Futurama Fridays – S4E16 “Three Hundred Big Boys”

A Tax Refund leads everyone on Earth to go a little spending crazy.

SUMMARY

Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) leads Earth to victory over the Spiderians of Tarantulon 6, seizing trillions in the spoils of war. Richard Nixon (West) decides to give every citizen of Earth $300 due to literal Voodoo Economists. Each member of the Planet Express crew gets one $300 bill and they all spend it in different ways: Leela (Katey Sagal) decides to swim with a whale, Scruffy (David Herman) gets a $300 haircut, Zoidberg (West) tries to live like a wealthy person, Fry (West) decides to buy 100 cups of coffee, Bender (John DiMaggio) plans to buy a cigar, but instead buys burglars tools in order to steal a better cigar, Professor Farnsworth (West) buys stem cells which make him look younger, Hermes (Phil LaMarr) buys his son Bamboo Boogie Boots, stilts which immediately malfunction, and Amy (Lauren Tom) buys a talking tattoo. Kif (Maurice LaMarche) buys Amy a watch which falls into the mouth of the same killer whale Leela is scheduled to swim with later in the week. The Professor also meets a young woman named April (Tress MacNeille) and starts a romance with her while pretending to be 25.

File:$300 bill.jpg
The Nixon Fun Bill.

Kif’s depressed about losing the watch, but Leela agrees to wear a suit filled with rotten fish for her swim so that the whale will eat the fish and vomit up the watch. Bender breaks into the cigar shop to steal the Grand Cigar, but is caught on camera and pursued by Smitty and URL (West and DiMaggio). Leela’s swimsuit gets eaten, along with the rotten fish, resulting in Mushu the whale vomiting up the watch, but Kif gets arrested for taking museum property. Zoidberg tries multiple “rich person” activities, but rejects them all. Fry becomes addicted to caffeine.

File:Three Hundred Big Boys.jpg
The whale is puking up a fortune.

The staff all attend a party to celebrate Zapp’s victory at the Silk Surplus. Zoidberg tries to buy some art, but finds out that $300 is not that much. Kif gets free when it’s revealed that he was being kept for the ambergris that covers his body. Bender lights his super-expensive cigar. The Professor and April reveal that he is super old and she is heavier than she appears, but they continue to be attracted to each other. Hermes and his son, Dwight (LaMarr), still stuck on their Bamboo Boogie Boots, end up breaking into the party and knocking Bender’s cigar into the silk tapestries, setting the whole party ablaze. Everyone is about to die when Fry drinks his 100th cup of coffee and enters a state of hyper-enlightenment, allowing him to evacuate everyone at super-speed, though they don’t realize it’s him. Out back, everyone finds Zoidberg cooking hotdogs and they all enjoy a meal while saying that they got a few good stories out of the tax rebate.

END SUMMARY

This episode is Futurama’s version of the celebrated The Simpsons episode “22 Short Films About Springfield,” which itself was based on the film Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould. In this, rather than just observing how a normal day in the lives of all of the characters on Futurama would go, the episode focuses on what the cast would do when given a windfall. Notably, none of them actually try to invest the money, both because that would be boring and also because the purpose of a tax stimulus is to encourage spending. 

File:Bamboo Boogie Boots.jpg
Yes, including on stupid stuff. Especially stupid stuff.

The strength of this episode is how flawlessly they keep each story feeding into the next one. The plotlines shift according to geography, theme, or even the previous line spoken, which makes everything feel extremely cohesive and allows for a large amount of storytelling within a short time. Each of the stories explores a different aspect of the characters, ranging from Bender’s thievery to Farnsworth’s amorous ambitions to Leela finally doing something spontaneous. It’s a nice way of giving us a large number of character moments in a short time. Perhaps the most impressive thing is that at the end of the episode, Fry gets superpowers and it somehow feels completely earned and not like a cheap deus ex machina. I think it’s because everyone secretly believes caffeine can give you hyperfocus rather than a coronary. 

Image result for fry 100 cups of coffee
Yes, they make a bullet-time reference.

Overall, this is definitely one of the best Futurama episodes, mostly because it doesn’t really feel like any other episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

The Whale Biologist. He’s one of my favorite unnamed characters. Everything we learn about him just makes him more hilarious and absurd. First, we find out that he hates whales, especially Mushu, but refuses to explain why he became a whale biologist. Second, he believes that whales kill for at least five reasons, one of which is just for fun. Third, he believes that his job requires him to be brutally and needlessly honest, but excuses it by saying “I’m a whale biologist.” Fourth, law enforcement has to listen to him due to his position. Last, he is intensely devoted to Aquarium property, including ambergris, a whale byproduct. His character has so many hidden depths… because whale biologist.

File:WhaleBiologist.png
Tell me your secrets, Whale Biologist!!!

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 69: The Farnsworth Parabox

NEXT – Episode 71: Spanish Fry

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 – S4E13 “Bend Her”

Bender gets a sex change to cheat at the Olympics and then to date a celebrity.

