Futurama Fridays – S7E16 “T.: The Terrestrial”

Fry gets left on an alien world. A parody ensues.

SUMMARY

Lrrr, ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8, (Maurice LaMarche) is trying help his son, Jrrr (Lauren Tom), take over Earth in order to get a merit badge. Unfortunately, Jrrr is so meek that Nixon (Billy West) doesn’t take him seriously. At Lrrr’s insistence, Jrrr responds by accidentally killing the Headless clone of Agnew. Nixon places an embargo on Omicron Persei 8 in response. The Professor (West) reveals that he’s now in horrible pain because the “herbal supplement” that he uses for pain management is exclusive to Omicron Persei 8. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) orders the crew to fly to collect it, due to his love of Omicronic. While on the planet, Fry (west) and Bender (John DiMaggio) get separated and the crew gets evacuated. Bender abandons Fry and tells Leela (Katey Sagal) that Fry is on board, so Fry is left on the planet. He soon encounters Jrrr and frightens him, but the two soon bond. Fry, however, gets homesick.

For the record, that’s a good name for a pot brand.

Bender has to continue to construct elaborate lies to cover for his cowardice, but ends up making everyone assume that Fry is working harder than ever before. Bender begins to miss Fry, thinking him dead, but continues the ruse in progressively more elaborate ways. However, he eventually sees an S.O.S. that Fry and Jrrr have built on the planet. Lrrr catches Fry and has him imprisoned to be killed. Lrrr also comments that Fry is looking sick, which is because Fry has been eating Jrrr’s feces, thinking they were candy. Jrrr and Fry escape and flee on a flying love-powered bicycle, but when they get fry to a doctor, Drrr, he recommends killing Fry. Lrrr confronts Jrrr, but Jrrr stands up to him and earns his respect… only for Fry to die. Bender arrives and the Omicronic that Fry had consumed glows from Bender’s electromagnetism and his love for Fry. Fry revives and is taken home, only to find out that he is now more respected and loved than ever because of Bender’s ruse.

If the Vet is named Drrr, what’s the Doctor named?

END SUMMARY

This episode never quite hits as hard as it should for me. It’s got some funny moments, to be sure, but many of the E.T. parodies are just not quite what they should be. I think part of it is that they literally turned the iconic Reese’s Pieces scene into a poop joke and then didn’t just leave it. The joke wasn’t funny, but if we’d just left it alone, then it would just be a missed opportunity. Instead, the episode’s plot actually depends on the idea that Fry would be unable to stop eating Jrrr’s crap. Knowingly. It’s just doubling down on crap, literally.

Also, did they get rid of Ndnd just so this episode is single-parent like E.T.?

I will admit that the subplot about Bender pretending to be Fry actually works better than it should. When Bender is forced to use the single recording of Fry’s voice in clever ways in order to maintain the ruse, it usually produces a laugh. I also find it amusing that after the number of atrocities that Lrrr has committed on Earth in past episodes, including taking over multiple times, that the only thing that creates an embargo between the planets is the killing of the body of Spiro Agnew. It’s not even the last clone, either, and presumably they could just make more. I mean, how much could it take to grow Spiro Agnew? 

Looks like about 180 lbs.

Overall, it’s not a great episode, but it’s got its moments, at least.

FAVORITE JOKE

When Fry mentions that he is homesick, Jrrr takes him to a collection of extremely high-tech communications devices in order to let him “phone home,” a la E.T. However, Fry instead turns them into an S.O.S. message by pulling them into place. The key is that this actually ends up working, because Bender sees it, while all signals from Omicron are blocked by Earth. It’s a great gag because it’s the dumb thing that’s secretly brilliant.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Animaniacs (2020): It’s Mostly Insany – Hulu Review

The Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister are back.

SUMMARY (Spoilers are essentially impossible)

Back in the ‘90s, they were in a very famous TV show. No, it’s not BoJack Horseman, it’s Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner (Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille). Then, in 1998, the show stopped and, aside from a film in 1999, the trio have mostly been gone from the public eye. However, since Hollywood is completely out of ideas, the trio have been brought back to run rampant all over the Warner Studios and society once more. They’re sharing a large amount of the billing with everyone’s favorite mice, Pinky and the Brain (Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche). Welcome to the new world, same as the old world, but a little wackier.

There are parodies galore.

END SUMMARY

It’s tough to review a reboot like this, because this show was a huge part of my childhood that it definitely has a huge nostalgia factor when evaluating, for better or for worse. On balance, I think it actually made me a little more critical of this show than I might have been. While the Warners and Pinky and the Brain have returned, almost no other characters return from the previous series, something that I think might be attributed to the fact that almost none of the writers or creators from the previous show returned. Yes, Steven Spielberg is still producing, but the creative teams for the shows are almost completely different. I guess after 22 years, everyone else had other stuff to do or wanted more money (or, sadly, had passed away). Because of that, while the show does have some of the feel of the previous series, it lacks some of the memorable characters and, rather than replacing them, mostly just focused on the Warners more. It’s tough to not miss the Goodfeathers or Slappy Squirrel. 

