Futurama Fridays – S4E8 “Crimes of the Hot”

Al Gore rides the mighty moon worm, windmills do not work that way, and global warming is real.

SUMMARY

New New York is struck by a heat wave. It turns out that the Earth has been dealing with global warming for a millennium, a thing which they’ve “solved” by having a team of people drop a big ice cube into the ocean whenever it gets too hot. Richard Nixon (Billy West) calls on Planet Express to go get the ice. Unfortunately, when they get there, Fry (West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio), learn that the comet they’ve been mining for ice has run out. Rather than go to, say, another comet or a frozen planet or any of the huge number of frozen entities in space, the crew gives up and comes home. Earth is now doomed, for some reason.

S4E7 - 1Comet
Because Halley’s comet is the only source of water in the universe, I guess?

As the effects of global warming start to increase, the polar ice caps melt and the heat makes Africa turtles migrate to Holland, where windmills will hopefully cool them down. Except that WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! It turns out that Bender likes turtles, because he can’t get up when he’s knocked perfectly on his back. 

S4E7 - 2Turtle.png
The poor animals. And the robot.

A scientific conference is held in Kyoto by Al Gore, the first Emperor of the Moon. He offers a bag of moon sapphires to whoever solves the problem. When it’s his turn, the Professor (West) makes a revelation: Global Warming is caused by robots, specifically the alcohol-powered “sport-utility robots” that the Professor designed for Mom (Tress MacNeille). Dr. Wernstrom (David Herman) proposes that they destroy all robots. Nixon plans to facilitate it by hosting a “robot party” on the Galapagos Islands, where they will set off an EMP to fry all of the robots. While Bender decides to sacrifice himself, he accidentally tells the other robots who start to panic. The Professor arrives with a solution: Every robot needs to vent their exhaust upward at the same time. They start to, but Bender is knocked over and can’t. He watches the turtle get up, then manages to right himself and vent his exhaust, moving Earth slightly further from the sun and cooling it off. This makes the Earth’s orbit one week longer, which Nixon declares “Robot Party Week.”

S4E7 - 3PArty.png
So many cameos, so little time to care about them.

END SUMMARY

This episode is ridiculous in all the best ways. It has so many of my favorite jokes from the series that I honestly forget how weird it is that Earth has apparently been countering Global Warming with giant ice cubes. What’s funny is that people seem to remember that Al Gore did this episode because it was about Global Warming, like his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Of course, that’s an easy assumption to make, if you don’t remember that this episode came out 4 years before that documentary… and is literally a part of that documentary. Instead, this was based on his writing of Earth in the Balance, here described as having a sequel called Harry Potter and the Balance of Earth. Aside from that, I imagine at least some of what led the former Vice-President to be on the episode was the fact that his daughter, Kristin Gore, was a writer on the show by this point… which she weirdly got after he’d already been on it in Season 2. 

S4E7 - 4Books.png
I find it funny that he ends up abandoning Earth for the moon.

The weirdest thing about the episode is that it is extremely similar both in scenes and themes, to the earlier episode “A Big Piece of Garbage:” There’s a problem that was caused in the past that’s a metaphor for an actual environmental issue; The team has to go land on an object flying through space to solve it, but they fail; There’s an educational video about the problem; A bunch of people, including Dr. Wernstrom, try to solve the problem but they fail; and the solution is actually tied into the problem and doesn’t permanently solve it. It’s so similar even the commentary on the episode points it out. However, this episode is just so much funnier than that one… it’s like a vastly superior remake. 

S4E7 - 5C3PO
Better Cameos, too.

Also, this episode was our introduction to Hedonismbot (Maurice LaMarche), one of the best characters the show ever created. He apologizes for nothing.

S4E7 - 6Hedonismbot
He isn’t a hedonistbot, he’s the literal hedonismbot.

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, there are so many good ones in this episode, including several that I frequently use in real life. So, I’m gonna do a top 5:

5) The end of the “None Like it Hot” educational film:

Narrator: Fortunately, our handsomest politicians came up with a cheap, last-minute way to combat global warming. Ever since 2063 we simply drop a giant ice cube into the ocean every now and then.

Suzie: Just like Daddy puts in his drink every morning. And then he gets mad.

Narrator: Of course, since the greenhouse gases are still building up, it takes more and more ice each time. Thus solving the problem once and for all.

Suzie: But–

Narrator: Once and for all!

