily, however, Alan Rails ends up accusing Million Ants of sleeping with Supernova while she was married to Alan. Rick and Morty fight over Rick’s behavior, until they witness Million Ants and Supernova kill Alan violently.

The last room contains a puzzle where Drunk Rick tells the Vindicators to show the one thing he values. Morty reasons this is nothing, but Rick says the answer might be Morty. Morty gets taken on a ride by the deathtrap where Rick appears to be getting emotional, only to reveal that the actual answer was Noob-Noob. The trap still accepts the answer, though, and the room starts ascending to the surface. Along the way, Supernova starts trying to kill Rick and Morty. Million Ants tells her not to, but she kills him. Rick and Morty are nearly dead when they hit the surface, which has been turned into a party organized by Drunk Rick. Supernova flees the crowd and Rick and Morty join the party.

END SUMMARY

This episode is a shot at the superhero film genre and it’s one of the funnier ones to date. There are a lot of levels of criticism in this episode, so let’s go through a few.

First, Rick points out that superheroes are fairly generic. In his first trap room, he tells the Vindicators to match several traits (Don’t play well with others, tragic origin, never give up, superpower is a burden, and using power responsibly) to each of their pictures. Morty quickly points out that all five of the traits apply to all of the Vindicators because they’re just variations on the same general themes. He even tells them that he’s more complex than they are.

Rick also tells the Vindicators that he believes he can knock out what they do in a year in a few hours, a reference to how superhero film arcs take an entire film or even multiple movies, whereas Rick and Morty generally gets through both an A and B plot in 22 minutes. This is a statement on the tighter storytelling that Rick and Morty uses compared to the more spectacle-based superhero films.

The show also uses their typical nihilist satire to deconstruct the idea that superheroes even exist by having them slowly display all of their worst traits when faced with something more complicated than a normal, punchable villain. Vance reveals that behind his charm and wit he’s actually a coward, Alan attacks Million Ants out of anger, Crocubot makes an illogical decision, and Supernova just goes straight villain. However, as Supernova says, the reality of the heroes is irrelevant, because it’s the belief in them that actually matters. In other words, heroes don’t actually have to be all they claim to be, they just have to appear that way. Rick, meanwhile, is always honest about being a shithead, which is somewhat more moral in its own way.

This is one of the best episodes which doesn’t have a B-Plot. The focus is unerringly on Rick and Morty, but it still works well. 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Look, this one’s pretty straightforward, so I’ll give you two mini-theories.

First, Rick chooses Israel because he’s sick of being confused with Rick Sanchez, the former CNN, now Fox News commentator who got into trouble for anti-Semitic comments. Rick apparently has complicated feelings regarding Israel, but I think he goes out of his way to draw attention to his support of Israel in an attempt to separate himself from the other Rick Sanchez.

Second, why do Rick’s neutrino bombs have such a high fail rate? Well, it’s because he’s building them out of neutrinos, which have a high rate of passing through regular matter undetected due to only interacting with gravity and the weak nuclear force.

Overall, I give this episode an

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub, I need a drink. See you in two weeks.

PREVIOUS – 24: Pickle Rick

NEXT – 26: The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy

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

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

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Futurama Fridays – S3E8 “That’s Lobstertainment!”

Dr. Zoidberg attempts to use his famous uncle to get a career in comedy, and it goes over about as well as Zoidberg doing comedy.

SUMMARY

Zoidberg (Billy West) has been doing stand-up comedy at open-mic nights and it’s been going poorly. He admits at the office that he wanted to uphold the legacy of his uncle, the legendary Harold Zoid (Hank Azaria), a parody of silent film star Harold Lloyd. Zoidberg asks his uncle to help him get started in Hollywood. It’s revealed that Harold is destitute and forgotten and he uses this letter as an opportunity to try and scam Zoidberg into coming to Hollywood and giving him money.

S3E8 - 1CloseShave
Here he is in his hit film “A Close Shave.” Weird that holograms are black and white.