A few of the new characters work pretty well, though.

That said, the new show is still really, really funny. It’s definitely aiming for a more mature crowd than the original, with wordplay and references that would fly way over the heads of the average kid. Kids will still like it for the slapstick and the sight gags, though. The show definitely gets away with some dirty jokes, but if you are surprised by that, you clearly didn’t see the original Animaniacs. The fourth-wall breaks that were fairly frequent in the last show are moved up to an entirely new level of meta-humor at times and it is often great. They also fully embrace their tradition of bad jokes that are so bad they loop all the way around to hilarious. Many of the puns fit this mold exactly.

They do a lot of jokes about Spielberg.

I know a number of people have said that the show is pushing an agenda and I can only say that yes, they’re absolutely right. This show clearly disliked the Trump administration and they are not subtle about letting you know it. Compared to the relatively more “everyone’s a target” feeling of the original show, this probably will put some people off, but honestly it came up only a few times so you might not even notice.

Pinky and the Brain tend to be better this season than the Warners.

Overall, I really missed this series and I’m glad it came back. 

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Futurama Fridays – S7E9 “Free Will Hunting”

Bender tackles the eternal question and the answer is “find better engineers.”

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) starts his day by deciding to wear nerd glasses. This leads him to get invited to a sorority party, which leads him to enroll in college, which leads to him getting student loans from the mafia. He then drops out of school, gets addicted to drugs, and vomits on the Hendonismbot (Maurice LaMarche) for money. Eventually, he’s arrested and put on trial, but his lawyer successfully argues that Bender, as a robot, lacks free will and therefore cannot make any decisions, negating mens rea. Bender is despondent over the revelation that he might not have free will, and, during a delivery to the robot home world, stays on the planet to try and figure out if he has free will. Eventually, he finds a robot temple where the robot monks have adopted a position that, while they are automatons, they can still be happy. Bender stays with the monks until he discovers that he has a “free will” slot created by Mom (Tress MacNeille) so that they could get free will upgrades. 

It was a very long day.

Fry (Billy West) misses Bender and complains to Leela (Katey Sagal), with whom he is once again romantically involved. Bender returns and convinces the pair to help him steal the free will unit prototype, reasoning that he does not have free will to commit the crime. They successfully get in, only to have Mom explain that she never had the prototype because the Professor (West) never finished it. Bender realizes that the Professor clearly did complete it and threatens him into giving it. However, the Professor reveals that Bender can’t hurt him, because the Professor programmed all MomCorp robots not to harm him. Seeing Bender sad, the Professor installs the free will unit in his head, which leads Bender to shoot the Professor in order to test it out. Bender is prosecuted successfully for the crime, much to his delight.

END SUMMARY

I think this is one of my favorite episodes of this show because it addresses a huge existential problem, whether free will exists, and manages to couch it in a funny parable by applying it to Bender rather than one of the other characters. As Amy (Lauren Tom) points out, no one is positive that humans even have free will, or if we’re just extremely convoluted mechanisms following intricate programming. Bender, naturally, just moves past that, but it does at least remind the viewer that everything Bender worries about in this episode has been contemplated by philosophers throughout the ages. As in the episode, some people get depressed over the unknowability of the answer, some are too busy to care, and some turn to religion or philosophy in order to be happy without knowing. Ultimately, though, this episode actually proposes that eventually science will be able to just tell us the answer or possibly even give us free will using Quantum Theory. It’s a very Futurama resolution.

Some of the better elements of this episode are the way that it highlights or even exaggerates many of Bender’s more human traits despite focusing on how he believes himself to be different than humans. Throughout the entire episode he’s prone to whimsy, then stuck in a need for self-discovery, and finally convinces the Professor not through logic, but through triggering his emotional empathy. Bender is at his least robotic during this episode and it works perfectly.

He suffers a lot from peer pressure, too.

Overall, just a great episode of Futurama. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Pretty much everything about the Robot Monastery. First off, the idea that robots, who confirm that they have no free will and thus should operate perfectly logically, end up using religion as a way to resolve their existential crisis is inherently hilarious. Second, they read from “The Whole eBook,” rather than the Holy Book, which is a nice robot religion joke. Third, most of what the monks preach is based not on actual religious theory, but instead on the absurdist philosophy of Albert Camus, reinforced by the image of the monks working in an M.C. Escher setting. Last, the head abbot is named Ab-Bot, and that’s just fun.

It’s just fun.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E6 “The Butterjunk Effect”

Leela and Amy take the world of competitive floating by storm. 

SUMMARY

Fry and Leela (Billy West and Katey Sagal) are on a double date with Amy and Kif (Lauren Tom and Maurice LaMarche) where the ladies keep making catty comments to each other. Later, on a delivery, they attend a Butterfly Derby, a sporting event where women fight each other while floating using butterfly wings. Leela and Amy agree to compete, only to be beaten. However, they do well enough that they are offered a position as a competitive team named The Wingnuts. Unfortunately, they still lose every match, leading them to take the steroid-like Ocephalus Nectar. It improves their musculature and their performance in matches, but makes them mean and aggressive. They eventually qualify for the championships, but the entire Nectar supply is bought by their opponents. The crew journeys to Kif’s homeworld in order to harvest more. 

