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.

PREVIOUS – Episode 104: A Farewell to Arms

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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.

PREVIOUS – Episode 95: Ghost in the Machines

NEXT – Episode 97: Yo Leela Leela

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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

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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

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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

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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. 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

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Futurama Fridays – S6E10 “The Prisoner of Benda”

Futurama actually generates a mathematical theorem for a single plot device.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) finds out that Emperor Nikolai of Robo-Hungary (David Herman) is visiting New York and plans a scheme to rob him involving all of the Planet Express crew. They aren’t interested, but he finds out that Amy (Lauren Tom) and the Professor (Billy West) have built a mind-swapping machine and uses it to put his mind in Amy’s body to do the first part of the heist. The Professor puts his mind in Bender’s body so that he can live out his dream of extreme sports and Amy puts her mind in the Professor’s body so that she can eat without ruining her figure. Leela (Katey Sagal) then switches with Amy so that she can get discount tickets at the movies in the Professor’s body, which leads to Fry (West) finding her unattractive and her accusing him of being shallow. 

S6EA - 1MindSwap
Welcome to PLOT DEVICE!

Bender, in Amy’s body, gets captured by Nikolai, who reveals he wants to be normal. So, after dragging in Zoidberg (West), Fry, and Scruffy’s robot washbucket (Tress MacNeille), Nikolai and Zoidberg (in the Washbucket and Fry) try to be roommates, Fry goes to date Leela as Zoidberg, and Bender becomes Nikolai. Meanwhile, the Professor, in Bender’s body, joins a circus as a stuntman and Amy (in Leela) switches with Hermes (Phil LaMarr) so that she doesn’t wreck Leela’s body with her overeating. Fry and Leela, as Zoidberg and Farnsworth, have a contest to disgust the other… until they end up making out. Bender then gets attacked by Nikolai’s cousin Count Basil (Maurice LaMarche) who is trying to steal the throne. 

S6EA - 2Date
Not the worst date I’ve seen.

Zoidberg and Nikolai blow up Fry and Bender’s apartment, the Washbucket (in Amy) tries to seduce Scruffy (Herman) but is rebuffed, and the Professor uses a cannon to save Bender at the United Nations. After everyone agrees to switch back, the Professor realizes that, due to the machine not allowing people who swapped to swap back directly, he needs help from the Globetrotters to solve the problem using math. They end up solving it and realize that no matter how mixed up the swaps are, they can always get back to normal by adding two more people. Everyone gets back to normal… and Bender realizes that he forgot the crown he stole in Nikolai’s body.

END SUMMARY

This is the only episode of television, to my knowledge, which had a theorem written and published solely for the purpose of resolving the plot and I admire the show immensely for that. The “Futurama Theorem” was developed by writer Ken Keeler, math PhD and massive nerd, and it proves, conclusively, that no matter how many mind switches occur using the mind-switcher in this episode, all parties can be put back in their original bodies using two additional blank people. Essentially, you use the two spare bodies as placeholders for minds while you just change each of the bodies down the line. Keeler also illustrated that, to resolve the situation in the show using the method, you’d only need 13 swaps to get everyone back. Of course, as nerds watch this show, numerous proofs of more efficient paths to solutions have arisen and the Infosphere seems to indicate the minimum number is 9.

S6EA - 3Theorem
Math, it’s FUNdamental.

In terms of humor, this episode does a good job of intertwining all of the plots in a humorous fashion which works perfectly for the theme. I like the Professor’s discussion with Big Bertha in which he offers to put her into a new body which isn’t broken, but she refuses because every scratch on her body is a memory. It’s not exactly a message of “be happy with what you have,” but more saying “don’t forego who you were.” 

S6EA - 4Bertha
Her appearance is canon.

Overall, I think this is a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

In a rarity, I think the best joke in this episode is actually the Title Caption, which reads “What happens in Cygnus X-1, stays in Cygnus X-1.” The structure of the sentence is based on “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” which was itself based on the old musician and professional athlete motto of “what happens on the road/tour, stays on the road/tour.” The gag is that Cygnus X-1 was one of the first sources of X-rays from the Cygnus Constellation, which led to a bet between Stephen Hawking and Nobel Laureate Physicist Kip Thorne over whether or not it was caused by a star becoming a black hole. Ultimately, Hawking lost the bet after it became extremely likely that Cygnus X-1 does contain a black hole. In other words, whatever happens in Cygnus X-1 likely happens inside of the event horizon of a black hole and will not be able to escape (although black holes do emit radiation sometimes).

