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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Futurama Fridays – S7E14 “Forty Percent Leadbelly”

Bender finally accomplishes his… fifth(?) lifelong dream.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express team is transferring the carbonite-frozen villain Dr. Brutaloff to prison when Bender (John DiMaggio) is distracted by the presence of Silicon Red (Phil LaMarr), the greatest Folk Singer in the universe. This allows Brutaloff to escape and stab Fry (Billy West) before freezing him into the same carbonite. Fry becomes extremely angry about this betrayal. Bender seeks advice on how to be a folk singer from Red before trying to take his guitar, but Red stops him. Bender just takes a picture of it and has a copy 3-D printed from his memory. Bender tries to play a song on an open mic night, but fails due to his complete lack of knowledge about the folksy life he wants to sing about. Bender resolves to go live a hard life on the railroad. Bender meets a robot named “Big Caboose” (West) who introduces him to the other railroad workers. Bender begins composing a ballad about the people surrounding him and begins to add new characters like himself as the Rambler and a Jezebel who leaves Big Caboose for him. Big Caboose then appears with a fiance named Jezebel who promptly cheats with Bender.

Silicon Red looks like a cousin of the Borax Kid.

Big Caboose, like in Bender’s song, finds out and starts trying to hunt down Bender. Fry and Leela (Katey Sagal) realize that events are unfolding like in Bender’s ballad just as Bender decides that Big Caboose should hit him with a train rather than shooting him in the song. It’s revealed that as Bender has this thought, the 3-D printer from his guitar prints out a train, which Big Caboose promptly arrives with. Bender flees to Fry, who rejects him for his earlier betrayal just like in the song, but when he heads to Leela’s apartment, Fry is there. It turns out Bender is even 3-D printing duplicates of people. They head to the lab with the printer, only for Bender to accidentally summon some giant octopodes (the third option for making octopus plural). Leela tells Bender he can write a way to save himself in the song, but when Bender refuses due to artistic integrity, Big Caboose arrives and flattens him. However, at his funeral, it’s revealed this was a duplicate Bender which had artistic integrity, something Bender would never have, designed to take his beating.

Big Caboose, ironically, doesn’t have one.

END SUMMARY

I think this is one of the funnier episodes of the final season. This makes at least the third episode which is focused on accomplishing one of Bender’s lifelong dreams, but this one quickly goes off of the rails and I appreciate that. It’s also one of the episodes that probably best calls into question a potential future of technology being misused. 3D printing was only really starting to take off when this episode aired, since commercial printing of metal parts became available. Because of that, people were speculating about the day when we would be able to cheaply create houses using giant printers or to eliminate many societal issues through easier proliferation of important goods. This episode takes that to the future conclusion that if you can truly print anything, then nothing is unique, not even people. 

We need to beware of the Technology Lab.

I also like how much this episode both pays tribute to and takes shots at folk music. Bender describes almost all folk music with the formula that one of the main characters is named “Big” something, that “Big” character had a bad-hearted woman that did them wrong, and that “somebody kills somebody, blah blah blah.” Amy even sings that last line just to drive home how easy it supposedly is to write one of these songs. While I don’t think that it is truly that easy to write a folk song, it’s a fun and loving ribbing of the genre.

And yes, this is the woman from all of those songs.

Overall, pretty decent episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

We go inside of Bender’s head and it’s pretty great to see the organization. Bender’s core drive is a single terabyte (which was a lot more impressive when this episode aired but still not too much). In that file, we see that Bender’s main personality takes up only 3 MB, 1.3 MB of which is a single image file of the guitar belonging to Silicon Red. However, his penguin personality, from “The BirdBot of Ice-Catraz” takes up 50 times more. Then we see his porn file, which is an exabyte, an amount of storage that currently would require a large building. One has to wonder when he even finds the time to watch that much.

I mostly posted this for the HUFFPOST watermark on a porn drive.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E7 “The Six Million Dollar Mon”

Hermes becomes a cyborg and apparently that’s addictive.