SUMMARY 

The crew goes to attend the 3004 Olympic games where Hermes (Phil LaMarr) has been pulled out of retirement to compete in the Limbo. The rest of the Jamaican team has been detained at the airport for being stereotypes. Since Hermes is out of shape, the Professor (Billy West), gives him a special bodysuit designed to make him super limbo-y. He hopes to finally defeat his bitter rival Barbados Slim (John DiMaggio), the only man to win Gold Medals at both Limbo and Sex. He’s also Hermes’s wife LaBarbara’s (Dawnn Lewis) first husband. Unfortunately, the suit bursts from Hermes’s gut right before the finish line, costing Hermes the race. 

Related image
Barbados Slim is the one closest to the camera, because cameras can’t stop staring at him.

Bender (DiMaggio) insists that he could win a medal at the bending competition, only to realize that he has no chance when he sees the other competitors. He then sees that the female bending robots have much easier competition, so he decides to disguise himself as a fembot. He wins the gold, but finds out that, much like the real Olympics, there is gender testing. He has the Professor make him into a fembot (something that even the professor admits is ill-defined), collects her medals as “Coilette from Robonia,” and remains a woman for the celebrity. While on a talk show, she meets Calculon (Maurice LaMarche), who falls for her. She dates him for the gifts and the celebrity, which offends Leela (Katey Sagal) and Amy (Lauren Tom). Eventually, Calculon asks her to marry him, which she accepts. 

Image result for Bend her futurama
I mean, he owns the world’s largest yacht. You don’t say no to that.

Bender/Coilette just wants to scam Calculon for his money, but eventually realizes that Calculon’s feelings are real. She can’t just leave him, so she decides to come up with a thing that he can believe: A Soap Opera death. So, at the wedding, she has the crew act out a contrived death which Calculon accepts and uses to try and win an Emmy. At the end of the episode, Bender is made male again, but he still pines for Calculon a little. 

END SUMMARY

This episode both doesn’t age well and is also strangely prescient. The idea of someone undergoing a sex change solely for the point of winning contests is something that seems to have come up more in recent years, but this episode plays the idea for a laugh. The episode is able to sidestep the fact that it would be insane to undergo massive surgeries and hormone therapies to win a medal by having robot genders be so ill-defined that it basically amounts to an oil change. The thing that most seems ridiculous, though, is that Bender, who is not a competitive athlete, could actually beat female athletes. The overall world record holders for weightlifting events are all men, but the female Clean-and-Jerk record is still over 400lbs and the Bench Press record is over 600lbs. That’s way more than even most casual bodybuilders can lift, let alone a guy who mostly drinks beer and slacks off like Bender. 

Image result for women's olympic clean and jerk record
Here’s Tatyana Kashirina lifting twice my body weight. 

The subplot about Hermes, too, predicts something that would later become an issue. Farnsworth designs him a suit which essentially grants him an unnaturally limbo adept figure, allowing him to almost defeat a much better athlete. This resembles the LZR Racer, a swimsuit designed by Speedo in 2008 which supposedly made swimmers more aerodynamic. The suit not only worked, but worked so well that 93 World Records were broken while wearing them and 98% of all the swim medals at Beijing in 2008 involving the suits. They were so devastating to the competition that they were called equivalent to doping and banned. I’d like to think the people designing it watched this episode. 

Image result for lzr racer
Granted, giving it to Michael Phelps helped.

The subplot about dating Calculon is surprisingly sweet and, while Bender acts like a jerk, Calculon’s sincerity makes it heartwarming. I also love how they play out the Soap Opera death, particularly the random intrusion of Fry as Congo Jack, who spears Coilette. 

Image result for congo jack futurama
It’s more ridiculous in context.

Overall, the episode’s still funny, even if some parts of it aren’t the best in the show.

FAVORITE JOKE

Image result for french stereotypes futurama
Also the Jean Reno fan club of the year 3004.

It’s the list of all the fake countries in the future. There’s a country that has a population of one person called the “Nation of Joe.” There’s a bunch of fur-clad robots from “Cyberia.” Devil’s Island, a prison island off of French Guiana which was used as a prison by France until 1946, is shown to now be its own country… whose entire population are clad as criminals. The Republic of French Stereotypes appears to be the most hated nation in the world, because its athletes are shown being snooty, wearing berets, and carrying bagets. I’d also like to add that Bender’s fake country, Robonia, has my vote for best anthem: 

Hail, Hail, Robonia… A land I didn’t make up!

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 66: The Sting

NEXT – Episode 68: Obsoletely Fabulous

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 – S4E11 “Where No Fan Has Gone Before”

Futurama finally drops the pretense and just brings back Star Trek… with Welshie.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) learns that Star Trek was banned in the future because it had previously become a religion that had caused a series of wars. Remembering that he met him in the pilot, Fry goes to see Leonard Nimoy’s head at the Head Museum. Nimoy eventually admits to missing being Spock and missing all of his co-stars, so Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Nimoy head into space to find the rest of the Star Trek cast. The crew heads towards Omega 3, the planet where the Star Trek tapes were disposed of, only to crash on the planet. 