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 85: A Clockwork Origin

NEXT – Episode 87: Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences

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 – S6E6 “Lethal Inspection”

Bender has to deal with mortality after finding out his inspector failed him.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew participate in a reenactment of the Sithal War (it’s a fight against Sith Overlords) and Bender (John DiMaggio) is “killed.” He keeps laughing as he enacts his death, but Fry (Billy West) says that he wouldn’t find it as funny if he actually died. Bender reveals that he has an automatic backup unit installed, so if he dies he’ll just have his consciousness put into a new body. After the Sith win the reenactment, the crew heads home to recuperate. After Bender brags again about his perfection as guaranteed by Inspector #5, the one who approved his creation, he suddenly finds he’s springing a leak. The Professor (West) determines that the leak is caused by Bender’s missing backup unit, meaning that when Bender dies, it’s for real. 

S6E6 - 1Darths
Reenactors are nerds, these guys are just more honest about it.

Bender starts to have an existential crisis and starts to rage against Inspector #5 for dooming him to live in this world only to die. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) takes Bender to the Central Bureaucracy in order to find Inspector #5 and leaves Leela (Katey Sagal) in charge of his duties while he’s gone. It turns out that Inspector #5’s information has been deleted, both digitally and in hard copy. Bender calls Mom (Tress MacNeille) to complain about his defect, which leads her to dispatch Killbots to remove the defective unit. Fleeing to a train, Bender and Hermes end up in Mexico, where Bender was built. 

S6E6 - 2Bureaucracy
McDonalds apparently stopped existing around the time cows went extinct.

Believing that Inspector #5 may still live in Mexico, Bender heads to the Robot Factory, which is now closed. He uses an old directory to find Inspector #5’s house, which is also abandoned. Hermes tells Bender to give up on the search, but Bender breaks down and tells him that he is special and shouldn’t have to deal with the curse of mortality. Hermes consoles him and tells him that he is still special, because no one else will ever be Bender but him. As they prepare to leave, Mom’s killbots attack the building. Hermes manages to hack into the Central Bureaucracy, despite the encryption, and changes Bender’s status to Terminated, ending the Killbot pursuit. Back at the Planet Express office, Leela has destroyed everything through her lack of bureaucratic skills, but Hermes cleans it up with ease. Everyone leaves to celebrate with Bender, but Hermes stays behind to burn the files Leela left… as well as the file of Inspector #5. It’s revealed that Hermes WAS Inspector #5, but that when he was supposed to destroy Bender, he looked into the innocent baby robot’s eyes and decided to give him a chance at life anyway. Hermes watches his file burn away, smiling at his decision to save Bender. 

S6E6 - 3BabyBender
The cutest little drunk on the assembly line.

END SUMMARY

So, this episode almost made my list of the 100 greatest episodes of all time. It doesn’t quite get there because some parts drag, but there are two scenes in this episode that will stick with me forever. The first is when Hermes tells Bender:

“Okay, Bender, you’re mortal. And okay, Inspector 5 screwed up. But that just makes the time you have left all the more precious. Do you really want to waste the rest of your life in a bitter, homicidal rage?”

Bender gets angry and starts punching things, asking: 

“Why? Why did he do this to me? All I wanted was a little quality control. But he didn’t care enough. And now I’m gonna die. I deserve better! I’m Bender, damn it! I’m Bender!”

S6E6 - 4Bender
This whole sequence is gold.

This is one of those perfect moments in a scene. Bender is saying the thing that all humans are doomed to realize: We’re gonna die, even though we always hope that we’re the exception. As children, we’re rarely really cognizant of our mortality, but someday everyone will have that one moment where you realize that you’re going to die. That it becomes real. And Bender’s reaction will likely be your own, trying to find someone to be angry at and blame for our reality. As The Good Place said, “All humans are aware of death. So… we’re all a little bit sad. All the time. That’s just the deal.”

S6E6 - 5Tequila
That’s why we drink.

The second scene in this episode, though, is the ending. When we see Hermes burn the folder, it starts a musical montage set to Elizabeth Mitchell’s “Little Bird, Little Bird.” It shows Hermes, as Inspector #5, about to order the destruction of baby Bender, then seeing something in the child that leads Hermes to approve him. We then see that Bender changed Hermes’s entire life, leading him to quit working for Mom and eventually become the person he is in the show. At the end of the episode, we see that Hermes has never regretted it, because he gave Bender a chance at a life, even if it is going to end. 

