Futurama Fridays – S1 E1 “Space Pilot 3000”

Welcome to Futurama Fridays, a celebration of one of the most interesting and, at times, insightful shows ever animated. To start us off, let’s watch the pilot from the magical year of 1999. Much like Prince told us it would be, it was a year of much celebration, and this series was a worthy impetus for at least some of it.

Just up front: I’m going to go by DVD order, not broadcast order, just like I did with Firefly.

SUMMARY

Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and the gorilla starts throwing barrels at you.

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The show starts on December 31, 1999 with pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry (Billy West) getting what is later revealed to be the all-time low score on the videogame “Monkey Fracas, Jr.” The audience is quickly shown that Fry is a loser as he is yelled at by his boss, dumped by his girlfriend, has his bike stolen, repeatedly chants “I hate my life,” and finds out that his delivery to an “I.C. Wiener” at a cryogenic storage facility was apparently a prank. Fry kicks his feet up and leans his chair back as the world (yes, even the countries in other time zones) counts down to a new millennium, but at the count of 1, he tumbles back into a cryogenic tube and is flash-frozen for 1000 years. During this sequence, there’s a strange shadow in one shot which gained fame because on the DVD commentary, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen both shouted “SECRET!” when it showed up. However, we wouldn’t learn the secret for many years.

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Spoiler alert: It was a decent twist

Fry wakes up in the year 2999 on December 31st. He quickly realizes he’ll never see his friends or family again, but then celebrates because f*ck those guys. Fry is taken to meet Turanga Leela (Katey “I have persevered” Sagal), a beautiful woman, except for being a cyclops. She informs Fry that he has only one living relative (somehow), Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (West). She also informs him that, in the future, people are assigned the job to which they are best suited, summarized as “you gotta do what you gotta do.” Unfortunately, Fry’s assigned job is as a delivery boy, something that horrifies him, causing him to flee. Leela tries to chase him, but Fry freezes her in a cryo-tube for long enough to escape.

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1000 years from now, even the guy making posters is clearly depressed.

While wandering around New New York, Fry decides to call Farnsworth. He gets in line for what appears to be a phonebooth and meets the robot Bender Bending Rodriguez (John DiMaggio) who greets him with his catchphrase: “Bite my shiny metal ass.” Yes, that’s the first thing Bender ever says on-screen and it is amazing. Fry and Bender go into the booth together, only for it to be revealed (to Fry, at least) to be a suicide booth. They manage to survive the booth at which point Bender decides not to kill himself immediately and instead invites Fry to get drunk.

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The alien language in the back says “Drink.” Sadly, not enough “They Live” references.

Bender reveals that he is a robot designed to bend girders but decided to kill himself after finding out that the girders were used for suicide booths. Fry talks him out of killing himself by saying they’re friends. Leela then finds the pair and chases after them along with police officers Smitty and URL the robot (West and DiMaggio). They end up at the Head Museum, which is exactly what it sounds like: A museum filled with disembodied, preserved, and still-living heads. They are greeted by the head of Leonard Nimoy, in one of the greatest cameos in animated history. Leela comes in behind them, startling Fry into knocking over the head of Richard Nixon (West), who bites him. Smitty and URL try to brutalize Fry, but they insult Leela in the process and she beats the crap out of them.

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He also was in Marge vs. The Monorail.

Fry and Bender run into a barred window and Fry tells Bender to bend the bars. Bender says at first that he isn’t programmed to do that, but Fry tells him that he can do anything. Bender says that’s crap, then is immediately electrocuted by a light socket and changes his mind. He bends the bars, proving that he can break his programming. They escape the Museum and go into the sewer, finding the remains of Old New York. Fry reminisces about the past and for the first time it really hits him that he’s lost everyone he ever knew. Leela finally catches up with them, but she admits that she also knows how it feels to have no one, since she’s an orphan alien.

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“Venusians Go Home.” Yep, in 1000 years, we still have racism.

Fry finally surrenders, but instead of giving him a job chip to make him a delivery boy, Leela removes her own chip. The trio, out of options, go to find Professor Farnsworth at his business Planet Express Delivery. After confirming their blood relation, Farnsworth shows the three his spaceship. The police show up, now led by Richard Nixon’s head, and try to arrest the group. They get into the spaceship to escape, but the police are prepared to shoot them down. Fortunately, they escape as the world counts down to the year 3000 and the police miss them in the fireworks display. The three contemplate what to do about the future, but Farnsworth offers to hire them as package deliverers using his former crew’s career chips (found in a space wasp’s stomach). Fry realizes that he’s now going to be a delivery boy again, but, since it’s on a spaceship, he’s happy.

