Futurama Fridays – S4E16 “Three Hundred Big Boys”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 69: The Farnsworth Parabox

NEXT – Episode 71: Spanish Fry

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

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Futurama Fridays – S4E15 “The Farnsworth Parabox”

In one of the funniest episodes of the show, we find out what life is like on the other side of the universal boundary.

Warning up front: The episode labels the universes Universe A and Universe 1, which gets super confusing but I’m still adopting it.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) invites Leela (Katey Sagal) out on a date, but gets shot down as usual. Meanwhile, the Professor (West) conducts a reckless experiment that almost kills him, then gives the box containing the result of the experiment to the crew and tells them to shoot it into the sun. He orders them not to look into the box for any reason. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) puts Leela in charge. Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) try to steal the box, but Leela tricks them into stealing random junk. Eventually, Leela flips a coin to decide if she should look into the box which lands on “look.” She looks inside, only to fall through it and land… back in the Planet Express building. Fry (Fry-1) walks in, with different hair and clothes, asking why she looks different. Leela says she doesn’t, only to be confronted by a different version of her (Leela-1) with red hair. 

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox
It’s the Box to end all Boxes. 

The other Professor (Professor-1) realizes what happened: The box he created contained Universe A (the main universe), while the Professor-A created a box containing Universe 1. Assuming that Universe-A must be evil, Professor-1 has Leela-1 abduct the rest of the Planet Express crew-A (except Hermes-A). Each group assumes the other is evil and finds out that the difference between their universes are the outcomes of coin flips. Each person is assigned to monitor their counterpart, which leads Fry-A-and Leela-A to find out that the other Fry and Leela are happily married. Finding out that everyone isn’t evil, the groups quickly bond with their counterparts, which drives Fry-A to anger when he finds out that only a single coin flip kept him from being with Leela. At the same time, the two Zoidbergs (West) partner together and steal the box containing Universe-A to get everyone’s attention. The next morning, Professor-1 announces that everyone is free to go, only for Hermes-1 to come in and ask why they aren’t shooting the box into the sun. The crews realize that Hermes-A is about to shoot THEIR box into the sun and try to hurry back to their universe. 

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox
Remember, all of the differences are from coin flips… somehow.

The Professor-1 tries to retrieve the hidden box, only to find out that it’s gone. The Professors start generating more boxes, hoping to find another box containing their universe. As they fail, the Zoidbergs return with the box, but they panic and flee into another universe, scattering the boxes containing other universe. Everyone starts to hop from universe to universe to find the Zoidbergs, finally managing to track them down. Both crews head to Universe-A and stop the destruction of the box. Leela-A gives Fry-A a chance to go out with her and the Professors each invert their boxes, resulting in each having a box that contains their own universe. Fry sits on the box, compressing the universe, but no one seems to notice.

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox
This would have been a decent show premise on its own.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best episodes of the show. Part of it is watching all of the characters do some projected introspection in order to find out what is different, including finding out that Professor-1 removed his own brain and watching both of the Zoidbergs lie to each other about being successful. Seeing a version of Fry and Leela together that are happy was a major bit of fanservice and, since the show was about to end at the time, sets us up to believe the “happy” ending that is hinted at by the original finale. It’s also a nice touch that the alternate Fry (Fry-1) is more mature and the alternate Leela (Leela-1) more spontaneous than their counterparts, indicating that they both are improved by knowing each other. 

File:Deleted Scene (041502).png
Meanwhile, Fry-A gets beaten up at a Neil Diamond concert.

We’ve often seen the “mirror universe” trope and it’s even invoked within the episode, but in typical Futurama style it’s subverted by never having an “evil” universe. It just has a universe where stuff is different, but not necessarily better or worse. The most memorable sequence in this episode has to be the universe-hopping. We see a ton of gag universes ranging from Roman to Robot, all of which are pretty good for a laugh. Despite that it only lasts for a few minutes, it is one of the parts of the show that I best remembered for years. 

File:Frys.jpg
All the redheaded ones are single. Weird.

Overall, I love this episode. It gave us “Bite my glorious golden ass,” which is basically a work of art comparable to any Shakespearean monologue.

Image result for futurama glorious golden ass
Explain the difference between this and “All the world’s a stage.”

FAVORITE JOKE

Runner-up:

One of my favorite touches is that one of the universes is Universe 1729, the Hardy-Ramanujan number. The story goes that the mathematician G.H. Hardy visited Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in the hospital and told Ramanujan that he had taken a cab to see him. Hardy expressed sadness that the cab’s number was 1729 and that he was disappointed it wasn’t an interesting number. Ramanujan said that it was indeed an interesting number, because it was the smallest number that could be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two ways (1729 = 13 + 123 = 93 + 103). Since then, any number which is expressed as the sum of two cubes in n distinct ways are called taxicab numbers. In this episode, what populates Universe 1729? Rude Bobbleheads, which are two things often found in New York Taxicabs.

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox
This is the day Funko was born.

