Animaniacs (2020): It’s Mostly Insany – Hulu Review

The Warner Brothers and the Warner Sister are back.

SUMMARY (Spoilers are essentially impossible)

Back in the ‘90s, they were in a very famous TV show. No, it’s not BoJack Horseman, it’s Yakko, Wakko, and Dot Warner (Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille). Then, in 1998, the show stopped and, aside from a film in 1999, the trio have mostly been gone from the public eye. However, since Hollywood is completely out of ideas, the trio have been brought back to run rampant all over the Warner Studios and society once more. They’re sharing a large amount of the billing with everyone’s favorite mice, Pinky and the Brain (Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche). Welcome to the new world, same as the old world, but a little wackier.

There are parodies galore.

END SUMMARY

It’s tough to review a reboot like this, because this show was a huge part of my childhood that it definitely has a huge nostalgia factor when evaluating, for better or for worse. On balance, I think it actually made me a little more critical of this show than I might have been. While the Warners and Pinky and the Brain have returned, almost no other characters return from the previous series, something that I think might be attributed to the fact that almost none of the writers or creators from the previous show returned. Yes, Steven Spielberg is still producing, but the creative teams for the shows are almost completely different. I guess after 22 years, everyone else had other stuff to do or wanted more money (or, sadly, had passed away). Because of that, while the show does have some of the feel of the previous series, it lacks some of the memorable characters and, rather than replacing them, mostly just focused on the Warners more. It’s tough to not miss the Goodfeathers or Slappy Squirrel. 

A few of the new characters work pretty well, though.

That said, the new show is still really, really funny. It’s definitely aiming for a more mature crowd than the original, with wordplay and references that would fly way over the heads of the average kid. Kids will still like it for the slapstick and the sight gags, though. The show definitely gets away with some dirty jokes, but if you are surprised by that, you clearly didn’t see the original Animaniacs. The fourth-wall breaks that were fairly frequent in the last show are moved up to an entirely new level of meta-humor at times and it is often great. They also fully embrace their tradition of bad jokes that are so bad they loop all the way around to hilarious. Many of the puns fit this mold exactly.

They do a lot of jokes about Spielberg.

I know a number of people have said that the show is pushing an agenda and I can only say that yes, they’re absolutely right. This show clearly disliked the Trump administration and they are not subtle about letting you know it. Compared to the relatively more “everyone’s a target” feeling of the original show, this probably will put some people off, but honestly it came up only a few times so you might not even notice.

Pinky and the Brain tend to be better this season than the Warners.

Overall, I really missed this series and I’m glad it came back. 

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Futurama Fridays – S7E9 “Free Will Hunting”

Bender tackles the eternal question and the answer is “find better engineers.”

SUMMARY

Bender (John DiMaggio) starts his day by deciding to wear nerd glasses. This leads him to get invited to a sorority party, which leads him to enroll in college, which leads to him getting student loans from the mafia. He then drops out of school, gets addicted to drugs, and vomits on the Hendonismbot (Maurice LaMarche) for money. Eventually, he’s arrested and put on trial, but his lawyer successfully argues that Bender, as a robot, lacks free will and therefore cannot make any decisions, negating mens rea. Bender is despondent over the revelation that he might not have free will, and, during a delivery to the robot home world, stays on the planet to try and figure out if he has free will. Eventually, he finds a robot temple where the robot monks have adopted a position that, while they are automatons, they can still be happy. Bender stays with the monks until he discovers that he has a “free will” slot created by Mom (Tress MacNeille) so that they could get free will upgrades. 

It was a very long day.

Fry (Billy West) misses Bender and complains to Leela (Katey Sagal), with whom he is once again romantically involved. Bender returns and convinces the pair to help him steal the free will unit prototype, reasoning that he does not have free will to commit the crime. They successfully get in, only to have Mom explain that she never had the prototype because the Professor (West) never finished it. Bender realizes that the Professor clearly did complete it and threatens him into giving it. However, the Professor reveals that Bender can’t hurt him, because the Professor programmed all MomCorp robots not to harm him. Seeing Bender sad, the Professor installs the free will unit in his head, which leads Bender to shoot the Professor in order to test it out. Bender is prosecuted successfully for the crime, much to his delight.

END SUMMARY

I think this is one of my favorite episodes of this show because it addresses a huge existential problem, whether free will exists, and manages to couch it in a funny parable by applying it to Bender rather than one of the other characters. As Amy (Lauren Tom) points out, no one is positive that humans even have free will, or if we’re just extremely convoluted mechanisms following intricate programming. Bender, naturally, just moves past that, but it does at least remind the viewer that everything Bender worries about in this episode has been contemplated by philosophers throughout the ages. As in the episode, some people get depressed over the unknowability of the answer, some are too busy to care, and some turn to religion or philosophy in order to be happy without knowing. Ultimately, though, this episode actually proposes that eventually science will be able to just tell us the answer or possibly even give us free will using Quantum Theory. It’s a very Futurama resolution.

