Futurama Fridays – S3E12 “The Route of All Evil”

It’s time to focus on the important things in the future: The terrible, terrible children.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) decide to brew their own beer inside of Bender. The joke is that Bender looks and acts like he’s pregnant throughout the episode. It’s funny, but there’s really nothing else plot-wise.

S3EC - 1BenderPreg
Feeling fermentation sounds like a thing that you shouldn’t do.

Professor Farnsworth (West), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille) find out that their sons, Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (LaMarr), were suspended from boarding school for salting a bully (he was a blob). While bored at the office, the pair send the crew on a fake mission which takes a week, resulting in the Professor and Hermes telling the boys to get a job. They decide to start a competing delivery service, a paper route, called Awesome Express. The kids use a pedal-powered spaceship to deliver the paper and quickly become extremely successful, gaining over one-million customers on their route and Awesome Express starts to actually make more money than Planet Express.

S3EC - 2Delivery
Dogs are still a problem.

The kids try to gain their fathers’ respect, but the Professor and Hermes, clearly insecure about the boys’ success, pretend they’re unimpressed. In response, Cubert and Dwight decide to completely crush Planet Express, hiring Fry, Leela, and Bender for themselves. The men try to counter by working with what they have left, but it turns out that Cubert actually inherited the company when the Professor was declared dead after taking a nap in a ditch. They place Planet Express under Awesome Express and fire their fathers, who quickly become depressed over the situation.

S3EC - 3MoneyPile
Most parents appreciate a money pile more.

Bender finally gives birth to an ale, and it is revealed that Dwight and Cubert have never actually been delivering the papers, since they broke the window of their bully and have been scared to go on the route since. They run crying to Hermes and the Professor, who deliver all of the papers and take the kids to the Blob household to apologize for the window. Mr. Blob  (Maurice LaMarche) refuses to accept their apology, leading the two dads to attack him and get beaten to a pulp. Mr. Blob comes to apologize at the hospital and the fathers all share a bottle of Bendërbrāu, but his son proceeds to eat Dwight and Cubert.

S3EC - 4Blob
He’s angry at automation. Yes, really.

END SUMMARY

This episode addresses having kids in both plotlines, but in very different ways. Fry, Leela, and Bender are dealing with the actual pregnancy and the positive expectations of parenting, while the Professor and Hermes deal with one of the scary realities that one day your kids are going to grow up and take your place. Hermes even says “We just wanted a few more years of being better than them.” In the end, we see all of the happy parents enjoying time with their kids, though in Bender’s case he’s drinking his offspring which is disturbing in retrospect. Still, I think it’s a clever way to play two plots on a similar theme.

S3EC - 5AwesomeExpress
And some shots at corporate business, I guess?

Even though the idea of Bender being pregnant with beer seems like it would be a one-note joke, they do manage to address enough of the aspects of pregnancy in clever enough ways that the joke actually works, right up until Dwight says “this is a delivery company, not a delivery room.” When you do implied but indirect analogies the whole episode, doing an explicit comparison kind of falls flat. Other than that, though, I think the idea is actually well done.

S3EC - 6Ruined
The kids also get mad at the beer, which is… age appropriate?

Hermes’s and the Professor’s behavior is simultaneously ridiculous and relatable. When they first see their kids are trying to start a business, they treat it as if it’s just children playing a game. The minute they discover that it’s a competing delivery company, the two start to sabotage their kids, until they understand it’s a paper route, at which point they consider it a joke again. It goes back and forth like this, with the men underestimating the boys or denigrating their efforts until finally the boys overtake the men. The fact that at no point do they consider just talking openly and honestly with their sons about how they feel is either a shot at the fragility of masculinity, a hilarious commentary on the nature of pride, or both. In the end, though, their love for their children outweighs their insecurity, which hopefully is what actually happens in these situations.

Like I said, I think this is a solid episode for managing to thematically connect such disparate situations.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the hallmarks of humor is surprise. You need to deliver a punchline that’s simultaneously unexpected and also still reasonable, because just going pure surrealist will never have as much impact. This episode somehow has one of the best examples of a surprising punchline that should also have been completely expected.

When Cubert and Dwight first take over the company, Cubert and Leela have the following exchange:

S3EC - 7AwesomeExpress.png

Cubert: Hey, Leela, help me apply these flame decals I got in my cereal. They’ll make the ship go faster.

Leela: And what’s your scientific basis for thinking that?