In Hollywood, Bender (John DiMaggio) breaks into Calculon’s (Maurice LaMarche) house by pretending to be a hot-water heater. Zoidberg and Harold meet and it’s revealed that Harold doesn’t think that Zoidberg can be funny, but instead has a drama script he wants Zoidberg to fund, thinking him to be a rich doctor. Zoidberg agrees to fund it, lying that he has the money.

S3E8 - 2Boiler.png
Should I be censoring this?

However, Bender reveals that he’s now friends with Calculon and convinces Calculon to fund the film by promising he’ll get an Oscar. Calculon reveals that he’s agreeing based on his love of Harold Zoid. Unfortunately, Harold decides to direct the film himself and it turns out he has no talent whatsoever, giving terrible instructions to everyone. The film is released and fails immediately, resulting in no Oscar nominations, something that leads Calculon to threaten to kill Bender, Zoidberg, and Harold if they don’t get him the award. They decide to rig the award ceremony, but when Zoidberg actually gets on the stand and nominates Calculon, he changes his mind and gives the award to Harold. Calculon takes the Oscar, but, remembering that he is a fan of Harold Zoid, gives it back.

S3E8 - 3Oscars.png
Zoidberg’s going to take one of the big ones.

There’s also a subplot about Fry (West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) getting stuck in the La Brea Tar Pit inside the ship, finally escaping in time to join the Post-Oscar party.

END SUMMARY

This is universally considered one of the worst episodes of Futurama and, frankly, that is a pretty well-deserved rating. It’s not completely unfunny, but overall a lot of the humor is based on Hollywood jokes that kind of limit the audience.

Harold Zoid is based on Harold Lloyd, who was an amazing performer during the silent film age. His movie Safety Last! just entered into the public domain and if you have the time, you should watch it. I’ll attach a copy below.

The main problem with Harold Zoid comes directly from his circumstances: He’s depicted as being a well-respected and beloved actor that everyone has now forgotten about. While that was a common thing to happen under the Studio System in Hollywood from the 20s to the 60s, that really hasn’t been a thing since its dissolution and the proliferation of recordings. Even Harold Lloyd started to have a re-birth in renowned among cult film and old film enthusiasts towards the end of his life when film festivals started to become a thing. This episode starts with a 1960s setting in an episode written in the 90s and set in the year 3000.

S3E8 - 4Harold
Such a sad life that is probably not accurate for a famous actor.

There also just aren’t that many good gags in the episode. Watching Harold wreck the film doesn’t really come across as funny as much as tragic and uncomfortable. Calculon’s sudden violence appears to come out of nowhere and honestly feels out of character, making his eventual forgiveness of the trio even stranger. The subplot with Fry and Leela is stupid, especially the recurring joke that a caveman is Sylvester Stallone.

Overall, it just isn’t great.

FAVORITE JOKE

There are two solid gags at the Academy Awards. First, the fact that “Best Soft-Drink Product Placement” is now a category is great, as are all of the nominees:

S3E8 - 5SoftDrinks.png

Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation, They Call Me Mr. Pibb, and Snow White and the 7 Ups.

The other is a line when Zoidberg reads Calculon’s name as a nominee, and one of the ballot counters says that he read the wrong name. The other says:

Shh, just play along, like they did for Marisa Tomei.

This is a reference to the rumor that Marisa Tomei’s Best Supporting Actress Award for My Cousin Vinny was due to an error by Jack Palance in reading the card. Unlike many rumors, we actually know the source of this one, Critic Rex Reed, who, in the last 20 years, has proven himself to be the “angry old uncle we don’t invite to Thanksgiving” of film critics. While the myth persists, most people would probably have to accept that the reason why Tomei won is that A) she does give a great performance in the film and B) My Cousin Vinny was one of only two films that anyone saw from the Best Supporting Actress list (along with Howards End). The other three films lost money.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 39: The Day the Earth Stood Stupid

NEXT – Episode 41: The Cyber House Rules

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 – S3E6 “Bendless Love”

Bender finds love in the most surprising place: The other side of a picket line.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) is bending in his sleep, due to his lack of having an outlet to bend in his job. He even bends the Professor (Billy West), resulting in the blood pooling in the Professor’s brain and inducing a euphoria. While trying to find a way to get around the urge, Bender finds that there is a mob-backed worker’s strike outside a bending plant. Bender thinks the strike means he can’t work, but then finds out that the “scabs” who work despite the strike get huge pay increases, so he becomes a scab while claiming to be pro-union. Inside, he finds Flexo (DiMaggio), his near-identical twin, as well as a “beautiful” female bending unit named Angle-ine (the late Jan Hooks).

