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

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

S1EC - 2BottleCap.png
Seen here in Fry’s luscious esophagus.

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

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

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

1. Bender’s Brain

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

S1EC - 6CPU.png
Sure he can’t run graphics well, but he can play Duck Hunt!

2. New Slurm vs. Slurm Classic

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

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

3. Making Water

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

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

That’s it for Season 1!

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

PREVIOUS – Episode 12: When Aliens Attack

NEXT – Episode 14: I Second That Emotion

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Futurama Fridays – S1 E12 “When Aliens Attack”

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

SUMMARY

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

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

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

END SUMMARY

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

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

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

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

FAVORITE JOKE

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

We find the Defendant… vulnerable yet spunky!

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

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

PREVIOUS – Episode 11: Mars University

NEXT – Episode 13: Fry and the Slurm Factory

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S1 E11 “Mars University”

We’re getting to the end of Season One. Time to go see Mars.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio), take a package to Professor Farnsworth’s (West) office at Mars University. It’s a University on Mars. While there, Fry is informed that being a 20th Century college dropout is now less than being a high-school graduate, so he resolves to enroll and drop-out of college. Bender visits his old frat, only to find it filled with nerds: Gearshift, Oily, and Fat-bot (West, DiMaggio, David Herman). They ask him to teach them to be cool, so he stays on campus.

S1EB-1MarsU
Admittedly, best motto.

Fry finds out that he’s roommates with a super-smart monkey named Guenter (Tress MacNeille), who he feuds with. After a run-in with his regular monkey parents, Guenter realizes he’s not happy. Fry tells him to just go be an animal, so he throws off his hat (the source of his intelligence) and heads into the Martian jungle, but is followed by Leela, Fry, and the Professor. Bender and his fraternity enter a rafting contest that goes through the same jungle. Eventually, the trio find Guenter, but are knocked into the water by Bender’s boat and have to be saved by Guenter. Guenter’s hat is damaged in the process, making him only moderately intelligent, which renders him the perfect candidate for business school.

S1EB-2Guenter
The monkey ends up running the FOX Network. No, really, that’s canon.

END SUMMARY

This is probably my pick for the worst episode of Season One. It’s a parody of college movies, but since people have been parodying them since the beginning, and frat films are so absurd they almost inherently are self-parodies, this one just didn’t have that much originality except for “set on Mars.” It’s a funny half-hour of television, but it’s more like they just used “future” words for jokes that already existed. Oddly, I appear to be alone in this, as several sites list this as one of the best episodes of the show. Different strokes, I guess. Update: The lists that put it highly no longer appear to exist, so… I win.

S1EB-3VonSnoot.png
I mean, “Snooty House” is both lazy and funny, but more lazy.

Fry and Guenter’s feud is fun, but it’s also extremely stupid and shallow. It’s literally just there so the roommate conflict tropes can play out. Bender’s fraternity simultaneously is filled with nerds who don’t do anything but also is on super-secret probation, a la Animal House, just so they can do jokes from both of those college-movie subgenres. On the one hand, I appreciate that they took a shortcut for the set-ups so they could focus on the jokes. On the other hand, the jokes are all a little too easy, since it’s just a series of parodies of other films.

S1EB-4PantyRaid.jpg
Is the panty raid joke better if they’re spying on a computer? Maybe.

I do appreciate that the episode really does try to address the concept of whether or not intelligence is inherently isolating, but the joke resolution kind of undercuts it. Admittedly, I think it’s a funny joke. Aside from that, most of the episode isn’t really the level of cleverness I expect from Futurama. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just very safe.

FAVORITE JOKE

When thinking about his college days, Fry flashes back to his time at Coney Island Community College, which, as the name suggests, is located on Coney Island. It has a carnival barker out front who asks people who wants to learn physics. The college itself is apparently located on a ride of some kind. But the best part for me is when he says that their mascot was the “Whitefish.”

S1EB-5ConeyIsland.png
It’s no ITT Tech, but it’ll do.

