Futurama Fridays – S3E14 “Time Keeps on Slippin’” 

Planet Express screws up the universe in order to win a basketball game against the Globetrotters… then the ball’s in Farnsworth’s court.

SUMMARY

The Globetrotters, a race of aliens who also come from Harlem somehow, come to Earth to challenge the planet to a game of basketball with absolutely no consequences whatsoever aside from embarrassment. The Professor (Billy West) decides to take up the cause of representing the Earth by making a team of atomic supermen. Unfortunately, they’re only atomic superbabies at this stage, so the Professor sends Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) to get “chronitons,” a particle which controls the flow of time. The particles are extracted from the Tempus Nebula, causing cracks in space when they’re removed, but the team doesn’t pay any attention to it. The Professor gives the babies the chronitons and they grow into five giant atomic monstrosities in basketball outfits. Space Jam could not be reached for comment.

S3EE - 1Globetrotters.png
The day the Earth stood like jive turkeys.

The Globetrotters and the supermen face off, with Earth taking the lead throughout the first half, something that the Globetrotters claim is intentional. In the middle of the second half, time suddenly starts skipping forward, leading to the death of one of the supermen. Fry offers to take over the spot of fifth man due to the team being up 35 with two minutes left. Time skips again and the Globetrotters win by 158 points. Everyone blames Fry, but no one knows what he did.

S3EE - 2Team.png
Atomic Supermen are so cliche. Give me some solar powered ones, like… well, Superman.

Farnsworth tries to figure out how to stop the skips and is joined by the head of the Globetrotters, Bubblegum Tate (Phil LaMarr), one of Bender’s heroes. As they work to solve the problem, time continues to skip forward, often in hilarious ways. At the same time, Fry attempts to figure out how to get Leela to go out with him, failing miserably. Farnsworth and Tate come up with a plan to move stars using a gravity pump in the hopes that it diverts the time skips to another part of the universe. Leela manages to move the stars into place and it appears the skips have stopped. Fry tries to convince her to go out with him again, showing her that he learned how to fly the ship and the gravity pump. She’s just in the middle of telling him no when time skips again to their wedding. 

S3EE - 3Wedding.png
It’s a nice day to start again?

Leela accuses Fry of tricking her somehow and divorces him. He tries to figure out what he did to get her to marry him, but his attempts are frustrated because time keeps on slippin’ (oh, that’s why they called it that). Farnsworth and the Globetrotters come up with another plan to get rid of the chronitons by using a doomsday device to implode the nebula. Farnsworth is revealed to have many of them. The team sets off the device, just in time for Fry to find out what he did to make Leela give him a chance: He wrote a love letter with the stars themselves. Sadly, it’s destroyed before she sees it and everything goes back to normal.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best episodes of this show on a lot of levels. 

First, the Globetrotters are hilarious from minute one. They’re explicitly non-threatening in a very threatening manner. They treat all of their joking antics with a level of seriousness that should get old, but somehow never does. Bubblegum Tate’s insistence that there are no stakes whatsoever is given the gravitas of threatening destruction and essentially treated as such by Farnsworth. When people laugh at their antics, Bubblegum claims to be angered that their behavior is being misunderstood. It’s basically like if the Harlem Globetrotters actually took their role of constantly beating the Washington Generals to be a serious event. The fact that they’re then revealed to all be mathematicians and physicists who still obey the traditional Globetrotter rules for heightening tension and amusing people elevates the joke even more. 

S3EE - 4Trotters.png
Their algebra is all razzamatazz.

Second, this is one of the first times we get confirmation that Fry and Leela might actually work out, because it’s revealed that once Leela gave him a chance, they ended up getting married. It turns out Fry really was willing to go out and do something amazing just to prove that he’s serious about her. That said, something did bug me on this re-watch. As the audience, we see that Leela is actually fairly interested in Fry, so it feels justified that he keeps going, but from his perspective she’s just repeatedly rejecting him politely. He should probably have stopped asking at this point. That said, it does end up working out for them, so… hell, I dunno what to think about it. Pass.

S3EE - 5Note.png
He did remember the comma, though.

Third, the mechanism of the time-skips makes this one of the most efficient and humorous episodes of the show. We get so many great gags out of watching everything skip ahead in time because it’s basically an in-universe jump cut. It’s so great to watch the characters themselves experience a narrative device with the same impact that it has on us. I particularly love when Hermes claims to have a solution only for it to jump cut to everyone in a nude conga line, something even Hermes can’t rationalize. 

S3EE - 6Conga.png
Probably for the best that Zoidberg’s not grabbing anyone.

Overall, this is just a great episode. The jokes are rapid-fire and almost all of them are great. The Globetrotters are one of the best running gags the show ever came up with. Just an amazing half-hour of television.