Some of the better elements of this episode are the way that it highlights or even exaggerates many of Bender’s more human traits despite focusing on how he believes himself to be different than humans. Throughout the entire episode he’s prone to whimsy, then stuck in a need for self-discovery, and finally convinces the Professor not through logic, but through triggering his emotional empathy. Bender is at his least robotic during this episode and it works perfectly.

He suffers a lot from peer pressure, too.

Overall, just a great episode of Futurama. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Pretty much everything about the Robot Monastery. First off, the idea that robots, who confirm that they have no free will and thus should operate perfectly logically, end up using religion as a way to resolve their existential crisis is inherently hilarious. Second, they read from “The Whole eBook,” rather than the Holy Book, which is a nice robot religion joke. Third, most of what the monks preach is based not on actual religious theory, but instead on the absurdist philosophy of Albert Camus, reinforced by the image of the monks working in an M.C. Escher setting. Last, the head abbot is named Ab-Bot, and that’s just fun.

It’s just fun.

See you next week, meatbags.

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NEXT – Episode 112: Near-Death Wish

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Futurama Fridays: S7E5 “Zapp Dingbat”

Zapp Brannigan decides to date his ex’s mom.

SUMMARY

Leela (Katey Sagal) hosts a party for her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, as Leela talks about their lives, her mother, Munda (Tress MacNeille) becomes angry at her husband, Morris (David Herman), for never taking her into outer space. She’d always dreamed of seeing the universe, going so far as to get a degree in alien languages, while Morris just wanted to surf the sewers. This leads them to divorce quickly. Leela takes her mother out with Fry and Bender (Billy West and John DiMaggio) where they run into Zapp Brannigan (West), with whom Leela had a one-night-stand. Twice. Zapp almost starts an intergalactic war, but Munda’s knowledge of languages saves him. They soon begin dating, infuriating Leela. Zapp even hires Munda as his translator so they can travel the universe together. Morris goes on a surfing trip with Bender and Fry in order to cope with the divorce.

Surfing a tide of sewage. That’s a metaphor, probably.

Leela attempts to break up Zapp and Munda by seducing him, but he rejects her and proposes to Munda, who accepts. Fry convinces Leela to accept Munda’s decision and support her, but when Zapp reveals that he is planning to massacre a peace summit, Munda calls off the wedding. Unfortunately, she tells the aliens what Zapp intended, so they start shooting up the ship. The Nimbus’s controls are disabled, but Morris arrives and uses his surfing skills to help the ship ride the aliens’ energy wave attacks. Morris and Munda then remarry. 

This was an awkward moment on many levels.

END SUMMARY

This episode has one of the strangest title choices in the show’s entire run. “Zapp Dingbat” is a reference to Zapf Dingbats, a wingdings-like font composed entirely of symbols, as well as a reference to the fact that Zapp is an idiot. I’m thinking that the fact that it’s about a font relates to Munda’s study of alien language like the symbolic languages that the show used, but I still find it a bizarre choice. The working title of the episode was “Blue Munda,” which, honestly, is a much better choice. Blue Munda would be a reference to Blue Monday, a day in January which is considered the most depressing day of the year, which would reference the fact that Munda is depressed and wants change. It was also a song by New Order that contains multiple lines that could reference this episode. It’s like they had a solid idea then went with a bizarre pun instead. 

Although, she wasn’t the sad one in the divorce.

The idea of one of your exes, even just a person you had a brief fling with, dating a parent is probably horrifying to almost everyone. This episode combines that with a story about parents splitting up due to their differences. The former plotline feels a little forced, particularly since everyone in Leela’s circle of friends is aware that Zapp is an incompetent idiot and Munda doesn’t seem to be a fool herself. However, the latter actually makes a decent amount of sense. Munda has been dreaming of getting out of the sewers for most of her life, whereas Morris always seems to be happiest at home or with his friends. That’s been apparent since the reveal of their characters and throughout the series since. 

His negotiation with the shark people is also an example of his idiocy.

Overall, though, it’s an okay episode. 

FAVORITE JOKE

While I don’t think there are a lot of great stand-outs in this episode, I will say I always chuckle when Leela says “I don’t want to put a rat in your face cage, or whatever you kids say nowadays…” to her father. First, referring to her father, who is going through a midlife crisis as a kid is pretty funny, particularly since he just asked if he could call her “dude.” Second, Leela, who is herself not that old, using the phrase “whatever you kids say nowadays,” is ridiculous. Lastly, though, “rat in your face-cage,” which has never been an expression, is a reference to one of the most infamous scenes in George Orwell’s 1984, in which Winston Smith is threatened with having rats put in a cage around his cage which ends up breaking him of his independent worldview. Given that she wants her father to quit his new lifestyle and return to his previous state with Munda, this is an apt expression.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 106: The Thief of Baghead

NEXT – Episode 108: The Butterjunk Effect

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Futurama Fridays – S6E25 “Overclockwise”

Bender enhances his robotic intellect so much that he becomes nearly omniscient.