File:StarTrekWars.jpg
 In nomine Spock, et Bones, et Kirk.

The crew emerges to find a ton of sets from the show, as well as the cast, having been rejuvenated and given new bodies. It’s revealed that the planet is ruled by an alien energy being named Melllvar (Maurice LaMarche). He murders Welshie (David Herman), Scotty’s replacement, to show the crew that he is serious. With the cast complete (minus James Doohan, the guy who played Scotty), Melllvar announces he’s hosting the biggest Star Trek convention of all time.  Melllvar is apparently the second biggest Star Trek fan of all time, next to Fry, something that infuriates him. Ultimately, he tries to get the cast to enact his fan script, distracting him.

File:Melllvar's Mom.png
It also turns out that he lives in his mom’s basement and is 34. Weird for a deity.

The Planet Express crew leave the planet, then return to rescue the cast, only for them to fail and Melllvar to question if the Planet Express crew, as actual space heroes, is more worthy of his fandom than the cast. He orders them to fight to the death, but that falls apart quickly when the crews agree to work together after Melllvar is called to dinner by his mother. However, in order to escape, the cast has to jettison their bodies and become heads in jars again. Melllvar pursues them and they end up being captured by Zapp Brannigan’s (West) ship. After a hearing over the Crew’s possession of the banned Star Trek tapes (and cast), the chase continues until Fry convinces him that basing his life off of a show is not worth it. 

The trial is the framing device and it’s a great reference itself.

END SUMMARY

So, ever since Leonard Nimoy appeared in the pilot, everyone probably felt like this episode was inevitable. Futurama was definitely a product of Star Trek, has made a ton of references to the series, and basically never shied away from talking about it until this episode, in which it spontaneously is declared banned in the future. The idea that Star Trek fandom becomes so insanely dedicated that infighting leads to entire wars is… well, actually pretty accurate. I mean, have you seen how much people fight over what the best series is? There are people who would sooner get their eyes ripped out than admit that Picard was a better captain than Kirk and people who would rip the eyes out to get someone to say that. This is after the franchise has only been around for 50 years. Give it time, this episode might become more true, which is sad for a franchise founded on the idea of a Utopian future for humanity.

File:TrekChurch.jpg
Shots fired at John Travolta.

I love how much work this episode put into making as many references and jokes to the series as they could. The writer of this episode, David A. Goodman, actually got a real job writing for a Star Trek show because of it. In a bizarre twist that I keep bringing up, Matt Groening, the show’s creator, couldn’t really contribute to this episode, because he had never seen Star Trek. I find it hilarious that someone who created a sci-fi show wouldn’t have seen something so central to the genre. It’s like writing a fantasy show and never having read or seen Lord of the Rings

File:Where No Fan Has Gone Before.jpg
Sulu has some rockin’ abs, but Groening didn’t know why.

The only person who refused to appear in this episode from the original Star Trek cast is James Doohan, the original Scotty, which is why he’s replaced with a surrogate named Welshy. Because of this, the original title of the episode was “We Got Everyone But Scotty.” DeForest Kelley, the original Bones McCoy, appears in the episode but doesn’t speak, due to him being dead for several years. Weirdly, we haven’t gotten a firm explanation why Scotty refused to appear in the episode, but it’s been made clear that it was a very firm rejection. They even joke in the commentary that it was a “no way” as opposed to just a “no.” 

Overall, this was a solid episode that paid tribute to another great show. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Yeah, there’s so many this is going to have to be a countdown:

3) “He’s Dead, Jim”

When all of the Star Trek fans are being killed off, it’s revealed that they were killed in the manner most typical of virgins: Thrown into a volcano. In the grand tradition of Star Trek, every time someone is killed, one of the people says “He’s dead, Jim,” the catchphrase of Bones McCoy from the original series.

Image result for futurama volcano

2) Balok’s Puppet

At the end of some of the closing credits of the original Star Trek show, they would show an image of a puppet used by the character Balok (Clint Howard) in the episode “The Corbomite Maneuver.” It was a fairly iconic image for a while because of this. In this episode, there is a picture of Lt. Kif Kroker done in the same style as that image during the closing credits.

File:Kifbalok.jpg

1) George and Walter Share

So, during filming of the second season of Star Trek, Geoge Takei had conflicts that kept him from appearing in about half of the episodes. Because of this, they brought in Walter Koenig to play Pavel Chekov and gave him most of the stuff that Sulu would have done in the outlined episodes. Since budget was pretty small on Star Trek, Takei and Koenig ended up having to share a dressing room and, when they were in an episode together, would sometimes have to share scripts until the final was ready. If you’re asking why someone couldn’t just copy another script, that’s the same question this episode forces you to ask when Melllvar, an all-powerful being, can’t materialize another fan script. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

NEXT – Episode 66: The Sting

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 – 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.

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.