Futurama Fridays – S3E9 “The Cyber House Rules”

Leela gets plastic surgery to be normal while Bender tries to sell orphans for meat.  

SUMMARY

Leela (Katey Sagal) gets invited to her reunion at the Orphanarium. At first she is hesitant because all of the times her fellow orphans tortured her over her eye, but Fry (Billy West) points out that she has become more successful than any of them and should use this to get payback. When they arrive, Leela points out that all of them are losers (One lives in a box, one sells his own body parts for money, one is deaf and blind), but they still look down on her because she only has one eye. Dr. Adlai Atkins (Tom Kenny), a man she had a crush on as a boy, defends her. He apologizes for making fun of her as a child and offers to give her plastic surgery to make her appear to have 2 eyes. Everyone at Planet Express says it’s a good idea, except for Fry, so Leela goes through with it, gaining a “normal” face. She goes around experiencing normal life with two eyes, including winking, blinking, and blending in with a crowd.

S3E9 - 1Monocles.png
She also doesn’t realize two-eyed people can wear monocles to look fancy. Like the peanut.

Meanwhile, Bender (John DiMaggio) has discovered that the government will pay $100 a week to anyone who adopts orphans. Seeing a scam ahead, Bender adopts a dozen of the orphans, only to quickly realize that kids cost a lot of money. He tries cheap work-arounds like Cat Meat burgers, feeding them with the free peanuts that come with his beer at bars, and dining-and-dashing, but still is barely making any money. It’s also keeping him from living his usual bachelor lifestyle.

S3E9 - 2Kids
Kids grow up and commit theft so fast…

Adlai and Leela begin dating, much to Fry’s frustration. Adlai is exceptionally boring and obsessed with average things. However, when he takes Leela to dinner and sees Bender’s kids run out on a check, Adlai asks Leela about having kids. She is elated with the thought, but then asks Adlai if they should adopt kids instead. He agrees, and they decide to adopt one of Bender’s kids, who he is apparently trying to sell to a Chinese restaurant. Upon seeing them, Leela wants to adopt the mutant child, Sally (Nicole St. John), who has an ear on her forehead and a tail, something Adlai insists they fix through surgery. Leela states that she’s fine just as she is, leading her to realize that she was fine the way she was, and forces Adlai to reverse the surgery. Bender donates the orphans and the money back to the Orphanarium, Leela goes back to normal, and Bender reveals that he did actually become attached to the kids before declaring he hates them all.

S3E9 - 3Ear
The third ear hears your thoughts. Provided you say them out loud.

END SUMMARY

This is an episode where I think the B-Plot is definitely the stronger of the narratives. I think even the creative team recognized that when they ended up naming the episode after it, rather than the clear focus of the episode, Leela’s eye. The thing is most of the jokes in the episode that actually work come from Bender mistreating the children (which is okay because he keeps them happy), rather than the montage of Leela trying to be normal.

S3E9 - 4Chest
Case in point. This is just adorably funny.

The generic plot of “everyone’s different and fine the way they are” is something that is more difficult to do with science fiction, because technology does slowly eliminate a lot of differences and in Futurama technology is unbelievably advanced… when it suits them. For example, blind, deaf, and nearsighted people still exist, but Fry once had his hands replaced in 15 minutes when a T-Rex bit them off. Hell, in the first episode on Comedy Central, Fry is regrown from a few cells and hair, complete with his memories. Similarly, despite the fact that people routinely interact with aliens ranging from humanoid to blob to hyper-intelligent forms of light, Leela and Sally are still mocked for their appearance and mutants are forced to live in the sewers of New New York. Granted, most of this is done by children, who I think everyone agrees are cruel little monsters when in groups.

S3E9 - 5Kids
Pictured: Monsters. Just… so many monsters.

While the message of the episode is good, it does still bring up a few ethical questions for the future. For example, throughout the series it’s pointed out that Leela has almost no depth perception, despite the fact that she’s a pilot. She crashes at least twice from it over the run, which, again, is actually pretty impressive given that she has no depth perception. However, in another episode it’s implied that every time she crashes through the billboard in the opening, that actually happens weekly, which is… less impressive. My point, though, is: Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for her to actually have two eyes if she wants to do that job? But, if they do that, are they destroying something about her identity? When we eliminate disabilities, we’re also eliminating the culture that has grown out of those disabilities. While this episode kind of picks the “you’re better just being you,” they do kind of avoid any actual discussion about the implications of this.  Probably for the best, given that deaf people protested when Scrubs portrayed a deaf father agreeing that his son was better off with a cochlear implant, something that the deaf community considers “selling out,” apparently.

S3E9 - 6Cochlear
Despite that, more people keep choosing it.

Overall, I enjoy this episode, although the A-plot just isn’t that funny to me.

FAVORITE JOKE

This episode has the best opening line in the series. It’s Morbo, the news monster, saying the following:

So I gave the cookies you made to Fawn and the kids and they couldn’t believe it — they were delicious. But, I digress.