SUMMARY

Cubert (Kath Soucie), Fry (Billy West), and Bender (John DiMaggio) are playing a WWII combat game online, but keep losing badly to Walt, Igner, and Larry (Maurice Lamarche and DiMaggio), Mom’s (Tress MacNeille) idiot sons. Cubert says Bender is the weak link, something that Bender acknowledges due to his hardware being out of date. Cubert overclocks Bender’s CPU to compensate and Bender quickly becomes much more intelligent. Mom, discovering that Cubert violated Bender’s user agreement, sends an army of robots to reclaim him and has Cubert and the Professor (West) arrested. Bender manages to overclock his own secondary processor, making him smart enough to avoid Mom’s attacks and continually increase his own intellect. He leaves Planet Express to find seclusion from Mom. 

Graphics are a bit lackluster for 1000 years in the future.

At the same time, Fry and Leela (Katey Segal) are discussing their relationship when she starts to express doubt about the future. Eventually, when the Professor and Cubert are put on trial, Leela leaves Planet Express to go find a new purpose. Fry tries to find a new friend in Randy (DiMaggio), but ends up trying to kill himself by going over Niagara Falls. He survives and finds a cave containing Bender, who is now a mostly non-corporeal existence. Bender has hacked himself so much that he is now using reality as a processor, giving him essential omniscience. He informs Fry that Cubert and the Professor are going to be convicted and declines to explain if Fry and Leela will end up together.

Mom has pin-ups of herself. That’s disturbing and vain.

At the trial, the deliberations conclude, only for Bender to show up a few moments later. He is denied the opportunity to testify, but then mentions loudly that the Jury probably won’t convict Cubert. Mom makes the prosecutor drop the case against Cubert, but Bender then points out that Cubert and Farnsworth are the same person, legally, so dropping a case against one drops them both. He is then picked up by Mom’s robots and reset to his old intellect. Leela later comes back to see Fry and ask Bender about their future. It’s revealed that Bender wrote down how Fry and Leela will end up. The pair read it and, although the audience doesn’t see what it says, it indicates that the two will be happy.

END SUMMARY

This is the third of Futurama’s four finales along with “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” and “Meanwhile.” I’ve stated before that all of these are excellent episodes, but this one feels the least like an actual finale, possibly because it focuses the least on Fry and Leela, who really were the emotional core of the show. However, this episode is still excellent, even if the ending feels a little tacked on, as does the C plot of Leela questioning her and Fry’s relationship. Also, it’s weird that this isn’t the season finale, given that it was originally the series finale.

Hey, I just realized that the mutants can be jurors. That’s progress.

This episode does a good job of having the A and B plots both arise from the same incident, which is a useful narrative tool in sitcoms, particularly since they both sort of represent two different viewpoints on modern computing. Bender’s plotline involves overclocking his central processing unit, which is a term for attempting to increase a CPU’s clock rate, or how often a computer sends an electrical pulse to synchronize all its components. When this is increased it can theoretically make a component’s operating speed higher, but it risks causing overheating issues or power issues if not done properly. If it works, though, you can make parts exceed their factory settings. On the other side, though, most companies will either consider a part warranty void if the part is overclocked (which makes sense as it reduces the lifespan of the component), or, as in this episode, will require users to sign contracts stating they won’t overclock it. That policy, as is stated in this episode, is kind of crazy, because it means that a person who has a part in their computer cannot use it as they want without it potentially violating that agreement. Moreover, some software actually contains licensing agreements (remember, you don’t actually own your software, which is a discussion for another time) which ban the software from being run with overclocked parts. So, you can’t improve your own property. I appreciate that this episode addresses the issue in a funny way.

And yes, you probably have some of these right now.

Overall, aside from the part where Fry and Leela just spontaneously have a weird talk about being on-again off-again, this is a pretty great episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

I’m going to do two. First, the fact that Bender uses Niagara Falls as both a power source and a cooling source is a reference to an apocryphal prediction by a supposed “Professor of Electrical Engineering” from New York. If you take an electrical engineering class, you’ll probably hear some mention of a supposed professor from before the microchip was invented who predicted that supercomputers were impossible, because you’d need Niagara Falls to cool all of the Vacuum Tubes required. Nowhere on the internet have I even seen someone try to name this professor, which should tell you how real the quote is, but it still gets around. 

All is Bender. All will be Bender.

Second, one of the books that Bender reads is Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged. This is a combination of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the classic Rand McNally Atlases. I love this one because, before this episode aired, I used the same joke at a trivia night I was hosting for a “Before and After” clue.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 100: Cold Warriors

NEXT – Episode 102: Reincarnation

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Futurama Fridays – S6E19 “Ghost in the Machines”

Bender dies and his spirit seeks revenge. Also, Ghostbusters.

SUMMARY

On Parade Day (the day with all the parades), Fry (Billy West) dives in front of a runaway float and saves a human, letting a robot die in the process. Bender (John DiMaggio) yells at him because this act indicates that Fry values human life more than robot life, something Fry admits is true. Bender threatens to kill himself, but the crew point out that he regularly says that and never does it. When he goes to the suicide booth, it turns out that the booth is Lynn (Tress MacNeille), one of Bender’s exes. Lynn kills Bender, leading the crew to believe that he really did commit suicide. 

Hence the takin’ off hats.

