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.

S2EC - 1Harpoon.png
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.

S2EC - 3PromoVideo.png
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.

S2EC - 4Donovan.png
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.”

S2EC - 6Colonel.png
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.

S2EC - 7ZoidbergHome.png

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.

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Futurama Fridays – S2 E14 “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back”

This is the rare episode that for me has only gotten better over time because the more I deal with bureaucrats, the more I realize this satire is dead-on. It’s time for an episode focused on the Rastafarian Accountant, Hermes Conrad.

SUMMARY

Hermes Conrad (Phil Lamarr) is up for a promotion as a bureaucrat. However, the evening before his inspection, Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) host a poker night with Leela’s coworkers from the pilot and Zoidberg (West). During the game, Bender cheats and gets caught, resulting in the others beating him up in Hermes’ office, wrecking it. When the inspector, Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn), shows up, Hermes threatens suicide, but his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille in this episode, normally Dawnn Lewis) talks him out of it. He is subsequently fired and despondent. Zoidberg recommends Hermes and LaBarbara go to a Spa planet called Spa 5, which turns out to actually be a forced labor camp. Morgan takes over as Planet Express bureaucrat.

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Sweet pavement dive of Babylon 5!

Morgan begins to inspect Planet Express, criticizing for inane things such as not putting a zipper on a jacket alphabetically at the bottom, before she finds Fry’s locker, which is the most disgusting thing she has ever seen. As a lifelong neat-freak, Morgan finds Fry’s slovenly ways arousing and starts a secret affair with him. Morgan antagonizes most of the staff until Bender catches the two in bed together. He threatens blackmail, but Morgan downloads his brain onto a floppy disk and sends it to the Central Bureaucracy.

S2EB - 2Kissing.png
He made cottage cheese in his hat. 

Fry, Leela, Amy (Lauren Tom), and the Professor (West) fly to the Central Bureaucracy to get Bender’s brain back. They discover that the disk is in the massive “in” pile, something that never gets sorted. However, Hermes appears, having optimized the force labor camp so much they only needed a single worker, and requests a massive file-sort, for which he is given four minutes. He proceeds to sort the entire pile while singing “The Bureaucrat Song” and manages to get Morgan fired by pointing out a minor clerical error she had made years ago. Hermes is rehired and reinstated as a bureaucrat.

S2EB - 3InPile.png
This is also the image for the national debt. #alwaystopical

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best episodes of the series. If you’re going to introduce someone to the series, this might be one of the most appropriate episodes to show them. The parody of the Central Bureaucracy is one of the most on-point in the show’s history and it elevated Hermes from mostly background character to one of the most entertainingly wacky members of the Planet Express staff. Yes, it’s clearly inspired by the movie Brazil, but it makes the organization here much less threatening and more comical than in that movie.

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If you’ve ever dealt with licensing, this is hilarious to you.

The concept of an organization dedicated to perpetuating bureaucracy that literally thrives on tedium and mistreating the masses is just too damned funny to put into words. The Central Bureaucracy is what everyone expects is at the heart of every bureaucratic organization: A giant mess perpetuated by people who just want to avoid accountability and strictly enforce rules by their word rather than intent. Having worked for the government for a decent percentage of my adult life, I can say that this is mostly wrong… except when it is completely right. In any organization of sufficient complexity, there emerge a certain percentage of people that somehow serve almost no real discernible purpose within the productive flow. Often, they become managers, much like Hermes’ position within the company.

S2EB - 5Dilbert
Scott Adams is a self-centered jackass, but he nailed this one.

Now, Hermes does, apparently, actually know how to increase efficiency, given that he points out all of the flaws in the set-up of the forced labor camp. At the same time, we see that any bureaucrat who does things more efficiently than prescribed is punished, so this episode suggests that there IS merit in having supervisors who point out wasted energy, but that the system which creates them is also the system than hinders them.

S2EB - 6Drill
Though, the efficiency improvement screws the workers and benefits literal slave-drivers.

This is one of the first episodes which has slight dependence on continuity, since Leela invites the workers from the pilot to the poker game. It doesn’t make much of a difference in the episode or anything, but it’s still more continuity than most of the series.