Favorite Joke:

Not as complicated, but still funnier is that when the two Benders appear in the Roman universe (Universe XVII), as they leave the Professor notices them and says “Quae?” This is the Latin equivalent of his catchphrase “Whaaaa?” It’s so simple, but it’s such a random gag that I love it.

Image result for futurama the farnsworth parabox roman
You don’t need Arabic numbers to make a universe. Fun.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 68: Obsoletely Fabulous

NEXT – Episode 70: Three Hundred Big Boys

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 – S5E14 “Obsoletely Fabulous”

Bender, the robot, revolts against technology. It’s cool, he’s made of wood now.

SUMMARY

Mom (Tress MacNeille) demonstrates a new robot at the Roboticon 3003 trade show, Robot 1-X (Phil LaMarr). Bender (John DiMaggio) is selected to compete against 1-X, only for it to be revealed that the robot is better than him in every way. Moreover, the robot is kind and helpful, which drives Bender into fits of jealousy and frustration. When the Professor (Billy West) buys one, Bender decides to get an upgrade to make him compatible with them. Upon seeing that the upgrade literally changes the minds of any robot that does it, Bender breaks free and runs away, heading out to sea.

File:1-X.jpg
You need a robot to open it, like with pocket knives.

Bender gets stranded on a tropical island and quickly starts to run out of fuel. He is revived by a group of obsolete robots who refused to upgrade at various points in technology development. While he’s skeptical of their regressive ways at first, he quickly not only adopts their ideals, but embraces them more zealously than they do. He demands a downgrade, resulting in him now being made out of wood and powered by steam, despite how insane that sounds. Determined to force the rest of the world to embrace his new low-tech philosophy, Bender returns to civilization to declare war.

File:Obsoletely Fabulous.jpg
Apparently all of Bender’s memories are contained in his eyes.

He and the other robots commit various acts of eco-terrorism before Bender finally reveals what we knew all along: He just wants to destroy Robot 1-X. He and the others attack Planet Express with a catapult, but they end up missing and hitting the ship, collapsing it onto the rest of the crew. The ship’s fuel catches on fire, endangering them further. Bender tries to save them, only to find that his body has been consumed by termites to the point of disabling him. The crew point out that the only way to save them is to ask Robot 1-X for help. Swallowing his pride, he asks the robot to aid him and saves the crew. Bender finally admits that Robot 1-X is great. It’s then revealed that Bender is actually just back at the upgrade and that everything else was a dream generated to make Bender accept Robot 1-X. He questions reality, asking if it’s possible that he’s just the product of someone’s imagination, before accepting that “reality is what you make of it” and walking off into a fairy world. 

END SUMMARY

This is the second episode of the season where the end reveals that pretty much all of it was a dream and somehow neither of them really disappointed me. The former, “The Sting,” used the fact that it was a dream to mess with Leela’s emotions and the storytelling process in general, while this one uses it to make an odd point about the nature of memory and perception. Bender finds out that all of his experiences in this episode were completely fabricated and it causes him to have a massive existential crisis about the fact that he can’t trust anything if memory is malleable. He then moves on to a higher plane and indicates that if he can create false beings to occupy his false memory, then he could very well be a false being created by another person. Eventually, he just accepts the fact that he would never know the difference and moves on, choosing to define reality himself. Despite the fact that it only occurs in the last 2 minutes or so of the episode, this is a surprisingly big journey for the show to send a character on. 

File:Bender's mouth and eyes 4ACV14.png
Also the second one where they fake a main character probably dying. 

There have been lots of films that have dealt with the concept of how memory and perception shape reality, ranging from Dark City to Memento to An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, but this one actually most reminds me of the film Brazil by Terry Gilliam. At the end, the protagonist of both end up choosing to abandon reality and escape to a better existence in defiance of what’s being forced on them. In Brazil, it’s torture and lobotomization by an insane government, here, it’s an upgrade that forcibly changes his brain. I’m not sure it’s an intentional invocation, but I still find the comparison appropriate.

Image result for brazil film ending"
Sadly, the episode has less Jonathan Pryce.

The idea of an island of robots that have regressive attitudes is a very Futurama-esque twist. It’s a satire of the common social issue that everyone believes that all the societal changes they adopted are appropriate, but any further changes are seen as too radical to be accepted. In this case, it’s tied in with the common complaint that people have as they get older that technology has changed too much to be kept up with. Plus, it results in a wooden robot, which is just hilarious.

File:Cartridge obvious.png
I also love that there’s somehow a cartridge robot, despite cartridges being obsolete first.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Lisa, the waterwheel robot (Tress MacNeille). 

File:Lisa.png
She wants to liiiiiiiiive.

Lisa is a robot who, for some reason, is powered by a waterwheel and who appears to forget that fact constantly. Every time she runs out of water, she screams and indicates that she thinks she’s going to shut down forever by not finding a water source. This is such an insane concept for a robot and it’s only made more perfect by how Tress MacNeille goes from calm and reverent to panicked and insane at the drop of a hat.  It helps that, despite how much it constantly causes her trouble, she tries to represent her unique feature as a point of pride. Just a great concept all around.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 67: Bend Her

NEXT – Episode 69: The Farnsworth Parabox

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S4E13 “Bend Her”

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

SUMMARY 

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

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

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 66: The Sting

NEXT – Episode 68: Obsoletely Fabulous

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S4E9 “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles”

The Planet Express Crew go where nobody wants to go again: Puberty.