Unbeknownst to them, Bender is now a ghost. He doesn’t realize it at first, until the Robot Devil (Dan Castellaneta) tells him he’s dead and haunting the computational cloud. The Robot Devil offers Bender a deal: scare Fry to death and Bender gets to live again. If he fails, then he spends eternity in hell. Bender discovers that, although Fry can’t see him, he can possess technology and use it to scare Fry. The crew don’t believe Fry until Bender takes control of Leela’s (Katey Sagal) wristlojackimator. They call in the robot Gypsy (MacNeille), who tells them that a robot ghost is haunting them. The Reverend Preacherbot (Phil LaMarr) is called in to banish the ghost, which ends up working by providing Fry with a “sacramental firewall” that keeps Bender 20 feet away. Bender pushes through the firewall and possesses it, using the software to project horrifying images onto Fry, causing him to have a heart attack.

The devil is famous for his fair dealings.

Bender returns to the Robot Devil to collect, but it turns out Fry is still alive. Fry is sent to the Amish Homeworld, where electronics are forbidden, so that he won’t get shocked again. As Bender tries to kill him one last time, Fry laments that he misses Bender and that he now respects robot life. So, Bender stops trying to kill Fry and follows him to the Amish Homeworld to watch over him. When the rest of the crew comes to visit Fry, the Robot Devil also comes to visit. He tricks Bender into scaring some oxen, which causes a giant dome to roll towards Fry. Bender possesses the Robot Devil and uses his body to save Fry. This leads Fry to head home and Bender to head to Robot Heaven. However, Bender annoys Robot God into kicking him back into his body. 

God formerly dated WALL-E, I think.

END SUMMARY

I love almost any episode with the Robot Devil and this is no exception, despite how little he actually appears in this one. The idea that the Robot Devil bears a grudge against Fry for taking his hands in “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” is amusing because it’s so petty. He’s literally got an entire underworld to run, but he also still complains about how his hands smell like candy corn because of Fry. The episode also takes a bunch of shots at some of his previous appearances, mostly his tendency to punctuate everything with a song. This time he does make it much more clear that the songs themselves are actually a big part of the torment of Robot Hell, including the fact that he’s rehearsing the exact song that he played for Bender in his debut episode. Admittedly, he does manage to rhyme pyrrhic later when improvising, so he clearly has a lot of talent.

His band is the drums, a saxophone, and a piano. Truly, it’s hell.

The concept of a robot afterlife has long been played with in the show, but this is the first time that we consider the ramifications of Artificial Intelligence existing as data outside of a physical body. I think this is a fun reflection of how much technology developed during the run of this show, because when the show started cloud computing had only been in its infancy, and wasn’t really commercially viable until after the show was cancelled the first time. However, by the time this episode was produced in 2010, Amazon and Google had both started to offer cloud computing services. If computer science were to advance to a certain point, then it is possible that the cloud could eventually process, transmit, and store an amount of data that is greater than the sum total of a human, or artificial, consciousness. Maybe it is inevitable that, like Bender in this episode, we’ll find out that we can create afterlives for our own consciousness. Am I saying this episode is a prequel to Black Mirror’s “San Junipero?” Yes, yes I am. 

San Junipero would have been much more interesting with technokinesis.

There are a number of other fun future touches in this episode that round it out. I think it’s hilarious that the Amish eventually move off-planet in order to maintain their lifestyle, but that, due to the passage of time, they still end up advancing technologically. Rather than just barns, they now live in geodesic domes. There’s a day dedicated solely to parades because there are too many holidays, which makes sense when you consider that Earth has been unified for hundreds of years. Also, this episode only makes sense because we learned in “Lethal Inspection” that Bender is mortal.

I love that the Amish have wooden spacecraft.

Overall, I think this is one of the better episodes of Season 6. 

FAVORITE JOKE

This one is going to hurt a bit. I think my favorite joke is when Hermes is going to call someone to “bust” the ghost of Bender. When asked “who you gonna call,” he starts to say Ghostbusters, but is interrupted by a voice that tells him that the number he is dialing has been lame since 1989. Why 1989? Well, I think there are three reasons: First, that’s the year that Ghostbusters II came out and, let’s be fair, that movie is not as good as the first. While I don’t think it’s a bad movie, it still represents a controversial sequel to an amazing film. Second, in 1989, Ghostbusters was supposed to release a game on the Atari 2600. This ended up being so late in the Atari cycle that it was never actually put out, a sign that the franchise was behind the times. Last, Arsenio Hall stopped voicing Winston on The Real Ghostbusters in 1988, so I think we can agree that was when the cool started to leave that show and therefore the franchise. Still, I do love the hell out of the original.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 94: The Tip of the Zoidberg

NEXT – Episode 96: Neutopia

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Futurama Fridays – S6E18 “The Tip of the Zoidberg”

We finally see why someone would hire Zoidberg.

SUMMARY

After his incompetence causes a massive number of issues in the staff, the Planet Express crew demands that Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) fire Doctor Zoidberg (West). Farnsworth refuses, saying that Zoidberg is an expert in alien biology. It’s revealed that Zoidberg was assigned to accompany Farnsworth on a mission to kill a “Tritonian Yeti” decades ago. During the trip, Farnsworth became infected with hypermalaria, a horrible disease that can remain dormant for decades. After Zoidberg helps Farnsworth kill the yeti, saving the Professor’s life, Farnsworth hires Zoidberg so that Zoidberg can kill him if he starts to suffer from hypermalaria. 