S6E6 - 6Factory
From such humble origins.

This episode is nothing short of art to me, because it somehow makes the human condition relatable via a robot, then tries to justify it better than most philosophies have managed. Life’s short, but that makes all of the good times more beautiful and important. 

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s definitely when Scruffy the Janitor (David Herman) dies during the Sithal War reenactment. He is “killed” by one of the Sith with a lightsaber touch and then says “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long,” before faking his death. This is a line from the film Blade Runner that is said by Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) to the Replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) as part of a praise for how much he has made of his artificially shortened life. Roy, in contrast, wants a longer existence. It’s basically a perfect reference for this episode. The line is also supposedly originally by Lao Tzu, or Laozi, but I actually can’t find a direct source for it in my copy of the Tao Te Ching and it’s not on his Wikiquote page, so I don’t know if it’s true. Either way, it’s a great line for this episode.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 81: The Duh-Vinci Code

NEXT – Episode 83: The Late Philip J. Fry

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S6E4 “Proposition Infinity”

Amy and Bender start dating and end up creating marriage equality legislation.

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) starts going on a vandalism spree, but gets caught and arrested. He calls Amy (Lauren Tom) to bail him out. She and Kif (Maurice LaMarche) go to the jail, but when Amy flirts with a convict, Kif gets fed up with her “Bad Boy” obsession and breaks up with her. To make her feel better, Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender take her out for the evening. When Bender won’t stop mocking her, she and Bender sleep together, ending up in a “robosexual” relationship. They try to hide it from the crew, but are revealed when they get caught sleeping together during a mission. The Professor (West) disapproves of robosexuality and alerts Amy’s parents Leo and Inez (West and Tom) as well as the Robot Pastor (Phil LaMarr).

S6E4 - 1Circusitis
Meanwhile, Hermes deals with Circusitis.

Amy is taken back to Mars and Bender is sent to a camp to “cure” his robosexuality. Fry rescues Amy by pretending to be her boyfriend and Amy rescues Bender. Bender then proposes to Amy. The Professor reminds them that robosexual marriage is illegal, so Amy and Bender start a campaign to legalize it, called Proposition Infinity. In the lead-up to the election, the Proposition is set to fail, but Bender agrees to debate the Professor before the vote. Bender gives a powerful speech about love which resonates with the audience. The Professor tries to give a rebuttal, but ends up admitting that he objects to robosexual marriage because he was formerly in love with a robot who cheated on him. After this admission, he withdraws his objection to the Proposition and it passes. Upon realizing marriage is monogamous, Bender dumps Amy, who gets back together with Kif. 

END SUMMARY

This one ages extremely well, but may age really badly in the future. When this episode aired in 2010, over 95% of America did not allow same-sex marriage, with 42 states having Defense of Marriage Act bans on it. The episode’s premise is a reference to California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, which was part of a national series of laws banning it throughout the nation. However, this episode aired at the time when the nation’s opinion was turning. A few months later, Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional by Federal Courts. Within the next 4 years, 36 states and territories would legalize same-sex marriage before Obergefell v. Hodges effectively legalized it throughout the US in 2015. In other words, while this episode came out strongly in favor of same-sex marriage when the nation was turning against it, the nation quickly adopted the position and, in 25 years, young people hopefully won’t even understand the concept of opposing same-sex marriage. 

S6E4 - 2Chart

Overall, it was a solid episode that took a bold stance on a controversial issue at the time, and history proved it right.

FAVORITE JOKE

The parody commercial. In real life, there was a commercial that aired in 2009 called “The Gathering Storm.” It was put forth by the National Organization for marriage and it quickly gained notoriety for being one of the dumbest, worst-acted, and dishonest advertisements ever made. Here it is:

Futurama’s version is exaggerated even further. It includes a character explicitly saying “If robosexual marriage becomes legal, imagine the horrible things that will happen to our children, then imagine we said those things, since we couldn’t think of any. As a mother, those things worry me.” Since a common refrain against same-sex marriage was “how will we explain it to the children,” this calls it out by saying that most people advocating that just don’t have any idea how same-sex marriage works (Hint: It’s the same as straight marriage, except both people are the same sex). I just really like them taking the piss out of those assholes. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS –  Episode 79: Attack of the Killer App

NEXT – Episode 81: The Duh-Vinci Code

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.