Aside from all of the species of fish that are called “whitefish,” none of which are located anywhere near Coney Island, whitefish is a term used by fisheries to describe cheap, easily marketable, mass produced fish meat. In other words, the students are literally represented as being cheap, mass-produced, and low-quality. If only other schools were so honest.

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

PREVIOUS – Episode 10: A Flight to Remember

NEXT – Episode 12: When Aliens Attack

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S1 E10 “A Flight to Remember”

This is where some network stuff kind of starts to screw up the ordering. On the original DVD sets I had, this was part of Season 1. However, on Amazon, this is part of Season 2. This is because this episode was produced as an episode of Season 1, but it was broadcast later. Since going by the broadcast seasons would mean there are 10 seasons of Futurama, I’m just going to stick with the production seasons. At least it’s not Firefly.

SUMMARY

As a reward for not calling the authorities over all of his horrible business practices, Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) takes the entire Planet Express staff on a trip aboard The Titanic, a space cruise ship. Leela (Katey Sagal) is dismayed to find out that the captain of The Titanic is Zapp Brannigan (West) and decides to pretend that Fry (West, again) is her fiancé so that Zapp won’t try to sleep with her.

S1EA-1Zapp.png
He’s a keeper.

Bender (John DiMaggio) meets a wealthy fembot, the Countess De La Roca (Tress MacNeille), and pretends to be a rich bachelor in order to rob her. However, he ends up confessing the truth after falling for her. She reciprocates and they do a parody of Jack and Rose in Titanic. Amy (Lauren Tom) runs into her parents, Leo and Inez Wong (West and Tom), who want to set her up with a random stranger, so she pretends Fry is her boyfriend. Now burdened with two fake girlfriends, hi-jinks ensue for Fry. Leela gets jealous of Fry pretending to date Amy, leading to Leela and Fry having a romantic moment that leads to them almost kissing.

S1EA-2Bender.png
He’s a fraud. A poor, lazy, sexy fraud. 

Meanwhile, Zapp has decided, for no real reason, to change the cruise route, resulting in The Titanic getting too close to a black hole and being caught in its pull and entering the event horizon. This interrupts Fry and Leela’s moment. The crew starts to evacuate, while Bender heads back to save the countess. The crew gets caught by a bulkhead door which Zoidberg (West) barely keeps from closing. However, Hermes (Phil LaMarr) is revealed to be a professional limbo champion and, with the help of his wife, LaBarbara (Dawnn Lewis), makes it under the door and frees them. Bender and the Countess make it back to the escape pod, but it’s too heavy. The Countess sacrifices herself to save them… and she’ll never be mentioned again.

END SUMMARY

Well, much like “A Big Piece of Garbage,” this was a parody of a then-recent movie. Take a guess which one. It’s mostly a set-up for the first real romantic tension we get between Fry and Leela, but the other character interactions are also pretty fulfilling. Everyone has at least some small side-story.

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So close, and yet, so many seasons to go.

Bender’s romance is pretty much in-character for him. He believes it’s real love but, ten seconds after she’s dead, he tries to pawn the Countess’s necklace. Hermes’ tragic past as a limbo champion is one of the funniest gags in the show that keeps going. The idea that a small child killed himself trying to limbo out of adulation for Hermes is so ridiculous and yet it works perfectly within the episode and for the character. Zapp’s capricious piloting and rampant idiocy is also in character, reminding me why I love him so much and why he would be the first person I would kill if I was on a ship with him. Not that I kill people on boats, but it’s good to have an order just in case. The Professor gets some action from Hattie McDoogal (MacNeille) which will come up a few more times. Zoidberg… well, he’s there and he’s hilarious.

S1EA-4Limbo.png
He has an Olympian’s build.

This episode sets up a few nice character moments that continue through the series. Kif (Maurice LaMarche) and Amy meet, which eventually leads to their romance. Amy’s parents and their constant meddling are introduced. Fry and Leela’s romance starts, albeit roughly. Hermes’ limbo past comes up. Overall, I like the fact that, aside from a few throwaway gags with Bender and the Countess, this episode didn’t really rely on the movie Titanic that much.