Look at how young they were.

In the “present,” Farnsworth starts to show signs of the disease, so he tells Zoidberg that he has to kill him, but that it needs to be by surprise. After a number of failed attempts, the crew catches Zoidberg trying to kill the Professor and imprisons him. However, Zoidberg discovers a white hair on a lab coat, which leads him to realize that the Professor doesn’t have hypermalaria. He escapes to meet with Mom (Tress MacNeille), who is revealed to still have the Tritonian Yeti’s head. The Professor tells the crew that Zoidberg was trying to help kill him, so they build a giant Rube-Goldberg-Esque murder machine. As it goes off, Zoidberg returns to reveal that the Professor actually has Yetism. The Professor turns into a yeti, but Zoidberg cures Farnsworth using the former Yeti’s pineal gland. Zoidberg and the Professor celebrate as friends.

His glasses seem to grow.

END SUMMARY

I have a soft spot for episodes in which Zoidberg actually gets some kind of positive treatment, because he was always one of my favorite characters and he usually gets the short end of the stick. In this episode, we finally find out two key things about the character: Why he was hired and that he actually is pretty good at his job. The only problem is that his job is not actually what his title would indicate, because while he is a good doctor for alien biology, he doesn’t know anything about human anatomy. While it’s odd that he didn’t learn anything about human medicine in the ensuing 80 years of employment, I guess I would counter that most people don’t learn skills outside of their job or hobbies. Since the Professor was never going to fire him, and was his friend, there really wasn’t that much of an incentive to care about being a good human doctor. Also, you have to be a little impressed that he can keep removing and replacing spinal columns without killing anyone.

I mean, Scruffy being alive is impressive, honestly.

The idea of hypermalaria is similar to certain slow viruses or latent diseases, like rubella or chagas disease, but ironically not malaria. While malaria can recur if untreated, recurrences are usually lighter than the initial attack. The idea of having a lifelong condition that can spontaneously kill you, however, is one of Futurama’s darker bases for a gag or a story set-up. Of course, there was no chance that they were going to kill off the Professor, so the ending was kind of inevitable, but having Zoidberg save the day was still nice. 

In the meantime, we just feed the owls.

Overall, I admit this is in the bottom half of Futurama, but I still have a soft spot for it.

FAVORITE JOKE

Fry’s illnesses that Zoidberg causes at the beginning of the episode. First, he gets Simpson’s jaundice, a disease that makes him look like a character from the Simpsons, who are famously all yellow. Then, he turns orange and becomes grumpy, getting a condition called Garfield syndrome, like the comic cat. This is caused by an organ rejection, which I think is a reference to the fact that most hospitals do scheduled organ transplants on Monday so that the patient will have full staff for as long as possible. Garfield hates Mondays, so he hates the organs. Next, he gets “Muppet gangrene,” which makes him act like Kermit the Frog. He rightly states that it’s not easy being gangrenous, like Kermit would say it isn’t easy being green. Lastly, he gets an unspecified disease that makes him look like a Smurf. I think this is a subtle reference to Fry being near dead, because turning blue is a sign of not having enough oxygen. 

PREVIOUS – Episode 93: Benderama

NEXT – Episode 95: Ghost in the Machines

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Futurama Fridays – S6E16 “Law and Oracle”

Welcome to Future Crime, where the computers use hand motions and the deaths don’t matter.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West) is sent on a prank delivery to the cryogenics lab, something that he apparently has had happen dozens of times. He becomes depressed about his perpetual status as a delivery boy, but then he witnesses NNYPD officers Smitty and Url (West and John DiMaggio) bust Roberto (David Herman). This inspires him to quit Planet Express and enroll in the police academy. He ends up graduating and is partnered with Url. After working the streets for a while, Fry and Url are promoted to the Future Crimes Division by Chief O’Mannahan (Tress MacNeille). Meanwhile, Leela and Bender (DiMaggio and Katey Sagal) try to do the deliveries, but find each other too grating without Fry as a buffer.

Bender and Leela go to a 3D planet. How, I don’t know.

In Future Crimes, Fry and Url are introduced to the cybernetic oracle, Pickles (Herman), a human-robot hybrid whose brain is programmed with the brain cells of all of humanity’s greatest detectives. Pickles’ mind can predict crimes before they happen, a la Minority Report. Fry helps prevent a murder, but then, when alone in the department, Fry sees a future vision of Bender burgling Hedonism Bot’s (Maurice LaMarche) cellar for a priceless bottle of liquor. During the vision, Fry shoots Bender. Trying to avoid this, Fry tells Bender not to do it, but ends up inspiring him to do the crime. Fry then sees what happens if he doesn’t shoot Bender: Bender shares the booze with the Planet Express crew, but they all die due to the potency of the alcohol, meaning if Fry doesn’t shoot him, everyone dies.