SUMMARY

Hermes (Phil LaMarr) conducts a performance review and determines that he is massively inefficient for the company. He fires himself and is replaced by a robot accountant, much to Zoidberg’s (Billy West) chagrin, as he believed he was Hermes’ best friend. Hermes and LaBarbara (Dawnn Lewis) go for a walk and are mugged by Roberto (David Herman), but are saved by Smitty and URL (West and John DiMaggio). Hermes observes URL’s robotic body and decides he could upgrade himself with robot parts, getting a harpoon put in his chest. He rehires himself at Planet Express, but soon starts to respond to any problem, no matter how minor, by getting a robotic upgrade. Despite LaBarbara telling him to stop getting more parts replaced, Hermes soon is completely made of automaton parts, aside from his hair and brain. Meanwhile, Zoidberg has collected the discarded parts of Hermes and has been using them in a ventriloquist act. 

Mark 7-G is actually Homer Simpson’s computer evolved over 1000 years. #Canon.

Hermes decides to get his brain replaced with a computer, but his back alley surgeon refuses. Hermes and Professor Farnsworth (West) dig up a dead robot brain, but it turns out it was Roberto’s. As Farnsworth is about to perform the brain transplant, LaBarbara arrives and tells Hermes she’ll divorce him if he goes through with it. Farnsworth refuses, but Hermes, now near emotionless, threatens the group until Zoidberg does the operation. However, he places the brain into the ventriloquist dummy, which brings it back to life as the normal Hermes, only for Roberto’s brain to take over Hermes’ robot body. Roberto tries to eat Hermes, only to have the heat of Hermes’ Jamaican food burn through his metal frame, melting him. Hermes ends up thanking Zoidberg, even though he still hates him.

END SUMMARY

The premise of this episode is pretty solid. Hermes, a person obsessed with efficiency, is a natural candidate for a cybernetic upgrade. It honestly boggles the mind why he hasn’t already gotten some kind of high-efficiency enhancement, or at least LASIK. Tying it into his feelings of inferiority make it somewhat more relatable, particularly since he needs it for his job at the beginning. However, they never lose the humorous bits by having many of the upgrades being wildly impractical, including the chest harpoon that starts the whole thing. The final reveal that the thing that saves the crew is Hermes’ body being impossibly spicy is both foreshadowed and just freaking hilarious.

MechaHermes cares not for goat. Or symmetry.

This episode does mark a notable increase in Roberto’s craziness, particularly since he moves to being much more blatantly homicidal and strangely obsessed with eating skin. I guess there’s a little bit of a precedent for this from when he threatened to turn Fry’s lungs into hamburger patties in another episode, but it still feels like a massive deviation from his usual crazy. It also seems ridiculous to me that Hermes would steal his brain for the surgery. While I could buy the Professor or Bender getting a robot brain without caring to look at the source, this is the new extremely obsessed Hermes. 

Genuinely creepy.

Overall, still a good episode, particularly for this season.

FAVORITE JOKE

Zoidberg self-harmonizing while singing a parody of “Monster Mash” while replacing Hermes’s brain with a robot CPU. Even writing that sentence is amazing. It’s insane enough that Zoidberg apparently does medicine correctly, for once, but that he does it to a musical number and harmonizes with his own ventriloquist dummy just elevates it to another level of funny. Even Amy has to call out the fact that it’s ridiculous. 

He was actually pretty impressive.

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E3 “Decision 3012”

People somehow believe a crazy theory about a President’s birthplace.

SUMMARY

Nixon’s head (Billy West) runs for a third term as President, because as a person without a body, he is exempted from the Twenty-Second Amendment, somehow. Leela (Katey Sagal) is the only member of Planet Express who doesn’t support Nixon (because Nixon gives out free beer). Leela decides to try and help candidate Senator Chris Travers (Phil LaMarr). Travers has a lot of progressive and common-sense views, which naturally make him extremely unpopular. Leela helps make him more of an everyman and eventually he wins the primary, becoming Nixon’s opponent. Everyone at Planet Express backs him, except for Bender (John DiMaggio), who conspires with Nixon to ruin Travers. Bender tries to find some dirt on Travers, but the best he can do is say that Travers’ middle name “Zaxxar” makes him sound like an alien. Based on this, Bender and Nixon start a rumor that Travers was not born on Earth and that he refuses to produce his “Earth certificate.” 

He sure looks like he was born on Earth.