S3E6 - 1Angeline.png
She was built out of old mobile homes.

Bender and Angle-ine flirt and eventually start dating. He decides to take everyone at Planet Express to a celebratory dinner in honor of him being in love. While at Elzar’s, however, Fry (West) spots Angle-ine and Flexo at another table. Bender becomes enraged and confronts the pair, but finds that the two are divorced and having dinner as friends. Bender doesn’t take this well and decides to go through a convoluted plan of impersonating Flexo and try to seduce Angle-ine to prove that she’s cheating on him. Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests just talking to her, but Fry rejects that as not manly enough.

S3E6 - 3Kiss
They have a certain… spark? I hate myself.

On the date, Angle-ine refuses Bender’s advances (as Flexo), but does a number of things that are distinctly un-Flexo-like that end up seducing Angle-ine. During the course of the date, Bender repeatedly uses a large amount of money he got from scabbing to tip well, something that angers the Robot Mafia who are trying to stop the scabs. Eventually, they decide to kill Flexo. After Angle-ine finally gives in and kisses Bender, but his beard comes off and she realizes the scam. Bender vows to kill Flexo to ensure Angle-ine’s love, something that even the episode points out is nonsense.

s3e6-4cheating.png
Cheating is a factory standard.

At the Bending plant, Bender attacks Flexo, but the Robot Mafia drop an unbendable girder on Flexo. Seeing him in mortal danger makes Angle-ine realize that she loves Flexo, so Bender, to make her happy, bends the unbendable girder. She and Flexo then apparently have sex right there on the factory floor, leading Bender to quit and return to Planet Express.

END SUMMARY

I think it speaks well of Season 3 that I actually think this is one of the least funny and least entertaining episodes. It’s not that it’s bad, really, but it definitely is pretty weak by comparison. 

S3E4 - 4Grave
I mean… come on. 

A lot of that comes from the fact that they have to give Bender several questionable character moments in order to move the story along. While Bender is a drama queen, often by his own admission, he still goes way too far into maudlin drama when he sees Angle-ine and Flexo and then the elaborate fake date plan is actually called out as being pointlessly complicated and contrived. It gets even dumber when Angle-ine points out that maybe the reason why it worked was because she was in love with Bender even if he was pretending to be Flexo, to which Bender responds: “Oh,  how I wish I could believe or understand that!” He then immediately decides to kill Flexo, something that makes sense only in the terrible kind of Lifetime movie they’re clearly parodying here.

S3E6 - 5Unbendable.png
He plays like an accordion now.

The subplot involving the Robot Mafia, while very funny, is also sadly small, and there’s basically nothing else in the episode. I do love the fact that the word “Intragnizent,” which has since been used on other shows like Parks and Recreation to show a character is not smart enough to know the word intransigent, originates from Joey Mousepad (DiMaggio) in this episode. I also like that the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) says they are the duly-elected mobsters of the union, indicating that somehow the union holds internal elections to decide which group of criminals backs them.

S3E6 - 6Plant.png

Overall, this episode is only okay for me. I mean, it’s still fun to watch, but this season is mostly filled with really quality episodes, so this one seems lesser by comparison. Although, it did get John DiMaggio an Annie Award for playing two roles, so… good for it.