FAVORITE JOKE

All of the time skips pretty much could be on here, but the best one is probably also the darkest. There’s a set of four skips in a row where Linda the newscaster ends up saying the following stream of lines:

Time continues to skip forward randomly. Details at 11. [Skip] This is the news at 11. The mysterious and unexplained– [Skip] Turning to entertainment news, teen singer Wendy might just be the latest– [Skip] –won three Grammys last night– [Skip] –found dead in her bathtub.

S3EE - 7Wendy.png
Dark. Super Dark.

It’s a horrifying joke about the nature of the music industry that these artists so frequently die young after achieving notoriety. It’s made even more disturbing by the fact that the album that Wendy is shown on is clearly designed after Britney Spears’ debut album “…Baby One More Time,” and this episode actually came out before Spears’ very public meltdown. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 45: Bendin’ in the Wind

NEXT – Episode 47: I Dated a Robot

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.

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Futurama Fridays – S3E12 “The Route of All Evil”

It’s time to focus on the important things in the future: The terrible, terrible children.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) decide to brew their own beer inside of Bender. The joke is that Bender looks and acts like he’s pregnant throughout the episode. It’s funny, but there’s really nothing else plot-wise.

S3EC - 1BenderPreg
Feeling fermentation sounds like a thing that you shouldn’t do.

Professor Farnsworth (West), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille) find out that their sons, Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (LaMarr), were suspended from boarding school for salting a bully (he was a blob). While bored at the office, the pair send the crew on a fake mission which takes a week, resulting in the Professor and Hermes telling the boys to get a job. They decide to start a competing delivery service, a paper route, called Awesome Express. The kids use a pedal-powered spaceship to deliver the paper and quickly become extremely successful, gaining over one-million customers on their route and Awesome Express starts to actually make more money than Planet Express.

S3EC - 2Delivery
Dogs are still a problem.

The kids try to gain their fathers’ respect, but the Professor and Hermes, clearly insecure about the boys’ success, pretend they’re unimpressed. In response, Cubert and Dwight decide to completely crush Planet Express, hiring Fry, Leela, and Bender for themselves. The men try to counter by working with what they have left, but it turns out that Cubert actually inherited the company when the Professor was declared dead after taking a nap in a ditch. They place Planet Express under Awesome Express and fire their fathers, who quickly become depressed over the situation.

S3EC - 3MoneyPile
Most parents appreciate a money pile more.

Bender finally gives birth to an ale, and it is revealed that Dwight and Cubert have never actually been delivering the papers, since they broke the window of their bully and have been scared to go on the route since. They run crying to Hermes and the Professor, who deliver all of the papers and take the kids to the Blob household to apologize for the window. Mr. Blob  (Maurice LaMarche) refuses to accept their apology, leading the two dads to attack him and get beaten to a pulp. Mr. Blob comes to apologize at the hospital and the fathers all share a bottle of Bendërbrāu, but his son proceeds to eat Dwight and Cubert.

S3EC - 4Blob
He’s angry at automation. Yes, really.

END SUMMARY

This episode addresses having kids in both plotlines, but in very different ways. Fry, Leela, and Bender are dealing with the actual pregnancy and the positive expectations of parenting, while the Professor and Hermes deal with one of the scary realities that one day your kids are going to grow up and take your place. Hermes even says “We just wanted a few more years of being better than them.” In the end, we see all of the happy parents enjoying time with their kids, though in Bender’s case he’s drinking his offspring which is disturbing in retrospect. Still, I think it’s a clever way to play two plots on a similar theme.

S3EC - 5AwesomeExpress
And some shots at corporate business, I guess?

Even though the idea of Bender being pregnant with beer seems like it would be a one-note joke, they do manage to address enough of the aspects of pregnancy in clever enough ways that the joke actually works, right up until Dwight says “this is a delivery company, not a delivery room.” When you do implied but indirect analogies the whole episode, doing an explicit comparison kind of falls flat. Other than that, though, I think the idea is actually well done.

S3EC - 6Ruined
The kids also get mad at the beer, which is… age appropriate?

Hermes’s and the Professor’s behavior is simultaneously ridiculous and relatable. When they first see their kids are trying to start a business, they treat it as if it’s just children playing a game. The minute they discover that it’s a competing delivery company, the two start to sabotage their kids, until they understand it’s a paper route, at which point they consider it a joke again. It goes back and forth like this, with the men underestimating the boys or denigrating their efforts until finally the boys overtake the men. The fact that at no point do they consider just talking openly and honestly with their sons about how they feel is either a shot at the fragility of masculinity, a hilarious commentary on the nature of pride, or both. In the end, though, their love for their children outweighs their insecurity, which hopefully is what actually happens in these situations.