4) “This could mean the end of the banana daiquiri as we know it … also life.” Bender has his priorities straight.

3) The random appearance of a wizard who is clearly supposed to be Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He gets offended at Al Gore’s stereotyping of wizards, but then mentions he wants the moon sapphires to open the Gate of Garash. 

S4E7 - 7Tim.png
There are those who would call him… a cameo.

2) “I have ridden the mighty Moon Worm.” I want you to know, I would vote for any politician that says this. No other information required.

S4E7 - 8Gore
Emperors don’t have to worry about recounts.

1) “WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!!” I use this whenever anyone mentions anything about windmills. Even by the standards of Morbo, this is one of his best lines.

S4E7 - 9Windmills.gif 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

NEXT – Episode 63: Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles

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.

Advertisements

Futurama Fridays – S4E6 “Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television”

Bender gets his big break on a soap opera and ends up causing moral outrage.

SUMMARY

The Professor’s (Billy West) son, Cubert (Kath Soucie), and Hermes’s (Phil LaMarr) son, Dwight (Bumper Robinson), are watching TV and trying to emulate Calculon (Maurice LaMarche), the star of soap opera All My Circuits. Calculon holds a birthday bash, leading Cubert to request a birthday party which he shares with Dwight, but no one shows up due to the two being unpopular. During the birthday bash episode, the actor playing Calculon’s son breaks down, literally, and has to be replaced. Bender (John DiMaggio) auditions to replace him and, by sabotaging all the other actors, gets the role despite being a terrible actor. 

S4E6 - 1Culkon.png
He beat out Macaulay Culkon, but only because puberty killed his appeal.

On set, the show tries to work around Bender by having him be in a coma, only for Bender to refuse to obey the script and start improvising with his typical rudeness. Due to Calculon having a “one-take only” policy, the footage gets aired. Calculon tries to get Bender fired, but the audience loves Bender and the executives love that the audience loves him. Bender gets a central role in the show and continues to do all the things that he does normally: drink, smoke, steal, and swear. Cubert, Dwight, and the other kids start to idolize and emulate Bender, angering their parents. The Professor and Hermes form an organization called F.A.R.T. (Fathers Against Rude Television) to oppose Bender.

S4E6 - 2FART.png
The Don-bot is great at leading mobs. 

Dwight and Cubert emulate Bender to the point that they decide to rob the coolest person they know, namely Bender. Upon finding out that the kids robbed him, Bender joins F.A.R.T. and tries to ban himself from TV. The F.A.R.T.s and Bender go to the studio to try and get Bender fired, but the President of the Network (West) takes Bender hostage… at the same time that the F.A.R.T.s do. Bender steals there weapons and forces the cameramen on All My Circuits to film him. He delivers a speech culminating in: “… [m]ost, perhaps all the blame, rests with the parents. That’s right, you! And so I ask you this one question: Have you ever tried simply turning off the TV, sitting down with your children, and hitting them?” Everyone agrees that they should watch less TV, then proceeds to keep watching it anyway.

END SUMMARY

This episode is pretty clearly a shot at all of the parents groups that complained about Futurama being inappropriate for kids and Bender specifically being a poor role model. The idea of Bender becoming famous plays out repeatedly within the series, but watching him become famous essentially just for being himself is a nice jab at the fact that he was kind of the breakout character, despite the fact that he’s basically just a hedonist. Now, it’s not surprising that Futurama, a show made by many of the same people as The Simpsons, probably doesn’t have a lot of love towards people claiming it’s morally bankrupt, so I think this episode was probably inevitable. However, as expected, even though they do take a position about parents having to take some responsibility over what media children consume as opposed to the media itself being restricted, they still decide to say it in the most outrageous way possible, by encouraging the parents to beat their children. After that, they decide to get a last dig in at the outraged groups by having them learn the lesson that they should watch less TV, but then keep watching it anyway even though they explicitly say nothing good is on.

S4E6 - 3Cigars
It’s also on the stores for selling  cigars to minors…

The episode also takes a shot at the Studio executive system. The Execu-Bots that run the network under the President are programmed to do all of the things that people complain about executives doing. Execu-Bot Alpha only likes things that its already seen, Beta determines the lineup by rolling dice rather than trying to create art or quality, and Gamma underestimates middle America. The President of the Network is literally a laptop and is focused solely on the acquisition of money at any cost. He has no loyalty to the actors, the crew, or the audience, only to the shareholders. It’s not a particularly clever bit of criticism, but I imagine it was cathartic to people running a TV show on a network, particularly one that was about to be cancelled. 