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Counting down to the new millennium with a floating pyramid. Egypt nailed it.

END SUMMARY

This episode debuted just before my 12th Birthday. I was already a huge fan of The Simpsons at this point and I was eager to watch Matt Groening’s new series. It did not disappoint. In addition to the characters being entertaining and well-crafted, the show is chock-full of references and sight gags, most of which are freaking hilarious and clever.

This episode set the tone for the rest of the series. It has a certain ridiculous nature most of the time, but when it is necessary to bring on the quiet emotional moments, they can hit hard. When Fry breaks down and gives up, that’s an actual touching scene in an episode that’s basically just a madcap chase with sci-fi elements. When Leela responds that she’s actually just as alone as Fry, it sets up the first hints of their romance that will carry on throughout the series.

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Smart references abound.

It also set the rules for the level of suspension of disbelief that the show will ask of the audience: Sometimes stuff is just going to be subject to the rule of funny. If something is funny enough, it can violate an established continuity of the show. Most notably, Bender’s “programming” is overturned based on him spontaneously getting electrocuted and his arms, though strong enough to bend steel girders, fall off from the effort of bending some iron bars. It’s fine because it’s funny, even if it doesn’t really make sense. It’s similar to The Simpsons in that way, though Futurama doesn’t have the same floating continuity.

The premise isn’t particularly original, but it’s just a way to create an environment filled with fantastic levels of technology and strange creatures so that they can conflict with Fry, who is a contemporary failure. The opening sequence even drives that home, presenting the future as a crazy blend of ridiculous architecture with dense urban population. The sequence famously has over ten times the number of layers of any contemporary cartoon, something that gives it a more futuristic and complex feel which really matches the show.

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“Tasty Human Burgers.” Yeah, that sign doesn’t need to be in English.

On a personal level, I should probably say that I might have been influenced somewhat by this episode, as I later got a physics degree in college specializing in cryogenics. Not saying it’s because I want to freeze myself for the future, just saying that I was really sad when I found out how primitive the technology to do so is at present.

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We can’t store beer for that long, yet.

Well, that’s it for the first episode. Overall, I give it a solid B as a Futurama episode. It’s not as good as the show will get, but it has a lot of laughs, a lot of references, and even a moment of emotional honesty.

Favorite joke: When Fry is woken in the future, Terry, the cryogenicist (David Herman), says “Welcome to the world of tomorrow!” in a dramatic voice. Aside from the fact that he admits to doing it when waking anyone up, it’s a reference to the 1939 World’s Fair “Futurama” Ride, whose tag line was “welcome to the world of tomorrow.” It was also parodied in the film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, which had the “World of the Future Fair,” which was a combination of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. If you put a thing I can connect to Batman in an episode, that’s automatically plus 5 to the score.

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See you next week, Meatbags.

NEXT – Episode 2: The Series has Landed

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.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E1 “Pilot”

Welcome to Rick and Mondays. This will be bi-weekly for now, until I get a bigger buffer built up next month (hopefully). Rick and Morty and Futurama ended up tying in the vote for the next series to do, then Futurama won the run-off, so Futurama Fridays will commence after Firefly Fridays ends, and Rick and Mondays will run in the meantime. If I keep it at bi-weekly, it should end about the time that there are finally new episodes of Rick and Morty.

SUMMARY

RickAndMondaysS1E1Car

This is where it all began and, fittingly for a show that exists to subvert sci-fi and television tropes, it starts off with a massive subversion with introducing us to Rick Sanchez (Justin Roiland) as our pretty much ultimate anti-hero by having him break into his sleeping grandson’s, Morty Smith’s (Roiland), room and abduct him. Rick, who is super hammered, shows Morty his new flying car that he built with stuff from the garage and tells him that he has decided that the Earth needs a “fresh start.” So, he built a neutrino bomb which will kill off all of humanity, leaving Morty and the girl he likes from math class, Jessica (Kari Wahlgren), to repopulate humanity. Morty takes the wheel and forces the car down. Rick, upon landing, tells Morty what appears to be an obvious lie that the whole thing was just a test to make Morty more assertive, then passes out… as the neutrino bomb starts to arm itself. The title sequence prevents us from finding out if the bomb actually goes off, since, in retrospect, this could just be a completely different Rick and Morty than Rick and Morty C-137, who most of the series follows.