SUMMARY

The Professor’s (Billy West) pet gargoyle Pazuzu (David Herman) escapes, leading the crew to chase after it, but the Professor’s stereotypical-old-man behavior leads the rest of them to get annoyed. They decide that he’s too old and send him to a spa to get Youthasized. After none of the treatments work, the Professor is put into a tar bath that supposedly sucks the age right out of people. Bender (John DiMaggio) tries to pump it to make it more effective, but ends up spraying the tar on everyone. When they wipe it off, it’s discovered that the tar actually worked: The Professor is now in his 50s and the crew are now teenagers. This includes Bender, whose robonucleic acid apparently can also be affected.

S4E8 - 1Florida.png
Ah, back when Florida only supposedly had three things to mock. 

Leela (Katey Sagal) decides to go back and live with her parents to get a taste of the childhood she never had, while the Professor tries to fix the problem. Leela’s parents keep trying to treat her as an adult, but Leela tries to force them to be strict. Amy’s (Lauren Tom) parents are annoyed, as they now have to wait longer for grandchildren, and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) bonds with his now same-aged son, Dwight (LaMarr). Fry (West) goes to pick Leela up for a date and ends up winning a sewer race against local jock Moose (Herman) and his girlfriend Mandy (Tress MacNeille). 

S4E8 - 2FryDate.png
I love how cute they are as teens.

The Professor creates an oil-eating bacteria to try and fix the problem, but it ends up backfiring and making everyone younger. Additionally, they’re now aging in reverse, meaning they’ll eventually face the horror of pre-life… then death. Leela, who didn’t want to get older and thus wasn’t given the bacteria, is now a babysitter for most of the crew. She reads them a story about a mythical place called the Fountain of Aging, the opposite of the Fountain of Youth. She takes off with the now-infant crew and manages to locate the fountain. With the Professor now a toddler, the crew now fetuses, and Bender a cd of his blueprints, they jump into the fountain, but the Professor loses his grip and they start to slip into the Fountain’s black-hole center. Leela manages to save everyone, now back to their right ages, but loses the Professor, who is saved at the last minute by Pazuzu. In gratitude, the Professor grants the gargoyle his freedom, and he moves to Notre Dame to raise his children. 

S4E8 - 3Story
Zoidberg’s childhood was very different. 

END SUMMARY

This is one of those episodes where I feel like they threw darts at a wall full of other properties and combined what stuck. In this case, it hit Muppet Babies, Archie Comics, and Golden Girls. Not that this is a bad episode, although it’s at the bottom of my Futurama rankings, but it still just feels like it was more three short premises sewn together into a single episode, and they had to really stretch character traits to get there. I mean, yes, the Professor is typically depicted as being old, but in this episode his behavior is so exaggerated that the show even admits he’s a super-senior stereotype. When the crew gets de-aged to teenagers, they all pretty much act like what films think kids acted like in the 90s. It sometimes feels like they’re cashing in on a lot of easy jokes for these.

S4E8 - 5Driving.png
The Professor decides to only fly at 38 MPH, for example, despite him flying normally otherwise.

The one thing that I like about the episode, and the thing that apparently inspired them to create it, is the part with Leela living with her parents. It’s simultaneously sweet to see Leela trying to recapture the part of her youth that she lost by having her parents treat her as a real kid, and hilarious to watch how little they actually care about doing it. It’s best summarized by her interaction in which she whispers to Fry, thinking he’s going to be re-aged, to sneak her some beer, and her father replies with “No beer until you finish your tequila!” Morris and Munda usually don’t get a ton of funny lines, but watching them fail repeatedly to actually parent their daughter is hilarious.

S4E8 - 4Tequila.png
I love that he put a silly straw in it.

Overall, just not a notable episode. It’s not bad, but it’s just not great by Futurama standards.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s probably the Child’s Garden of Space Legends. When I was a kid, I had the Child’s Garden of Verses, a book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of them aren’t really narratives like the fables in the episode, but it’s still nice of them to reference the book. However, I do like the fact that the cover of the book is a Gorn eating a kid and that it contains the stories “Snow White and the Seven Red Dwarfs,” which is both a reference to the white dwarf star and a reference to the TV show Red Dwarf, and “Charlotte’s Tholian Web,” a reference to the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and the Star Trek episode “The Tholian Web.” Just solid Futurama jokes.

S4E8 - 6Gorn.png
Dark humor seems appropriate for a book based on R.L. Stevenson.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

NEXT – Episode 64: The Why of 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 – S4E6 “Bender Should Not Be Allowed on Television”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 59: A Taste of Freedom

NEXT – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S4E5 “A Taste of Freedom”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

Everything Old Man Waterfall says to the Supreme Court. 

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

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

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

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

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 58: Less than Hero

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

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

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