S4E6 - 4Execubots.png
I love that alpha has a soldered-on pocket square.

Overall, not a bad episode. It doesn’t really make any of my top episode lists, but it’s got fun moments too. 

FAVORITE JOKE

This one took me a few years to get, but it’s probably when Calculon is confronted by F.A.R.T. and the Bender-led mob and he shouts out “Great Shatner’s Ghost!” The reason why I love that is that it’s a reference to the phrase “Great Caesar’s Ghost,” the catchphrase of Daily Planet Editor-In-Chief Perry White from Superman. While it apparently first appeared on the Superman radio show in the 1940s, it became his catchphrase because the actor who played White on the 1950s Superman TV Show, John Hamilton, thought it would make him memorable. The reason why I think that’s a really good joke is that, like Calculon, John Hamilton appeared in hundreds of films and television shows and yet he really only ever had one memorable role. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 59: A Taste of Freedom

NEXT – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

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 – S4E5 “A Taste of Freedom”

Zoidberg celebrates his freedom in a way that the rest of the planet finds unconscionable. Hilarity and war ensue.

SUMMARY

It’s Freedom Day on Earth, a day in which people are encouraged to do whatever the hell they want, including naked hot tubbing. Zoidberg (Billy West) is particularly fond of the holiday, stating that Earth’s freedoms are given to everyone, while on his planet people suffer to get it. The Planet Express employees go to Washington, DC for a parade. Earth President Richard Nixon (West) asks the planet to salute the Earthican flag, Old Freebie, only to find out that Zoidberg has just eaten it as a celebration of his freedom. Enraged, Nixon orders his execution.

S4E5 - 2FlagEating.png
I’m curious how you eat a flag that size that quickly unless you’re Nibbler.

Zoidberg flees to the embassy of Decapod 10, his home planet. Ambassador Mervin (David Herman) supports Zoidberg, but Nixon is about to order the embassy raided until Leela (Katey Segal) tells Nixon that eating a flag is constitutionally protected. Nixon challenges this in the Supreme Court, where Zoidberg is defended by Old Man Waterfall (Phil Hendrie), the father of the deceased Free Waterfall, Sr. from “The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz” and grandfather of Free Waterfall, Jr. from “The Problem with Popplers.” Old Man Waterfall is a bisexual polygamist Satanist multi-war veteran lawyer who believes that freedom has to include things that challenge that freedom. The Court ends up ruling against Zoidberg (and also declaring polygamy legal) and ordering him to either publicly apologize or die. 

S4E5 - 3OldManWaterfall.png
He’s like Daniel Boone and Daniel Webster had an old man baby.

Zapp Brannigan (West) comes to arrest Zoidberg at the embassy, but attempting to go on sovereign soil results in the Decapodians declaring war on Earth. They quickly defeat Earth’s forces due to Zapp giving an obvious spy the Earth defense codes. The Decapodians then enslave the humans and unveil their Mobile Oppression Palace. Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela try to fight back using a heat-seeking missile. It fails due to Decapodians being cold-blooded, until Zoidberg lights a flag on fire and attracts the missile to the mobile oppression palace. Zoidberg is hailed as a hero, eats another flag, then contemplates eating the Shroud of Turin.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the rare Futurama episodes that’s taking a firm and pretty unambiguous political stance. Sure, it gets couched in a ridiculous story, but throughout the episode the narrative clearly says that Zoidberg is the only one that is truly celebrating freedom. Since the episode is an analogue for burning a flag in protest, including having Zoidberg literally burn one, the show actually supports the constitutional right to protest your government through peaceful subversive acts. Given that this was 2002, after the invasion of Afghanistan but before the Iraq War, and patriotism was at a high, this is kind of a ballsy message. 

S4E5 - 4MobileOppressionPalace.png
Although, they did cut the building-smashing out of respect.