Leela insists that Travers produce his Birth Certificate, but Travers says it’s just a way to distract from the issues. She goes to find his birth certificate anyway, only to learn that Travers has not been born yet. He is, in fact, from the future, having been sent back to prevent a robot uprising (led by Bender) that will be caused by Nixon’s mismanagement. Leela realizes that she can show Travers’ birth on television as a promotion to prove that he was born on Earth. It works and Travers wins the election. Leela asks Bender why he’s so calm, only for Travers to disappear and Nixon to now be the winner. It turns out that Travers can’t win the election, due to the paradox: If Nixon doesn’t win, Travers won’t be sent back. Only Bender realized this up front. Leela tries to say they almost made a difference, but in the new reality they never even left Planet Express. Nixon gloats, saying that he always wins.

END SUMMARY

This episode really doesn’t age well. It’s based on a very specific thing from the news that even people in 2020 have started to completely forget about, that there was a movement claiming that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, was not born in the US. Much like this episode indicates, at least some of the theory was derived from the fact that Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein, sounded “foreign.” The most recent time it came up was when Barack Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, had to answer for the huge amount of time and money he spent promoting the completely unsubstantiated and easily disproved theory. It hasn’t really come up since and likely will be consigned to the dustbin of history in a few years. 

Obama didn’t provide a live video of his birth, however.

The ending of this episode, while it could easily have worked, actually doesn’t make any sense. Travers is shown to use the Time Code from Bender’s Big Score which was explicitly a paradox-correcting time code, but not one that prevented alterations of history. In fact, that film is all about Bender repeatedly messing with the past. As such, Travers should have been elected President, but then should also have been killed off because there were two of him in the new timeline. I do admit that it was funny to have Bender, the one who traveled through time the most of the entire cast, be the one who not only realized what would happen, but to be counting on it.

Well, Bender sure has a nice Death Army. And hat.

Overall, it’s not a bad episode if you remember what it’s mocking, but it doesn’t hold up as well otherwise. Perhaps the only thing that holds up well is that a candidate making rational points will basically be ignored by the public. I’m gonna go cry now.

FAVORITE JOKE

Honestly, there aren’t many I like in this episode. The funniest thing for me is Travers’ nominating convention which has a bunch of the states and countries of the Future. Some of the better ones include: Old Zealand (which is a big island in Denmark in 2020), Panem (the Hunger Games’s version of America), R’lyeh (where Cthulhu lies dreaming), Waterworld (like the movie), and Tri-State Area (which the mad scientist on Phineas and Ferb keeps trying to conquer). 

See you next week, meatbags.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E1 “The Bots and the Bees”

Okay, kids, it’s time to learn about… oh, right, it’s in the title.

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) reveals that he purchased a new vending machine named Bev (Wanda Sykes) for the office. Fry (West) quickly becomes addicted to Bev’s Slurm Loco, leading him to start glowing green and not sleeping. Bender (John DiMaggio) starts off hostile towards Bev, but she turns out to be better at insults than she is. He goes out to a bar to drink away his pain and picks up two robot floozies. He takes them back to Planet Express, but Bev ends up insulting the girls and spraying them with Slurm until they leave. Bender and Bev start fighting, but then eventually move to having sex. The next day, Bev gives birth to a tiny robot who looks like Bender. Bender denies paternity, until the baby says “Wipe my tiny metal ass.” 

She’s a big lady and Bender is down with that.

Bev starts to take care of the child and Bender is wary of fatherhood. When asked how it’s possible for him to impregnate another robot, Bender is shown a video explaining that robots can reproduce sexually. Bender decides to relinquish paternity, something Leela (Katey Sagal) endorses, as she believes Bender would be a terrible parent. When he tries, however, Bev instead leaves the child, Ben (Phil LaMarr), with Bender and takes off. Bender tries to raise the child, bonding with him over their love of bending. Ben wants to learn how to bend as well, but it turns out that bending is matrilineal. Farnsworth, taking a look at Ben’s specs, informs Bender that Ben only has one slot for memory in his head, meaning he can’t have a bending card installed. Ben will never bend. At his 13 day old celebration, he is set to be upgraded to a manbot. He thanks Bender for being a great dad, only for Bev to return to reclaim him.

Why do robots get acne?