Like I said, I think this is a solid episode for managing to thematically connect such disparate situations.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the hallmarks of humor is surprise. You need to deliver a punchline that’s simultaneously unexpected and also still reasonable, because just going pure surrealist will never have as much impact. This episode somehow has one of the best examples of a surprising punchline that should also have been completely expected.

When Cubert and Dwight first take over the company, Cubert and Leela have the following exchange:

S3EC - 7AwesomeExpress.png

Cubert: Hey, Leela, help me apply these flame decals I got in my cereal. They’ll make the ship go faster.

Leela: And what’s your scientific basis for thinking that?

Cubert: I’m 12.

Cubert, a literal genius, responds with a huge amount of self-awareness about choosing to believe something completely irrational. It simultaneously makes total sense and also none whatsoever. I love the hell out of this simple exchange. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 43: Insane in the Mainframe

NEXT – Episode 45: Bendin’ In the Wind

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 – S3E11 “Insane in the Mainframe”

Fry gets involved in a crime and committed to a mental institution which drives him crazy.

SUMMARY

Zoidberg (Billy West) is being honored for his ten years in service to Planet Express. During the proceedings, Hermes (Phil LaMarr) mentions that Zoidberg’s retirement fund is zero, as he’s never paid into it. Hearing this, Fry remembers that he hasn’t paid into his plan either. He spends ninety-four of his $100 on lotto tickets then decides to put the rest in the bank. While there, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) run into Bender’s friend Roberto (David Herman), who proceeds to rob the bank, but gives Bender and Fry some of the money. They’re immediately arrested and convinced to plead insanity by their lawyer, the Hyper-Chicken (Maurice LaMarche), after Fry is threatened by Roberto. Bender is sentenced to a robot mental hospital, but so is Fry after the judge is told that the human facilities are full.

S3EB - 1Franklin
We also find out that Franklin’s still on the one-hundred dollar bill.

Once they get to the robot asylum, Fry is labeled a robot by the head doctor, Dr. Perceptron (LaMarche). Fry is put in a closet with his “roommate” Malfunctioning Eddie (Herman), who keeps exploding. Fry is starved due to the lack of human food, harassed by crazy robots, and later attacked by Roberto when he replaces Eddie. After a few weeks of this, Fry is finally released but is now convinced that he is, in fact, a robot. He attempts to determine what kind of robot he is, failing at being a calculator, a tool bot, and a food-mo-tron.

S3EB - 2Hal
The birds would be tweets if it was made later.

Meanwhile, Roberto breaks Bender out of the asylum and heads to Planet Express to hold them hostage. Fry, however, decides that he has finally determined what kind of robot he is: a battle droid. He attacks Roberto who stabs him in response, but the knife hits an oil can that Fry has in his pocket, which convinces the crazed Roberto that Fry is, in fact, a Robot. Roberto flings a knife at Fry and flees. The knife wounds Fry, making him bleed, which leads him to realize that he’s human after all.

S3EB - 3Stab
Bigger question: What’s the extra .1415926535…?

END SUMMARY

This is an episode that was actually much better than I remembered it to be. It’s a great example of having two plot ideas and letting one feed into the other. The first plotline is the asylum and it’s filled with a bunch of gag characters which represent the traditional Futurama twist on established archetypes through making them all robots. When I first saw this episode, I hadn’t seen Girl, Interrupted or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or most of the other films that revolve around mental health facilities, so I didn’t understand what most of these are satirizing. Now that I do, holy heck, some of these are on point. I think the best one is the guy who thinks he gets CIA radio signals through his teeth, which are revealed to be the announcements from the CIA cafeteria.

S3EB - 4CIA
It’s crazy how funny this is.

The second plotline of Fry believing he’s a robot is a great subversion of the typical Blade Runner-esque trope of a robot believing that it’s a human. It’s made much funnier by the fact that Fry cannot do anything as an android. He doesn’t just fail at the tasks, but he fails at doing anything remotely robotic, to the point of not consistently beeping or using robotic language.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s clearly when Fry spontaneously decides that robots talk like fake medieval citizens. Specifically, he believes that they say “ye.” It’s such a random and insane moment that still stands out in the midst of a montage of random and insane moments. It has no basis in any logic whatsoever, except perhaps that in Fry’s already dim and now addled brain, he has decided that since robots talk funny and olde timey people talked funny, they’re basically the same thing. It makes me laugh every time.

S3EB - 5RobotsDon'tSayYe

Backup joke would be Frankie, the robot that Fry is told has the specific delusion that he works in the lunchroom, so he… works in the lunchroom. The other insane robots even seem to pity him. It’s never confirmed that he’s not, in fact, just a normal person who chooses to work in the lunchroom at an insane asylum and the gag is that it would be impossible to tell the difference. In other words, if your life’s ambition is just to perform a menial task, you’re the real crazy one.