FAVORITE JOKE

When they first introduce Angle-ine, she’s pictured behind frosted glass. This is designed to mimic the style of early black-and-white (and maybe some color) films where the cameras were rubbed with vaseline or frosted lenses were used in order to make the females appear softer and with fewer flaws. Since the rest of the episode is filled with the kind of nonsensical “emotions change so we can move on to the next scene” storytelling that permeated 30s and 40s romance films, this actually is fairly consistent. If they’d gone further into trying to pay tribute to those films, I might even consider Bender’s behavior more appropriate, as Futurama does do some pretty good genre-shifting episodes.

S3E6 - 2Angeline2.png
This is a thing people did, kids.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 37: The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz

NEXT – Episode 39: The Day The Earth Stood Stupid

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 – S3E5 “The BirdBot of Ice-Catraz”

Bender causes a massive environmental disaster and then loses his mind twice. Comedy!

SUMMARY

The crew are told by the Professor (Billy West) that they are going to have to take a delivery of Colombian dark matter aboard the Juan Valdez tanker. Leela (Katey Sagal) worries about the risk of leaking and ends up refusing to participate when she finds out that it flies through a penguin preserve on Pluto. She goes to join the group protesting the tanker and Bender (John DiMaggio) is made captain, much to Fry’s (West) chagrin.

S3E5 - 1JuanValdez.png
It has 6000 hulls.

Leela joins Free Waterfall, Sr. (Phil Hendrie) in his organization “Penguins Unlimited” and tries to help them in their incompetent efforts to stop the tanker. On the ship, Bender quickly goes mad with power and annoys Fry until he quits. Depressed without Fry, Bender refuses to drink alcohol, resulting in him acting like a drunk, and crashes the tanker into Pluto, flooding the penguin preserve with the dark matter. Bender is sentenced to help clean up the penguins, but quickly decides to escape by putting on a tuxedo, retracting his limbs, and sliding off, but he ends up getting attacked by a killer whale and knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, his system re-defaults to penguin, making him believe he’s actually a penguin. He tries to start a penguin family, with mixed results.

S3E5 - 2PenguinBarf
Not the first picture of a guy in a tux puking on this website.

Back at Penguins Unlimited, it’s revealed that the dark matter has made the penguins ultra-fertile, to the point that they’re laying 420,756 times their previous egg rate (I did the math), and the eggs hatch 136 times faster than normal. I don’t know how all of these eggs are getting fertilized, but… well, let’s just not think about that. To avoid the population boom, the conservationists plan on hunting the penguins, something that Leela finds horrifying, but eventually agrees to do. However, she shoots Bender, resetting him back to normal. Leela tries to convince the conservationists not to hunt, but they refuse. Bender leads the penguins to attack the humans, resulting in them eating Waterfall. His father, Old Man Waterfall (Hendrie) vows to avenge him.

S3E5 - 3HongKong
The overpopulation is a legitimate problem.

The penguins attack the rest of the humans, then Bender and Leela when he takes off his tuxedo. They flee onto an ice floe, but the penguins give chase and surround them. Fry returns in the ship and lands it on part of the ice floe, resulting in the penguins being dropped into a killer whale’s mouth. The trio escape, with Fry and Bender making amends. On Pluto, it’s revealed that the penguins now have guns… but appear to be using them on each other.

END SUMMARY

Two quick thoughts from this re-watch: First, baby penguins are adorable. This episode points that out multiple times and I give it credit for properly cashing in on the magical cuteness of the baby penguin.

S3E5 - 5BabyPenguin

 

Second, Penguin Preserve on Pluto would be a good name for a prog-rock album. I am surprised it’s not been done yet, but Google found nothing. It also bugs me that they call it the penguin preserve, but there are also orcas and puffins on Pluto. If it’s a preserve, why did you import one of their biggest predators? Also, I get that the penguins are the big attraction, but if you’re going to have other things there, why not call it the Polar Preserve on Pluto?

S3E5 - 6Orca.png
That Orca choked to death.

