Futurama Fridays – S3E21 “Future Stock”

It’s time to get a heavy dose of the 1980s in the year 3000. It’s awesome… awesome to the max.

SUMMARY

Planet Express is having a stockholder meeting and Fry and Zoidberg (Both Billy West) sneak off to find food at another meeting. First, they go to a Bot-Mitzvah, which doesn’t let Zoidberg in due to not permitting Shellfish or Swine (get it?). They then go to a recovery group for people who were cryogenically frozen, like Fry, where he meets “That Guy,” (David Herman), a 1980s stockbroker who had himself frozen to get a cure for his terminal boneitis. Fry invites him to join the Planet Express company at the stockholder meeting, then nominates him to be CEO of the company. He ends up being elected by 1 vote, due to Scruffy the Janitor (Herman) having four times the shares of anyone else and Hattie McDoogal, the crazy cat lady (Tress MacNeille), hating the Professor (West). 

S3EL - 1Vote.png
Democracy: It totally works every time.

Now that That Guy (real name Steve Castle, but it’s never mentioned) is in charge of the company, he makes Fry Vice-Chairman and decides to attack Mom’s Friendly Delivery Company, the leading package company. Mom (MacNeille) vows revenge, but with That Guy’s 80s know-how, he gives the company a complete makeover to raise its stock price, then sells it to Mom, firing everyone.

S3EL - 2Mom.png
Fry’s executive intimidation is underwhelming.

Fry tries to block the takeover to save everyone’s jobs, but it turns out that Zoidberg sold all his shares to That Guy for a sandwich, giving That Guy majority control over the company. Just as the takeover is approved, That Guy dies of boneitis, which he never bothered to cure. Fry takes over the company, then ends up deciding to turn it back over to Professor Farnsworth. Leela (Katey Segal), Bender (John DiMaggio), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and Amy (Lauren Tom), show up and try to convince Fry to sell the company, because as major stockholders they’d all be wealthy, only to find out that giving it to Farnsworth made the company worthless again. The crew ends up going back to work.

S3EL - 3Boneitis.png
What a funny name for a horrifying disease.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the funniest episodes of the show and certainly one of the episodes that I most frequently quote. It’s basically putting Gordon Gekko in Futurama and watching how it plays out. Naturally, this results in the episode completely and totally satirizing the common image of 80s stockbrokers as greedy, soulless, monsters by making That Guy the greediest monster imaginable, having no real substance as a person.

S3EL - 4ThatGuy.png
He has whiskey with Boesky and cookies with Milken… both billionaire felons.

That Guy is just a perfect pastiche. He only ever references the 80s and its culture, from the music (Safety Dance) to the language (Awesome… Awesome to the max) to the commercials (the Apple 1984 Commercial) to the business ethics (“Friendship to me means that for two bucks I’d beat you with a pool cue till you got detached retinas”). He is focused solely on profit through appearance, rather than through actual work (noted by the fact that after he takes over, Planet Express stops delivering packages). His focus is solely on tearing down the work of other people for his own gain. Even more than Gordon Gekko, That Guy is self-aware that he’s being a complete monster, and he relishes every second of it. He considers being an 80s guy who wants to make as much money as possible as the whole of his identity, to the point that he forgets to cure his boneitis just because he gets too caught up on trying to capitalize on Planet Express. I have to give a special recognition to David Herman’s performance, because no matter how insane the things That Guy says can get, I always genuinely feel like he’s really trying to sell them to the listeners. He makes me think of Alec Baldwin’s speech from Glengarry, Glen Ross, but done by a muppet (sadly, that video is not yet real):

This episode also brings back Mom as an antagonist, something that I never realized only happened once per season for the first three seasons, but this time she’s really not directly trying to destroy Planet Express. Instead, she’s just serving as an equally plutocratic ally to That Guy, while simultaneously being a target for his own plot. Despite the fact that Mom hates That Guy’s attacks on her, she still gives in and agrees to his terms for the buyout, something that would have made him richer than ever. I suppose maybe vengeance just works differently for billionaires?

Overall, this is just a fun episode from start to finish. If you aren’t quoting it now, watch it and I guarantee that you will. 

FAVORITE JOKES

So many of the jokes in this episode are amazing that it’s basically just a string of hits. From the beginning where they do the Bot Mitzvah and the Cryo Support Group to the final sequence of watching the price of Planet Express fluctuate with every line Fry says, I think it’s all gold. That’s why it’s pretty hard for me to pick, so I’ll do the top 3:

1) When Hermes tells That Guy that they can’t compete with Mom

Hermes: We can’t compete with Mom! Her company is big and evil! Ours is small and neutral!