I’m sure rule 34 hit this hard.

At the butterfly sanctuary where the nectar can be found, they are warned not to provoke the males. Fry soon does and is sprayed by a foul-smelling liquid. However, Amy and Leela both find the scent arousing, as the liquid was butterfly pheromones and the Nectar ingested have made the two act like female butterflies. They decide to go cold turkey while Fry slowly builds a cocoon around himself. During the match, the now normal Wingnuts are getting beaten badly, but Fry hatches as a butterfly and their opponents fly to him due to their Nectar abuse, saving the girls. Fry sheds his butterfly body and returns to normal.

END SUMMARY

I seem to have a soft spot for this episode despite not really thinking it’s a particularly well-written one. I like it mostly because I think the Butterfly Derby was one of the funnier “theoretically possible” things this show ever came up with. I don’t know if you can do it on the moon, but people, like XKCD, have pointed out that you can definitely do it on some of the moons of Saturn. Perhaps you can do it on the moon if there is a false atmosphere in place. Maybe if it’s more oxygen rich? I dunno. I could do the math but I haven’t slept in two days and I’m pretty sure I’d add it up to Llama. Llamas are bigger than bullfrogs. No, I’m not planning on editing this. 

You could do this on a bridge.

Doing an episode about steroid abuse for laughs is a bit overused. I think the Simpsons have done it at least twice. Hell, South Park did it with the Special Olympics, something that they probably should apologize for, honestly. The subplot about Fry becoming a butterfly is kind of weak because you do know that eventually he’s going to come flying out. You probably even get the eventual twist because they already revealed he’s irresistible to Nectar addicts. However, I still think his final random popping out is pretty well-timed. They even mention that he has no brain activity and that is no different than normal.

Yeah, Rule 34 loved this episode.

Overall, not the best episode, but I still think it’s got a certain charm to it.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s the exchange between Leela and the Professor about Nectar. When he says that the nectar worries him, the following follows:

Leela: Professor, there’s nothing wrong with Nectar. It’s all natural.

Farnsworth: So are carrots, but you don’t see me injecting them between my toes!

While this would be funny enough, he proceeds to put a carrot in his mouth and light it like a cigar before smoking it. This one amuses me to the point that I feel like I have thought of it every time I try to eat a carrot since. 

High as f*ck.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E25 “Overclockwise”

Bender enhances his robotic intellect so much that he becomes nearly omniscient.

SUMMARY

Cubert (Kath Soucie), Fry (Billy West), and Bender (John DiMaggio) are playing a WWII combat game online, but keep losing badly to Walt, Igner, and Larry (Maurice Lamarche and DiMaggio), Mom’s (Tress MacNeille) idiot sons. Cubert says Bender is the weak link, something that Bender acknowledges due to his hardware being out of date. Cubert overclocks Bender’s CPU to compensate and Bender quickly becomes much more intelligent. Mom, discovering that Cubert violated Bender’s user agreement, sends an army of robots to reclaim him and has Cubert and the Professor (West) arrested. Bender manages to overclock his own secondary processor, making him smart enough to avoid Mom’s attacks and continually increase his own intellect. He leaves Planet Express to find seclusion from Mom. 

Graphics are a bit lackluster for 1000 years in the future.

At the same time, Fry and Leela (Katey Segal) are discussing their relationship when she starts to express doubt about the future. Eventually, when the Professor and Cubert are put on trial, Leela leaves Planet Express to go find a new purpose. Fry tries to find a new friend in Randy (DiMaggio), but ends up trying to kill himself by going over Niagara Falls. He survives and finds a cave containing Bender, who is now a mostly non-corporeal existence. Bender has hacked himself so much that he is now using reality as a processor, giving him essential omniscience. He informs Fry that Cubert and the Professor are going to be convicted and declines to explain if Fry and Leela will end up together.

Mom has pin-ups of herself. That’s disturbing and vain.

At the trial, the deliberations conclude, only for Bender to show up a few moments later. He is denied the opportunity to testify, but then mentions loudly that the Jury probably won’t convict Cubert. Mom makes the prosecutor drop the case against Cubert, but Bender then points out that Cubert and Farnsworth are the same person, legally, so dropping a case against one drops them both. He is then picked up by Mom’s robots and reset to his old intellect. Leela later comes back to see Fry and ask Bender about their future. It’s revealed that Bender wrote down how Fry and Leela will end up. The pair read it and, although the audience doesn’t see what it says, it indicates that the two will be happy.

END SUMMARY

This is the third of Futurama’s four finales along with “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” and “Meanwhile.” I’ve stated before that all of these are excellent episodes, but this one feels the least like an actual finale, possibly because it focuses the least on Fry and Leela, who really were the emotional core of the show. However, this episode is still excellent, even if the ending feels a little tacked on, as does the C plot of Leela questioning her and Fry’s relationship. Also, it’s weird that this isn’t the season finale, given that it was originally the series finale.