This episode is one of the more ripped-from the history books plotlines in the series, as opposed to a twist on a classic sci-fi trope, because it’s basically just a hilarious take on the Exxon Valdez disaster from 1989. Given that this episode aired in 2001 and when I watched it then I thought it was hilarious, apparently 12 years is the amount of time for an oil spill to move from tragic to comic. Admittedly, that’s because in this version all the penguins were fine and, in fact, improved by the accident, as opposed to the real version, but it’s still impressive that they depict a horrible environmental tragedy and make it hilarious. I think the best crystallization of how it works is when they have Morbo (Maurice LaMarche) and Linda (Tress MacNeille) show the penguins slipping and sliding on the oil with funny sounds added and the caption “Sound Effects Added To Lessen Tragedy.”

S3E5 - 7PenguinSlips
The news we deserve.

Penguins Unlimited is a shot at Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group that preserves wetlands but also advocates population control through hunting. Leela points out that it’s not exactly “natural conservation” if you’re just doing it because you enjoy killing the animals. However, the end of the episode basically points out that everything is kind of pointless because all of the efforts now are just designed to counteract what we’ve already done in the past, so human involvement is implicitly always a very mixed bag.

Overall, I think this episode is fun from start to finish. It’s not particularly insightful and doesn’t have as many gags that I can point to and go “this was great,” but it’s such a goofy and interesting premise that I always enjoy it.

FAVORITE JOKE

Because I’m 12 years old on the inside, I’m going to have to say it’s the following exchange:

Free Waterfall Sr.: Good way to avoid frostbite, folks: Put your hands between your buttocks. That’s nature’s pocket.

Leela: Uh … I think I’ll go check on Bender.

Free Waterfall Sr.: Watch that he doesn’t pick your pocket.

Free Waterfall has a few of these pieces of old-timey wisdom, including rubbing your body with permafrost to keep warm, but this one is definitely the best. He’s literally got his thumb up his ass while he says this, and I can’t think of anything funnier than that.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 36: The Luck of the Fry-rish

NEXT – Episode 38: Bendless Love

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.

Futurama Fridays – S2E18 “The Honking”

Bender becomes the undead… unrobot… unmechanical? Whatever, he’s a were-car.

SUMMARY

Bender’s (John DiMaggio) uncle Vladimir (David Herman) dies and leaves him his castle in the robot country of Thermostadt. It turns out that the castle is haunted by Robot Ghosts, which, it turns out, are real. The Professor (Billy West) determines that the ghosts are hologram projections from the castle’s ethernet connected to the deceased robots. He tries to explain this to Bender, but Bender has run onto the moors where he gets hit by a car.

S2EI - 1Ghosts.png
He looks good for 311. And dead.

After Bender gets back to New New York, he starts to have nightmares about the car and wakes up in an impound lot. He consults the Robot Gypsy (Tress MacNeille) who tells him he is a Were-Car, who will turn into a car each night and run people down, eventually his best friend, Fry (West). He must kill the original Were-Car to get rid of the curse. Bender, Fry, and Leela (Katey Sagal) try to keep Bender from transforming and fail, but Bender attacks Leela instead of Fry, angering the latter.

S2EI - 2WereCar.png
The rubber, it BURNS!!!!

After Bender returns to normal, the trio track down a series of were-cars to find the original, eventually discovering that one of them is Calculon (Maurice LaMarche), the acting robot. It turns out that the original Were-Car is Project Satan (Herman), an evil car made of the most evil parts imaginable. The three go to fight Project Satan, but Bender also transforms and attacks Fry, making Fry happy. Leela manages to get Project Satan to drive into a furnace, causing it to die and upload the anti-curse code. Bender is back to normal, but he tries to kill Fry again when Fry takes his last beer.

END SUMMARY

Futurama’s take on the monster movie is just as original as you would think. This episode combines multiple traditional horror elements: The haunted house, the werewolf story, the possessed car, and the Frankenstein story (Project Satan’s origin). The key is that, rather than have any actual supernatural elements, the story comes up with science-fiction elements to replace them, but each of the replacements is even more ludicrous than the originals would be. Rather than “ghosts exist,” the Professor comes up with a technobabble explanation so ludicrous, that he follows it with “Yes, that sequence of words I said made perfect sense.” Rather than Bender just being cursed, the Gypsy explains it as a Virus beamed to Bender’s operating system through demonic headlights. It’s so perfectly absurd.