That Guy: Switzerland is small and neutral! We are more like Germany, ambitious and misunderstood!

2) That Guy’s first speech to the team:

That Guy: Let’s cut to the chase. There are two kinds of people: Sheep and sharks. Anyone who’s a sheep is fired. Who’s a sheep?

Zoidberg: Uh, excuse me? Which is the one people like to hug?

That Guy: Gutsy question. You’re a shark. Sharks are winners and they don’t look back ’cause they don’t have necks. Necks are for sheep. I am proud to be the shepherd of this herd of sharks. 

3) The stocks on the exchange, including Kirk – 1.25 and Gorn +2 (because Gorn would really win the fight), are all hilarious, but it’s the one that I spotted this time that takes the cake: eπi -1. That’s a reference to Euler’s identity (e^(i*π) = -1), one of the most profoundly beautiful equations in math. It’s quick, but I love that Futurama is filled with math jokes.

S3EL - 9Joke.png

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 52: Godfellas

NEXT – Episode 54: The 30% Iron Chef

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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Futurama Fridays – S3E19 “Roswell That Ends Well”

The Planet Express crew gets blown into the past and Fry tries to keep his grandfather safe… with sexy results.

SUMMARY

The Planet Express crew is viewing a supernova. Fry (Billy West) attempts to make popcorn in the microwave, but puts metal in it, resulting in microwave radiation hitting the supernova’s radiation, which blows the team back in time, though they don’t initially realize it. When they return to Earth, they crash due to the presence of an Ozone Layer and the lack of GPS navigation. Bender (John DiMaggio) gets ejected from the cockpit during the crash and is smashed to pieces. Zoidberg (West) offers to pick his parts up as Leela (Katey Sagal) fixes the ship, but Zoidberg ends up getting abducted by soldiers from a nearby air force base located in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The Military starts experimenting on Zoidberg, mostly to their detriment more than his.

S3EJ - 1Clock
You can tell it’s time travel because of the clocks. It’s science.

Farnsworth (West) realizes that they can only return to the future if they go through the hole in space-time that they came through, but they need a working microwave for that. He and Leela go to get a microwave, only to find out that they aren’t available commercially yet (which isn’t exactly true, as the first one went on sale in 1946, but we’ll assume it just hasn’t gotten to Roswell). Fry reveals that his grandfather, Enos Fry (West), is stationed at Roswell, which presents a problem as he’s the only one in the ship that can infiltrate the military base to recover Zoidberg and Bender. Naturally, he quickly runs into Enos, who introduces Fry to his fiance, Fry’s grandmother, Mildred (Tress MacNeille). Fry tries to protect Enos from dangers, but ends up killing him by putting him on a nuclear test site. 

S3EJ - 2Enos.png
You can see the family resemblance… except that you can’t.

Leela spots a radar dish on the base which would produce the radiation, but Farnsworth is hesitant to interfere with history. Fry then reveals he killed his grandfather, but still exists somehow. Fry breaks the news of Enos’s death to Mildred, who responds by coming on to him. Fry realizes that Enos can’t be his grandfather, meaning Mildred isn’t his real grandmother, so he gives in. The next morning, the remaining crew tracks him down and Farnsworth points out that Mildred is his grandmother, but Fry is now his own grandfather. Abandoning any thoughts of preserving the timestream (because Fry banging his grandmother is more ridiculous than any of the damage they could do at this point), the ship breaks into the base, rescues Zoidberg and steals the radar dish. They drop Bender on their way back to the future, but dig his millenium-old head up and put him back together. 

S3EJ - 3Bender
Eh, Data on Star Trek: TNG already did this bit.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the funniest episodes of this show and also one of the most important to the overarching “plot” of the series, even if it’s not established at the time. Because of that, it’s also one of the episodes that is most frequently referenced in the future. It’s interesting because the writers established in the beginning of the series that they never wanted to do much with time travel, despite the fact that the pilot episode’s spoiler ends up being dependent on Fry getting down with his grandmother. I suppose maybe they originally had a different mechanism for Fry becoming the chosen one, but this one is funnier. I think it helps that it reminds everyone of Back to the Future, though in this version Marty does bang his mom.