This is the third episode focused on Zoidberg after “Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?” and “That’s Lobstertainment,” and it’s actually a step up from the latter. Part of it is that this episode actually makes Zoidberg the optimist rather than his usual depressed self. They don’t make much mention of him being broke or perpetually alone. The closest thing we have to his usual negativity is when he’s thinking about his past on his home world of Decapod 10, where he claims people have to suffer for freedom. It shows that his life has been filled with people guilting him into different things. First, a woman who is not his mother (because Decapodians die when they mate) guilted him out of being a comedian by telling him he’d make his parents roll over in their graves. A man guilts him out of voting for a candidate by telling him it’d cause a recession. Last, the same woman makes him feel guilty for giving up being a comedian in favor of medicine.

S4E5 - 1Lecture.png
I find it weird that the kids wear togas.

What’s most interesting about Zoidberg’s past is that he says that he loves the Earth’s version of freedom more than his planet’s, but… is his planet any less free? His planet never seems to say that he can’t do anything, only that people try to talk you out of doing things, whereas the Earth tells you to indulge. That means that if you want to do something on Decapod 10, you have to be confident enough in your decision to deal with people saying that you shouldn’t do it. That’s not less free, it’s just more difficult and is likely to deter people from doing things for stupid reasons. However, Zoidberg prefers the complete indulgence of Earth… only to find out that Earth actually has LESS freedom to do certain acts. 

S4E5 - 5Dignitaries.png
They’re ruled by a group of wealthy people exploiting labor, so that’s… different?

Overall, not a bad episode, but definitely not one of the best ones.

FAVORITE JOKE

Everything Old Man Waterfall says to the Supreme Court. 

S4E5 - 6Court.png
Also, can we agree that Snoop Dogg would be a solid nominee?

He starts by saying that unlike the Hyper-Chicken (Maurice LaMarche), he’s not a big city lawyer, which is like trying to out-Matlock Matlock. He then proceeds to give a speech about how he is a patriot:

‘Cause I lost my real hand plantin’ the flag when we took back Halley’s Comet! Yet it was worth it, so much do I love that flag. I love it even more than I love my seven wives — that’s right, I’m a polygamist. Yet I would gladly eat a flag myself, had I not used my intestine as a rope to hoist a flag made of my own skin, if it would protect the freedoms of the proud people who salute that flag. Freedom such as polygamy. I rest my case.

This is a funny, fairly impassioned speech which completely fails at being any kind of argument towards why eating a flag should be protected. He says that HE believes that it is a freedom that should be protected, but literally nothing about why he believes that. In contrast, the Hyper-Chicken says that freedom of speech applies only to what comes out of the mouth and cites a case saying that eating the Constitution was found to be non-protected speech. That’s right, the Hyper-Chicken was actually the better lawyer. Now, does that mean that the Supreme Court still had to side with him? No, but it does make it more reasonable in the episode.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 58: Less than Hero

NEXT – Episode 60: Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television

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 – S4E1 “Kif Gets Knocked Up A Notch”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

S4E1 - 6Lincoln.png

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

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 54: The 30% Iron Chef

NEXT – Episode 56: Leela’s Homeworld

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S3E22 “The 30% Iron Chef”

Bender decides to be the greatest chef in the universe without a sense of taste, a title formerly belonging to Guy Fieri.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) is watching Good Morning Earth with Morbo (Maurice LaMarche) and Linda (Tress MacNeille) and special celebrity guest chef Elzar (John DiMaggio). Desiring to be a cook, Bender tries to make brunch for the crew as the Professor (Billy West), shows Zoidberg (West) and Fry (Still West) a bottle with a tiny ship in it. Zoidberg promptly breaks it after the rest of the crew leave the room to go to brunch. It’s revealed that Bender’s cooking is completely inedible, something he overhears the crew complaining about. Hurt, he runs away and tries to convince Elzar to teach him to cook. Elzar refuses, so Bender joins a group of hobos riding the “space rails.” At the same time, Zoidberg attempts to frame Fry for breaking the Professor’s bottle.

S3EM - 1Morbo
I would watch this show every day.

Eventually, Bender lands at a hobo jungle named “Bumbase Alpha,” where he meets a homeless cook named Helmut Spargle (David Herman), who used to be a celebrity chef and the teacher of Elzar, until Elzar replaced him. In order to get revenge on Elzar, Helmut trains Bender to cook. Bender finally attempts to prove his skills by making a meal for Helmut, but the food is so awful that it kills him. Before he dies, the old cook gives Bender a diamond vial containing the “essence of pure flavor.” Bender challenges Elzar to a battle on the program Iron Cook. Meanwhile, the Professor falls for Zoidberg’s ploy to frame Fry via fake confession and an “I Hate Bottles” shirt, so Fry pays him $10 for the broken bottle. Zoidberg begins to feel guilty.