Morgan’s lust for Fry being based on all of the things that normally would make him repellant to women is a pretty great exaggeration of opposites attract. Fry goes with it for the stated reason that he was “desperate,” which is refreshingly frank.

The best part of the episode, though, is the “Bureaucracy Song.” It’s catchy, it’s clever, it includes the line “pooh-pooh’d my electric frankfurter,” and it comes from an odd stance in that it takes the position that bureaucrats actually love their jobs, something that most humor tends to oppose.

Bureaucrat Song from user4803634 on Vimeo.

FAVORITE JOKE(S)

Tie. First, the Beholder from Dungeons and Dragons being at the Central Bureaucracy. It’s just sleeping, then it awakens with flashing lights viciously coming out of its many eyes… only for it to ask the crew not to tell its supervisor that it was sleeping. It’s such a great gag that even the Beholder, one of the mightiest monsters in fiction, capable of destroying small armies on its own, is reduced to begging people to let it nap in peace within the Bureaucracy.

S2EB - 7Beholder.png
Also, he’s only level 11. 

Second, one of the most quoted lines in the series is from this episode: “You are technically correct – the best kind of correct.” This is the most concise statement of the nature of bureaucrats within the episode and one of the most absurd ideas the episode conveys: that it’s better to be within the letter than the spirit, particularly when the letter subverts the spirit.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 23: A Clone of My Own

NEXT – Episode 25: The Deep South

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.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E9 “A Bicyclops Built for Two”

Leela’s the focus for this episode exploring her tragic backstory.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) finally connects to the internet, which is a giant virtual-reality world that feels vaguely Tron-ish. Amy (Lauren Tom) and Leela (Katey Sagal) go into a chat room where they both intimidate all of the men by virtue of being actual women. Later, they join Fry (West), Bender (John DiMaggio), Zoidberg (West), and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) in a video game where Fry dominates due to wasting so much of his life gaming. Leela, however, meets another cyclops named Alcazar (David Herman) who Fry immediately vaporizes. On their next delivery, Leela receives a message from Alcazar with information about the Cyclops homeworld, so she heads there with Fry and Bender.

S2E9 - 1Alcazar
Anyone else think he should have one giant nipple? No? Just me? Okay then.

On the planet, Alcazar tells Leela that the planet was blown up by the eyeless Mole People of Subterra 3 out of anger that the Cyclopes had sight. Alcazar survived by being in a pool at the time, while Leela was a baby sent to Earth by a scientist to save her life. Leela then tells him that the species doesn’t have to end with them and they have sex. The next morning, Alcazar starts acting like Al Bundy from Married with Children, with Leela taking on aspects of Katey Sagal’s previous role as his wife Peg. Despite the fact that they now fight all the time, Leela agrees to marry him to keep the species going. Fry, however, decides to search the forbidden valley on the planet to try and find something to convince Leela not to marry him.

S2E9 - 2SexyTimes.png
Leela has so far only had pity sex and “save the species” sex. That’s disturbing.

The staff arrives for the wedding, but after questing for a little while, Fry and Bender find four identical kingdoms. They return just in time for the wedding with four other women, revealed to be all of Alcazar’s other fiances. It turns out that he’s a shapeshifter who just found it easy to get laid by marrying women who are the last of their species. The weddings are all called off and Leela continues to wonder where she comes from.

S2E9 - 3TrueForm.png
It’s a nice day for a green wedding…. yeah.

END SUMMARY

This episode kind of feels like it was just a set-up to the joke of reprising Katey Sagal’s character from Married With Children. It’s one of those things that was basically inevitable and I think that doing it in Season 2, without letting the necessity build, meant that they could get away with only dedicating about 2 minutes of the episode to it, rather than make it the focal point of the episode. Still, it’s pretty funny to watch Leela, who usually responds to everything with violence, throw all these verbal barbs with Alcazar, with the pig and the rat couple providing the audience hooting and reactions in place of the shows usual live studio audience. Also, I love that Leela immediately questions why the set-up has changed to be more similar to Married with Children but Alcazar insults her rather than answering her question. It’s one of my favorite lampshade hangings in the series.

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That couch clashes with the ornate palace.