S3EJ - 4Mildred
Granted, Marty’s mom wasn’t quite this forward.

While Futurama has never been adverse to subplots, this episode clearly plays them up more, having three plot threads going at once: Zoidberg being dissected, Fry and Bender’s head trying to protect Enos, and Leela and the Professor trying to find a microwave. Zoidberg’s is a hilarious subversion of the normal alien dissection, because not only is Zoidberg unaffected by most of the organs that they remove, his constant chattering and eating ends up making the soldiers, and eventually President Truman (Maurice LaMarche), get increasingly frustrated. Fry’s is made funny by the presence of Enos, who is a Futurama parody of Gomer Pyle (including having a catchphrase “Gadzooks” like Pyle’s “Shazam”). Enos is shown to be a complete rube, unable to realize when he’s eating metal, not noticing when Fry keeps shoving him into danger, and finally dying from his own ignorance of the testing grounds. He’s also shown to be homosexual, or at least bi-curious, something that seems to eliminate the obvious solution to how Fry survives his destruction: Enos had already impregnated Mildred. Farnsworth and Leela’s plot is shorter, but it contains some strong criticisms of the 1940s, particularly the salesman’s sexist attitudes. It also mocks the fact that we lose any concept of time periods as the years pass by having Farnsworth and Leela have no idea what people are like during that time period, including having the Professor order a stein of mead and two mutton pills. 

S3EJ - 5Shops
I also love that there’s a “Hard Croon Cafe.” 

Overall, this episode managed to do a lot of things at the same time, but all of it is easy to follow and amusing. Very impressive.

FAVORITE JOKE

The Conspiracy Nut who is brought with the President in order to provide a version of events that nobody will believe. Everyone always wonders why the witnesses to alien abductions or bigfoot sightings tend to be people who aren’t exactly “normal.” It turns out this is on purpose, and that the government always chooses to leak information by giving it to people who will completely remove any credibility from their claims. Basically, by having a crazy person spout the idea, they make the idea seem crazy. It’s made even better by the fact that when the conspiracy theorist takes photos, they emerge as photos from completely different conspiracy theories. His photo of President Truman at Roswell is revealed to be the 1997 Arizona UFO sighting…

S3EJ - 6Roswell

and the photo of the Planet Express ship is actually the “Surgeon’s Photograph” of the Loch Ness Monster. 

S3EJ - 7Nessie

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 50: Anthology of Interest II

NEXT – Episode 52: Godfellas

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 – S3E18 “Anthology of Interest II”

The gang approaches the What-If machine for another bout of hypothetical hilarity… and also the Wizard of Oz.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) fine-tunes his What-If machine from the previous “Anthology of Interest” and starts taking requests. 

S3EI - 1WhatIf
Marvel is making a show based on this premise, which amuses me greatly.

The first is from Bender (John DiMaggio), who asks what it would be like if he were a human. In the simulation, the Professor builds a “reverse fossilization machine,” which turns machines into organic beings, like turning a toaster into a raccoon. Bender becomes human, but quickly starts to fall for human vices like smoking and drinking (which he did before but are now harmful to him) and soon discovers his love of sex and food. He goes on a week-long bender (oh, now I get it) until the crew manages to find him and bring him to Farnsworth’s presentation to the Nobel Prize committee. He’s revealed to now be essentially a gigantic ball of fat, leading the Prize committee to attack Farnsworth, but Bender intercedes and claims that everyone should try to live his way to see what indulgence can bring. A party ensues and everyone agrees that Bender’s lifestyle was amazing, but it’s revealed that Bender has been dead since the party started. He is saluted for teaching them the joys of excess, then rolled into the trash.

S3EI - 2HumanBender
Also drives home how much Bender is just Homer Simpson the Robot.

In the second vignette, Fry (West) wishes that life was more like a video game. In this new world, space travel resembles the game Asteroids and Donkey Kong is the ambassador of planet Nintendu 64, which is populated by video game characters. The Nintendians declare war on Earth and invade, being led by Lrrr (Maurice LaMarche). They attack using the ships from Space Invaders and Fry is tasked by the military to combat them using the tank from the game. Despite listening to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” Fry reveals that he never could get the last ship when playing the game. Lrrr lands and reveals the demands of their planet: A million allowances worth of quarters. Earth refuses, but agrees to let the invaders throw their laundry in with them to save on coins. 

S3EI - 4Mario.png
So many people think this is real.