S3EM - 2Training.png
If they’re literally -5 lbs, they shouldn’t just float, they should fly.

On Iron Cook, Bender and Elzar are ordered to cook a meal with the secret ingredient of Soylent Green (probably not the one that’s made of people… probably). Elzar makes a delicious looking meal that includes its own bribe, while Bender’s food resembles burnt piles of mud. Bender secretly adds a few drops of the “essence of pure flavor” to his dishes. Despite the horrifying appearance, everyone agrees Bender’s dish is superior. Bender gives a speech which leads Zoidberg to confess to framing Fry, trying to kill himself (what the hell, show?), then framing Fry for his suicide attempt breaking a sword. The Professor reveals that the vial contained only water… laced with LSD. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is one perfect example of how Futurama can take a tired trope and make it hilarious. This is the traditional hero’s journey a la Star Wars and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, except that everything in it is broken. 

S3EM - 3Monomyth.jpg
If your story doesn’t follow this, congrats, you’re averting the most common trope.

Bender’s motivation for going on the journey is based on him supposedly being offended that his friends (accurately) describe his food as horrible. This is less a call to adventure and more just being petty. He tries to find a mentor only to have Elzar refuse to teach him, which Bender accepts, and for Helmut to teach him but not improve his abilities at all. He undergoes a challenge against Elzar and wins, but unlike the monomyth, he’s completely unchanged at the end. He gives a speech indicating that he’s realized that fame is unimportant, only for it to be revealed that he’s recorded it and forcing everyone to watch it repeatedly. He hasn’t even become a better cook, he just has a vial of LSD that will never be referenced again. I honestly think this kind of episode inspired the version of the journey that Dan Harmon uses as a model for Rick and Morty that I covered in “The Ricks Must Be Crazy.”

  1. The main character
  2. notices a small problem,
  3. and make a major decision.
  4. This changes things
  5. to some satisfaction, but
  6. there are consequences
  7. that must be undone
  8. and they must admit the futility of change.

Admittedly, the subplot about Zoidberg breaking the bottle and framing Fry is pretty weak and honestly only seems to be in there because they wanted to have Zoidberg do some Vaudevillian slapstick with the bottle. He does deliver the fun line of “Oh, no! Professor will hit me. But if Zoidberg fixes it, then perhaps gifts!” but aside from that, not much to it.

Overall, the Bender plot is strong enough and has enough fun elements to make this episode a solid finale for Season 3.

FAVORITE JOKE

I think it’s the future railroad names. The ones we see are: “Baltimore and Orion,” which is a take off of “Baltimore and Ohio,” the famous B&O Railroad from Monopoly; “Wrath-of-Conrail,” a reference to the rail system that serves the Northeast US; and “Starlight Express,” a reference to the musical about a steam engine which is performed on roller skates. I dunno why, but those make me laugh every time.

S3EM - 4Conrail

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 53: Future Stock

NEXT – Episode 55: Kif Gets Knocked Up A Notch

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S3E20 “Godfellas”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

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

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

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

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 51: Roswell That Ends Well

NEXT – Episode 53: Future Stock

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S3E19 “Roswell That Ends Well”

The Planet Express crew gets blown into the past and Fry tries to keep his grandfather safe… with sexy results.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew is viewing a supernova. Fry (Billy West) attempts to make popcorn in the microwave, but puts metal in it, resulting in microwave radiation hitting the supernova’s radiation, which blows the team back in time, though they don’t initially realize it. When they return to Earth, they crash due to the presence of an Ozone Layer and the lack of GPS navigation. Bender (John DiMaggio) gets ejected from the cockpit during the crash and is smashed to pieces. Zoidberg (West) offers to pick his parts up as Leela (Katey Sagal) fixes the ship, but Zoidberg ends up getting abducted by soldiers from a nearby air force base located in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The Military starts experimenting on Zoidberg, mostly to their detriment more than his.

S3EJ - 1Clock
You can tell it’s time travel because of the clocks. It’s science.