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The next morning, or just a morning in a completely different universe, Morty passes out in his breakfast. His sister, Summer (Spencer Grammer), immediately rats him out for spending his nights out with Rick. His parents, Jerry and Beth (Chris Parnell and Sarah “The First Becky of our hearts” Chalke), both are angry about this, which Rick tries to ignore while claiming that school’s not a place for smart people. Jerry blames Rick for hurting Morty’s chances of advancement and wants him to move out, but Beth’s anger is quickly suppressed when Rick pays her a minor compliment about the breakfast. This pretty much leads to the subject being dropped.

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At school, Morty falls asleep during a math test (and molests his teacher while unconscious), before being assaulted by a bully. Rick appears out of nowhere and freezes the bully, pulling Morty through a portal to help him run an errand in another dimension. After they leave, Summer accidentally causes the bully to fall over and shatter, killing him.

Rick and Morty end up in Dimension 35-C which is home to the Mega Trees which produce Mega Fruits that have Mega Seeds that Rick needs “for his research,” which he consistently refuses to clarify further. Rick and Morty get chased by monsters, cross phallic, testicular, and yonic landscapes, and finally arrive at a cliff above a valley of the Mega Trees. Rick gives Morty a set of grappling shoes to get down the cliff, but doesn’t tell Morty that he has to turn them on, causing Morty to fall down the cliff and break both of his legs. Rick goes through the portal to another dimension that has instant broken-leg-fixing serum. Morty gets the Mega Fruit, but Rick explains that the dimension with the serum had stopped the aging process, so Rick, being old, was basically a celebrity, resulting in him spending a lot of time there getting laid. So much time that his portal gun is now out of charge and they’ll have to return through interdimensional customs.

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Meanwhile, Jerry and Beth have been arguing about Jerry’s desire to put Rick in a retirement home. Jerry says that Morty is failing school, but Beth counters that Morty was always failing, but at least now he has a friend. The idea that, maybe, either of his parents should help him work on school is never addressed, because these two are the f*cking worst. The two are called into the school by Principal Vagina (Phil Hendrie), who informs them that Morty has been absent frequently (only attending school for a few hours a month), almost always signed out by Rick, who also has been hiding the messages from the school to the Smith family. Jerry uses this as evidence that Rick is negatively impacting Morty’s life, seemingly winning the argument.

At interdimensional customs, Morty has to hide the seeds way up in his butt so that they won’t be confiscated. Rick’s anus, through years of smuggling and experimentation, has lost its elasticity, rendering him unable to carry the goods (or so he says, at least). This is quickly rendered pointless by a new machine at customs that can detect stuff way up people’s butts. Rick grabs Morty and makes a break for it, eventually finding a portal. While Rick enters the coordinates, Morty defends them from security, killing a guard. Rick and Morty jump through the portal, landing right in front of Jessica, but immediately running into Beth, Jerry, and Principal Vagina.

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WAAAY up the butt. Like, a colonoscopy turns to dentistry far.

Jerry and Beth confront Rick, telling him he has to move out, but Rick has Morty demonstrate an aptitude towards math and science which Rick claims can only be expanded through adventuring together. Beth and Jerry agree to let them go together, believing it to be the only way that Morty will have a successful future. However, it turns out that the entire demonstration was just a side-effect of the seeds up Morty’s ass dissolving, leading to the second side effect where Morty’s motor skills and brain functions become uncontrollable. Rick ends the episode saying that there will be 100 years of Rick and Morty.

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Let’s hope they’re right. 100 Episodes is a good start, though.

END SUMMARY

Well, that’s the first episode. This was our first glimpse into the world of Rick and Morty, and it’s not half bad. Since I’ve got an entire series worth of episodes to address themes, I’m just going to cover the one that I think is most represented in this episode: Rick’s rampant hatred of bureaucracy/government.

First, the episode literally starts with Rick, or at least A Rick, deciding that Earth civilization is now so messed up that killing everyone is the best solution. Granted, he’s drunk, but that’s a pretty strong statement on Rick’s opinion on society that omnicide is preferable to dealing with it. His plan isn’t so great, either, since he only wants to save Morty and Jessica, which would lead to a lot of awkwardness and a lot more inbreeding.

Next, we have Rick’s statement that school isn’t a place for smart people. He basically says that the problem with school is that, while you’re in school, you’re essentially controlled by the rules of the school and all to learn only what the school wants you to, in exchange for a “piece of paper that says you can go take a dump or something.” This is actually justified a little more when we see Morty’s math class, where he’s literally being taught addition in high school. If you look at the sheet, there are only 6 questions, the answer to 4 of which are just 10. And this doesn’t appear to be a remedial class. And it’s not like the staff actually appears to care a ton about education. Mr. Goldenfold (Brandon Johnson) literally teaches the same lessons over and over again and the principal of the school doesn’t seem to care enough about a student only attending class 7 hours a month to make sure his parents are aware of it. Also, the principal appears to be trying to invoke a race riot by spontaneously stating that the frozen bully wasn’t killed by a “Latino” student (although, Rick’s name is Sanchez, so, maybe the kid was).