S3E9 - 7Morbo1.png

Tremble, puny earthlings! One day my race will destroy you all!

S3E9 - 8Morbo2.png

It’s so perfectly delivered that I rewound it two or three times on this viewing just to watch it again. It conveys the exact dichotomy that Morbo represents: A professional talking head and an invading alien. Normally, you’d think that you couldn’t be a newscaster and also be seeking the eventual destruction of the people in your audience, but- who am I kidding, that’s most of cable news.

Strong second place is Bender’s response to getting arrested:

S3E9 - 9Arrest.png

SMITTY: You’re under arrest for child cruelty, child endangerment, depriving children of food, selling children as food, and misrepresenting the weight of livestock!

BENDER: If you had kids of your own, you’d understand.

I mean, I don’t have kids, but I’ve met enough of them that… yeah, I get it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 40: That’s Lobstertainment!

NEXT – Episode 42: Where the Buggalo Roam

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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Rick and Mondays – S3 E4 “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

Morty forces Rick to go along on an adventure with the Vindicators, a superhero team whose name is definitely not derivative of anything.

SUMMARY

Rick and Morty (Justin Roiland) receive a call from the Vindicators, a superhero team that they had previously assisted. Rick refuses, but Morty uses his right to choose every tenth adventure from winning the bet in “Meeseeks and Destroy” to force Rick to do it. They join the Vindicators on their spaceship base and are informed that a villain named Worldender is out to take over the galaxy. Rick wastes no time in being hostile towards all of the Vindicators: literal starchild Supernova (Gillian Jacobs), cyborg reptile Crocubot (Maurice LaMarche), conductor of a ghost train Alan Rails (Lance Reddick), hive-minded ant colony Million Ants (Tom Kenny), and renegade starsoldier Vance Maximus (Christian Slater). The only one he gets along with is the janitor Noob-Noob (Roiland).

Morty believes this is the second time that the Vindicators have assembled and is dismayed to be told that it is actually the third. Rick and Morty weren’t invited to the last one due to Rick’s horrible personality. Rick is amused that the Vindicators hate him so much and points out that he routinely beats much more powerful enemies than the Vindicators face, but is then hurt when Morty says that the Vindicators are heroes, unlike Rick.

The next morning, Rick is found on the conference table passed out in his own feces. Morty and the Vindicators head towards Worldender’s lair with the unconscious Rick in tow. They manage to make it through multiple defenses, but then are stymied by turrets. They wake Rick up, who stops the turrets. Once they’re inside, they find all of Worldender’s minions dead and Worldender himself impaled and dying. It’s revealed that he was killed by none other than Rick, while Rick was blackout drunk. Drunk Rick has set up a series of death traps designed to torment the Vindicators. Vance is killed quickly trying to escape while Morty solves the first death-trap.

In the next room, Drunk Rick challenges the Vindicators to tell where they would never be found. Crocubot is killed after he reveals that the Vindicators killed an entire planet during Vindicators 2 due to not being able to track down a shapeshifter named Doom-nomitron, who Rick could easily have located. It turns out that Rick was talking about Israel, which Rick defends as just being “complicated,” but not “anti-Semitic.” After that, Drunk Rick tells them to make a series of three-pointers, which they do easily, however, Alan Rails ends up accusing Million Ants of sleeping with Supernova while she was married to Alan. Rick and Morty fight over Rick’s behavior, until they witness Million Ants and Supernova kill Alan violently.

The last room contains a puzzle where Drunk Rick tells the Vindicators to show the one thing he values. Morty reasons this is nothing, but Rick says the answer might be Morty. Morty gets taken on a ride by the deathtrap where Rick appears to be getting emotional, only to reveal that the actual answer was Noob-Noob. The trap still accepts the answer, though, and the room starts ascending to the surface. Along the way, Supernova starts trying to kill Rick and Morty. Million Ants tells her not to, but she kills him. Rick and Morty are nearly dead when they hit the surface, which has been turned into a party organized by Drunk Rick. Supernova flees the crowd and Rick and Morty join the party.

END SUMMARY

This episode is a shot at the superhero film genre and it’s one of the funnier ones to date. There are a lot of levels of criticism in this episode, so let’s go through a few.

First, Rick points out that superheroes are fairly generic. In his first trap room, he tells the Vindicators to match several traits (Don’t play well with others, tragic origin, never give up, superpower is a burden, and using power responsibly) to each of their pictures. Morty quickly points out that all five of the traits apply to all of the Vindicators because they’re just variations on the same general themes. He even tells them that he’s more complex than they are.

Rick also tells the Vindicators that he believes he can knock out what they do in a year in a few hours, a reference to how superhero film arcs take an entire film or even multiple movies, whereas Rick and Morty generally gets through both an A and B plot in 22 minutes. This is a statement on the tighter storytelling that Rick and Morty uses compared to the more spectacle-based superhero films.