S1EA-5Kiss2.png
Her parents look way too happy about this.

FAVORITE JOKE

The episode’s lighter on complicated gags, since it’s more a series of vignettes about the characters intertwining. So, here are my top three:

  1. The Buffet

S1EA-6Buffet.png

“All You Can Eat Plus A Whole Chicken.” I mean, I love a buffet, so this one kind of hit home. You can’t beat just dropping an extra chicken on the plate, particularly on a cruise.

     2. Bender’s Drawing

S1EA-7Drawing.png
It was the most e-rotic moment of my life. Yes, that’s a joke.

They replicate the famous drawing scene in Titanic, but with Bender’s finger operating as a Dot Matrix printer. When it’s revealed, it turns out Bender sees her nudity as a circuit diagram. It’s a nice double-joke inside of five seconds.

     3. iZac (Phil LaMarr)

S1EA-8iZac.png

iZac is a great character gag. It’s Isaac Washington from The Love Boat played by Ted Lange, except that this one doesn’t take any crap. When Bender tries to steal drinks, he has him beaten for being a deadbeat. Also, yes, it’s a pun on iMac which only became more relevant as time went on and iPods and iPads came out.

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

PREVIOUS – Episode 9: Hell is Other Robots

NEXT – Episode 11: Mars University

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S1 E8 “A Big Piece of Garbage”

This episode wins the award for most direct title. It’s also a wonderful shot at Armageddon, the movie it satirizes a bit. Granted, I am the rare reviewer who kind of enjoys that film, as dumb and terrible and made by Michael Bay as it is, but I still thought turning the focus of the movie into a giant wad of human waste was pretty funny.

SYNOPSIS

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) attempts to impress his peers at the Academy of Inventors symposium with his new invention, the Death Clock. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the symposium, he is told by his nemesis Dr. Wernstrom (David Herman) that he actually presented the Death Clock last year and was mocked for it. In response, he claims to have designed a Smell-o-scope, a device that lets you smell through a telescope. He is again mocked for this invention. Moreover, after he vows to build it anyway, it’s revealed that, like the Death Clock, he already invented it and forgot about it.

S1E8-1Smelloscope
Amazingly no one noticed before.

Fry (West) begins smelling around the Universe, including Urectum (the new name for Uranus), before he smells something absolutely disgusting. It’s revealed to be a giant ball of garbage that was created by 21st Century New York and launched into space. Farnsworth and the crew try to warn Mayor Poopenmeyer (Herman) but are challenged by Wernstrom until the ball passes Neptune, confirming its existence. Since, much like in Armageddon, nothing can be used to shoot the ball down, Fry, Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) land on the ball and plant a giant bomb. Unfortunately, the Professor put the timer in wrong, resulting in the team having to get rid of it before it destroys the ball.

S1E8-2RightStuff
The Right Stuff walk was just a bonus.

Upon returning, Fry comes up with the plan to launch an identical ball of garbage at the current one, so the entire city pollutes as much as they can to create enough trash to match it. After just under a day, they launch their filth-sphere, deflecting the other one into the Sun. Leela points out that the new ball will just come back, but Fry says nobody cares because that won’t be for 1000 years.

END SYNOPSIS

Since this episode aired in 1999, Armageddon and Deep Impact had both been big films the previous year, making this parody pretty timely, given the pace of animation. Disturbingly, Futurama’s physics aren’t much less ridiculous than either of those films, aside from Farnsworth somehow making a machine that can smell through the vacuum of space. I also appreciate that, rather than just doing the parody all the way through, the third act of this episode consists of them coming up with a different, albeit ridiculous, solution to the impeding impact.

S1E8-3BallOfTrash
Trashy television.

I do have a theory on the Smell-O-Scope, though. Currently, we can use spectrographs and spectrometers to determine the chemical compositions of objects found in space by measuring the intensity of the various spectrums of light emitted from the object. I believe the Smell-O-Scope is just a very high-level spectrograph which also is capable of replicating the chemical compositions in small doses and sending them through the nozzle into the nostrils of the person smelling it. Basically, it sees what you’re pointing at, determines what it would smell like, and lets you smell it. Or it’s magic.