Bender refuses to give custody to Bev, but she reveals Bender’s original certificate of abandonment, allowing her to take Ben. Bender eventually rescues Ben from Bev’s trailer, but the pair are pursued by the police. Bender mangles his arms trying to bend a helicopter and needs Ben to bend a set of steel bars. Unfortunately, Ben can’t and the police and Bev catch up. However, Bev gives birth to another baby, courtesy of police officer URL (DiMaggio). Because this gives her another child, Bev lets Bender keep Ben. However, Ben’s dream is to bend, so Bender has Ben’s memory, including his memories of Bender. Bender tries to take Ben to enroll in Bending College, but the registration is in an hour and the air is filled with fog. Fry, now glowing radioactively, acts as the Rudolph so that the ship can fly.

END SUMMARY

This episode has one of the most ridiculous premises in a show often filled with ridiculous premises. I would say that they needed to get an unplanned pregnancy storyline in, but they sort of already did that in “Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch.” I guess it’s more of an unplanned fatherhood episode, then. By using Bender, they could give us a full parenting episode that wouldn’t have to take several years. However, they also had to somehow justify how a robot can be a parent accidentally. The concept of robot sex has always been insane, but now we find out that robot sex does actually have a mechanical purpose. They don’t really explain how robots age, but let’s be fair, that would be too much to handle. 

Ben can lift a girder at like 2 days old. Does he get stronger?

This episode barely has any subplot, with the closest thing to a B plot being Fry’s addiction to Slurm, but they needed to focus on Bender bonding with Ben so that at the end of the episode Bender could actually have an emotional connection that requires him to make an uncharacteristic sacrifice. Then again, we never see Ben again, so maybe he just wanted out of parenting. At least at the end they tie Fry back in, even if it’s extremely convoluted.

It’s nice to see Bender be genuinely nice.

Overall, at least it’s an entertaining episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Hands down, this is the Temple of Robotology’s sign: Happy ln(bΩmer). The ln means the natural log and the omega here represents resistance, which is measured in Ohms. So, this translates to “Happy Natural Log(B(Ohm)mer.” This is a reference to the Jewish Holiday Lag BaOmer, which celebrates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the disciple of Rabbi Akiva. I don’t think there’s any further connection between the holiday and the episode, but a math pun is always a win.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 102: Reincarnation

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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.

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Futurama Fridays – S6E19 “Ghost in the Machines”

Bender dies and his spirit seeks revenge. Also, Ghostbusters.

SUMMARY

On Parade Day (the day with all the parades), Fry (Billy West) dives in front of a runaway float and saves a human, letting a robot die in the process. Bender (John DiMaggio) yells at him because this act indicates that Fry values human life more than robot life, something Fry admits is true. Bender threatens to kill himself, but the crew point out that he regularly says that and never does it. When he goes to the suicide booth, it turns out that the booth is Lynn (Tress MacNeille), one of Bender’s exes. Lynn kills Bender, leading the crew to believe that he really did commit suicide. 

Hence the takin’ off hats.

Unbeknownst to them, Bender is now a ghost. He doesn’t realize it at first, until the Robot Devil (Dan Castellaneta) tells him he’s dead and haunting the computational cloud. The Robot Devil offers Bender a deal: scare Fry to death and Bender gets to live again. If he fails, then he spends eternity in hell. Bender discovers that, although Fry can’t see him, he can possess technology and use it to scare Fry. The crew don’t believe Fry until Bender takes control of Leela’s (Katey Sagal) wristlojackimator. They call in the robot Gypsy (MacNeille), who tells them that a robot ghost is haunting them. The Reverend Preacherbot (Phil LaMarr) is called in to banish the ghost, which ends up working by providing Fry with a “sacramental firewall” that keeps Bender 20 feet away. Bender pushes through the firewall and possesses it, using the software to project horrifying images onto Fry, causing him to have a heart attack.

The devil is famous for his fair dealings.

Bender returns to the Robot Devil to collect, but it turns out Fry is still alive. Fry is sent to the Amish Homeworld, where electronics are forbidden, so that he won’t get shocked again. As Bender tries to kill him one last time, Fry laments that he misses Bender and that he now respects robot life. So, Bender stops trying to kill Fry and follows him to the Amish Homeworld to watch over him. When the rest of the crew comes to visit Fry, the Robot Devil also comes to visit. He tricks Bender into scaring some oxen, which causes a giant dome to roll towards Fry. Bender possesses the Robot Devil and uses his body to save Fry. This leads Fry to head home and Bender to head to Robot Heaven. However, Bender annoys Robot God into kicking him back into his body. 