It’s really easy to get into Hedonismbot’s cellar… or anywhere.

Bender does the heist as envisioned and Fry arrives, but Bender decides not to steal anything. Fry claims that he changed the future, only for Pickles to arrive and reveal that this was all a ploy to steal the liquor himself so that he could drink it and kill his human brain. Fry attempts to shoot Pickles, but that ends up hitting Bender. Pickles then shoots Fry and drinks the liquor, killing his brain. The Chief and Url reveal themselves and Fry and Bender show that they’re wearing protective vests. Fry had realized that Pickles was lying to him because Bender would never share alcohol. Fry is fired for warning Bender about the crime and heads back to Planet Express, where he is promoted to “executive delivery boy,” a meaningless title. 

END SUMMARY

This episode is one of the better parodies in the series. It’s based on the story and movie Minority Report and manages to mock a number of the goofy things that were featured in that film, from the use of balls as a way to indicate pre-crime to the psychic floating in a bath to the weird hand-waving computers. Much like that movie, the end of this episode actually points out that most of pre-crime is pointless, because once someone becomes aware of the future, they can choose to change it, but the show does it in a ridiculous way. I always appreciate when the parody and the original prove the same themes.

Although, having the precognitive party be the villain is a nice twist.

The part that doesn’t age well, particularly as I write this during some nationwide riots against police in 2020, is how the episode makes jokes about the ease of getting through the police academy and the expectation of police violence. A particularly cringe-worthy line, at least at present, is when Url tells Fry not to stay up too late, because “We gotta lotta people to shoot tomorrow.” Yikes.

Robot Cop shooting people… I’ve seen that movie.

Overall, though, the episode makes me laugh. Some of the jokes are a little too dated, particularly the whole Avatar parody subplot, but you can enjoy the pre-crime story even if you don’t know Minority Report.

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, it was always going to be the joke about Erwin Schrodinger going on a police chase. It’s the least subtle physics joke that the show ever made, because it focuses on the famous “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment, which supposedly invalidated the Copenhagen model of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger says that he has a cat, some poison, and a caesium atom, which means that the cat is in a superposition of alive and dead until you collapse the wave function. However, the reason I actually find it hilarious is because after the cat attacks Fry, URL looks in the box and says “there’s also a lotta drugs in there.” It’s that final touch of realism that makes the absurdity so much better for me.

Guess that cat’s out of the ba… box.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

NEXT – Episode 93: Benderama

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S6E14 “The Silence of the Clamps”

Bender gets stuck in witness protection and Zoidberg gets some respect.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew makes a delivery of a set of clamps to the estate of the Donbot (Maurice LaMarche) of the Robot Mafia, which are, naturally, for Francis X. “Clamps” Clampazzo (LaMarche). The delivery is also the day of the Donbot’s daughter’s wedding, leading Bender (John DiMaggio) to gatecrash. During the celebrations, Bender meets the Donbot’s other daughter Bella (Tress MacNeille), and starts making out with her in the stables. While there, Bender witnesses the Robot Mafia beating up Calculon (LaMarche) for owing them money. Bender ends up telling the police about it, leading them to tell Bender that he has to testify in open court. While they try to hide Bender’s identity, the machine malfunctions and the Donbot realizes who is testifying against him. While the jury is about to convict the Donbot, Calculon arrives and, under mob threats, says that he attacked himself. Bender is put into witness protection.

We do get to see the Space Pope, though.

Planet Express starts looking for Bender’s replacement, leading the Donbot to send Clamps to take the position, hoping to track down Bender. Fry (Billy West) quickly tries to bond with Clamps, who goes by Francis, despite Clamps’ constant anger towards Fry. However, Zoidberg (West) becomes angry at Clamps, because people seem to prefer the clamps to Zoidberg’s pincers. Eventually, the crew makes a delivery to the moon, where they find Bender, now living under the identity of Billy West (HA! I get it). It turns out that Billy’s memory contains no traces of being Bender, only of his life as a farmer married to the Crushinator. Despite that, Clamps still tries to kill Billy, only to be stopped by Zoidberg, who cuts off Clamps’ clamps. However, Bella, angry that Bender is cheating on her with the Crushinator, arrives and kills him. The crew goes to mourn Bender at the pizza place next to Planet Express, only to find that Bender is working there. It turns out Billy West was just an innocent robot. Since the mob thinks he’s dead, Bender comes back to work. 

The joke is an innocent father and husband is dead. Way to go, writers.

END SUMMARY

So, I really don’t think highly of this episode. It’s premised on Bender testifying against the Donbot, something that seems out of character, particularly after the police refuse to give Bender more money. Bender is a career criminal and a coward, so it strains even the rather loose character continuity of this show to have him do this. The out of character moment is even weirder because the show points out that Bender is a criminal in the episode as a gag. Also, the idea that there are identical bending units has already been done multiple times, including twice with Flexo, which makes it weird that the crew is insisting that Billy is Bender. You’d think they could check his unit number or something. I realize these are weird nitpicks, but when you have to really stretch character traits to make the plot work, maybe just write another plot. 

Also, he doesn’t run from Bella when she wants to marry him.