The representation of the internet in this movie is a little dated, since “chat rooms” no longer exist as they did in the 90s, celebrity nudes are no longer all fakes, and AOL dial-up is mostly a thing of the past. However, some elements have definitely held up, like the idea that many guys who talk big on the internet would collapse in the presence of a real woman, that video games are becoming more virtual reality based, and that underage people will claim to be 18 to see nudity online. It’s also impressive that they mostly avoided any references to The Matrix despite the fact that this episode came out almost a year to the day after that movie, which means this would have been written shortly after that movie was everywhere. The only one I caught is when Hermes dodges a pop-up ad by limboing, which is right after they make several references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Birds, and Tron, so it feels like they’re just spamming movie jokes right then. Again, it’s a decent amount of restraint, given the subject matter and the time. It’s also possible that the writers just thought The Matrix wouldn’t hold up in the cultural zeitgeist as well as it did.

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I also love the “Girls Wanted” sign on the other site.

The final reveal of Alcazar is pretty clever. It’s a funny bit to reveal each of the alien brides to him and watch Alcazar try to cover for them all, but ultimately it’s watching Leela’s last moments contemplating the fact that she almost married someone that she knew was treating her terribly just so she could feel like she belonged. It’s one of the most real moments of Leela’s character in the entire series, because it feels so human to do something stupid in order to stop feeling alone. The last shot, however, is pure Futurama emotional gut-punch when she asks how many planets there could be and the camera pans out to remind us that space is incomprehensibly large. There are over 100 Billion stars estimated to be within the Milky Way Galaxy alone, each of which usually has at least one planet in orbit, and in Futurama the crew regularly travels all the way across the universe, meaning that almost any galaxy or planet in the universe is a possibility. There are estimated to be 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the entire visible universe, again, each with likely one or more planets. That means that if you searched 1 planet every milli-second for 5 billion years, you’d be roughly… .02% of the way there.

SPACE IS BIG, Y’ALL!!!

This is actually a very nice use of Cosmic nihilism for the audience, but since Leela doesn’t acknowledge it, it isn’t as sad as it usually is. Plus, Leela had addressed the opposite of it earlier in the episode, self-determination. She now realizes that she doesn’t need a home to define her as long as she knows who she is. Granted, eventually she will know her history, but that’s still a mystery right now, and it’s nice to watch her make some level of peace with the mystery.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the women Alcazar is set to marry is a Yithian from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Out of Time.”

S2E9 - 6Yithian.png
The Purple One.

The Yithians are a race that previously inhabited Earth over 66 Million Years Ago and they gained a form of near-omniscience through their ability to switch out their minds with other species in the future. However, despite this, they were annihilated by a species of Flying Polyps. However, since they knew they were going to be destroyed, they switched all of their minds with another race that will take over the Earth after humans are dead, the Coleopterous race. The coleopterous race is described as “beetle folk,” resembling a great number of different humanoid insects… just like Alcazar’s true form. In other words, his Yithian bride would likely be the last of her race, but if she wanted to marry another Yithian, they’d look like a giant insect. Additionally, she’s the only one who doesn’t say anything about his true form, so it’s possible she’s just pissed about the fact that he was going to marry 4 other women. Either way, a Yithian/Bug Creature wedding was a weird but interesting reference and I dig it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 21: Raging Bender

NEXT – Episode 23: A Clone of My Own

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.

 

Futurama Fridays – S2 E8 “Raging Bender”

Bender somehow becomes involved in professional robot wrestling, despite the title being a reference to a boxing movie.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew heads to the movies where Bender (John DiMaggio) is a complete and total jerk to the other patrons. In particular, he won’t stop aggravating the guy in front of him, who appears to be a stereotypical nerd, including insulting his girlfriend. However, when he goes too far, the nerd turns out to be the giant wrestler The Masked Unit (Tom Kenny) who attacks Bender. The Masked Unit then slips on some popcorn and is knocked out. The commissioner of the Ultimate Robot Fighting League, Abner Doubledeal (Kenny), happens to be in the theater and offers to make Bender a wrestler.

S2E8 - 2MaskedUnit.png
He’s opening up a file of whoopass. That’s a quote.