God formerly dated WALL-E, I think.

END SUMMARY

I love almost any episode with the Robot Devil and this is no exception, despite how little he actually appears in this one. The idea that the Robot Devil bears a grudge against Fry for taking his hands in “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” is amusing because it’s so petty. He’s literally got an entire underworld to run, but he also still complains about how his hands smell like candy corn because of Fry. The episode also takes a bunch of shots at some of his previous appearances, mostly his tendency to punctuate everything with a song. This time he does make it much more clear that the songs themselves are actually a big part of the torment of Robot Hell, including the fact that he’s rehearsing the exact song that he played for Bender in his debut episode. Admittedly, he does manage to rhyme pyrrhic later when improvising, so he clearly has a lot of talent.

His band is the drums, a saxophone, and a piano. Truly, it’s hell.

The concept of a robot afterlife has long been played with in the show, but this is the first time that we consider the ramifications of Artificial Intelligence existing as data outside of a physical body. I think this is a fun reflection of how much technology developed during the run of this show, because when the show started cloud computing had only been in its infancy, and wasn’t really commercially viable until after the show was cancelled the first time. However, by the time this episode was produced in 2010, Amazon and Google had both started to offer cloud computing services. If computer science were to advance to a certain point, then it is possible that the cloud could eventually process, transmit, and store an amount of data that is greater than the sum total of a human, or artificial, consciousness. Maybe it is inevitable that, like Bender in this episode, we’ll find out that we can create afterlives for our own consciousness. Am I saying this episode is a prequel to Black Mirror’s “San Junipero?” Yes, yes I am. 

San Junipero would have been much more interesting with technokinesis.

There are a number of other fun future touches in this episode that round it out. I think it’s hilarious that the Amish eventually move off-planet in order to maintain their lifestyle, but that, due to the passage of time, they still end up advancing technologically. Rather than just barns, they now live in geodesic domes. There’s a day dedicated solely to parades because there are too many holidays, which makes sense when you consider that Earth has been unified for hundreds of years. Also, this episode only makes sense because we learned in “Lethal Inspection” that Bender is mortal.

I love that the Amish have wooden spacecraft.

Overall, I think this is one of the better episodes of Season 6. 

FAVORITE JOKE

This one is going to hurt a bit. I think my favorite joke is when Hermes is going to call someone to “bust” the ghost of Bender. When asked “who you gonna call,” he starts to say Ghostbusters, but is interrupted by a voice that tells him that the number he is dialing has been lame since 1989. Why 1989? Well, I think there are three reasons: First, that’s the year that Ghostbusters II came out and, let’s be fair, that movie is not as good as the first. While I don’t think it’s a bad movie, it still represents a controversial sequel to an amazing film. Second, in 1989, Ghostbusters was supposed to release a game on the Atari 2600. This ended up being so late in the Atari cycle that it was never actually put out, a sign that the franchise was behind the times. Last, Arsenio Hall stopped voicing Winston on The Real Ghostbusters in 1988, so I think we can agree that was when the cool started to leave that show and therefore the franchise. Still, I do love the hell out of the original.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 94: The Tip of the Zoidberg

NEXT – Episode 96: Neutopia

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 – S6E15 “Möbius Dick”

It’s time to hunt the deadliest game: Space Whale. Why do people think it’s Man? 

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) is celebrating the anniversary of the loss of his first crew, aside from Zoidberg (West), who doesn’t remember what happened to them. He orders the current crew to pick up their memorial statue. Due to Leela (Katey Sagal) noticing a grammatical error, the job takes longer than expected and requires the crew to fly back via the Bermuda Tetrahedron, the very same place that the first crew was lost. They find the wreckage of the first Planet Express ship and inspect it, only to find out that a giant space whale ate it. The crew is attacked by the whale, which eats one of their engines and then the statue they were delivering. Leela resolves to kill the whale. She orders the crew to use “Solar Sails” to propel the ship and starts trying to hunt down the whale using 19th Century techniques. Amy (Lauren Tom) becomes the harpooner and Bender (John DiMaggio) mans the crow’s nest. 

Just remember, space actually does have giant diamonds. Maybe fund it?