Cubert: I’m 12.

Cubert, a literal genius, responds with a huge amount of self-awareness about choosing to believe something completely irrational. It simultaneously makes total sense and also none whatsoever. I love the hell out of this simple exchange. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 43: Insane in the Mainframe

NEXT – Episode 45: Bendin’ In the Wind

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 – S3E11 “Insane in the Mainframe”

Fry gets involved in a crime and committed to a mental institution which drives him crazy.

SUMMARY

Zoidberg (Billy West) is being honored for his ten years in service to Planet Express. During the proceedings, Hermes (Phil LaMarr) mentions that Zoidberg’s retirement fund is zero, as he’s never paid into it. Hearing this, Fry remembers that he hasn’t paid into his plan either. He spends ninety-four of his $100 on lotto tickets then decides to put the rest in the bank. While there, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) run into Bender’s friend Roberto (David Herman), who proceeds to rob the bank, but gives Bender and Fry some of the money. They’re immediately arrested and convinced to plead insanity by their lawyer, the Hyper-Chicken (Maurice LaMarche), after Fry is threatened by Roberto. Bender is sentenced to a robot mental hospital, but so is Fry after the judge is told that the human facilities are full.

S3EB - 1Franklin
We also find out that Franklin’s still on the one-hundred dollar bill.

Once they get to the robot asylum, Fry is labeled a robot by the head doctor, Dr. Perceptron (LaMarche). Fry is put in a closet with his “roommate” Malfunctioning Eddie (Herman), who keeps exploding. Fry is starved due to the lack of human food, harassed by crazy robots, and later attacked by Roberto when he replaces Eddie. After a few weeks of this, Fry is finally released but is now convinced that he is, in fact, a robot. He attempts to determine what kind of robot he is, failing at being a calculator, a tool bot, and a food-mo-tron.

S3EB - 2Hal
The birds would be tweets if it was made later.

Meanwhile, Roberto breaks Bender out of the asylum and heads to Planet Express to hold them hostage. Fry, however, decides that he has finally determined what kind of robot he is: a battle droid. He attacks Roberto who stabs him in response, but the knife hits an oil can that Fry has in his pocket, which convinces the crazed Roberto that Fry is, in fact, a Robot. Roberto flings a knife at Fry and flees. The knife wounds Fry, making him bleed, which leads him to realize that he’s human after all.

S3EB - 3Stab
Bigger question: What’s the extra .1415926535…?

END SUMMARY

This is an episode that was actually much better than I remembered it to be. It’s a great example of having two plot ideas and letting one feed into the other. The first plotline is the asylum and it’s filled with a bunch of gag characters which represent the traditional Futurama twist on established archetypes through making them all robots. When I first saw this episode, I hadn’t seen Girl, Interrupted or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or most of the other films that revolve around mental health facilities, so I didn’t understand what most of these are satirizing. Now that I do, holy heck, some of these are on point. I think the best one is the guy who thinks he gets CIA radio signals through his teeth, which are revealed to be the announcements from the CIA cafeteria.

S3EB - 4CIA
It’s crazy how funny this is.

The second plotline of Fry believing he’s a robot is a great subversion of the typical Blade Runner-esque trope of a robot believing that it’s a human. It’s made much funnier by the fact that Fry cannot do anything as an android. He doesn’t just fail at the tasks, but he fails at doing anything remotely robotic, to the point of not consistently beeping or using robotic language.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s clearly when Fry spontaneously decides that robots talk like fake medieval citizens. Specifically, he believes that they say “ye.” It’s such a random and insane moment that still stands out in the midst of a montage of random and insane moments. It has no basis in any logic whatsoever, except perhaps that in Fry’s already dim and now addled brain, he has decided that since robots talk funny and olde timey people talked funny, they’re basically the same thing. It makes me laugh every time.

S3EB - 5RobotsDon'tSayYe

Backup joke would be Frankie, the robot that Fry is told has the specific delusion that he works in the lunchroom, so he… works in the lunchroom. The other insane robots even seem to pity him. It’s never confirmed that he’s not, in fact, just a normal person who chooses to work in the lunchroom at an insane asylum and the gag is that it would be impossible to tell the difference. In other words, if your life’s ambition is just to perform a menial task, you’re the real crazy one.

S3EB - 9Frankie
I’m gonna go cry now.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 42: Where the Buggalo Roam

NEXT – Episode 44: The Route of All Evil

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.

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.

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.