Hey, I just realized that the mutants can be jurors. That’s progress.

This episode does a good job of having the A and B plots both arise from the same incident, which is a useful narrative tool in sitcoms, particularly since they both sort of represent two different viewpoints on modern computing. Bender’s plotline involves overclocking his central processing unit, which is a term for attempting to increase a CPU’s clock rate, or how often a computer sends an electrical pulse to synchronize all its components. When this is increased it can theoretically make a component’s operating speed higher, but it risks causing overheating issues or power issues if not done properly. If it works, though, you can make parts exceed their factory settings. On the other side, though, most companies will either consider a part warranty void if the part is overclocked (which makes sense as it reduces the lifespan of the component), or, as in this episode, will require users to sign contracts stating they won’t overclock it. That policy, as is stated in this episode, is kind of crazy, because it means that a person who has a part in their computer cannot use it as they want without it potentially violating that agreement. Moreover, some software actually contains licensing agreements (remember, you don’t actually own your software, which is a discussion for another time) which ban the software from being run with overclocked parts. So, you can’t improve your own property. I appreciate that this episode addresses the issue in a funny way.

And yes, you probably have some of these right now.

Overall, aside from the part where Fry and Leela just spontaneously have a weird talk about being on-again off-again, this is a pretty great episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m going to do two. First, the fact that Bender uses Niagara Falls as both a power source and a cooling source is a reference to an apocryphal prediction by a supposed “Professor of Electrical Engineering” from New York. If you take an electrical engineering class, you’ll probably hear some mention of a supposed professor from before the microchip was invented who predicted that supercomputers were impossible, because you’d need Niagara Falls to cool all of the Vacuum Tubes required. Nowhere on the internet have I even seen someone try to name this professor, which should tell you how real the quote is, but it still gets around. 

All is Bender. All will be Bender.

Second, one of the books that Bender reads is Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged. This is a combination of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the classic Rand McNally Atlases. I love this one because, before this episode aired, I used the same joke at a trivia night I was hosting for a “Before and After” clue.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E23 “All the President’s Heads”

It’s another time-travel episode, but this time we kill George Washington.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) gets a night job at the Head Museum, feeding the heads of the former US Presidents. He invites the crew over to the museum for a party, but when they drink the liquid around the heads, they find themselves transported back in time. Farnsworth (West) hypothesizes that the opal used to make the head fluid keeps the heads trapped in a temporal bubble. After learning from George Washington’s head (Maurice LaMarche) that one of his ancestors was a traitor to the US, Farnsworth, Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) travel back to stop him from betraying the revolution. The four encounter Ben Franklin (LaMarche), who tells them that Farnsworth’s ancestor, David Farnsworth (David Herman), is working as a counterfeiter and they discover that he’s at Paul Revere’s smithy in Boston. They capture David and destroy his counterfeits, but in the process Fry grabs a lantern from the Old North Church just as they are pulled back to the future.

Chester Z. Arthur will be elected in 2520 and impeached for eyebrow in 2521.

They emerge on an Earth that is now British. All of North America is now West Britannia, due to the UK winning the Revolutionary War. It turns out that Fry taking the lantern led to Revere warning of the British coming by land, instead of sea, leading to a swift defeat. David Farnsworth was knighted for killing George Washington, making Farnsworth a lord and a rich man. However, upon finding out he’s also the consort to the horrible queen of England, Farnsworth steals her opal and uses it to go back and change history again. This time, he almost kills David Farnsworth, leading to the name being cleared, and Bender being on a flag. 

Oh, you have to have sex with a British woman in exchange for a mansion. How terrible.

END SUMMARY

This episode would be completely forgettable if it weren’t for Ben Franklin. Yes, the man too interesting to be allowed into the play Hamilton somehow saved an episode of Futurama. That’s because he somehow got some of the only memorable lines in it, or was the subject of others.

Not wearing bifocals, though.

First, when asked if Franklin is in Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson responds “When he’s not in Charlotte, or Maribel, or Louisa!” Fry doesn’t get it. When they arrive at Franklin’s house, Louisa answers the door, leading Fry to finally say “Now I get it!” This is a reference to Franklin’s legendary womanizing, which is SO MUCH more than you would think. Second, he invented the “Franklinator,” a club with a badger tied to it. I have been trying to incorporate that device into a fantasy setting ever since this episode. I’m thinking it’d be a combination of bludgeoning damage with a bite bonus. Also, randomly you get the one with the chipmunk that does nothing. Last, he’s the only one who got to call our leads “sh*theads” on television, by mocking the ambiguous printing of S in the 1770s. Since it looked like f, Franklin gets away with mocking their ignorance by saying they’re “ftupid fhitheads.” 

Franklinator? It’s probably Milhouse.