The show also uses their typical nihilist satire to deconstruct the idea that superheroes even exist by having them slowly display all of their worst traits when faced with something more complicated than a normal, punchable villain. Vance reveals that behind his charm and wit he’s actually a coward, Alan attacks Million Ants out of anger, Crocubot makes an illogical decision, and Supernova just goes straight villain. However, as Supernova says, the reality of the heroes is irrelevant, because it’s the belief in them that actually matters. In other words, heroes don’t actually have to be all they claim to be, they just have to appear that way. Rick, meanwhile, is always honest about being a shithead, which is somewhat more moral in its own way.

This is one of the best episodes which doesn’t have a B-Plot. The focus is unerringly on Rick and Morty, but it still works well. 

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Look, this one’s pretty straightforward, so I’ll give you two mini-theories.

First, Rick chooses Israel because he’s sick of being confused with Rick Sanchez, the former CNN, now Fox News commentator who got into trouble for anti-Semitic comments. Rick apparently has complicated feelings regarding Israel, but I think he goes out of his way to draw attention to his support of Israel in an attempt to separate himself from the other Rick Sanchez.

Second, why do Rick’s neutrino bombs have such a high fail rate? Well, it’s because he’s building them out of neutrinos, which have a high rate of passing through regular matter undetected due to only interacting with gravity and the weak nuclear force.

Overall, I give this episode an

B+

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 24: Pickle Rick

NEXT – 26: The Whirly Dirly Conspiracy

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 – S3E4 “The Luck of the Fryrish”

Futurama spends an entire episode setting us up for a punchline, but instead decides to gut punch us with emotion.

SUMMARY

This episode constantly bounces between Fry’s life in the 20th Century and his life in the 30th Century.

In the 20th Century, we see Fry (Billy West) being born on the day that the Mets win the World Series (which doesn’t really track, since the Mets won in 1986 but Fry is 25 in 1999. Presumably in the Futurama universe this is 1973 and the “You Gotta Believe” Mets team didn’t lose to the Oakland Athletics in Game 7. This is all the baseball I know.). His father, Yancy Sr., (John DiMaggio) names him Philip after the screwdriver. Fry’s brother, Yancy Jr. (Lauren Tom as kid, Tom “Ice King” Kenny as adult), quickly establishes a trend of being jealous of anything Fry has, including the name “Philip.” As kids, Fry is shown to be worse than Yancy at most things, until Fry finds a seven-leaf clover which makes him unnaturally lucky, even at things which would normally be considered skill-based, like basketball or break-dancing. Yancy is always jealous when Fry is successful and tries to take the clover, but Fry runs home and hides it in a Ronco Record Vault inside The Breakfast Club’s soundtrack.

S3E4 - 1Clover
Such Clover. Much Luck. So Wow.

In the future, Fry is having a streak of bad luck at the racetrack. Not only does Bender (DiMaggio) drug Fry’s horse, resulting in a shameful loss, but when his last dollar gets blown onto a power line, he gets struck by lightning, twice, and blown into a dumpster. Back at Planet Express headquarters, Fry mentions the clover and Zoidberg (West) points out that it might still be in the ruins of Old New York. Fry, Bender, and Leela (Katey Sagal) head underground to the remains of the New York of the 20th Century and make their way to Fry’s old house. However, the clover is no longer in the vault. The three give up on finding the clover, only to run into a statue of Fry’s brother with the clover in his lapel and the nameplate reading “Philip J. Fry.” Fry, incensed, punches the statue and breaks his hand, declaring that his brother “stole his life.”

S3E4 - 2House.png
You can go home again, but it looks like crap.

A video on the internet informs the crew that the Philip J. Fry that is immortalized on the statue was actually a massive celebrity in the 20th century, famous for his perpetual luck, culminating in him being the first man on Mars (if you don’t count the native Martians). He was buried with the clover, so Fry tells everyone that they’re going to go rob the grave. At the graveyard, Fry, Leela, and Bender start digging up the body, but Fry knocks some of the moss off of the other Philip’s grave.

S3E4 - 3Statue.png
He looks taller than Fry, too.

In the past, Yancy breaks into the Ronco Record Vault to find music for his wedding and takes the clover in memory of Fry. Later, Yancy and his wife name their first son Philip after the brother Yancy says he misses every day. In addition to the name, he gifts young Philip with the clover.

In the Future, Fry finds out the truth: The Philip J. Fry they’re digging up is actually his nephew, who was, per his tombstone, “named for his uncle, to carry on his spirit.” Although Bender does dig up the clover, a tearful Fry leaves it to rest in his nephew’s grave and smiles, realizing that his brother wasn’t taking his legacy, but making sure it endured.

S3E4 - 4Grave
Dear everyone who makes TV: We need more of this.

END SUMMARY

Holy flaming carp, this episode. I mean, everyone remembers “Jurassic Bark,” and I already have cookies ready to deal with that episode’s punch to the feelings, but this one’s not far behind for me. The difference is what kind of emotions this episode evokes compared to that one, and the fact that this one actually could potentially have been building up to a comical misunderstanding, but instead decided to change it into a powerful dramatic moment.