S2EI - 3Villager.png
The ignorant and suspicious villagers… who are perfectly logical robots.

Beyond just the horror elements, the episode’s core is about Bender and Fry’s relationship. It’s amusing from our point of view, but it actually does hurt Fry’s feelings when Bender doesn’t attempt to kill him when he first has the chance. This leads Fry to question whether or not Bender is really the dedicated friend that Fry thinks he is. Ultimately, when it turns out Bender actually does consider Fry his best friend, it almost results in Fry’s death.

S2EI - 4Choke.png
Although, Beer > Friendship.

Horror allusions abound in this episode. The were-car that hit Bender in the beginning is clearly designed to be Christine from Stephen King. Bender’s car form is designed to resemble the Car from the film… The Car, which is about a demonically possessed car that came out years before Christine was published. The blood on the walls that only make sense in the mirror is from The Shining. The line “Mumbo, perhaps. Jumbo, perhaps not” is a reference to the classic Bela Lugosi film The Black Cat.

S2EI - 5Satan.jpg
And this is the horror of the electric car.

Overall, I think this is a great episode. It’s one of the best examples of how Futurama can adapt an overused cliche-riddled genre and turn it on its head.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s the jokes that are made about Windows 98 throughout the episode. The first one that really gets brought up is the opening sound cue that plays when the ghosts arrive. The second follows that immediately, which is the windows logo and the After Dark toaster chasing Bender. The last is the Gypsy reading “The Curse of the Were-Car for Windows 98,” which she refers to as an “ancient read-me file.”

S2EI - 6Windows.png
That book takes a while to load.

It’s tough to remember now, but when this episode aired, Windows 98 had just been replaced by Windows ME. Prior to that, everything computer related had been about Windows 98. After the game-changer that was Windows 95, every company that could was excited to put Windows 98 on their software and instructionals. While a lot of people complained about the perceived flaws in it, including South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut having a scene saying that all of the promises were bullsh*t, most of the problems were actually because, as the focus of much of the Tech world at the time, every program was trying to work with it… even ones that shouldn’t. As such, it became one of the first major sources of crashes, malware, and even viruses. So, it makes perfect sense that the episode would equate one of the guides to a magical tome.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 30: War is the H-Word

NEXT – Episode 32: The Cryonic Woman

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 – S2E17 “War is the H-Word”

The Planet Express crew is going to war… for a pack of gum.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) and Bender (John DiMaggio) join the military reserves so they can get a 5% military discount on ham-flavored gum. They plan on quitting after buying the gum, but a second after they join, war is declared and they’re drafted. Leela (Katey Sagal) tries to enlist to keep them safe, but the army of the future is men-only, due to Zapp Brannigan’s (West) constant sexual harassment. She signs up anyway as a man named Lee Lemon, who Zapp crushes on.

S2EH - 1Poster.png
Well, there went the subtlety.

After getting through basic training, the three are dropped onto planet Spheron I, a planet which Zapp admits has no natural resources or strategic value. It turns out to be populated by living balls. During the first battle, Fry hides, resulting in other members of the platoon being injured, while Bender jumps on a bomb to save the others. Fry is punished by being made Kif’s (Maurice LaMarche) assistant, while Bender is fixed under orders of President Nixon (West).

S2EH - 2Balls.png
They’ve got a lot of Chutzpah.

Bender is sent along with Henry Kissinger’s Head (DiMaggio) to negotiate with the leaders of Spheron, the Brain Balls. However, Leela finds out that Nixon had a bomb put in Bender’s chest which will activate when he says the word “ass.” Leela and Fry steal a helicopter from Zapp, revealing that Lee Lemon is a woman in the process, to Zapp’s relief, and arrive in time to stop Bender from blowing up the planet. The Spherons surrender, revealing that this is their homeworld which Earth has invaded for no real reason, and Fry and Bender leave the military. Being unable to remove the bomb, the Professor changes the codeword, which Bender correctly guesses as “antiquing.” However, he survives the explosion.