S3EB - 9Frankie
I’m gonna go cry now.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 42: Where the Buggalo Roam

NEXT – Episode 44: The Route of All Evil

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 – S3E7 “The Day The Earth Stood Stupid”

Fry and Leela have to save the Earth from the greatest threat to mankind: Brains. No, it’s not a metaphor. Or is it?

SUMMARY

The planet Tweenis 12 has been destroyed by a cloud of flying brains. On Earth, Leela (Katey Sagal) enters Nibbler (Frank “I Voiced Your Childhood” Welker) in a pet competition to demonstrate his talent, but unfortunately is completely shamed when Nibbler fails at every single task. Meanwhile, the Hypnotoad wins by virtue of being the Hypnotoad. Everybody loves hypnotoad.

S3E7 - 1Hypnotoad.jpg
Behold the Hypnotoad and know your limitations.

Back at Planet Express, Fry (Billy West) sticks up for Nibbler being stupid. After the Professor (West) announces that Tweenis 12 is destroyed, Nibbler becomes anxious and runs off. Leela follows him but is attacked by a giant floating brain. A group of brains chase her until she finds Nibbler in a spacesuit and loading a spaceship. He starts to leave, but returns to save her from the brains, letting her in his ship. The brains begin to attack Earth, making everyone, human and robot alike, stupid, except for Fry. Examples include Bender (John DiMaggio) thinking that his heart stopped and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) almost drowning by keeping his mouth open in the shower.  

S3E7 - 2Hermes.png
Fry is used to dealing with this problem. 

As Nibbler and Leela fly through space, Nibbler reveals himself to be an extremely advanced alien. When they reach Nibbler’s planet, Planet Eternium, the Nibblonians welcome Leela and explain that the brains are part of the Brain Spawn, a species which was born a millisecond into the universe that hates all other consciousness. They travel the universe trying to destroy all life. The one hope of the universe is revealed to be the only thing immune to their power: Fry.

S3E7 - 3Nibblonians.png
Nobody has heard of Babylon 5.

Leela is sent to tell Fry how to defeat the brains, but she loses her intellect immediately and Fry destroys the note she has from the Nibblonians. However, she does manage to tell him to find the biggest brain, the leader, so he naturally goes to a library, where nerds would be. Fry finds the Big Brain and discovers that thinking hurts it. He uses the books nearby to think at it, but the Brain decides to send Fry into the world of Moby Dick, where the Brain takes the place of the whale. The Brain flees to Tom Sawyer and then Pride and Prejudice. Fry gets an idea and escapes from the Brain’s field, only to die in the attempt. It’s revealed that this scene only takes place in a book that Fry is reading to the Brain, who then leaves Earth “for no raisin,” per Fry’s writing. Outside, the Nibblonians eat all the remaining brains, but no one remembers the invasion, thinking Fry is just lying. Nibbler returns to deep cover with Leela.

S3E7 - 4Brain
It’s Queequeg and Capt. Ahab harpooning a brain in Elizabeth Darcy’s house. Awesome.

END SUMMARY

So, this is one of the rare arc episodes of Futurama which come out of the pilot. Fry is revealed to be the hope of the universe, Nibbler is revealed to be intelligent, and the Brain Spawn are revealed to be preparing to destroy everything. This will culminate later in “The Why of Fry” and get re-used, to an extent, in the film “Into the Wild Green Yonder.” It really is funny how few episodes actually involve this plotline, in retrospect. Making Fry “the chosen one” fits in with a large number of sci-fi stories, most notably Star Wars, but in traditional Futurama fashion, this is twisted by having Fry be chosen by the fact that his brain is so ineffective on its own that the Brain Spawn can’t affect it. It’s revealed in this episode that Fry lacks the Delta Brain Wave, something that occurs in humans, robots, and even plants. It won’t be revealed WHY he lacks it for another season.

S3E7 - 5Megaphone
Pictured: The smartest man on Earth.

This is also one of the episodes of the series that most amalgamates other sci-fi episodes. The premise is similar to the season one finale of the original Star Trek, “Operation: Annihilate,” which features creatures that go from planet to planet destroying civilizations by making everyone insane. The finale of the episode seems to be taken from the Doctor Who episode “The Mind Robber,” in that it involves a giant brain and people getting trapped in fiction which the hero then manipulates by re-writing the story.

This episode contains a variety of gags and plots that almost makes it feel like 4 different episodes: 1 at the pet show, 1 on the stupid version of Earth, 1 on Planet Eternium, and 1 in the fictional world battling the giant brain. It’s impressive that they can put so much varied content into one episode without it really feeling discontinuous. Also, this gave us the Hypnotoad. All Glory to the Hypnotoad.

S3E7 - 1Hypnotoad
Behold the Hypnotoad and know glory beyond comprehension.