Farnsworth (West) realizes that they can only return to the future if they go through the hole in space-time that they came through, but they need a working microwave for that. He and Leela go to get a microwave, only to find out that they aren’t available commercially yet (which isn’t exactly true, as the first one went on sale in 1946, but we’ll assume it just hasn’t gotten to Roswell). Fry reveals that his grandfather, Enos Fry (West), is stationed at Roswell, which presents a problem as he’s the only one in the ship that can infiltrate the military base to recover Zoidberg and Bender. Naturally, he quickly runs into Enos, who introduces Fry to his fiance, Fry’s grandmother, Mildred (Tress MacNeille). Fry tries to protect Enos from dangers, but ends up killing him by putting him on a nuclear test site. 

S3EJ - 2Enos.png
You can see the family resemblance… except that you can’t.

Leela spots a radar dish on the base which would produce the radiation, but Farnsworth is hesitant to interfere with history. Fry then reveals he killed his grandfather, but still exists somehow. Fry breaks the news of Enos’s death to Mildred, who responds by coming on to him. Fry realizes that Enos can’t be his grandfather, meaning Mildred isn’t his real grandmother, so he gives in. The next morning, the remaining crew tracks him down and Farnsworth points out that Mildred is his grandmother, but Fry is now his own grandfather. Abandoning any thoughts of preserving the timestream (because Fry banging his grandmother is more ridiculous than any of the damage they could do at this point), the ship breaks into the base, rescues Zoidberg and steals the radar dish. They drop Bender on their way back to the future, but dig his millenium-old head up and put him back together. 

S3EJ - 3Bender
Eh, Data on Star Trek: TNG already did this bit.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the funniest episodes of this show and also one of the most important to the overarching “plot” of the series, even if it’s not established at the time. Because of that, it’s also one of the episodes that is most frequently referenced in the future. It’s interesting because the writers established in the beginning of the series that they never wanted to do much with time travel, despite the fact that the pilot episode’s spoiler ends up being dependent on Fry getting down with his grandmother. I suppose maybe they originally had a different mechanism for Fry becoming the chosen one, but this one is funnier. I think it helps that it reminds everyone of Back to the Future, though in this version Marty does bang his mom.

S3EJ - 4Mildred
Granted, Marty’s mom wasn’t quite this forward.

While Futurama has never been adverse to subplots, this episode clearly plays them up more, having three plot threads going at once: Zoidberg being dissected, Fry and Bender’s head trying to protect Enos, and Leela and the Professor trying to find a microwave. Zoidberg’s is a hilarious subversion of the normal alien dissection, because not only is Zoidberg unaffected by most of the organs that they remove, his constant chattering and eating ends up making the soldiers, and eventually President Truman (Maurice LaMarche), get increasingly frustrated. Fry’s is made funny by the presence of Enos, who is a Futurama parody of Gomer Pyle (including having a catchphrase “Gadzooks” like Pyle’s “Shazam”). Enos is shown to be a complete rube, unable to realize when he’s eating metal, not noticing when Fry keeps shoving him into danger, and finally dying from his own ignorance of the testing grounds. He’s also shown to be homosexual, or at least bi-curious, something that seems to eliminate the obvious solution to how Fry survives his destruction: Enos had already impregnated Mildred. Farnsworth and Leela’s plot is shorter, but it contains some strong criticisms of the 1940s, particularly the salesman’s sexist attitudes. It also mocks the fact that we lose any concept of time periods as the years pass by having Farnsworth and Leela have no idea what people are like during that time period, including having the Professor order a stein of mead and two mutton pills. 

S3EJ - 5Shops
I also love that there’s a “Hard Croon Cafe.” 

Overall, this episode managed to do a lot of things at the same time, but all of it is easy to follow and amusing. Very impressive.

FAVORITE JOKE

The Conspiracy Nut who is brought with the President in order to provide a version of events that nobody will believe. Everyone always wonders why the witnesses to alien abductions or bigfoot sightings tend to be people who aren’t exactly “normal.” It turns out this is on purpose, and that the government always chooses to leak information by giving it to people who will completely remove any credibility from their claims. Basically, by having a crazy person spout the idea, they make the idea seem crazy. It’s made even better by the fact that when the conspiracy theorist takes photos, they emerge as photos from completely different conspiracy theories. His photo of President Truman at Roswell is revealed to be the 1997 Arizona UFO sighting…

S3EJ - 6Roswell

and the photo of the Planet Express ship is actually the “Surgeon’s Photograph” of the Loch Ness Monster. 

S3EJ - 7Nessie

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 50: Anthology of Interest II

NEXT – Episode 52: Godfellas

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.