In the last one, Leela (Katey Sagal) asks to find her one true home, but Farnsworth accidentally knocks her unconscious, resulting in her dreaming that she’s caught in a space cyclone and lands on Oz. Playing the role of Dorothy, Leela kills Scruffy (West), the Wicked Man-Witch of the East, and proceeds down the Yellow-Brick Road on the advice of Amy (Lauren Tom), the Cute Witch of the North. She meets with Fry who needs brains, Bender who needs a heart to pump blood out of his basement, and Zoidberg who needs courage for some reason. They’re found by the Mom (Tress Macneille), the Wicked Witch of the West, who sends her flying monkey sons Walt (LaMarche), Larry (David Herman), and Igner (DiMaggio) to attack the group. She reveals that she wants to raise Leela as a witch, something that makes Leela happy until Bender accidentally kills Mom with champagne. The group heads to the Professor’s lab in the Emerald City, where Leela uses the ruby boots to turn herself into a new witch until Zoidberg accidentally melts her. 

S3EI - 5Oz.jpg
Also, Bender tries to rob everyone. Because Bender.

Leela wakes up and the Professor laments that he can’t steal her organs. Hermes reminds her there’s always next year.

END SUMMARY

There was no next year. While there is another season in the original run of Futurama, this is the last Anthology of Interest. We do eventually get a number of other non-canon episodes, but they aren’t titled accordingly. 

S3EI - 6Holidays.png
Including the *sigh* holiday special.

Of the two Anthologies of Interest, I firmly believe this is the superior one. I think that the gag of Bender being human, while it’s a one-note joke, plays the absolute hell out of that note. Bender’s bender (oh NOW I get it!) is so over-the-top that its feelings of indulgence actually match the theme of what’s being depicted and benefits from being a well-paced time-lapse montage. When he’s finally unveiled in his true form, it actually manages to somehow be exactly what you imagined it would be and also more grotesque than you’d want to conceive of. I particularly love him hitting on a woman by offering her a grilled cheese he pulls out of his own fat fold. The fact that he actually is just flat-out dead at the end is the perfect cap-off for the segment.

S3EI - 3FatBender.jpg
If I had to see this, so do you.

The second segment is, in my opinion, the funniest of all of the six stories from the Anthologies, but unfortunately it also appears to have inspired the movie Pixels, which might have given me cancer. If you’re asking “did you even see it” or “didn’t it come out after you already had cancer,” I would state that you don’t understand how terrible that film is. Time and space are powerless against that much suck. Still, this segment is awesome. The references are used well, rather than just being name-dropped (*cough* Big Bang Theory *coughing for real now*), the new rules of the world are conveyed very quickly and mostly visually, and the jokes are all pretty funny.  I think it’s even more impressive that I get a kick out of things like Fry having an extra guy or randomly appearing Pac-Man cherries just because the episode successfully treats it like something that is just a normal part of their world. Nobody makes a big deal out of it, because, presumably, that’s just a natural occurrence in this version of reality. I also love that Fry, who asked for this simulation on the basis that he’s better at video games than anything else, is ultimately unable to win the battle, revealing that his brother always beat the last ship for him. Lrrr even tells him after landing that Fry never realized that he should shoot at where the ship was going to be, rather than where it was, which is the most annoying part of Space Invaders. This ending actually makes a lot more sense than if, say, Adam Sandler, Josh Gad, and Peter “I’m only taking this role because it has nothing to do with my height and therefore potentially opens up more opportunities for little people in acting” Dinklage managed to take out an alien invasion by humping Q*Bert. No, I didn’t see Pixels, but I did hear enough rants by people who did in order to know that is, in fact, a plot point. Also, I’m pretty sure that plot point was based on Q*Bert saying “Where can a guy get a pair of pants around here?” in this episode.

S3EI - 7DonkeyKong
This should be most UN meetings.

The third segment had to be a dream sequence because, otherwise, it would completely spoil Leela’s eventual revelation as a mutant. After all, she does find her true home, it’s just on Earth with her parents and friends. Plus, otherwise it’d be hard to justify a Wizard of Oz parody. I love how they change it around, from having Fry be offended that everyone keeps telling him he needs a brain to the Wicked Witch actually just wanting a daughter to love. My personal favorite and weirdest aspect is that Zoidberg, the Cowardly Lobster, gets a gun, then Bender, the Tin Man, takes it. This means that the only one of the three characters who doesn’t hold a gun is Fry, the Scarecrow, who is the character that had a gun in the original film. If you think I just made that up, AU CONTRAIRE!