S3E4 - 5Grave
Definitely better than a comical misunderstanding.

Throughout this episode, the B-plot in the past portrayed Yancy as the kind of person who actually would bother to steal his dead brother’s name, because from the day Fry was born, Yancy wanted to be Philip. The show presents this idea to us in a little bit of a deceptive manner, showing us a few objective moments of Yancy, while the rest of the time we’re only hearing about Yancy through Philip’s perception of him as jealous. The few objective moments we have don’t contradict Fry’s perception, so it cements that image in our minds. That’s why it’s so surprising when it’s revealed that, upon losing Fry, Yancy spent the rest of his life missing his brother, to the point of entrusting his son with Fry’s legacy. That’s why the moment we share with Fry is so powerful, because we’re going through the realization about Yancy’s true nature at the same time as Fry. We aren’t hit with a wave of sadness like watching a dog waste away waiting for its master, it’s more of a complex series of emotions related to the realization that people aren’t always who you think they are, but that sometimes you don’t learn that until after they’re gone. It’s sad that Fry couldn’t find this out about his brother while he was alive, but he does finally get closure and a reassurance that they did love each other, which is still beautiful.

S3E4 - 6PhilipII.png
I cried a little while screenshotting this.

The key to this episode is the perfect interplay between the A and B plots, allowing for both of them to progress rapidly by letting the audience just assume that nothing important happened between the time that we leave one plot and return to the other. If you’re looking for some gold-standard examples of this, check out the Rick and Morty episode “Meeseeks and Destroy” or the I Love Lucy episode “Job Switching,” but this episode also uses it to great effect, particularly with how it finally has the two plotlines converge into something beautiful and meaningful to both. Interestingly, Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, and writer Ron Weiner used The Godfather II as a model for writing two timelines simultaneously and organizing them by using different colored storyboards.

Overall, this is one of my favorite episodes of the show. It’s also typically rated in the top 10 on most fan polls, so I don’t think I’m insane for that. I don’t think it’s the best, nor even the second or third best, but it is brilliant and touching and writing this review made me tear up a few times.

FAVORITE JOKE

First, a joke amendment that I didn’t find out until this episode. When looking into Fry’s stuff, there’s another pennant for the Whitefish from Coney Island College, the same roller-coaster college Fry says he dropped out of in “Mars University.” At the time, I thought that the choice of whitefish for Coney Island was a hilarious joke about how crappy the university was. It turns out I missed two pieces of information:

  1. “Coney Island Whitefish” is a song by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts about a guy who is a complete waste of time who never tries to improve or do anything. That kinda fits Fry during the 20th century.
  2. Coney Island Whitefish is also a slang term for a discarded used condom, because humanity is gross. I’m hoping this doesn’t apply to anything on the show.

I’ve updated the previous entry in “Mars University” and now I never need to admit to making a mistake.

Second, a wonderful observation and set-up is the fact that Fry’s dad, brother, and his great-grandfather are all named Yancy, as were all of the other men in the line going back to the Revolutionary War. The fact that Fry’s dad doesn’t mention his father is also named Yancy is the first hint we get that there is something unusual in Fry’s lineage, because the Yancy name skips one generation… due to Fry being his own grandfather. Also, I can never prove it, but I think the name Yancy was picked because Billy West who voices Fry also voiced Doug Funnie on Doug. Doug’s middle name was Yancy, and he hated his middle name with a passion.

S3E4 - 7Yancy
It was interesting to see what kind of people made Fry.

Last, the actual best joke, when the horses cross the finish line at the race, they announce a measurement by Electron Microscope which results in a winner by “Quantum Finish.” The Professor (West) immediately shouts out: “No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!” This is one of the best jokes in the series, because 1) it works if you just think the Professor is complaining that he was going to win until they announced a different winner and 2) it works better if you know that the Professor is referencing the Observer Effect of Quantum Physics, which suggests that the mere act of measuring something on a quantum level inherently changes the outcome. This is a perfect example of Futurama’s humor: Works if you know the joke, works if you don’t.

S3E4 - 8QuantumFinish

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 35: A Tale of Two Santas

NEXT – Episode 37: The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz

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.

Rick and Mondays – S3E1 “The RickShank RickDemption”

Season 3 kicks off with a game-changing bang… that tells us the game isn’t changing.

SUMMARY

It’s been a few months since the Second Season Finale and Rick (Justin Roiland)  is being interrogated by the Galactic Federation’s top agent Cornvelious Daniel (Nathan “Firefly Was A Masterpiece” Fillion) inside of a fake reality that exists in Rick’s brain. Rick quickly sees through the ruse and reveals that he is actually capable of making alterations to the interrogation scenario when he changes Cornvelious Daniel’s coffee into a farting butt. Despite that, Cornvelious Daniel tries to convince Rick to show him the secret to interdimensional portal technology by giving him the chance to relive his last memory of his wife. Rick agrees to take him there, but they stop for McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan McNugget Sauce along the way, because it only exists in his memory.

S3E1 - 1Delicious.png
The image that launched a thousand a-holes to later go to McDonalds.