Bender is excited at the prospect of being a wrestler until he realizes that he might actually get hurt. He tries to quit, but  Leela (Katey Sagal) uses her tragic past involving martial arts to convince him to stay and let her train him. Despite his incompetence, he does actually manage to win his first match… because it was fixed. It turns out that Robot Wrestling is fake and that the most popular fighter always wins. Bender, now wrestling as Bender the Offender, starts to dominate the league through his antics. Since it’s fake, he stops training, which annoys Leela. Eventually, though, his popularity wanes and Doubledeal decides to rebrand him as a loser, the Gender Bender, an effeminate transvestite. Bender refuses at first, but is then told that his opponent is Destructor (Maurice LaMarche), an unbelievably powerful killer robot who can beat him in a fake match or a real one if need be. He agrees to lose.

S2E8 - 3Destructor.png
Destructor’s use in combat is a war crime. And hilarious.

Bender begs Leela to help him win the fight, which she agrees to do only after learning that her sexist martial arts instructor Fnog (David Herman) is Destructor’s trainer. The bout takes place at Madison Cube Garden, but it turns out that Bender is completely outclassed. When Leela tries to call it off to save Bender’s life, she discovers that Destructor is being controlled by Fnog. Leela battles Fnog while Bender fights the uncontrolled Destructor, resulting in Leela KO’ing her tormentor and Bender getting flattened. Bender is in pain, but Leela is happy that she got vengeance.

S2E8 - 4Fnog.png
SWEEP THE LEG!!!!

END SUMMARY

I was a decent wrestling fan as a kid, because it was 1992, I was 5, and Ric Flair was the man. WOOOOOOOOO!!! Later, of course, I found out that A) it was fake, B) some of these guys were completely different outside of the ring, and C) they were still amazing athletes and performers. So, I wasn’t exactly happy about this episode which mostly portrays wrestling as involving effortless and cheesy performances. I’m not denying that wrestling performances are cheesy, they absolutely are. Sometimes in the best way, like Randy Savage (R.I.P.), sometimes in the worst way, like the Shockmaster (sorry Fred Ottoman, I’m sure you’re a good guy), but they often are. However, they are absolutely not effortless as Mick Foley (or Mankind) will tell you. These are damned impressive physical performers and dedicated method actors and they deserve that respect.

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Oh yes, sir. Oh yes, indeed. I will snap into a Slim Jim today.

Having said that, I think the satire of wrestling in this episode is freaking hilarious. The robot characters are all insane stereotypes (Billionaire Bot, Chain Smoker, Foreigner… these are the actual names) just like in most 80s-90s wrestling, the heels and faces are clearly defined, they get re-branded as necessary, and the product endorsements are dead-on (Bender endorses a brand of French milk bath soaps). It’s mostly put forth in one single montage, but I think the line that stands out most for me is the Foreigner’s intro:

I’m not from here! I have my own customs! Look at my crazy passport!

It’s a perfect tribute to how wrestling is based on giving you characters that can be identified down to their whole histories and motivations within just a few lines. There’s no nuance, it’s just character archetypes, and that can sometimes be beautiful. Watch Glow on Netflix if you want an entire series built around justifying this as an art form.

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The Chainsmoker is less creative, I admit.

Leela’s subversion of the Karate Kid-esque (Bender even does Crane Stance) master-student bond is a great B-plot. Despite being a prodigious martial artist, Leela is condemned by Fnog (which I assume is just a parody on the common fake-martial artist name Master Fong) just for being a girl. His sexism is so ludicrous that he awards the victory in the spar to Leela’s completely unconscious opponent, which makes his ultimate ass-whipping all the more of a foregone conclusion that is still pretty satisfying.

The episode also has one of my favorite minor C-plots involving Hermes (Phil LaMarr) and the brain slug. During vacation, Hermes apparently made a stop at the brain slug planet and a slug took him over. He then proceeds to blatantly try to get brain slugs onto the others in comically inept ways, only succeeding with Fry. Fry’s brain slug then starves to death. Given the later reveals in the show, it would be thought that Fry’s slug starved because Fry lacks the Delta Brainwave, but the commentary for the episode reveals that the joke is solely that Fry is stupid and nothing else.