FAVORITE JOKE

Aside from just the Hypnotoad, who is the best thing in the show according to David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, it’s a combination of all the absurd throw-away lines that they use to convey the stupidity of the people of Earth.

The three best are:

S3E7 - 6Morbo
The only way to make Morbo funnier.

Morbo: Morbo can’t understand his TelePrompTer. He forgot how you say that letter that looks like a man with a hat.

Linda: It’s a “T”. It goes “tuh”.

Morbo: Hello, little man. I will destroy you!

S3E7 - 7Bender.png

Bender: Am I a robot?

Fry: Bender, if this is some kind of scam, I don’t get it. You already have my power of attorney.

S3E7 - 8Newton.png
Such a good use of a Newton’s Cradle.

Farnsworth: Ow. Ow. Ow. I’m a genius. Ow. Ow.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 38: Bendless Love

NEXT – Episode 40: That’s Lobstertainment!

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 – S3E2 “Parasites Lost”

Fry eats a bad egg salad sandwich and finds himself infected with awesomeness.

SUMMARY

While at a gas station, Fry (Billy West) buys an egg-salad sandwich from the men’s room vending machine. Despite the awful taste, he ends up eating the whole thing. While she’s cleaning the windshield, several truckers insult Leela (Katey Sagal). Fry tries to defend her honor, but ends up insulting her more. When they get home, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) are sent to fix the building’s boiler, because Scruffy (David Herman), the Janitor, is too busy reading pornography. The boiler explodes and a pipe is lodged in Fry’s abdomen. Surprisingly, Fry seems fine, until the pipe suddenly is cut in half and the hole in Fry’s stomach regenerates. Zoidberg (West) gives Fry a deep colonoscopy and determines that his body is actually filled with superintelligent worms, which were actually the eggs in the egg-salad.

S3E2 - 1Bathroom
Best place to buy food at a truckstop.

In order to get the parasites out, the Professor (Billy West) creates a series of micro-droids remotely controlled by the crew and a miniature planet express ship. They are going to journey into Fry’s body (without his knowledge, because the worms know everything he knows) and travel to the pelvic splanchnic ganglion to cause Fry to completely void his bowels (including the worms). Leela distracts Fry by taking him on a date, but it’s revealed that the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him stronger, smarter, better looking, and healthier, something that impresses Leela immensely, especially when he beats up one of the truckers that insulted her.

S3E2 - 2City
I love that the worm city has forks and knives, like they’re the only things the worms knew.

Realizing that Fry is actually better because of the worms, Leela travels inside his body and kills the micro-droids of the crew before they can tickle the ganglion. The crew explain to Fry what happened, and Fry elects to keep the worms. Later, Leela takes Fry to her place and he plays a piece he wrote on the Holophonor, an instrument which creates an elaborate holographic art film as he plays it, causing Leela to become completely infatuated with him. Unfortunately, Fry realizes that it might be the worms she loves, not him. He goes inside his own body and orders the worms to get them out. When they refuse, he starts to damage his own brain, threatening to kill himself if they don’t. They concede and leave.

S3E2 - 3Holophonor
That’ll get you laid, man.

Fry comes back to Leela’s apartment and tries to play the holophonor again, but does it terribly. Leela realizes he’s an idiot again. He attempts to seduce her his way, but fails immediately. Leela kicks him out. He is later seen taking a lesson in playing the holophonor.

END SUMMARY

This is easily in my top 10 episodes of Futurama. Maybe in the top 5. It has some of my favorite one-liners, contains one of the more perfect twists on a sci-fi premise in the show, and really cements that Leela might reciprocate Fry’s feelings if he would just work on himself. It’s also an episode that is referenced, either directly or indirectly, multiple times throughout the rest of the series. Even the original series finale “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” directly references this episode and Fry’s effort to play the holophonor at the end of this episode forms the last shot of that episode, and the series, until the restart.

S3E2 - 4Kiss.png
Yeah, this was a good ending to the show.

The bulk of the episode is a tribute to the film Fantastic Voyage, in which a team of people shrink down to microscopic size to remove a blood clot. In this episode, the Planet Express crew instead controls tiny robots, because Professor Farnsworth can’t afford the “tiny atoms” which are required. I’d point out that the tiny robots also solve the issues of how being tiny would make you super dense, freeze you to death because your body wouldn’t generate enough internal heat, and that you couldn’t breathe enough oxygen to stay alive at that size, even scaled down, but I’m not going to do that because that would make me a nerd. The great twist on the episode is that unlike the clot, the worms aren’t harming Fry. In fact, they’re making him superhuman. Futurama often does these nice twists on classic media, but I still think the idea of the mysterious parasites being a good thing is one of the better ones.

S3E2 - 5Swords.jpg
Also, the tumor didn’t have swords.