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The math on the blackboard isn’t even right.

Last, we have the less justified opinion of Rick’s when he tells Morty to kill the guards at customs because “they’re just robots.” When Morty shoots one of them, he screams in pain, one of the other guards yells that he’s bleeding to death, and that someone needs to call his wife and children. Rick then explains that “it’s a figure of speech,” and that they’re bureaucrats, so he doesn’t respect them. This is probably one of the more horrifying positions that Rick takes in the episode, even compared to his attempt to eliminate all of humanity: Bureaucrats aren’t people. It’s not just Rick’s normal nihilism speaking, this is almost a hyper-objectivist viewpoint that a person isn’t a person unless they’re fully flexing their individual rights and respecting the supreme individuality of others. Rick’s conflicts with the massively bureaucratic Federation throughout the series is summarized by Rick as “they think they control the Galaxy, [Rick] disagree[s].” In contrast, Jerry is amazingly successful when the Federation controls Earth, despite the fact that he never actually knows what his job is.

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This later gets re-enforced with Rick C-137’s opinion on the Council of Ricks, since they’re a group that formed to fight the government by becoming a government. When the Citadel gets re-addressed in season 3, we find out the citadel’s structure is even more bizarrely anti-Rick, because it has a massive class divide that suppresses some Ricks and Mortys despite the fact that the lower-class Ricks are LITERALLY EXACTLY AS SMART AS THEIR BOSSES.

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Something that leads a group of geniuses to elect an evil sociopath president.

The show puts forth an interesting position on this by not really making a strong case either for or against Rick’s viewpoint. On the one hand, the schools do suck, the Federation basically just takes over planets and tries to steal whatever relevant technology has been developed rather than developing their own, and the Citadel of Ricks literally markets freedom as a wafer rather than, you know, having freedom. On the other hand, Rick is a mass-murderer who contributes nothing of value to society and abuses or mentally breaks everyone he comes in contact with, often for his own amusement. He’s literally all of the things that society is formed to prevent, and he only is able to continue to do any of it because he’s the smartest being in an infinite multiverse. So, he’s Andrew Ryan from BioShock with access to even crazier levels of technology and less concern for the welfare of others. Morty even says that Rick’s like Hitler, but at least Hitler cared about “Germany or something.”  So, yeah, Rick’s freedom is pretty awesome, assuming that you’re Rick. If you’re an occupant of one of the planets he destroys while drunk, not so much. And you’re not Rick, I guaran-f*cking-tee it.

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BONUS: JOKER’S “QUIT EXPLAINING THINGS” SCIENCE CORNER

So, for the record, I think the Neutrino Bomb is an interesting concept. A neutrino is a subatomic particle that only interacts with the weak nuclear force and gravity (here’s a Ted-Ed on Neutrinos). Since gravity doesn’t really mean anything at that scale (smaller than a proton), the weak interaction has to be how Rick plans on killing everyone. I’m not the only one to speculate on this, I’m sure, but the main way that a neutrino could probably kill someone is by having the neutrino hit a neutron, causing beta decay turning it into a proton, and causing it to eject an electron which can cause radiation damage to most living beings.

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The problem is that neutrinos don’t like to do this, and it’s only because the sun is putting out a sh*t ton (technical term) of them that we ever get a single reaction we can measure. So, for Rick to kill everything on Earth, he’d need many orders of magnitude more than the sun puts out. I don’t want to do the math, but I’m gonna guess it’s in the quintillions to septillions of suns. Now, at this point, you might think that this makes this just a sci-fi term that you can add to a regular word to make it sound Star Trek enough to get by, but I refuse to accept that, because this is Rick F*cking Sanchez, and Rick isn’t going to play that. Rick probably knows that neutrinos are more likely to interact with matter when they have a higher energy. So, my proposal is that Rick has somehow figured out how to put more energy into Neutrinos than even a supernova burst, increasing the odds that they’ll interact with matter to the point that he can reliably kill an entire planet… or a solar system if he just “eyeballs” it. He claimed to be able to turn a black hole into a sun, so I doubt this is beyond him. It’s a pretty good way to get rid of life without ruining the planet itself, honestly, if there was any way to do it that didn’t require producing a solar-system sized fusion reaction. But Rick made a universe on his own just to power his car, so, again, Rick probably can pull it off.

Overall, I give this episode a

B

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

NEXT – 2: Lawnmower Dog

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.