Aside from those moments, most of this episode was just unimpressive. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Aside from the Franklin jokes, I have two other things I like in the episode. First, there’s a short cartoon in the intro featuring Zoich, the mascot for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Zoich, as you might guess from looking below, was based on the Hypnotoad from Futurama. I like the fact that the show acknowledged they had some real-world impact. The other thing that amused me was the part where FDR’s head says “The only thing we have to fear… is running out of beer.” This would make running out of beer equivalent to fear itself, which… yeah, tracks.

All Glory to Zoich

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 98: Fry am the Egg Man

NEXT – Episode 100: Cold Warriors

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Futurama Fridays – S6E22 “Fry Am The Egg Man”

Fry tries to hatch an egg and ends up creating a monster.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) stop by Fishy Joe’s restaurant after a mission, but Leela becomes upset about the fast food restaurant’s lack of healthy options and questionable ingredients. In response, Leela forces the crew to start buying their food at a farmer’s market. She buys a bunch of eggs that a farmer found in the woods and blackmails the entire Planet Express staff into doing brunch. After discovering that the eggs are fertilized, Fry refuses to eat his and instead decides to hatch it. Eventually, it hatches into a tiny blue alien with acid spit that Fry names “Mr. Peppy.” The group wants to kill it, but Fry tells them he plans on raising it.

Lrrr also orders at Fishy Joe’s. Try the veal.

After a few weeks, Mr. Peppy becomes extremely large, to the point that it can easily rip Bender’s limbs off. Professor Farnsworth (West) eventually discovers that Mr. Peppy is a Bone Vampire, a species that sucks the bones out of its victims. After finding out that Bone Vampires are extinct on their home planet, Doohan 6, the Scottish planet, and reproduce asexually, Leela suggests releasing Mr. Peppy to repopulate the species. After letting him go, the crew goes to a local pub on Doohan 6. They meet Handsome Major Angus McZongo, Esq. (Maurice LaMarche), who hits on Leela before informing them that the planet’s residents had killed all of the Bone Vampires because they kept eating all of the livestock. Fry insists that Mr. Peppy isn’t dangerous, so McZongo agrees to let the creature live for a few days while he tries to woo Leela. 

Mr. Peppy clearly doesn’t like “cuddles”

Soon they find a collection of boneless sheep and McZongo declares that Mr. Peppy must die. Fry insists on putting his pet down himself. After hunting for hours, Fry finally shoots at the figure attacking the sheep, but it turns out to be Angus McZongo. It’s revealed that he pretended to be the Bone Vampire in order to regain his popularity as a hunter, due to Mr. Peppy being a vegetarian. They soon discover that Mr. Peppy has abandoned his vegetarian ways, however, and gone back to eating the bones from sheep. Rather than killing him, the villagers celebrate, because after the sheep get killed, they’re now just boneless hunks of mutton which can be easily sold. Leela and the crew later head to Fishy Joe’s again, where Leela orders the mutton, reasoning that at least they know where it comes from now.

Handsome is relative on Doohan 6.

END SUMMARY

This episode always seems like a natural extension of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart hatches what he believes are two bird eggs only for them to be ecosystem-wrecking lizards, which was itself a twist on the episode of The Andy Griffith Show called “Opie the Birdman.” The Simpsons episode was written by David X. Cohen, one of the creators of Futurama along with Matt Groening. It always feels like I’m glimpsing something about how fiction represents society’s progression when you see a plotline that starts with a sincere parable about parenting eventually becomes a sarcastic tale of good intentions wrecking a town and eventually a nearly surreal story of a monster that saves a village of strange Scotsmen in space. If you look over how fiction usually evolves, this tends to be cyclical, so maybe one day in the future we’ll be back to sincere emotional tales as the thing that people want to see again. Or maybe sincerity is dead forever. It’s hard to tell as of 2020.

Lisa gets that this is horrifying.

This episode does have one of the more satisfying setups, because it doesn’t just get dropped after the plot moves to the second act. Instead, there’s a nice final scene where Leela accepts her small victory, even though she ends up putting a ton of cheese filling in her supposedly “natural” meal. Just like the rest of us, Leela’s only willing to try a certain amount to stand on principle before accepting a big bucket of fried goodness. 

Plus, this guy’s at the Farmer’s Market.

Overall, I enjoy parts of this episode, but the actual scenes with Fry hatching the egg and raising Mr. Peppy take like 7 minutes and are not particularly entertaining. 

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the people on Doohan 6 originally speaks in Gaelic when they meet him, which is understandable for a Scottish planet. Hilariously, Leela insists that they speak English, despite this planet likely being as strongly anti-English as it gets (just look up the history of Scotland for why that would be). However, the next two times they see him, he doesn’t speak Gaelic, but instead shouts a series of words with a heavy accent. The first time it’s “Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff,” a reference to three of the Hogwarts houses. The second time, it’s “Dersu Uzala, Yojimbo, Rashomon,” the titles of three films by famed Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. I wish they’d thought of a few more of these, but the gag still makes me chuckle. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 97: Yo Leela Leela

NEXT – Episode 99: All the Presidents’ Heads

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.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E20 “Neutopia”

Let’s destroy gender stereotypes by embracing gender stereotypes! Wait…

SUMMARY

Planet Express faces foreclosure due to mismanagement. The crew brainstorms ways to save it and Leela (Katey Sagal) suggests they do commercial airfare using the ship. This is shot down in favor of a nude calendar, which features Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and LaBarbara Conrad (Dawnn Lewis). Unfortunately, with only three women the project fails, so they finally try the airline idea (without giving Leela credit). Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and Fry (Billy West) are made pilots while the girls are made stewardesses, despite the fact that only Leela can fly a ship. The flight goes awry and they crash on a barren rocky planet. The passengers and crew total 16, eight men and eight women, and they immediately become divided over who should lead. 