It’s also notable that this episode has the fewest speaking roles in the series. It’s focused almost exclusively on the internal workings (haha) of the Planet Express Crew. Every one of them has at least one solid joke, too. In fact:

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Everyone has a great line in this, so I’m going to do all of them:

Zoidberg: (After Fry is said to be as strong and flexible as Gumby and Hercules) Gumbercules? I love that guy!!!

Fry: Leela, there’s something I’ve wanted to tell you for a long time but every time I try I get nervous and my mouth feels like it’s stuffed with peanut butter, even when it’s not.

Professor: Listen, this is gonna be one hell of a bowel movement. Afterwards he’ll be lucky if he has any bones left!

Amy: (On seeing Fry’s bowel) It’s gorgeous. That place used to be a big dump.

Leela: I don’t have words to say how wonderful you are, Fry. I haven’t felt this happy since double-soup Tuesday at the orphanarium.

Bender: (After Fry’s been dumped)  If it’s any consolation, my life is great! Babes! Bucks! I got it all!

Hermes: (describing his famous “Jerk Prunes”) I call it “Caribbean Drain-o”!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 33: Amazon Women in the Mood

NEXT – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

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 – S2E16 “Anthology of Interest I”

The Planet Express crew participates in a scientific version of “What If?”

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) is demonstrating his new invention the “Fing-longer” which, as the name suggests, is just a glove with a long finger. He uses the device to turn on the What-If Machine, which generates a hypothetical story in response to any “What If” question. The crew tries it out in 3 different stories:

S2EG - 1Finglonger.png
Behold, the FUTURE!!!!!

First, Bender (John DiMaggio) asks what it would be like if he were 500 feet tall. A giant Bender is built on another planet and proceeds to head to Earth, where he quickly befriends Fry (West). However, their interactions are now more destructive than usual due to Bender being larger than most versions of Godzilla. When Zapp Brannigan (West) is sent to stop him, Fry is injured, resulting in Bender going on a rampage. The Professor decides to enlarge Zoidberg (West) to 500 feet tall to fight Bender, but Zoidberg soon starts destroying stuff as well. The two do end up fighting and Bender appears to win until Fry distracts him with shrinky-dinks and Zoidberg impales Bender on a large building. Bender says that his simple dream was only to kill all humans, then he expires.

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King Kong ain’t got nothing on them.

Second, Leela (Katey Sagal) asks what she would be like if she were slightly more impulsive. This results in her killing the Professor in response to him calling her boring. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) discovers this, but she kills and dismembers him. Bender tries to blackmail her over Hermes’ remains, so she kills Bender with a microwave. Amy (Lauren Tom) insults Leela, so she dies. Cubert (Kath Soucie), Scruffy (David Herman), and Nibbler (Frank Welker) all accuse Leela and are impaled on the same sword. Zoidberg finally figures it out, but Leela eats him. After Fry actually determines the truth, Leela silences him… through wild sex acts, which he really likes.

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This is genuinely impressive. Most people can’t do the triple impale.

Last, Fry asks what would have happened if he never came to the future. Back in the year 1999, Fry fails to fall into the cryogenic freezer, resulting in a space-time rip that shows Planet Express. The next day, Fry sees Stephen Hawking in his pizzeria and tells him about the rip. Later, Fry is abducted by the “Vice Presidential Action Rangers,” a group dedicated to preserving the space-time continuum, with members including Hawking, Al Gore, Nichelle Nichols, Gary Gygax, and Deep Blue (Tress MacNeille) the chess computer. They determine that the rip means that Fry should have died, and try to beat him to death to save the universe. This makes the rip worse, so they realize Fry would have to be frozen, but Fry breaks the tube, resulting in the universe collapsing. In response, the group plays Dungeons and Dragons.

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Weirdly, these characters are together even without Fry.

The entire episode is revealed to be the Professor asking what life would be like with the fing-longer.

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He does eventually make it, though. Because science!!!!

END SUMMARY

This was the Futurama version of the “Treehouse of Horror” from The Simpsons, but these are less directly parodying popular films or movies. Bender’s story is a bit of a parody of The Iron Giant and Godzilla, and the name of Leela’s is a parody of Dial M for Murder, but it never feels like they’re being too direct about the rip-offs. In the DVD commentary, they say that they wanted to do some stories that they just couldn’t work into the normal continuity, similar to Marvel’s “What-if?” comics line.

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Much like that line, some stuff in these became canon.

This episode kind of highlights what I think is a strength behind both this show and The Simpsons as well as the other shows that have sense copied it: They’re willing to play with the medium of sitcom. They know that television is, by default, repetitive and that one of the best ways to keep people from going insane is to occasionally have an episode that bucks that. These episodes also often have the benefit of containing ideas that were generally deemed “good” but not good enough to stretch into a full episode, so most of the quality is condensed into each vignette.