S2E8 - 7BrainSlug.png
Hermes should have used a garlic shampoo.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s a tie between Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot’s cameos at the movie, advising Bender not to talk during the film, and the title of the theater as “א-null-plex.” I’d write it correctly, but I’m having formatting issues and the picture’s going to be below anyway. See, א, which is pronounced “aleph,” is the mathematical symbol representing infinities in set theories. Aleph-zero, or Aleph-null, is the lowest infinite set, the countable infinite, which is what most people think of when they think of “infinite.” Basically, it means if there is a way you can set up a system with the numbers that has a correspondence to the natural numbers, like the multiples of 7 or the powers of 11 or the prime numbers. I’ll attach a fun video explaining this concept below, because knowledge is power. The joke here is that the theater is a pun on the theater term “multiplex” which, in most shows, is parodied as the “infiniplex.” Futurama is just taking it one step further by saying that this is specifically the smallest-level of infiniplex, because they like to wave their math d**ks around. Yes, they have math ducks.

S2E8 - 1Aleph.png
Math jokes are mathemagical.

As to Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot, the joke is obvious if you’ve seen Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you haven’t seen it, I’ve now done two reviews on it and it’s on Netflix. CHECK IT OUT NOW!

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 20: Put Your Head on my Shoulders 

NEXT – Episode 22: A Bicyclops Built for Two

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.

Futurama Fridays – S2 E4 “Xmas Story”

Welcome to the first Futurama ho-ho-holiday spectacular! Prepare to die!

SUMMARY

It’s Christmas, now pronounced “X-Mas,” and Fry (Billy West) is feeling lonely at his first holiday season in the 31st Century. The rest of the Planet Express crew try to cheer him up, but he ultimately keeps complaining, even after Leela (Katey Sagal) is also feeling down because she’s the only one of her species. Meanwhile, Bender (John DiMaggio) pretends to be homeless to get free stuff and attention from the press down at the soup kitchen. Fry feels guilty for making Leela sad, so he decides to go downtown to buy a pet.

S2E4 - 1Parrot.png
He gets her one hell of a parrot.

What Fry doesn’t seem to really understand, despite being told directly, is that in the year 2801 scientists built a Robot Santa (John Goodman) who comes to Earth every year to decide who was naughty and who was nice and give presents accordingly.  The robot malfunctioned, setting its standards for “nice” too high, resulting in it judging everyone as naughty and turning him into an omnicidal maniac. Fry stays out too late trying to recapture Leela’s new parrot after it escapes, resulting in her coming to save him from Santa’s attack.

S2E4 - 2Santa
Ho-Ho-Holy Hell, you’re all gonna die.

While fleeing, they run into Bender and Tinny-Tim (Tress MacNeille) a crippled orphan robot. When Santa accuses Bender of being naughty, he tries to frame the orphan, something that’s so naughty it distracts Santa as he tries to add it to his list. They all make it back to Planet Express, but Santa also gets inside and threatens everyone (except for Zoidberg (West), who is apparently “nice”). As Santa tries to blow them up, they manage to force him into a blast chamber, sending him flying into the sky. They all sing a carol called “Santa Claus is Gunning You Down” as Santa vows revenge.

S2E4 - 3Nudity.png
The Professor wishes you a happy holiday and a modest new year!

END SUMMARY

The crazy homicidal robot Santa is yet another great character by Futurama. He basically makes everyone feel thankful for what they have by promising to do his best to take it away from them. In that sense, as the show repeatedly points out, he actually does the job of making people celebrate the season just as well as Santa Claus does. They avoid any discussion about the “true meaning” of Christmas or other religious issues, which limits the functions of Xmas solely to the secular parts of Christmas, making Santa much more important. I guess you could say that they took the Christ out.

S2E4 - 4Conan.png
They did get Conan, however, which… is not at all similar.

This is one of the first times since the Pilot that Fry shows that he does, in fact, miss his old life and family at times. Despite all of the things he seems to say about his parents, and even his brother, it is clear from other episodes in the show that they did actually have some warmth within the Fry household. I think that Fry telling everyone that his mom would make “Goose burgers” and that his dad would make special eggnog out of “bourbon and ice cubes” is a great way to humorously show his reminiscing. It adds a level of levity to the harsh reality that everyone Fry knew has been dead for many centuries. I also love that Fry is only broken from his sadness by the realization that someone else is just as alone as he is. However, this also appears to be the first time that he really seems to get that she’s ALWAYS been alone. He at least has happy memories of his family, she just has a void.

S2E4 - 5Freela.jpg
Fortunately, he fills it…. giggity?