Meanwhile, Summer (Spencer Grammer) is rebelling against the family’s new life under Galactic Federation rule. Beth (Sarah Chalke) is unemployed because alien tech makes horses immortal, while Jerry (Chris Parnell) is thriving, because his new bosses are such bureaucrats that people who are completely clueless are more successful under them. Morty (Roiland) tries to talk Summer out of saving Rick, but ends up telling her that the dead Rick from “Rick Potion #9” has a working portal gun. She robs the grave, but the pair are caught by the family’s robot Conroy (Tom “Ice King” Kenny). They escape through a portal to Morty’s original universe and are saved by Jerry C-137 and Summer C-137. The now near-feral Smiths destroy the portal gun and try to exile Summer, but are stopped by a group of Ricks from the Citadel of Ricks who detected the portal gun’s destruction. Summer tells the Ricks that Rick C-137 has been captured, but is dismayed when they tell her that means he’ll have to be killed by Seal Team Ricks.

S3E1 - 2TwoSummers.png
The image that launched a thousand fanfiction.net nightmares.

Back in Rick’s head, he shows Cornvelious Daniel the story of figuring out interdimensional travel: While he was just a scientist in his garage trying to invent in-universe teleportation, another Rick came to him and informed him that teleportation is not an accomplishment, but interdimensional travel is. Rick, however, realized that this would make him miserable and alone, so he refused, infuriating the other Rick, who left. Rick C-137’s wife, Diane (Kari Wahlgren), comes out to check on him and Rick says that he’s giving up on science, so they should go for ice cream. He gets in the car, but when Diane and Beth come out, someone blows up the garage. Rick then writes out the mathematics behind interdimensional portal technology, something that the modern Rick says made him an “unfeeling ghost.” Cornvelious Daniel, thrilled at having achieved his message, uploads the equations… only to find out that they actually give control of the “brainalyzer” to Rick, who puts his brain into Daniel’s body and leaves him to die. The entire backstory was a lie. As Rick, now in Cornvelious Daniel’s body, tries to use his access to shut down the Federation, he’s interrupted by Seal Team Ricks, who kill everyone, but Rick manages to put his brain into one of the other Rick’s heads and kill the rest of the team, escaping from the Federation. He contacts the Citadel of Ricks and transfers his consciousness into the body of a high-ranking Rick.

S3E1 - 3Diane.png
Probably not even close to Rick’s actual (likely redheaded) ex-wife.

Summer and Morty are being put on trial by the Council of Ricks, to whom Morty admits that he still is loyal to Rick. The trial is interrupted by Rick C-137 teleporting the citadel into the middle of the Galactic Federation Prison. Chaos ensues, with prisoners and the Ricks and Mortys fighting each other. The Council of Ricks take Morty and Summer hostage, but most of them are killed by Rick C-137. The remaining Council Rick (Riq IV) holds Summer hostage, but Rick C-137 fakes being shot by Morty (who didn’t know about it), giving him an opening to kill Riq IV. Rick, Morty, and Summer then break into the highest-level room of the Prison, giving Rick access to the top of the Federation’s computer system. Rick then changes the value of their currency to 0, collapsing the Federation economy and leading them to evacuate the Earth. Rick then returns home, where Jerry tells Beth to pick between Rick and him. She picks Rick and divorces Jerry. Being left alone with Morty, Rick proceeds to tell him that he did all of this to get rid of Jerry and the Federation, because he wants more Mulan McNugget Sauce.

END SUMMARY

I can’t even begin to cover this episode without mentioning the fact that it was part of one of the greatest April Fools Day pranks in history. Without warning anyone, this episode began to play on a continuous loop on Adult Swim. I was at a party at the time, and I didn’t believe it, thinking it was just a prank. But then we bothered to check the site and, to our amazement, here was a new episode of the show, almost exactly a year and a half after the last one, just like Mr. Poopybutthole said. Absolutely amazing.

S3E1 - 4Shoney's.png
Few images have made me happier than seeing this that day.

This episode stands for a complete rejection of character development, something that helps set this show apart in comparison with similar series, while simultaneously playing with the notion of what constitutes such development. At the end of the second season, we believe that Rick has finally decided to do something for his family rather than himself, but this episode reveals that everything was actually just Rick getting revenge on all of his enemies through an elaborate gambit. Morty, who threatens to never forgive Rick for leaving in the last episode, reveals that his feelings towards Rick haven’t changed. Beth, who finally seems to have gotten past her fear of her father leaving, immediately takes him back. The only one who seems to really change is Summer, who is now somewhat idolizing Rick. At the end of the episode, Rick takes it a step further by revealing that his new motivation is now just to get more McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan McNuggets sauce. Not to avenge his family or to fight for justice or anything else that usually motivates protagonists, no, just the sauce.  And that’s one of the best jokes a show can make: Rick’s motivation is completely unimportant to us, so why shouldn’t it be something absurd?