Bender’s segment, “Terror at 500 Feet” is pretty much great from start to finish, including the way that Bender’s lead-in very clearly suggests he was going to ask what it would be like to be human (something that they actually did in the sequel episode to this). It’s surprisingly efficient, with most of the interactions of characters happening in only a line or two, and a lot of it being conveyed through quick cuts of Bender and Fry’s friendship. The ending is one of the best random lines in the series, with Bender saying that he’s not the real 7-billion-ton robot monster… despite the fact that he also was planning genocide.

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Might wanna get that checked out.

Leela’s segment, “Dial L for Leela” actually does a nice exploration of the character that is fairly accurate to her canon portrayal: If Leela were more impulsive, she entirely gives in to murderous rage (and apparently lust in some cases). While in this episode she’s comically over-the-top, if you pay attention to Leela throughout the series, she does have some pretty pronounced issues with violence. She also spontaneously sleeps with people that she regrets a few times, including most famously Zapp Brannigan. Basically, this segment is just telling us that Leela is always about to go on a killing rampage… which we honestly should have known already.

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She also got new boots with a fun green stripe.

The last segment “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime” is basically an excuse to say “look how many celebrities we can get.” It’s got Stephen Hawking, Gary Gygax, Nichelle Nichols, and “literally running for President at the time” Al Gore. This was Al Gore’s first appearance on a fictional show and it’s honestly hard to believe that he agreed to this, since, again, he was literally the sitting VP at the time and running for President. I assume it was trying to break up his reputation as being weak or super-serious (super-cereal as South Park would put it) by being a violence-prone caricature in a comedy show, but it’s still a weird event in pop-culture. The fact that he’s paired with Gary Gygax, someone that his wife, Tipper, had repeatedly attacked as corrupting children (because she saw Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters, I assume), is even more bizarre, but, again, maybe it was supposed to show that serious Al Gore could lighten up. Hawking was likely there because he repeatedly guest-starred on the Simpsons. Nichelle Nichols was there because she’s awesome. The complete randomness of the assembly really only serves to drive home both the ludicrous nature of the premise as well as the dysfunction of the group. I actually think that this is a premise that, with the right writing, might have carried an entire episode, because it honestly feels a little rushed in this segment. Still, it’s funny and filled with stars.

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And DnD would never look cooler than this.

I also love that “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime,” written by series creator David X. Cohen is basically a giant ball of foreshadowing. When they duplicate the events of “Space Pilot 3000,” the shadow which prompted Cohen and Groening to shout “secret” in the first season’s director’s commentary is missing. When Fry misses the tube, the universe starts to unravel. However, it’s not that the universe is unraveling just because he missed the tube, but because without Fry being in the future, there’s no one to stop the evil brains. Also, unless he goes to the future, Fry can’t go back in time and become his own grandfather, meaning that his very existence violates the laws of the universe… or at least the ones that are in place until they get broken in “Bender’s Big Score.” Apparently, the “What if?” machine can take into account information that no one knows outside of the Nibblonians. Still, nice work, Cohen.

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Behold, the floor.

FAVORITE JOKE

My favorite gag is that Stephen Hawking steals ideas and claims them as his own. First, he agrees with Fry’s claim that he invented gravity, then he steals the space-time rip by claiming it as a “Hawking Hole” instead of a “Fry Hole.” When Fry calls him out on it, Hawking counters “Who is The Journal of Quantum Physics going to believe?”

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Rest in Peace.

This plays into the longstanding rumors that Hawking had plagiarized or stolen some of his more famous theories, particularly related to space-time. This was even played with in one of his appearances on The Simpsons where he talks to Homer and says he might steal his theory of a donut-shaped universe. It’s been claimed that Hawkings developments, particularly the ones which were later overturned, were not as significant as he claimed and that they were just taking a small step past what was previously discovered by others, but with good press.

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Those thieving glasses…

The truth is that physics, even more so than most other sciences, is developed by expanding upon the theories and research of previous people. Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence paper (the E=Mc^2 thing, though it wasn’t in the paper) was revolutionary, but most of it was similar to a paper by Hendrik Lorentz. Isaac Newton once said of his accomplishments “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” and even that expression was a turn on a statement from the 1100s by Bernard of Chartres which stated that each generation advances only because we are dwarves standing atop of the giants that are our ancestors.

Hawking’s work was not only great because of its scientific advancement, but also because he, like Einstein or Richard Feynman or Neil DeGrasse Tyson, went out of his way to try and put science into the zeitgeist and make scientists look cooler.

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Though none matched Schrodinger for cool.

One of the best things about this was that Hawking rolled with all of the punches (yes, pun intended) and just dealt with it as part of being in the spotlight. So, yeah, I think they gave him a couple of good-natured shots so that he could show that he’s able to handle it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 28: The Problem with Popplers

NEXT – Episode 30: War is the H-Word

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 – S2 E12 “The Deep South”

The Planet Express Crew takes a trip to the South’s best-kept secret.