I think the idea of people with nobody finding a family with each other is something that the show does well, particularly with Fry and Leela. Fry had a family, even if it wasn’t a great one, but now he’s lost everyone. Leela never had a family and has been isolated due to her appearance. Each one can argue that they have the worse situation, but each one often thinks that the other has the worse lot. Is it worse to be sick your entire life or to be healthy and have it taken from you? This is a question that people have fought over for centuries and this show is just taking that in a different direction with loneliness instead of illness.

Bender’s plotline in the episode, pretending to be homeless in order to steal food and attention from the needy, is ridiculously dark. He literally steals food from an orphan and then laughs at it. He then takes some robots, including said orphan, on a crime spree. He’s so incredibly evil that it dives straight past inhuman, tunnels through despicable, and emerges somewhere around hilarious. As with the Marx Brothers or Deadpool, it’s truly amazing that a character so objectively horrible is so likable.

S2E4 - 6ShoeTree
He even stole her little shoe-tree. The monster.

FAVORITE JOKE

The new version of the Gift of the Magi that happens between Hermes (Phil LaMarr), Amy (Lauren Tom), and Zoidberg (West). In the original story by O. Henry, a man and his wife each give up something extremely valuable to them, in the man’s case his watch and in the woman’s case her hair, only to find out that they’d each bought the other a gift that was dependent on what they gave up, a watch chain and decorative combs. They each realize how much they loved each other if they were willing to do this much to make the other happy.

S2E4 - 7Bald.png

In Futurama’s version, however, Zoidberg buys Amy a set of combs, only for Amy to realize that she sold her hair to buy combs for Hermes, who sold HIS hair to buy combs for Zoidberg, who reveals that he now has both of their hair grafted onto his head. There are four parts to this that are so off that I find it hilarious. 1) Zoidberg buys hair and also buys combs, despite constantly being broke. 2) Neither Amy nor Hermes are broke (in fact, Amy’s rich), so it makes no sense that they’d have to sell their hair to buy gifts. 3) Hermes bought combs for Zoidberg who didn’t have hair. 4) EVERYONE BOUGHT COMBS. Seriously, who the hell buys decorative combs as a go-to gift? It’s just such a bizarre subversion and tribute that I’m forced to applaud it.

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He looks as pretty as a strange ironic ending.

Runner up, though it’s short, is Robot Santa’s anti-mistletoe T.O.W. Missile, only because I didn’t know that was a real thing until years later. T.O.W. stands for Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided, and is a standard anti-tank missile, so that means that the wordplay has been there forever, it just took Futurama to pull David from the marble.

S2E4 - 9TOW.png

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 16: A Head in the Polls 

NEXT – Episode 18: Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love? 

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.

Futurama Fridays – S1 E13 “Fry and the Slurm Factory”

Well, this is the end of Season 1. It’s weird to think that I have already gotten here, but then it’s disturbing to think how much I have to go on this damned series. I could quit, but then the terrorists win.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) has become addicted to the soft drink Slurm. The makers of Slurm announce a contest for a tour of the Slurm Factory to whoever finds a golden bottle cap in one of their cans, which will include a party with the drink’s mascot: SLURMS MCKENZIE!!!! (David Herman)

S1EC - Slurmz
He’s the original Party Worm!!!!!!!!! Whimmy-wham-wham-wazzle! Let’s party!

To find the cap, Fry and Bender (John DiMaggio) take Professor Farnsworth’s (West) new invention the F-ray (it’s like an X-ray that gives you more cancer but also sees through anything, including metal). They search cans all over the city, but never find the bottle cap, until it’s revealed that the can that Fry bought before they started had the cap in it.

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Seen here in Fry’s luscious esophagus.

The crew goes to the planet Wormulon, the headquarters of the Slurm Company, where they meet Slurms McKenzie, briefly, before they’re taken on a tour of the factory by Glurmo (West), a Willy-Wonka-esque worm. As he shows them the factory, they’re introduced to the Grunka Lunkas (DiMaggio and Phil LaMarr), who are a not-so-subtle parody of the Oompa-Loompahs, but their songs are more threatening. As the crew watch the Grunka Lunkas make the Slurm, they’re told that there is a secret ingredient added before the sodas are canned.