S3E1 - 5PhoenixPerson.png
Also, a reference to Angel from X-men becoming Archangel, another pointless change.

We even think that we’re getting Rick’s secret backstory to explain why he is the way he is, only for it to be revealed to be completely made up. It’s similar to how a lot of writers have treated the Joker in comics and film: Even when we’re given a backstory, it’s best to think that it could be a complete lie. After all, if we found out that Rick really is just driven by some catastrophic event or concrete motivation, wouldn’t that kind of ruin what makes him awesome? He’s just a force of chaos and that’s what works for him.

S3E1 - 6Rant.png
This tells us nothing and everything at the same time.

Overall, this episode was the perfect continuation of the last season’s cliffhanger. It had references to things that had happened throughout the series, but it also just re-established the setting for the true Rick and Morty formula: Rick and Morty doing random crazy stuff because Rick’s a selfish prick.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

Alright, so I just pointed out that this episode ultimately removes any real selfless element of Rick’s sacrifice from the season 2 finale, but I actually don’t think that’s completely true. Let’s break down how Rick’s plan worked:

  1. Get captured.
  2. Get put in a brainalyzer with an agent who wants the formula for interdimensional transportation.
  3. Determine what brainalyzer you’re in by seeing how many times Jerry can fold himself.
  4. Use that information to determine what virus will give you control of the machine.
  5. Put your brain in the agent’s body.
  6. Get Level 9 access.
  7. Wreck Federation Economy.
S3E1 - 7Currency.png
… So, they don’t have English, but they use Arabic numbers? Also, this would not work.

Ultimately, this didn’t end up working out beyond step 5, because of Seal Team Ricks, but at the end of the plan, there didn’t seem to be any steps that would actually get his family back. His last conversation with Morty was that Morty would never forgive him for leaving. Without Morty and Summer being captured by the citadel, who incidentally become victims of Rick’s original plan, Rick might not have been able to get back into the family. Sure, Morty later said that he hadn’t ever really renounced Rick, but Rick isn’t exactly perfect at guessing Morty’s motivations (see: Morty shooting him in the head). Now, he was aware that everyone but Jerry was on his side before leaving, but that’s still a huge risk that he’s never going to see them again, which means that on some level he was at least trying to do something to make his family’s lives better at his own peril.

If you’re saying that he knew his plan to collapse the Federation would work, I counter with: Then why had he waited to do it? Rick has been against the Federation since the pilot, but it’s not until he has nothing left to lose that he finally does it. He’s willing to take the risk now because if he fails, his family is still better off.

So, yeah, the show snuck a little bit of character development into an episode against it. Well done.

LEAVING THE CORNER

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS – 21: The Wedding Squanchers

NEXT – 23: Rickmancing the Stone

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 – S2E10 “The Wedding Squanchers”

The Second Season finale is packed with growth, betrayal, and birdseed!

SUMMARY

The Smith/Sanchez family are eating breakfast when a “courier flap” arrives with an invitation to Birdperson’s (Dan Harmon) wedding to Summer’s (Spencer Grammer) friend Tammy (Cassie Steele). Rick (Justin Roiland) doesn’t want to go, but he accidentally sends Jerry (Chris Parnell) to the wedding, forcing him to attend with Summer, Morty (Roiland), and Beth (Sarah Chalke). They arrive at the wedding and are greeted by Squanchy (Tom Kenny). The Smith family starts to mingle with the wedding guests while Rick is grouchy and bitter about everything. Beth tries to find out some information about Rick’s past from Birdperson, who indicates that Rick is a high-level fugitive. Morty tells Rick he needs to open himself up more.

S2EA - 1TammyRing.png
The birdperson ring is amazing.

Birdperson and Tammy get married and Rick, uncharacteristically, takes Morty’s advice and states that he’s going to open himself up to new experiences, giving a very nice toast to the couple. However, in response, Tammy reveals that she’s a deep-cover agent for the Galactic Federation and kills Birdperson. Rick detonates his portal gun to create a distraction and the family flees on a spaceship. Unable to return to Earth, Rick takes the family to a small planet.

S2EA - 2Killed.png
NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! He will rise like a phoenix!!!

A few days later, Rick overhears Jerry talking to the family about turning Rick in. Everyone else is willing to sacrifice their lives in the name of keeping Rick around, but Jerry points out that Rick would never reciprocate. Rick then decides to surrender himself to the authorities so that his family can be sent back to Earth. Sensing this is going to happen, Morty tells Rick that he won’t forgive him for leaving again, but Rick still turns himself in, being imprisoned for “everything.” The family returns to Earth where Jerry is given a job by the Federation.

S2EA - 3Prison.png
And this was to “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. Amazing.

END SUMMARY

This episode shocked me when I first watched it. I never really figured Rick and Morty for the kind of show to do a long cliff-hanger, which I guess is what made it so effective. Additionally, Rick’s seeming change of character at the end of the episode, finally putting his family ahead of himself, really knocked me for a loop, because, again, that’s not a Rick and Morty thing to do.