SUMMARY

Due to a mix-up by Hermes (Phil LaMarr), Planet Express receives a mandatory fishing license, so everyone heads to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the ship and starts fishing. Eventually, Bender (John DiMaggio) uses the unbreakable diamond tether on the ship’s winch to try and catch a big fish. He hooks a colossal-mouth bass which is larger than their craft and it starts dragging them to the bottom of the ocean, about 3 miles deep, before getting off the line. The ship doesn’t work underwater, so the Professor (Billy West) and Leela (Katey Sagal) set about fixing the engines while Bender, Zoidberg (West), and Fry (West) go along the ocean floor to find food. Fry is only able to survive due to a suppository from the Professor that counteracts the pressure.

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This is also the first time we see Leela’s Harpoon which does, eventually, recur.

While exploring, Fry comes across a mermaid named Umbriel (Parker Posey) who starts to flirt with Fry, but no one believes him when he says he saw her. Later, Umbriel comes to the ship and takes Fry on a date. The two fall in love while doing underwater activities. The ship gets fixed, but Fry is still gone, so everyone heads to look for him. They’re shocked when they find out that they’re in the ruins of the city of Atlanta.

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I’m pretty sure he’s checking out her rack in this shot.

It’s revealed that Atlanta was moved to an island as a way to improve commerce, but the city grew too large and sank. Many of the inhabitants remained and, with the help of Coca-Cola, mutated into merfolk. Fry chooses to stay behind with Umbriel, rather than go back to the surface, but quickly changes his mind when it’s revealed that having the bottom half of a fish means she mates like a fish. Fry manages to make it back to the surface inside of the colossal-mouth bass, which Bender has caught again.

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Look, I’m not pointing out that there’s only one black person in this tourism video, but…

END SUMMARY

I wasn’t in the room when this plot was pitched, but I have to believe that it was conceived by someone making a joke about the song “Atlantis” by Donovan. It’s such a ridiculous idea that it’s kind of inherently funny and  the parody of the song is probably the most solid joke within the episode.

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Donovan seemed to tack Jane Fonda on. Clearly, she saw the divorce coming.

Umbriel is one of the more remarkable of Fry’s relationships, not just because she’s a mermaid, but because she’s pretty much the only one that Fry actually breaks up with. Technically, he breaks up with Morgan in the previous episode, but she also was basically out of the relationship before that happened. In this case, we don’t actually see it, but it’s pretty likely that Fry did, in fact, tell Umbriel that he wasn’t ready to try and fertilize a clutch of fish eggs. Somehow, though, they avoided making a joke about the fact that fish eggs that have recently hatched are called “Fry.” I don’t know what the joke would be, but it’s there somewhere.

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Looks like a Sea-cup.

Umbriel’s name is a reference to Ariel from The Little Mermaid, which probably surprises no one, but it derives from the fact that Umbriel and Ariel are both names of moons of Uranus. If that doesn’t surprise you, congrats on being Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

The version of Atlanta that we see isn’t particularly accurate to the actual urban Atlanta area, but instead is a parody of the rural antebellum South… despite also having futuristic technology. The Colonel (David Herman) is probably the most extreme example, who leads Bender to hum “Dueling Banjos.”

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He makes good fried seahorse.

FAVORITE JOKE

While underwater, Doctor Zoidberg finds an empty giant shell and decides to make it his home. Later, when the crew is leaving, Zoidberg finds out that he can’t stay because his shell has burned down, despite the fact that A) shells don’t burn well and B) THEY’RE UNDERWATER. He questions how it could have happened, something that Hermes says is a very good question. In response, Bender finds the cigar he left in Zoidberg’s house and smokes it, something that Hermes says raises even further questions, because they’re still underwater.

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This scene is so absurd that it’s actually the page quote on TV Tropes for “Voodoo Shark.” A Voodoo Shark is when you try to explain a plot hole, but the explanation actually creates a way bigger plot hole. The term comes from the novelization of Jaws: The Revenge which tried to explain away the fact that sharks shouldn’t be capable of revenge plots by saying that the Brody family had been cursed by a Voodoo Shaman. What it doesn’t tell you is why the shaman would do that, how that gave the shark the ability to swim from New England to the bahamas as fast as a plane flies there, and, oh yeah, when the hell did Jaws involve magic? This episode takes that exact same concept, but instead plays it for laughs, never even trying to give an explanation that makes sense.

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Hermes is having none of this.

Overall, solid episode, but it’s pretty shallow in terms of themes. A lot of it is just playing on the image of Southern Stereotypes with fish bodies. Fortunately, that was funny enough to keep me watching.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 24: How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back

NEXT – Episode 26: Bender Gets Made

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time 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.