S1E8-4Smelloscope
Apparently there’s a real one.

Aside from the plot, though, this episode should be respected for introducing us to the recurring character of Morbo the newsmonster (Maurice LaMarche). I love this character, because he’s the kind of newscaster that the world really needs, constantly reveling in the fact that humans are weak and doomed. Let’s be honest for a second, that’s already what most news programs are about. The news is rarely about pleasant or hopeful stories, they’re almost always about things indicating some imminent crisis or depicting a horrible event. That’s what makes for ratings. While Morbo isn’t technically celebrating any of these things for those reasons, he’s accompanied by the ever-upbeat Linda (Tress MacNeille), who cheerfully jokes with him about these events. Together, they represent a more-honest version of the news: They love when bad crap happens and they’re open about it.

S1E8-5Morbo

Also, apparently the Professor’s bomb error is a reference to a failed terrorist attack in the ‘90s. The terrorists put the timer on the explosive upside down, resulting in them setting the bomb for two seconds instead of five minutes, killing one of them and wounding the other severely. I would never have thought something like that could be taken from reality, but apparently it is.

FAVORITE JOKE

The video for the background of the garbage ball is hilarious. First, it has Rudy Giuliani putting all of New York’s garbage on a barge and just kicking it out to sea. This was before 9/11, meaning that everyone still thought that Giuliani was kind of shady. The garbage barge then floats around the world, somehow, before coming back to New York. New York then launches it into space using its mob connections, rather than any official channels.

S1E8-6Rudy.png

Now, this is kind of a clever set-up, but it’s the last part that really sets the joke apart. Farnsworth mentions that he got the video off of the internet, which Fry says was just for pornography back in the 20th century. However, it turns out that this video is a porno. The terrible music that’s been playing over the documentary is actually the muzak we find in erotic films, which, in retrospect, makes perfect sense. And it has my favorite porn exchange, even if it’s fake:

Girl: Now that the garbage is in space, doctor, perhaps you can help me with my sexual inhibitions.

Guy: With gusto!

It’s so perfectly bad.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 7: My Three Suns

NEXT – Episode 9: Hell is Other Robots

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

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

Futurama Fridays – S1 E6 “A Fishful of Dollars”

Welcome to the only episode of Futurama that I have repeatedly used to teach a math lesson.

SYNOPSIS

Fry (Billy West) is sick of being broke after he can’t afford a nice pair of underwear. At the same time, Bender (John DiMaggio) gets arrested. To pay his bail, Fry decides to see if his bank account is still open, remembering that he had almost a dollar in it. After entering his PIN, Fry finds out that, over the last millennium, his $0.93 has grown to $4.3 Billion. Now that he’s rich, Fry goes on a spending spree trying to acquire as much nostalgia from his home millennium as possible, but ends up driving his friends away.

S1E6-1aParty.png
He’s Top Hat Rich, bordering on Monocle Rich.

During an auction, Fry buys the last known container of anchovies on Earth, something that angers evil industrialist Mom (Tress MacNeille) because she believes it to be part of a clever plan to corner the robot oil industry. She sends her three Stooge sons Walt, Larry, and Igner (Maurice LaMarche, David Herman, DiMaggio) to steal either the anchovies or his money. They convince Fry he’s still in 1999, causing him to reveal his PIN. Now broke again, Fry reveals he still has the anchovies. However, he refuses Mom’s offer to buy them, instead choosing to share them with his friends. Naturally, everyone hates them except Zoidberg (West).

S1E6-2Anchovies.png
Billions of dollars are in that can.

END SYNOPSIS

Okay, this is another example of Futurama taking a traditional premise and messing around with it within their unique setting. This is the rags-to-riches-to-rags story where the nouveau riche character suddenly loses interest in everything in their prior life, realizes how terrible it would be to lose their past friends, then loses their money to reset the status quo. It’s a sitcom standard. Hell, I remember a Gilligan’s Island episode that has that same arc, except with imagined wealth. But, kudos to the math-loving writers of Futurama (something that will come up again), they found a semi-practical way to give Fry the money and a completely ridiculous way for him to lose it.