S2EA - 4Pizza
Having a drugged character break the fourth wall, that’s very Rick and Morty.

This was truly the culmination of the series thus far. It has references to a number of prior episodes and actually completes several plotlines, ranging from Tammy and Birdperson’s romance to Jerry’s unemployment. The end of the episode even brings back Mr. Poopybutthole from “Total Rickall” to do the wrap-up. It really kind of signalled that the next season of the show was going to have to do something different, but, of course, we didn’t find out what for roughly a year and a half (as Mr. Poopybutthole predicted). It actually served a similar purpose, narratively, to the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones, which is completely appropriate since it features the bride’s “family” massacring everyone at a wedding.

S2EA - 5FleshCurtains
We see the end of Rick’s Band, too.

One of my favorite references in the entire series is also in this episode, with James Callis and Tricia Helfer voicing Tammy’s parents Pat and Donna Gueterman. Fans of Battlestar Galactica will recognize them as the actors who portray Gaius Baltar and Number Six from the series, respectively, which the characters are clearly designed to resemble. This seems to be a subtle reference to the fact that they’ll eventually be revealed as robots, similar to how characters from Battlestar Galactica were constantly being revealed as Cylons, which were humanoid robots. Or robotic humanoids, I forget.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

So, this episode reveals that Tammy is a deep-cover agent for the Galactic Federation, but what’s interesting is that we can guess exactly what led to her being given the assignment based on this episode. Tammy (though it is not the same Tammy) makes her first appearance in “Meeseeks and Destroy,” when Mr. Meeseeks gives a speech encouraging people to become friends with Summer. While that Tammy may not have been a deep-cover agent, since essentially every event up until the events of “Rick Potion #9” happened in both the C-137 universe and the replacement dimension, the Meeseeks speech probably happened in both. This Tammy likely deduced that Summer was a relative of Rick based on the presence of the Meeseeks and realized that she could work her way into Rick’s inner circle if she associated with Summer, such as going to the party Summer through where she met Birdperson. The question then becomes, why was she at the school in the first place?

S2EA - 6Tammy.png
See, she’s one of the first to meet with Summer.

In the pilot episode, Rick uses a portal that is actually owned and operated by the Galactic Federation (as demonstrated both by the bureaucracy and the bug-people) in order to get he and Morty home. That portal ends up placing the pair at Harry Herpson High School. While Rick’s brain-waves are untraceable due to Morty’s proximity, Rick had just entered those coordinates into a Federation transport. It seems probable that SOMEONE in the whole Federation would be able to figure out where they led, but that only got them to the school, so it makes sense that they would place an agent there. Thus, everything in this episode happens because of the pilot.

Overall, I give this episode an

A

on the Rick and Morty scale.

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

PREVIOUS –  20: Look Who’s Purging Now

NEXT – 22: The RickShank Rickdemption

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.

s2E8 - 5MachoMan.jpg
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.

S2E8 - 6ChainSmoker.png
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.

Rick and Mondays – S1 E11 “Rick-sy Business”

We’re at the end of season one; time to get wriggedity wriggedity wrecked, son!

SUMMARY

Jerry (Chris Parnell) and Beth (Sarah Chalke) are heading away to take a cruise on Titanic 2, a ship that reenacts the James Cameron movie Titanic. Jerry threatens Rick (Justin Roiland) with no more trips with Morty (Roiland) if the house suffers any damage. However, the minute they’re gone, Summer (Spencer Grammer) announces that she’s having a party. Rick tells her that she can’t, however, because HE is going to have a party. Morty worries that this is going to be the end of the adventure and objects, but they ignore him.

S1EB - 1JerryAndBeth.png
Jerry doesn’t exactly scream “authority” dressed like a drowned broke artist.

On Titanic 2, Jerry is super enthusiastic about reenacting parts of his favorite movie, but Beth mostly just wants to relax and read. She suggests that Jerry use a maid, Lucy (Alejandra Gollas), as a stand-in. Jerry’s a little disappointed, but Lucy is a huge Titanic fan and they begin to have a good time. However, the ship’s planned collision with an iceberg goes awry, resulting in the ship not sinking. This upsets Jerry, but Beth doesn’t care. Lucy takes Jerry below decks and shows him a version of the car in which Jack and Rose bang in Titanic, then reveals herself to be nude and desperate to reenact a love story like she’s watched so many people do before. Jerry refuses, but she pulls a gun on him and forces him to draw her nude, before threatening to rape him. Fortunately, Beth saves him. Lucy attempts to follow them home, but ends up being run over by their car.

S1EB - 2LucyDraw.png
Yes, just like one of his French Girls.

Back at the ranch, Rick invites a ton of alien friends to his party, including Squanchy (Tom Kenny), Bird Person (Dan Harmon), and Revolio “Gear Head” Clockberg, Jr. (Scott Chernoff), three of his friends from his past travels. Unwilling to pass up her own party opportunity, Summer still invites most of her class over in an attempt to increase her own popularity. The party is interrupted at first by Abradolf Lincler (Maurice LaMarche), a former experiment of Rick’s to combine Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. Morty initially tries to dissuade them from wrecking the house, but ends up trying to hit on Jessica (Kari Wahlgren). Eventually, he shows her the garage, where the pair accidentally activate an invention that sends the house into another dimension.