I will say that I love Zoidberg’s role in this episode. After having been the brunt of so much ire from the other characters in the show, it’s kind of nice to see Zoidberg being the hero. It also helps that Zoidberg’s concern in this episode is actually kind of understandable. Zoidberg is a terrible doctor, and everyone constantly points it out, so it makes sense that he’d cherish the thing that he is still appreciated for. It’s also fun to see him stand up for himself so fiercely, including his angry swearing. 

John Bleeping Zoidberg

Overall, not the best episode, but not the worst either (since that was last week). A big problem is that the episode also isn’t super funny. 

FAVORITE JOKE

The funniest thing in this episode is probably the trial, particularly the scene in which the initial judge appears. He begins to state that he will not suffer any form of intimidation, only to be assassinated in the middle of the statement. He is immediately replaced by a mob-friendly judge who is otherwise identical. The timing and delivery of everything about this switch is pretty much perfect, including the judge deferring to the Donbot about whether he should recuse himself.

Why wouldn’t you have bulletproof judges?

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 89: The Futurama Holiday Spectacular

NEXT – Episode 91: Mobius Dick

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S6E12 “The Mutants are Revolting”

Leela and Fry lead a devolution revolution… featuring DEVO.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew are hired for their 100th delivery to the wealthy Mrs. Astor (Tress MacNeille). She invites the crew to a fundraiser for the United Mutant Scholarship Fund, which is revealed to be a way to keep mutants segregated from humanity. When tempers start to flare, Fry (Billy West) accidentally tells the guests that Leela (Katey Sagal) is a mutant living illegally on the surface. In response, she is banished to the sewers. Fry tries to appeal to the city, but accidentally gets the rest of the crew, minus Bender (John DiMaggio), who is throwing an epic party, banished as punishment for harboring Leela. Fry tries to empathize with Leela’s plight now that he’s been in the sewers, but Leela tells him the only way he could understand would be to mutate himself in the toxic lake. He avoids jumping in, angering Leela further.

S6EC - 1100
That’s almost 10 per year, due to cancellations.

While wandering the sewers, the crew finds the wreckage of the Land Titanic, a bus that was designed to be like the Titanic and which sank under the surface. On board, they find a Quantum Force Gemerald which shoots out powerful energy blasts, and a passenger manifest. Fry, unable to sleep due to his fight with Leela, walks into the toxic lake and mutates horribly. Sick of living beneath the ground, Leela organizes a revolt. Fry and Bender bend the West Side Pipeway so that all of the sewage in New New York goes back to the streets. Mayor Poopenmeyer stores all of the sewage in Madison Cube Garden. When Leela leads the mutants to the surface to demand equal rights, Mrs. Astor, a blatant anti-mutant racist, has her butler attack the mob by sending a wave of the sewage. Fry appears and uses the Quantum Gemerald to save the crowd. He then reveals that the passenger list to the Land Titanic included Mrs. Astor’s husband Mr. Astor (Maurice LaMarche) as well as mutants. Leela’s Grandmother appears, revealing that she was on the Land Titanic and that Mr. Astor gave her his seat on the “life car.” This leads Mrs. Astor to ask the mayor to let mutants onto the surface, to which he agrees. Fry and Leela kiss, but Fry suddenly is sheds his mutated outer layer, revealing it to be a mutated Mr. Astor. The crew head home to party and celebrate their hundredth delivery.

S6EC - 2Fry
Fry needs a spa day.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the rare Futurama episodes that actually has long-lasting ramifications on the series. After this episode, mutants stop being restricted to the sewers, so even background shots start featuring them. Honestly, I can’t think of any other episode that so easily divides the series by the events, and that’s including the films. Given that we saw the mutants first in the beginning of Season 2, it’s strange to think that we made it through 3 and a half seasons without seeing any of the non-Turanga mutants on the surface. I guess it made sense to make such a big change on what they consider the 100th episode.

S6EC - 3Pipeway
And they finally reference Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

This is also one of the many episodes that tackles a social topic, although in this case the metaphor is so broad that it could easily be applied to any number of groups that have been oppressed in the past. The episode references the Million Man March, and the subsequent Million Woman March, with the Million Mutant March, but also references the 1969 Stonewall Riots with the title, as newspapers covered Stonewall with the image of a sign that said “Homosexuals are revolting.” Basically, just a reminder that segregation is segregation and oppression is oppression, no matter what the reason or the group. If we start drawing lines based on race, sexuality, or number of eyes, we are inherently reducing the humanity of someone.

S6EC - 4Revolt
The newspapers mocked this, as you would expect.

The only thing I really don’t like about this episode is that the ending is mostly a bunch of quick coincidences that wrap everything up, rather than someone actually realizing how horrible it is for mutants to be oppressed. Fry ends up being perfectly normal again, Leela’s back on the surface, and all it really took was one rich woman asking the Mayor. They try to sort-of apologize for it by having Zoidberg sarcastically say “Hooray, a happy ending for the rich people,” but it’s still kind of depressing that equality is won by making a single wealthy woman feel empathy, rather than any societal recognition.

S6EC - 5Astors
Hooray, a happy ending for the rich people. 