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With a cameo of Academy Award-Winning actress Pamela Anderson.

Fry even makes the lesson explicit when he says that he finally found what he needs to be happy and “it’s not friends, it’s things.” Bender even humorously points out that he IS a thing. But, rather than it being the loss of his money that makes Fry realize he was wrong, it’s actually thinking he’s back in the 20th Century and that Leela (Katey Sagal) and Bender were never real in the first place. It’s a nice twist, because it means that Fry probably would have learned the lesson even if he’d kept the money. If it was just that he was forced back into his old life and learned it, then it’d feel disingenuous, because he didn’t have other options.

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The idea that a renewable resource could threaten an industrialist’s monopoly is also not exactly new, but this one is pretty damned funny. I love that Mom already has figured out that the easiest way to harvest anchovy oil isn’t by recreating anchovies, but by putting the oil-making gene in a bunch of third-world kids. However, she doesn’t intend to do that, because it would stop her from being able to constantly sell her own oil. It’s like the argument people give for why there’s not a cure for diabetes: It’s not that it can’t be made, it’s that companies don’t want to cure something they can sell tons of treatments for. This idea is actually stupid, of course, since the first company to come up with the cure could patent it and make insurmountable profits selling the cure, which they would do because, otherwise, someone else could develop it and do the same. However, since Mom is the only robot oil manufacturer, the plan actually makes sense for her.

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Mom and her Stooge sons

For the record, I’m not criticizing them for re-using old ideas, I’m giving them credit for making old ideas work in original ways.

Btw, if you care about doing the math on Fry’s money using the compound interest equation, you find out that the numbers actually do work out if Fry’s account compounded annually. In fact, when I’ve taught compound interest, this is my go-to example to work through, since people tend to like pop-culture-based lessons more. I’ve also had to watch a lot of students get disappointed when I inform them that banks have safeguards in place to prevent people or businesses from doing this kind of thing. As if a lot of them were going to be cryogenically frozen. In any case, I appreciate that they at least made the numbers work. However, I cruelly have made students calculate the purchasing power of that $4.3 Billion if inflation is 3%, something that makes it worth much less than a penny, because inflation ruins everything.

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FAVORITE JOKE

It’s pretty easy in this one. It’s the Petridge Farm ad. It’s short, and it’s a play on Pepperidge Farm, and I think this joke was just the right amount of ahead of its time. It’s not shown, but you hear the ad as:

Do you remember a time when chocolate chip cookies came fresh from the oven? Petridge Farm remembers.

Do you remember a time when women couldn’t vote and certain folk weren’t allowed on golf courses? Petridge Farm remembers.

At the time this aired, there wasn’t as much of a cultural recognition of how much we whitewash our past, because it was the ‘90s and it felt like everything was going up. But, in the last few years, we’ve really had a lot of discussion about how much the US, and people in general, tend to romanticize the past or forget about all the people that were getting the short-end of the stick back then, instead idealizing it as a time where everything was just magical and people were better, despite all of the statistics. Well, this joke just cuts out all the pretense and reminds us that what people who want the past really want is a time when other people were suppressed. It’s not that life was easier, it’s that life was easier for some people, because it was harder for others. And the companies that market to that nostalgia are contributing to that. South Park would later do this idea in a more complex way with their Memberberries in Season 20.

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

PREVIOUS – Episode 5: Fear of a Bot Planet

NEXT – Episode 7: My Three Suns

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.

Netflix Review – Disenchantment: Part 1 – Voice Actors Deserve More Credit

I think at least a few of you know my opinion on how underappreciated voice actors are and this show is a solid example of why.

SpoilerFree

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Disenchantment follows the adventures of Princess Tiabeanie (or “Bean”)(Abbi Jacobson), her elf friend Elfo (Nat Faxon), and her personal demon Luci (Eric Andre) as they mostly get drunk and do stupid crap around the fairy tale kingdom of Dreamland. Bean just wants control over her own life, being a princess doomed to arranged political marriage. Elfo is an exile from the elf village because he slept with the leader’s daughter (although, apparently so has everyone). Luci was gifted to Bean so that he can slowly encourage all of her worst behaviors and corrupt her spirit.