S1EC - 3GrunkaLunkas
Grunka Lunka Dunkity Ducked – if you don’t like this joke, you can get (bleeped).

Fry, who hasn’t gotten to drink any Slurm in minutes, tries to drink out of the Slurm river in the factory, but falls in. Leela (Katey Sagal) jumps in after to rescue him and Bender follows because he thought people were jumping in the water and wanted to fit in. They’re sucked down a drain and end up finding out that the factory was a fake. Finding the real factory, they discover the horrible secret: Slurm is actually produced by a Giant Worm’s butt, specifically the Slurm Queen (Tress MacNeille).

S1EC - 4Slurm.png
This is also how Apple Products are made! Kidding, that’s child labor.

The trio are discovered by the worms and captured. Bender is set to be made into cans, Leela is set to be turned into a worm queen, and Fry is given Super-Slurm, which is so addictive that he can’t stop eating it. Fry manages to drag the trough of Super-Slurm over to Leela, freeing her to save Bender. They flee, but run into Slurms McKenzie, who reveals that he doesn’t want to work for Slurm anymore, having grown sick of partying. The Slurm Queen follows them, but Slurms sacrifices himself by partying hard enough to cause a cave-in and stopping the queen. Ultimately, however, Fry decides not to reveal the secret to the authorities because he loves Slurm so much and the factory remains open.

END SUMMARY

This is one of my favorite Willy Wonka parodies, although I’m pissed they didn’t try to do a version of the super-weird tunnel scene. The Grunka Lunkas remain one of my favorite Oompa-Loompah rip-offs, particularly when they do their songs. They even use the songs fake words to make absurd rhymes, like “Grunka Lunka Dunkity-dasis” with “Need-to-know basis.” Fortunately, they only really do one song and try to do two more that get cut off by Glurmo. I do also love that Hermes (LaMarr) has a discussion with Glurmo about hiring Grunka Lunkas, who apparently do have a union, but the union is so bad they’re basically slave labor (which is what they clearly are in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

S1EC - 5Glurmo.jpg
Originally they were gonna name him Slurmy Slonka. That’s not a joke, that’s true.

The twist that the drink is actually made from a giant space-worm is solid, although the episode itself even points out that it shouldn’t be that shocking, with the Slurm Queen saying:

Honey comes from a bee’s behind. Milk comes from a cow’s behind.

I mean, really, it seems gross, but it’s not like humans don’t constantly consume animal products. The twist is supposed to be reminiscent of Soylent Green, which the show even calls out by saying that there is a soda made from people, Soylent Cola, which apparently causes no legal issues whatsoever. Perhaps more surprisingly, Leela has already drank it in the past.

I think this is one of the best episodes of Season 1 and was a real solid way to end the season… except that it aired as part of Season 2.

FAVORITE JOKE

This one’s tough. Since it’s the end of Season 1, let’s do a top three.

1. Bender’s Brain

When we see inside Bender’s Brain in this episode, it’s revealed that Bender runs on a 1980s 6502 CPU famous for being in the Apple II and the NES. The idea that Bender doesn’t need more processing power than a Commodore 64 will never stop amusing me.

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Sure he can’t run graphics well, but he can play Duck Hunt!

2. New Slurm vs. Slurm Classic

Another 80s reference to the time when Coca-Cola tried to switch recipes. Theories about why they did this abound, but in 1985 Coca-Cola stopped selling their original formula and offered up the much sweeter New Coke. Despite the fact that people in test groups liked the New Coke more than Coca-Cola or Pepsi, people hated it so much that Coca-Cola released Coca-Cola Classic a mere three months later, which led to Coke’s sales skyrocketing past Pepsi. In this episode, it’s implied that the Slurm Queen would do it just to stimulate market interest by forcing Leela to produce terrible New Slurm before they replace it with Slurm Classic.

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Because “It’s Highly Addictive” isn’t driving enough sales.

3. Making Water

At one point during the episode, we see the Grunka Lunka’s making “pure water” by combining a container of H2 and another of O. Granted, it’s the future so they’ve probably figured out a way to avoid the explosion that would cause, but you’d think they also would have figured out that it’s easier to just remove the contaminants from water than to make water from its elements. Although, since the water ultimately just gets fed to the Slurm Queen along with Wumpus Berries, they probably should just be using a hose.