S3EI - 8Gun.jpg
WHERE DID HE EVEN GET A GUN?

Yes, that’s right, the Scarecrow has a gun in the original film and somehow people ignore that. 

Overall, all three of these segments are funny. For an anthology, this was really a step up, except that it may have caused Pixels

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, I admit that I love the second segment the most and, honestly, almost any line could do it, even just talking about Fry playing an all-Rush mixtape during the game. However, it’s a single line from the third segment that will always hold a special place in my heart.

S3EI - 9Monkeys
Fly, Fly My Stupids!!!

When Igner complains about being sent out as a Flying Monkey, he tells Mom “But Mom, you promised you’d bake monkey cake today.” She responds with one of my favorite lines:

By “monkey cake” I meant your ass!

Few things are as hilarious as an angry old woman shouting that line. Really, it just confirms that Tress MacNeille is a genius, because every single phoneme in it is perfect. I almost hope that the line was thought up and then they wrote the entire episode around it, but I doubt that’s the case. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 49: A Pharaoh to Remember

NEXT – Episode 51: Roswell that Ends Well

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 – S3E12 “The Route of All Evil”

It’s time to focus on the important things in the future: The terrible, terrible children.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio) decide to brew their own beer inside of Bender. The joke is that Bender looks and acts like he’s pregnant throughout the episode. It’s funny, but there’s really nothing else plot-wise.

S3EC - 1BenderPreg
Feeling fermentation sounds like a thing that you shouldn’t do.

Professor Farnsworth (West), Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and his wife LaBarbara (Tress MacNeille) find out that their sons, Cubert (Kath Soucie) and Dwight (LaMarr), were suspended from boarding school for salting a bully (he was a blob). While bored at the office, the pair send the crew on a fake mission which takes a week, resulting in the Professor and Hermes telling the boys to get a job. They decide to start a competing delivery service, a paper route, called Awesome Express. The kids use a pedal-powered spaceship to deliver the paper and quickly become extremely successful, gaining over one-million customers on their route and Awesome Express starts to actually make more money than Planet Express.

S3EC - 2Delivery
Dogs are still a problem.

The kids try to gain their fathers’ respect, but the Professor and Hermes, clearly insecure about the boys’ success, pretend they’re unimpressed. In response, Cubert and Dwight decide to completely crush Planet Express, hiring Fry, Leela, and Bender for themselves. The men try to counter by working with what they have left, but it turns out that Cubert actually inherited the company when the Professor was declared dead after taking a nap in a ditch. They place Planet Express under Awesome Express and fire their fathers, who quickly become depressed over the situation.

S3EC - 3MoneyPile
Most parents appreciate a money pile more.

Bender finally gives birth to an ale, and it is revealed that Dwight and Cubert have never actually been delivering the papers, since they broke the window of their bully and have been scared to go on the route since. They run crying to Hermes and the Professor, who deliver all of the papers and take the kids to the Blob household to apologize for the window. Mr. Blob  (Maurice LaMarche) refuses to accept their apology, leading the two dads to attack him and get beaten to a pulp. Mr. Blob comes to apologize at the hospital and the fathers all share a bottle of Bendërbrāu, but his son proceeds to eat Dwight and Cubert.

S3EC - 4Blob
He’s angry at automation. Yes, really.

END SUMMARY

This episode addresses having kids in both plotlines, but in very different ways. Fry, Leela, and Bender are dealing with the actual pregnancy and the positive expectations of parenting, while the Professor and Hermes deal with one of the scary realities that one day your kids are going to grow up and take your place. Hermes even says “We just wanted a few more years of being better than them.” In the end, we see all of the happy parents enjoying time with their kids, though in Bender’s case he’s drinking his offspring which is disturbing in retrospect. Still, I think it’s a clever way to play two plots on a similar theme.

S3EC - 5AwesomeExpress
And some shots at corporate business, I guess?

Even though the idea of Bender being pregnant with beer seems like it would be a one-note joke, they do manage to address enough of the aspects of pregnancy in clever enough ways that the joke actually works, right up until Dwight says “this is a delivery company, not a delivery room.” When you do implied but indirect analogies the whole episode, doing an explicit comparison kind of falls flat. Other than that, though, I think the idea is actually well done.