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No Evil Dead jokes will be made here.

For the first few episodes, they mostly deal with Bean’s drunken antics pissing off her father, King Zøg (John “I AM BENDER, HEAR ME ROAR” DiMaggio), but a plot does actually slowly start to build, culminating in the final three episodes forming an arc leading into the second half of the season.

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And a sugar-filled explosion.

END SUMMARY

I was a little worried about this show from some of the preliminary reviews. However, the show’s by Matt Groening, which guaranteed I was going to see it. I think The Simpsons was the greatest show on TV for the better part of a decade and I love Futurama so much I’m reviewing the entire series. So, why not take a look at his third series? (For those of you bringing up The Critic, that was Al Jean’s show, not Groening’s)

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We owe him the benefit of the doubt, people.

It starts off slow and, I’m sad to say, a little too predictable. The first few episodes’ jokes mostly are the obvious ones. As I was watching it, I did have to remark that the only reason this doesn’t feel original is because I already saw The Simpsons and Futurama do the same kind of jokes and I saw Shrek and other films do the “modern stuff but in Fairy Tale land” jokes. The difference is that it isn’t pushing the envelope like The Simpsons did (because The Simpsons did it) and it didn’t have the quiet, emotional moments that Futurama used to nail. They weren’t bad jokes, but I was already saying the punchlines before they were out.

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You only forget the other moments in Futurama because sometimes they went for the throat.

So, what kept me in the show through those episodes? The fact that the voice actors were all nailing their parts. They were giving their characters just enough of a twist to at least keep me interested, even though the characters were (intentionally) generic at first. Bean is a hard-drinking sex-positive “anti-princess,” which basically means she’s Sheridan Smith’s character from Galavant. She’d have been original in the 90s, but we’ve seen it a bunch since then. However, with Broad City‘s amazing Abbi Jacobson behind her, she still felt unique, even before she managed to get some real development. Same with Elfo, whose constant upbeat attitude is not undercut, but actually overplayed hilariously, by Nat Faxon. And Eric Andre is just a comic genius, though, to be fair, Luci is the most inherently humorous of the three leads, since he’s just an evil snarker. Then, there’s the supporting cast.

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This is a ton of comedic talent packed in one image.

The rest of this show is basically the cast of Futurama without Katey Sagal. It’s got Billy West, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, and Maurice LaMarche. Look up roles they’ve voiced and I guarantee you’ll see your adolescence. Matt Berry plays a recurring role as an idiotic chauvinist prince, basically reprising his role as Douglas Reynholm from The IT Crowd and almost everything he says is hilarious, even the obvious things. And that’s really what helps the show at the beginning when it’s going a little slow, that the characters are all saying predictable things but at least they’re saying them in funny ways. The art is Groening’s creative and distinct style, which also really helps, as do some of the great background gags.

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I mean, the Griffin’s beak is just his big nose. I wouldn’t have drawn that.

However, after a few episodes, the show actually starts to find its rhythm and manages to really start landing some solid jokes. The main thing is that it does actually reveal a story arc and some character arcs, something that really is kind of necessary for a streaming show. At that point, you start to realize that some of the things that seemed unnecessary at the start of the series do actually start to pay off a little. It reminds me a bit of the first season of BoJack Horseman where a lot of the goofy, stupid things that happened at the beginning were just to set up the world of the show, which ends up helping them play the long game. I’m not saying that this will be BoJack level, but the last few episodes actually set up the show to take a series of pretty strong turns during the next half of the season, with the characters changing accordingly.

So, it’s not really “great” yet, but it’s definitely “good” and seems to be ready to build to something much better. I’m definitely going to give it a chance. Look, it’s the first time that Groening’s really developed a series that actually has a continuity and an arc, aside from the one or two in Futurama, so it stands to reason that it took a little adjustment.

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.