During a “spaceberg” storm, Bender gets injured trying to catch one of the “bergs,” which turn out to be giant diamonds. Leela refuses to save him, leading the crew to mutiny against her increasing insanity. While they try to perform a rescue, the whale returns and swallows Fry, Bender, Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Amy. Leela attempts to kill the whale with a cheese knife, but gets swallowed. Zoidberg escapes back to Earth. Inside the whale, Leela meets the former captain, Lando Tucker (David Herman), and is told that the whale feeds on obsession, the kind that is found within spaceship captains. Having mostly drained Lando, it will now eat Leela. However, after Leela gets absorbed into the whale, she pilots it back to Earth, having overpowered it with her obsession. The crowd kills the whale and all of the whale’s victims reunite with their loved ones.

The whale has a scar because it looks cool. Otherwise, it would heal it.

END SUMMARY

This episode should be terrible, since it’s just a space parody of Moby Dick, a book that is famously difficult to adapt to film. However, they actually put enough effort into keeping it humorous that it ended up working out, and even played with the themes of revenge and obsession in an interesting way. Rather than having her obsession consume her at the end of the story, Leela’s obsession with doing her job is actually what saves the day. She then admits that her revenge against the whale was what made it a monster… only to change her mind and have people kill it out of revenge. Having Leela go crazy like this is actually pretty solidly within her character, so unlike many other parody episodes, this worked out organically.

She often seems like she wants to call the crew “space dogs.”

I love the concept of the 4-D space whale. It exists outside of our concept of reality, seemingly moving through time and space at will, but only emerging into 3-D space in order to hunt and, apparently, breathe in vacuum. While that may seem like an insane concept, if the whale were to exist outside of time, then normal cause and effect would not apply to its biology. Rather than filling its lungs with air, it always has air in its lungs and has to find a way to exhale while static in time. “Inhaling vacuum” might somehow also explain how it can accelerate through space. 

Also, it’s immune to cheese knives.

Overall, I like this episode pretty well. It’s a fun diversion that has no real impact on anything else in the series.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a countdown:

3) I love that Inez Wong says “My days of joy and luck are over, guess I gotta quit that club.” This is a reference to the Joy Luck Club, a book whose movie adaptation featured Inez Wong’s actress Lauren Tom. Just a fun line.

I think Amy’s first name comes from this.

2) The Tom Baker version of the Doctor from Doctor Who emerges from the space whale. Given that the Doctor is also a time-traveler via the TARDIS, it makes sense that the whale might be the only thing that can attack the TARDIS in flight. Later, Doctor Who actually had an episode with a space whale, so that’s a fun bonus.

I once saw him play first base.

1) The title of the episode, Mobius Dick. It combines Moby Dick with the mobius strip, a non-orientable surface. It’s such a funny term that it was my nickname in Mu Alpha Theta mathletics in high school. I have so many regrets. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 90: The Silence of the Clamps

NEXT – Episode 92: Law and Oracle

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 – S6E13 “The Futurama Holiday Spectacular”

A trio of tales of holiday not-so-fun from the cast of Futurama

SUMMARY

There are three different segments to this episode.

First, it’s Xmas and the crew are preparing to deal with the attack of Robot Santa Claus (John DiMaggio). Fry (Billy West) feels depressed that Xmas has changed, but can’t quite figure out what he misses. Santa then shows up and attacks the crew while singing a song about Christmas Trees. The Professor (West) takes the crew to the Svalbard seed vault to get Pine Tree seeds in order to try and revive the extinct species. They get the seeds, but it turns out they’ve been contaminated by the nearby Germ Warfare Repository. Fry plants it anyway and it grows until Richard Nixon (West) steals it and plants it on the White House lawn. When it is lit, the tree grows enormous and starts to sprout explosive pine cones. Each cone makes a ton of trees which continue the process until trees are everywhere, making the Earth oxygen-rich. Bender (DiMaggio) promptly ignites the atmosphere and kills everyone. Merry Xmas!

Welcome to the greeting card season.

After Xmas is over, the crew are destroying undelivered gifts, but Bender complains that people ignore the Robot Holidays, like Robanukah, meaning he has to work. In song, Bender tells them that Robanukah needs petroleum oil in order to hold a fembot wrestling match. After it’s determined that the Earth is out of oil (after Bender oils the fembots up for a month), Bender has the Professor build a drill to get to the center of the Earth for more oil. After dealing with an albino humping worm, the drill gets crushed by pressure. Bender, the only survivor, amuses himself by singing for five hundred million years, discovering that the crew has become petroleum oil. He heads back to the surface, but finds that the fembots are still wrestling without the oil, an apparent Robanukah miracle.