S2EH - 3End.jpg
Yep, there goes the subtlety.

END SUMMARY

This is Futurama’s take on war, specifically the kind of asymmetrical warfare which had been waged during the 90s… and would mostly be waged after this episode aired. We see the Earth Army, composed of professionals with spaceships and laser weapons, attacking the Spherons, whose most sophisticated weapon is a cartoonish bomb. They mostly attack by bouncing on top of the humans, something that doesn’t seem to be lethal (until they’re sent to Zoidberg (West) for their injuries). This war is completely one-sided and, perhaps most depressingly, completely without any merit. In previous episodes, we’d seen Earth on the losing side of this (like “When Aliens Attack”), but now we see humans as the pointless aggressors, stealing another race’s planet for, again, literally no strategic reason.

S2EH - 4Zoidberg
He attacks more people than the balls do.

Much like in Blackadder Goes Forth, this episode also depicts the divide between the soldiers fighting the war and the people who make the decisions to wage it. Nixon is never in danger, nor, really, is Zapp, who at one point even is depicted more worried about his horse being spooked than the men around him being overrun by balls. Even Kif, who ostensibly is subordinate to Zapp, is still more concerned about the fact that his nut bowl isn’t sufficiently mixed than the fact that they’re fighting a war. It’s a common theme, but it’s well represented here.

S2EH - 5Scotch
The Pre-War Scotch is key.

The depiction of Fry in this episode seems fairly consistent with his development, when he’s a coward who eventually learns to overcome his fear to save his friends. Leela gets a little more development when she uses her disguise as Lee Lemon to find out if Fry has a crush on her, then seems flattered to find out that he does, hinting that she is realizing that she returns his feelings (something she’ll go back and forth on for the rest of the series).

S2EH - 6LeeLemon
Where she found a purple beard that quickly is still a mystery.

In contrast, we see one of the most out of character moments for Bender in the series, when he jumps on top of a bomb to save others. They do try to couch his self-sacrifice by having him say that he wants a young version of himself on a stamp, but it still seems weird that Bender, of all people/robots, would jump on the grenade. Still, it gave us an easy segue to the M*A*S*H parody that remains one of my favorite short references in the series.

S2EH - 7IHawk
The easiest way to understand M*A*S*H is this scene.

This episode is also crammed with references, from M*A*S*H to Starship Troopers to Star Wars to, well, real life. I’m always on the fence about how they depict Henry Kissinger here, but I suppose that’s because Kissinger is a tough figure. On the one hand, he encouraged the US to commit numerous acts (like carpet-bombing Cambodia, supporting the Bangladeshi genocide, the use of Agent Orange and Napalm in Vietnam) which don’t look great in retrospect. However, he also literally stopped a Nuclear War once by claiming Nixon was too drunk to make any decisions, masterminded the opening of trade between China and the US, and repeatedly lowered tensions between the USSR and the US to avoid the big boom that would end the world. That’s why it’s interesting to see him here, presumably ending a war through diplomacy that he also helped start. Tom Lehrer once said political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but this episode actually uses him to keep it alive. Well done.

S2EH - 8Kissinger
Is the episode comparing these two morally? Maybe…

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s not even a close contest. The funniest line in this episode is this exchange:

Leela: You know, Zapp, someone ought to teach you a lesson.

Zapp: If it’s a lesson in love, watch out; I suffer from a very sexy learning disability. What do I call it, Kif?

Kif: “Sex-lexia”.

S2EH - 9Sexlexia.gif

Only a character as absolutely amazingly crafted as Zapp Brannigan could even hope to make this work. This is like a guy bragging that the fact that he has a lot of STDs is a sign that he’s had sex and therefore you should sleep with him. He’s so confident that what he’s being seductive that it’s almost overwhelming. If Kif didn’t sound so despondent when answering, it might even work as a somewhat legitimate pick-up line. Hell, if I can find someone to do it with me, I might even try to figure out a way to use it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 29: Anthology of Interest I

NEXT – Episode 31: The Honking

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.