S1EC - 8H2O.png
Yes, this should probably result in a giant KABOOM… of COMEDY!!!!

That’s it for Season 1!

Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 12: When Aliens Attack

NEXT – Episode 14: I Second That Emotion

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.

 

 

Futurama Fridays – S1 E12 “When Aliens Attack”

An episode of television about people being obsessed with episodes of television. How meta.

SUMMARY

Back in the 90s (I was in a very famous TV show… wait, different series), Fry (Billy West) delivered a pizza to a Fox Network affiliate but spilled beer over the controls, disrupting Fox’s broadcast of Single Female Lawyer. One thousand-ish years later on the planet Omicron Persei 8, the Ruler of the planet, Lrr (Maurice LaMarche), is watching the broadcast when it gets interrupted, enraging him. He proceeds to bring a fleet of flying saucers to destroy many of Earth’s monuments (which are conveniently now located on a beach in New New York, courtesy of a supervillain Governor).

When he demands “McNeal,” the lead character from Single Female Lawyer, Earth President McNeal (West) misunderstands and believes they want him. As such, he orders an army to be drafted into the Earth defense force led by Zapp Brannigan (West). Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and a forcibly-reprogrammed Bender (John DiMaggio) all join the defense force; unfortunately, they are immediately overwhelmed (after they waste their efforts destroying the Hubble telescope). After Zapp kidnaps and delivers President McNeal, Lrr reveals that he means the TV character and threatens to destroy the Earth.

It’s revealed that there are no surviving copies of the series. Fry, being the only person who knows anything about the show, tries to create an ending to the episode he destroyed, using the Planet Express crew as the cast. Unfortunately, Fry only wrote two pages, forcing Leela to improvise by proposing marriage to the “Judge” Professor Farnsworth (West), something that angers Lrrr. Fry correctly tells her that TV audiences just want the same crap they’ve seen a thousand times before, resulting in her finishing the episode with a contrived monologue that puts the series back at its status quo. Lrrr agrees not to destroy the Earth and Fry tells everyone that the key to television is that the show always ends with everything back to normal. The show then pans out to show global destruction… which will be undone before the next episode.

END SUMMARY

Futurama decided to spend an episode mocking people who make and watch formulaic and unchallenging television, like a certain show that was on Fox for 5 years and managed to win 2 Golden Globes and an Emmy for best series. Not that I have anything against formulaic television (I liked House), but Ally McBeal had a lot of problems without even getting into the part where the lead character was an attorney who was terrible at lawyering. Still, it got awards and had a solid audience share, even if a lot of the viewers didn’t seem to remember much about the show but “short skirts” and “Robert Downey, Jr. getting arrested.”

I have to admit I think it’s pretty ballsy for the show to take shots at other shows for being repetitive and unchallenging this early in the run but, for the most part, I think Futurama did at least try not to be overly formulaic or predictable, even if a lot of their material came from loosely parodying other properties.

Lrrr and his wife, Nd-Nd (Tress MacNeille), are among the most frequently recurring aliens, usually representing a stereotypical dysfunctional sitcom marriage combined with the traditional alien invaders. It’s a weird combination that somehow always seems to work, since Lrrr being an overaggressive and insensitive husband always makes it seem more natural that he’s also the kind of being whose first response to a problem is to invade the planet.

Overall, I like this episode okay, even if it didn’t age super well after nearly 20 years of Ally McBeal being off the air. While it’s more common nowadays to lampoon sitcom structure (BoJack Horseman literally runs on it), this episode was a little bit ahead of that particular trend, so… bonus points of that.

FAVORITE JOKE

There aren’t any jokes in this episode that really stand out, although I do like the end of the fake episode of Single Female Lawyer. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) is playing the foreman of the jury in Jenny McNeal’s trial for jury tampering by having an affair with the judge and previous jury. As a cap for the episode, he gives the verdict:

We find the Defendant… vulnerable yet spunky!

That’s probably exactly what the producers wrote as character motivation for Callista Flockheart at the beginning of every episode of Ally McBeal. Because characterization was not a strength on that show.

Well, that’s it for this week.
See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 11: Mars University

NEXT – Episode 13: Fry and the Slurm Factory

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.