The building managed to age pretty well.

Hermes (Phil LaMarr) invites the crew over to celebrate Kwanzaa. At the dinner table, Zoidberg (West) asks about Kwanzaa, leading Kwanzaabot (Coolio) to show up and sing about it, but also to advise them that they need real beeswax candles. Due to colony collapse, the Earth no longer has bees so they head to the Space Bee hive. Unfortunately, the space bees are suffering from parasites that make them racist, so Hermes uses the principles of Kwanzaa to help the Queen save the hive. He succeeds, but that just unites the bees against people, leading the bees to make the crew into candles.

Jesus, this is nightmare fuel.

Also, everything was sponsored by Gunderson’s nuts. 

END SUMMARY

This is usually considered one of the worst episodes of Futurama and I am sad to say that it is earned. I don’t actually know if this is the worst episode, but it’s in my bottom five for sure. A big part of it is that it’s a holiday special that is based around creatively killing off all of the main characters in each story, something that never feels right. Killing off the entire cast of a comedy show can be hilarious (ask Blackadder), but none of these are particularly funny. They’re either too sudden or too disturbing to be funny, or both. The running gag of being sponsored by a nut company isn’t much better.

We get it, old specials had sponsors.

While the idea of having a song for each of the holidays isn’t bad in itself, the songs aren’t particularly funny or entertaining, with the exception of Coolio’s presentation about Kwanzaa. Given that most of Matt Groening’s shows, including this one, have great original songs, the letdown is all the greater.

Overall, this really isn’t that funny, and that’s pretty much the greatest sin the show can commit. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Honestly, I laugh less in this episode than almost any other. I think the only line that always gives me a chuckle is when Kwanzaabot breaks through the wall and Dwight calls him Kool-Aid. However, that might be due to Family Guy doing so many Kool-Aid gags that I honestly just enjoy an animated Kool-Aid reference. \

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 88: The Mutants are Revolting

NEXT – Episode 90: The Silence of the Clamps

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

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

Rick and Mondays – S4E9 “Childrick of Mort”

Rick screws an entire world. Yes, in that way, too.

SUMMARY

The Smith/Sanchez family are going camping, much to the delight of Jerry (Chris Parnell). Summer (Spencer Grammer) and Morty (Justin Roiland) are upset because they’re missing out on drugs and video games, and it’s revealed that Rick (Roiland) only came because he’s ghosting a former lover. Summer steals his phone and it’s revealed that Rick’s ex says she’s pregnant. Beth (Sarah Chalke) forces Rick to go raise his kids, which are revealed to be the children of Gaia (Kari Wahlgren), a sentient planet. Rick denies that the kids are his, but when they come out looking kind of like him, Beth demands that he raise them. Rick and Beth work together to build a society, literally engineering it, for the clay people. 

S4E9 - 1Car
I love that they’re driving a car that’s clearly from the 70s. 

Meanwhile, Jerry tries to convince the kids to go camping on Gaia, but Summer tells him off because he doesn’t want to camp, he just wants to feel useful. Jerry wanders off, only to be sucked into Rick’s and Beth’s new city, where he is summarily kicked back out with the other “unproductives.” After showing the rejected clay people how to camp, he becomes their leader. The kids discover they have NO survival skills and almost die, until they find a crashed spaceship. They believe that the spaceship’s panels resemble a video game controller and Summer starts inhaling a drug which she believes is the collected knowledge of the dead aliens. The pair vow to show their parents what “video games and partying” can do.

S4E9 - 2SummerMorty
That’s right, just inhale random alien glowing substances. 

After Rick and Beth manage to get the clay civilization to space travel, it’s revealed that the kids are not Rick’s, but instead the offspring of a Zeus (an alien species, apparently) named Reggie (Rob Schrab). Reggie ends up giving Jerry and the unproductives divine power to revolt against Rick’s city, so Beth and Jerry fight while Rick goes to fight Reggie in space. Rick is about to lose the fight when Morty and Summer activate their ship, revealing that they were completely wrong about everything they thought they knew about it, and crash it into Reggie’s brain. Reggie’s giant corpse drops onto the city, which leads Gaia to erupt and kill most of her offspring. Jerry saves Beth from dying and Rick and the family head home. 