Overall, though, still a good episode. Also, I love that Devo are presented as mutants.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s this call and response:

Dwayne the giant head mutant: “Are we not men now?”

Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo: “I’m forty percent potato, but close enough!”

I love this because it’s like four layers of humor. “Are we not men now?” is part of the first Devo album title, Are We Not Men? We Are Devo!. That album’s title comes from Devo’s song “Jocko Homo,” which takes its name from an anti-evolution work in the 1920s and focuses on the idea that humanity is de-evolving, the inspiration for the band’s name. However, “Are we not men?” is taken from the movie Island of Lost Souls, which is an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. “Are we not men?” is the call and response that the anthropomorphic animals of the island chant when they say what distinguishes them from animals, before ultimately devolving back into them. So, this is drawing a parallel between the concept of man as just an elevated animal and the idea that mutants are just the natural step of humanity after it de-evolves. The next part, “I’m forty percent potato” is just a reference to the fact that Devo’s fans are called “spuds.”

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 87: Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences

NEXT – Episode 89: The Futurama Holiday Spectacular

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S6E11 “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences”

Did we need an episode that is about the marital problems on Omicron Persei 8? Yep.

SUMMARY

Lrrr, Ruler of the Planet Omicron Persei 8 (Maurice LaMarche) is once again fighting with his wife Ndnd (Tress MacNeille); this time it’s over his lack of world-conquering aspirations. He invades Earth, but lands in Comic-Con and is mistaken for a cosplayer. After he fails to conquer anything, Ndnd kicks him out. He heads to the Planet Express building looking for shelter. Suffering from a mid-life crisis, Lrrr gets “horn extensions,” new clothes, and goes out with Bender (John DiMaggio) to a club where he almost hooks up with a young “trans-species” woman named Grrrl (Katee Sackhoff).This leads him to realize that Leela (Katey Sagal) is right and that he needs to get back together with his wife. The Planet Express crew uses the head of Orson Welles (LaMarche) to do a version of War of the Worlds to fool Ndnd into thinking that Lrrr conquered Earth, but accidentally fools Earth into surrendering. 

S6EB - 1Car
Ah, the Midlife Crisis. Truly universal.

In a subplot, Fry (Billy West) attempts to write a comic book, but continually makes the hero character either too overpowered or completely ineffectual. His work is degraded by the entire staff and fails to impress Leela. The only thing people like about it is that it has ads for goofy products in the back, some of which are the Professor’s (West).

S6EB - 2Fry
Still better than Liefeld.

While Lrrr rules over Earth, Leela constantly chides him about being honest with his wife, which leads Ndnd to become suspicious of them. Grrl returns to try and win Lrrr’s affections, but Ndnd zaps Grrl with her own ray gun. Ndnd says that Lrrr sleeping with Grrl doesn’t bother her, but Leela nagging Lrrr does, because that’s a wife’s job. Ndnd challenges Leela to Rrrmrrrmrrrfrrrmrrr or consequences, the Omicronian rite of deciding. Lrrr is given a ray gun and told to shoot one of the women. He ends up firing at Leela, but Fry jumps in the way and gets disintegrated. Ndnd affirms her love for Lrrr because he fired at Leela and they depart. Grrl returns to try again, leading them to realize that the ray gun she brought was just Farnsworth’s teleporter ray, so they find Fry safe, having finally completed his comic book, which Leela thinks is pretty good.

END SUMMARY

Maurice LaMarche does a lot of the heavy lifting in this episode, for which he won an Emmy. Not only does he play Lrrr, but he revives his famous impression of Orson Welles, having previously used it in Pinky and the Brain, Ed Wood, The Critic, and The Simpsons. He’s essentially the go-to Orson Welles voice and, in this episode, he nails it once again when he starts criticizing the script to the fake invasion in the way that Orson Welles famously criticized the Ad Copy for Findus Peas in the 1970s. If you haven’t heard the original, I’m putting it here. It’s absolutely amazing.

This episode mostly benefits from having such a generic A-Plot that they could really play around with it. They end up with a ton of top-tier jokes because of that freedom. An episode based around the Honeymooners-esque Lrrr and Ndnd on the rocks has been done multiple times, but this is the first one where they actually seem to separate, so it’s the first one where we really see how Lrrr is on his own. It turns out that he needs someone to nag him to feel whole. 

S6EB - 3Welles
When you make Citizen Kane, you’re allowed to have high standards.

Overall, it’s a solid episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Much of the Comic Con of the future could be in here, particularly the fact that multiple characters cosplay as other characters in the show, but the best gag is probably the fake version of Futurama that Matt Groening presents at Comic Con. It’s called “Futurella” and it takes place in the future year of 4000. We find out literally nothing else about it, because Fox cancels it about 10 seconds into the first episode teaser. Groening and the staff can only admire how much Fox has streamlined cancelling TV Shows. They follow this up by mentioning Joss Whedon, because let’s remove all of the subtlety.

S6EB - 4Groening
Groening still takes Simpsons requests harshly. 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 86: The Prisoner of Benda

NEXT – Episode 88: The Mutants are Revolting

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.