This is a Star Trek reference.

The fight is interrupted by a rock alien (David Herman) who asks to speak with the leader, then becomes fascinated by the concept of gender. It decides to pose a series of tests to decide which gender is better, but ultimately decides to test their ability to reach shelter as the planet becomes uninhabitable. Both groups fail miserably at reaching the cave, but each realize that they can use Bender and the fembot refrigerator to avoid dying. Hermes and LaBarbara try to steal parts from each other, but end up having angry sex. When they awaken, the planet is burning, so both groups are about to die until they’re saved by the rock monster. Because of their failure, he lost a bet to another alien, so he uses his powers to make everyone gender neuter. 

While at first the crew and passengers work better without their sexual characteristics, eventually they miss screwing, so they demand their genitals back. The alien obliges, but ends up reversing everyone’s genders. Zapp Brannigan (West) then kills it. When they get home, both sides try to adjust to their new bodies, and the former men now pose for the remaining pages of the calendar. The calendar does well and the company is saved. A meteor crashes into the building and another alien, the Borax Kid (Maurice LaMarche) arrives to fix their bodies. Everyone is put right… except Scruffy, the Janitor. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is interesting in that it plays up sexism a lot in its characters in order to deconstruct sexism. The problem is that A) the jokes aren’t super funny and B) they had already done this back in “Amazon Women in the Mood.” For example, jokes about the inferiority of women countered by the fact that Leela and Amy are among the most competent characters in the show. What’s crazy is that they could probably have done a better job by playing up the gender swap subplot of the episode, but it ends up being a very short part of the episode. Even worse, most of the stuff in the gender swapped act is not particularly funny, like LaBarbara saying she needs to get up 5 times a night to play Xbox. However, I do admit that Hermes screaming “your manwich” when his wife makes love to him is pretty funny. 

At least it’s good to know their love isn’t just physical.

The one part of this episode that does tend to stand out is the Rock Monster’s ridiculous competition between the two parties. It’s completely random, starting out with who can drink the most sulfur, then going into a number of very pointed questions like “which is larger, and Italian size 4 or an American Apparel medium” or “name any twelve of the Desperate Housewives,” followed by the hilariously vague “how was your day.” They’re still sexist, but at least these are so farcical they’re funny. 

I also love the design of the Borax Kid.

Overall, the episode is okay, but it really just retreads something that the show already did better. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Well, my favorite joke is definitely Hermes shouting “Your Manwich!” when LaBarbara takes him in a manly fashion, but I already used that one. So, instead, I think I’ll say it’s the nude calendar. First, many of the images are references to famous pin-ups, ranging from Fry as Barbarella to Farnsworth as Farrah Fawcett. Naturally, all of these are slightly unnerving because of the subjects, which makes for a fun parody if you know the source material. Second, the episode states that they need eleven million dollars in order to stay afloat and they have a single day of sales in which to generate it. They pull it off, somehow. Since a Google search tells me that most 12-image nude calendars are under 20 dollars and the world of Futurama has a similar rate of exchange to ours, that means that they had to sell over half a million calendars in a day. Leela thanks the fans for being such huge perverts. This is a swipe at the Futurama fandom, which another Google search tells me is, indeed, full of people who are dedicated to making a lot of porn of the characters. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 95: Ghost in the Machines

NEXT – Episode 97: Yo Leela Leela

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 – S6E16 “Law and Oracle”

Welcome to Future Crime, where the computers use hand motions and the deaths don’t matter.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) is sent on a prank delivery to the cryogenics lab, something that he apparently has had happen dozens of times. He becomes depressed about his perpetual status as a delivery boy, but then he witnesses NNYPD officers Smitty and Url (West and John DiMaggio) bust Roberto (David Herman). This inspires him to quit Planet Express and enroll in the police academy. He ends up graduating and is partnered with Url. After working the streets for a while, Fry and Url are promoted to the Future Crimes Division by Chief O’Mannahan (Tress MacNeille). Meanwhile, Leela and Bender (DiMaggio and Katey Sagal) try to do the deliveries, but find each other too grating without Fry as a buffer.

Bender and Leela go to a 3D planet. How, I don’t know.