END SUMMARY

This episode seemed a lot like those clay creatures that formed the basis for the plot: Not quite done baking. Parts of it are amazing, other parts of it just feel like filler that no one could figure out a joke for. While they do a great job with the A-B-C-Plot interplay that I respect this show for, there’s not much to say when the C-plot (Morty and Summer) is really just a set-up for a deus ex machina later. 

S4E9 - 3Trampoline
Fortunately, the fandom will trampoline it into being amazing by blind devotion.

The A-Plot about Rick and Beth starting a civilization around Rick’s presumed offspring is definitely the best part of the episode and, honestly, I wish they’d spent a little more time on it. Some of the lines about how they’re trying to manipulate society through emotional engineering, like diverting teachers into playwrights by just spanking them more, are freaking hilarious. Although, as a lawyer, I should object to the line about bypassing the ethics tube, I have also been a lawyer long enough to know that this joke has been earned by other members of my profession. I also thought the “pachinko” style sorting to determine if the people believe in flat Earth, round Earth, or Middle Earth to be random and amazing.

S4E9 - 4Earths
Lucky Middle-Earth believing crowd.

The B-Plot of Jerry being the leader of the unproductives is a joke that practically writes itself. In the Season 3 premiere, Jerry is only successful in the new alien-dominated Earth because it was dependent upon bureaucracy so redundant that Jerry doesn’t even know what he does. He even gets into the situation because he tries to skip a rock and hits himself. Then, once he has power, he refuses to allow anything to evolve because any progress is a threat to him. It’s a reminder that while Jerry is mostly a character that exists to be humiliated by Rick, he would be just as much of a dick as Rick is if he had any of Rick’s intellect or drive. I particularly love that, as Rick points out, when Jerry gets a literal staff of divine power, he only conjures up plagues from The Ten Commandments. He doesn’t even try to create clothing for himself, he just rips off the Bible… or, let’s be honest, he rips off a movie. Rick would probably have used it to power a bong capable of smoking a planet. 

S4E9 - 5Jerry
Jerry, destroying progress, like usual.

Summer’s and Morty’s plot is really only funny in the sense that they’re so dumb that they think partying and video games can help them pilot a spaceship. But, it’s like Abraham Maslow said: “[I]t is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” I do also like the fact that they literally ex a deus with a machina, which is f*cking funny. Aside from that, though, the time spent on their adventure feels like a waste.

S4E9 - 6ZeusDead
The Titans would have won if they had spaceships. 

The highlight of the episode, though, has to be Rick literally challenging a god to a fistfight. Rather than do a ton of elaborate special effects or smite-and-countersmite, it just turns into an old-school slugfest, which is an amazing subversion. While it feels a little similar to the same thing from “The Ricks Must Be Crazy,” I think this one works better because Rick is also defending his kids from a bad father, meaning Rick is actually in the right, for once.

S4E9 - 7ZeusFight
WHY ARE YOU JUMPING? HOW ARE YOU JUMPING?

Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst. I will say that I laughed my butt off at “Planets Only.” 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

This season is not making these easy. Okay, so, why would Rick agree to go and raise these kids in the first place? Yeah, sure, Beth was going to yell at him, but what else is new? However, I think he realized that, as the show has gone on, he actually does care about what Beth thinks of him and knows that going to Gaia will give him a chance to bond with her. The evidence for this, aside from him being uncharacteristically complimentary of her during this endeavor, is that when the Zeus shows up, Rick doesn’t just take it as an opportunity to bail. Instead, Rick asserts that at least he stepped up and therefore all of the kids, and their civilization, is part of his family. This means Rick is trying to actually be a good dad for once, something that Beth will appreciate. It’s part of the payoff from “The ABCs of Beth,” where Rick tells Beth “[m]aybe you matter so little that I like you. Or maybe it makes you matter. Maybe I love you….” Rick isn’t quite as cold and dead inside towards Beth as he wants people to think, so spending an episode to make her feel happy isn’t a stretch. That’s probably why, when she’s mad at him at the end of the episode, Rick quickly lashes out by throwing her parenting under the bus.

Overall, I give this episode a

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 39: The Vat of Acid Episode

NEXT – 41: Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri

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.