S1EB - 3SlowMobius.png
Slow Mobius adds the “Can’t Hardly Wait” effect.

On the new planet, Rick tells Morty he needs to find Collaxion crystals to get them back. Morty, Lincler, and Summer’s uncool friend Nancy (Aislinn Paul) venture out into the planet’s wilderness, eventually recovering the crystals at the cost of Lincler. However, it’s revealed that Rick just wanted to snort the crystals as a drug, before showing that he can take them back at any point. Morty, angry at being deceived, throws the crystals out. However, a talk with Bird Person reveals that Rick is actually a miserable person who is asking for help but is too proud to really ask. Morty ends up deciding he still wants to travel with Rick.

S1EB - 4Lincler.png
Technically, he should die by a bullet to the head, either way.

Jerry and Beth return, but Rick freezes time so that they can clean up the house. They goof around in the frozen world and watch Titanic. Morty remarks that Rick seems to be less tortured while spending time with him and Summer. Rick responds by undercutting it and turning on some music while celebrating the end of Season One.

END SUMMARY

Now, one of my favorite things about the episode is that Rick’s party is basically the same as most “wild” parties depicted in media, except filled with insane aliens instead of humans. My favorite is probably Gear Head, who is the epitome of that guy that people don’t want to actually talk to at parties, because they just drone on and on about crap no one wants to hear. Then, later, he’s also the guy who busts out the guitar to play a folk song. If you haven’t been to a party with those guys… well, you’re probably those guys.

S1EB - 5GearHead.png
This is his go-to move. Along with betrayal.

Some of the jokes in this are the most random and also funny in the season. I love most of Abradolf Lincler’s lines, particularly “Prepare to be emancipated from your own inferior genes!” It’s such a crazy line that it fits perfectly for a character who is, explicitly, the result of an insane concept. I also like that Rick takes the high road on Summer for trying to throw a party to get popular, with Rick stating that, like a mature adult, he parties to get wrecked because he doesn’t care about the other people’s opinions.

Beth and Jerry’s B-plot is entertaining, even though it gets a little dark towards the end. The idea that Jerry idolizes the romance of Jack and Rose from Titanic perfectly makes sense of the character, because that’s the kind of relationship that he wants without realizing the inherent flaw there: Jack and Rose only work because Jack dies. Jack and Rose were fiercely in love because Rose hated her life and Jack provided a release from that, while Jack loved Rose for being adventurous. That works for a short time, obviously, but how does a couple like that work when married for 20 years? People change, first of all, but also life has a way of eroding passion like that, which is why marriages and long-term relationships usually have to have something more at their core to sustain them. Jerry and Beth were clearly passionate (enough to get Summer, at least), but much of their story arc so far is them trying to determine if they actually do have something between them that merits keeping their marriage going. It’s like watching Titanic if Jack got his own plank.

S1EB - 6Plank.png
See, he does end up letting go. It’s a metaphor.

This is a solid end to the season because it does show some of the growth that the characters have undergone through the series. Rick is slightly less miserable and self-loathing, having found some value in the time with his family. Morty is more assertive, being willing to stand up to Rick when Rick manipulates him. Is it a huge amount? Not really. But it’s something. Even in a show famous for trying to avert most typical character arcs, some amount of growth is naturally going to occur, if only because the writers themselves have grown during the course of making the show.

Probably the biggest change is Bird Person’s revelation of the real meaning of Wubba-Lubba-Dub-Dub as “I am in great pain, please help me.” Morty insists that Rick is only saying it ironically, but Bird Person seems confident that Rick is, in fact, in a state of internal agony and begging for help. The end of the episode seems to reinforce that, although the show itself sometimes goes back and forth on it.

JOKER’S THEORY CORNER

One question which seems to come up on the message boards (and the Rick and Morty Wiki) about this episode is why Rick would invite two members of the council of Ricks to the party. They’re only seen in the background throughout the episode, but, given Rick’s general disdain for the council, why would he invite them to his party in the first place? Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s because Rick is proud of making it to the end of his first season of television.

S1EB - 7Ricks.png
He’s right next to Daria.

Yes, Rick wanted characters from throughout the season to appear at his party, allowing him to use it as a surrogate celebration of getting through the first 10 episodes despite being an animated show based primarily around nihilism and alcohol. That’s also why he ends the episode by putting on “Shake that Ass Bitch” by Slack Pack and telling everyone that Season One is over. Even better, he ends the season with time frozen so we don’t really have to worry about any changes to the world between the seasons.

LEAVING THE CORNER

While this isn’t quite the level of some of the episodes leading into it, this was still a solid way to end the season. Everything is kind of wrapped up, but we still want more.

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.

PREVIOUS –  10: Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind

NEXT – 12: A Rickle in Time

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.