In Future Crimes, Fry and Url are introduced to the cybernetic oracle, Pickles (Herman), a human-robot hybrid whose brain is programmed with the brain cells of all of humanity’s greatest detectives. Pickles’ mind can predict crimes before they happen, a la Minority Report. Fry helps prevent a murder, but then, when alone in the department, Fry sees a future vision of Bender burgling Hedonism Bot’s (Maurice LaMarche) cellar for a priceless bottle of liquor. During the vision, Fry shoots Bender. Trying to avoid this, Fry tells Bender not to do it, but ends up inspiring him to do the crime. Fry then sees what happens if he doesn’t shoot Bender: Bender shares the booze with the Planet Express crew, but they all die due to the potency of the alcohol, meaning if Fry doesn’t shoot him, everyone dies.

It’s really easy to get into Hedonismbot’s cellar… or anywhere.

Bender does the heist as envisioned and Fry arrives, but Bender decides not to steal anything. Fry claims that he changed the future, only for Pickles to arrive and reveal that this was all a ploy to steal the liquor himself so that he could drink it and kill his human brain. Fry attempts to shoot Pickles, but that ends up hitting Bender. Pickles then shoots Fry and drinks the liquor, killing his brain. The Chief and Url reveal themselves and Fry and Bender show that they’re wearing protective vests. Fry had realized that Pickles was lying to him because Bender would never share alcohol. Fry is fired for warning Bender about the crime and heads back to Planet Express, where he is promoted to “executive delivery boy,” a meaningless title. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is one of the better parodies in the series. It’s based on the story and movie Minority Report and manages to mock a number of the goofy things that were featured in that film, from the use of balls as a way to indicate pre-crime to the psychic floating in a bath to the weird hand-waving computers. Much like that movie, the end of this episode actually points out that most of pre-crime is pointless, because once someone becomes aware of the future, they can choose to change it, but the show does it in a ridiculous way. I always appreciate when the parody and the original prove the same themes.

Although, having the precognitive party be the villain is a nice twist.

The part that doesn’t age well, particularly as I write this during some nationwide riots against police in 2020, is how the episode makes jokes about the ease of getting through the police academy and the expectation of police violence. A particularly cringe-worthy line, at least at present, is when Url tells Fry not to stay up too late, because “We gotta lotta people to shoot tomorrow.” Yikes.

Robot Cop shooting people… I’ve seen that movie.

Overall, though, the episode makes me laugh. Some of the jokes are a little too dated, particularly the whole Avatar parody subplot, but you can enjoy the pre-crime story even if you don’t know Minority Report.

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, it was always going to be the joke about Erwin Schrodinger going on a police chase. It’s the least subtle physics joke that the show ever made, because it focuses on the famous “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment, which supposedly invalidated the Copenhagen model of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger says that he has a cat, some poison, and a caesium atom, which means that the cat is in a superposition of alive and dead until you collapse the wave function. However, the reason I actually find it hilarious is because after the cat attacks Fry, URL looks in the box and says “there’s also a lotta drugs in there.” It’s that final touch of realism that makes the absurdity so much better for me.

Guess that cat’s out of the ba… box.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

NEXT – Episode 93: Benderama

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.

Reader Request – Cool World: Too Inane To Hate

A family member requested that I review this, or I never would watch this again.

SUMMARY

In 1945, WWII Vet Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) arrives back from the war and takes his mother (Janni Brenn-Lowen) for a ride on a motorcycle. He crashes, killing his mother, but before he dies he is transported to an animated world called the “Cool World,” by Dr. Vincent Whiskers (Maurice LaMarche). The movie then jumps to 1992 where cartoonist Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne) is in prison for murdering a man who was sleeping with his wife. Jack is a creator and illustrator of a comic strip which is also called “Cool World,” starring a femme fatale named Holli Would (Kim Basinger). He frequently has visions of himself going to Cool World, culminating in Holli pulling him into the world through the pages of his comic. Jack is confronted by Frank, who is now apparently Cool World law enforcement. There is only one rule in Cool World, and that’s that “noids” (humans) don’t have sex with “doodles” (animated characters). This puts a strain on Frank’s relationship with his girlfriend Lonette (Candi Milo).

So much LSD went into this scene.

Despite Jack believing he created Cool World, Frank tells Jack that Cool World is older than Jack is. Holli Would is one of the most powerful figures in Cool World, but she wants out. The only way to get out is to break the law and have sex with a human, so she seduces Jack and is turned into a real person. She and Jack head to the real world, where it’s revealed that they’re both now part doodle and part noid. Holli tells Jack about the “spike of power,” an object that controls the barrier between the two worlds which is now atop a Vegas casino. When Jack doubts the story of the spike, Holli abandons him. 

Kim Basinger somehow underplays a live-action 2-D character.

Frank follows the pair into the real world and tries to stop Holli, who kills him. Holli seizes the spike and the barrier between Cool World and the real world start breaking down, unleashing doodles into the real world. Jack turns himself into a cartoon superhero and returns the spike, restoring the worlds and sending Jack and Holli back to Cool World as doodles. Frank is apparently turned into a doodle because he was killed by a doodle, so he can finally date Lonette. 

END SUMMARY

As much as I would love to tell you all how much I despise this ridiculous, nonsensical, bordering on pointless film, I can’t. It’s so difficult to figure out what the film was going for and what part of the process tanked it that I can’t bring myself to be angry, only confused and annoyed at having to watch it. 

Angry and confused is a common emotion in this film.

This movie has a notoriously bad production history with a huge number of rumors arising about the various people involved. A big part of that is that director Ralph Bakshi is, at best, very eccentric and, at worst, bordering on delusional. He has produced some of the most distinct animated work of the past century, including Wizards, Fritz the Cat, American Pop, and Heavy Traffic (possibly his best film that doesn’t get enough recognition). If you’ve seen any of those movies, though, you know they’re not the product of a well mind. While he is the guy who was right about the possibility of making a film based around elves discovering Nazi propaganda, he’s also the kind of guy who would think of that premise in the first place. Putting him in charge of any project is playing with fire, but in this case, everyone at the studio apparently decided to pour gasoline for good measure. 

Admit it, he looks like the crazy uncle who shows up for Thanksgiving.

The original pitch for the movie by writers Michael Grais and Mark Victor (who wrote Poltergeist) was about an imprisoned artist who creates a comic series that makes him an underground comics star. He then has sex with one of his creations and spawns a half-animated, half-human child, who grows up to seek revenge on his parents. It was supposed to be a hard-R horror film that was in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which had only just come out. Rather than just animation and live-action blending, Bakshi decided that he wanted the film to look like a living painting, ordering elaborate sets and backgrounds to be built for the movie while he worked on the screenplay, which the studio now wanted to be PG-13. However, and the following is based solely on Bakshi’s statements and unconfirmed, apparently on the first day of filming he was handed a script that was completely different than what he had worked on. Subsequently, in the middle of filming, Kim Basinger tried to have the movie re-written to be a PG film so that she could show it to kids, but Bakshi refused to tone it down further. While almost everything Bakshi has claimed is heavily disputed, it would explain a lot about this movie if it was being crafted by a number of sources fighting against each other. 

The backgrounds are often amazing. Look at those paintings. Many of them were real.

Everything about this movie is a giant mess, almost all of which seems to be because nobody could agree on what the plot was supposed to be, what the rules of the world are, or whether or not the audience should be able to follow it. Half the time it feels like the movie just starts pulling stuff out of its ass because time is running out, the other half it feels like the entire point was that someone wanted Jessica Rabbit to ride Gabriel Byrne like a 10 dollar stud. We don’t know exactly how people get in or out of Cool World, except for Frank being pulled in by the spike, we don’t know any character’s motivations except for Holli wanting to orgasm her way into reality, and we have no idea what the hell the spike is or why it apparently needs to be stuck in the top of a building in Vegas. Every time we’re given a hint about any of these things, like that people have been pulled in by Holli before Jack, they just raise even more questions. 

Also, she says she doesn’t “feel real,” so… is she like an animation cell?

Then there’s the Cool World itself, which either looks like a really well done painting, a great animated setting, or a shitty last-second sketch by a Senior who got drunk and forgot his final project is due. There’s a statement from some of the background animators on the film that they weren’t actually given a screenplay, they were just told to draw stuff that seemed funny, which explains why there are constantly random things happening in the background. Now, the idea of a cartoon world that obeys the rules of crazy old-school animation like Betty Boop, where everything is moving or alive or just defying all reason would be kind of neat, but the film never does anything with it. It’s even more annoying because the Cool World is described as a place where there are no rules, aside from the one rule, so it should be dirty, crazy, and filled with murder and perversion. That sounds closer to what Bakshi originally said he wanted, and that might at least have been entertaining in its audacity. Instead, it feels like what an 11 year old boy thought was the ultimate in adult stuff before the internet existed: There’s a hot lady with boobs and a bunch of swears and sex involves her bouncing on you while you’re both fully clothed.

I mean, random background sex cats. Which would be a good band name.

Then there’s the third act, where everything somehow becomes even more incoherent. Brad Pitt’s character is killed off in a tragically bad stunt for no reason, Gabrielle Byrne suddenly literally gets kicked out of the movie to become an animated character voiced by someone else, and Holli decides to help destroy the barrier between the worlds, something that is completely different than anything she wanted before. Even for a movie with tragically stupid character motives, everything just seems to randomly shift to a completely different movie so that they can just end it, which, honestly, was probably what everyone making the movie felt about the situation by that point. 

Also, killing a human makes them a toon, so… why didn’t she kill him before now?

Despite all of the crap, the movie does have some good points. Some of the animation in the film is actually really great. Some of the concepts in the movie are interesting enough that they should actually get a movie. The soundtrack is actually really great, including having an original song by David Freaking Bowie. The voices for the animated characters include some great voice actors like Maurice LaMarche and Charlie Adler, all of whom do good work. However, this is looking for a nugget of gold in a shallow river of trash. 

David Bowie, I miss you.

Overall, I can’t say that I hate this movie, because I think I would have to feel more about it to even get to that point. The weird thing is that I think everyone should actually watch it just to get an idea of what it looks like when a movie has so much potential and then squanders it spectacularly. Unfortunately, it is not free on any f*cking streaming service, so you’ll have to rent it.

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.