S3EC - 6Ruined
The kids also get mad at the beer, which is… age appropriate?

Hermes’s and the Professor’s behavior is simultaneously ridiculous and relatable. When they first see their kids are trying to start a business, they treat it as if it’s just children playing a game. The minute they discover that it’s a competing delivery company, the two start to sabotage their kids, until they understand it’s a paper route, at which point they consider it a joke again. It goes back and forth like this, with the men underestimating the boys or denigrating their efforts until finally the boys overtake the men. The fact that at no point do they consider just talking openly and honestly with their sons about how they feel is either a shot at the fragility of masculinity, a hilarious commentary on the nature of pride, or both. In the end, though, their love for their children outweighs their insecurity, which hopefully is what actually happens in these situations.

Like I said, I think this is a solid episode for managing to thematically connect such disparate situations.

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the hallmarks of humor is surprise. You need to deliver a punchline that’s simultaneously unexpected and also still reasonable, because just going pure surrealist will never have as much impact. This episode somehow has one of the best examples of a surprising punchline that should also have been completely expected.

When Cubert and Dwight first take over the company, Cubert and Leela have the following exchange:

S3EC - 7AwesomeExpress.png

Cubert: Hey, Leela, help me apply these flame decals I got in my cereal. They’ll make the ship go faster.

Leela: And what’s your scientific basis for thinking that?

Cubert: I’m 12.

Cubert, a literal genius, responds with a huge amount of self-awareness about choosing to believe something completely irrational. It simultaneously makes total sense and also none whatsoever. I love the hell out of this simple exchange. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 43: Insane in the Mainframe

NEXT – Episode 45: Bendin’ In the Wind

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 – S3E5 “The BirdBot of Ice-Catraz”

Bender causes a massive environmental disaster and then loses his mind twice. Comedy!

SUMMARY

The crew are told by the Professor (Billy West) that they are going to have to take a delivery of Colombian dark matter aboard the Juan Valdez tanker. Leela (Katey Sagal) worries about the risk of leaking and ends up refusing to participate when she finds out that it flies through a penguin preserve on Pluto. She goes to join the group protesting the tanker and Bender (John DiMaggio) is made captain, much to Fry’s (West) chagrin.

S3E5 - 1JuanValdez.png
It has 6000 hulls.

Leela joins Free Waterfall, Sr. (Phil Hendrie) in his organization “Penguins Unlimited” and tries to help them in their incompetent efforts to stop the tanker. On the ship, Bender quickly goes mad with power and annoys Fry until he quits. Depressed without Fry, Bender refuses to drink alcohol, resulting in him acting like a drunk, and crashes the tanker into Pluto, flooding the penguin preserve with the dark matter. Bender is sentenced to help clean up the penguins, but quickly decides to escape by putting on a tuxedo, retracting his limbs, and sliding off, but he ends up getting attacked by a killer whale and knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, his system re-defaults to penguin, making him believe he’s actually a penguin. He tries to start a penguin family, with mixed results.

S3E5 - 2PenguinBarf
Not the first picture of a guy in a tux puking on this website.

Back at Penguins Unlimited, it’s revealed that the dark matter has made the penguins ultra-fertile, to the point that they’re laying 420,756 times their previous egg rate (I did the math), and the eggs hatch 136 times faster than normal. I don’t know how all of these eggs are getting fertilized, but… well, let’s just not think about that. To avoid the population boom, the conservationists plan on hunting the penguins, something that Leela finds horrifying, but eventually agrees to do. However, she shoots Bender, resetting him back to normal. Leela tries to convince the conservationists not to hunt, but they refuse. Bender leads the penguins to attack the humans, resulting in them eating Waterfall. His father, Old Man Waterfall (Hendrie) vows to avenge him.

S3E5 - 3HongKong
The overpopulation is a legitimate problem.

The penguins attack the rest of the humans, then Bender and Leela when he takes off his tuxedo. They flee onto an ice floe, but the penguins give chase and surround them. Fry returns in the ship and lands it on part of the ice floe, resulting in the penguins being dropped into a killer whale’s mouth. The trio escape, with Fry and Bender making amends. On Pluto, it’s revealed that the penguins now have guns… but appear to be using them on each other.

END SUMMARY

Two quick thoughts from this re-watch: First, baby penguins are adorable. This episode points that out multiple times and I give it credit for properly cashing in on the magical cuteness of the baby penguin.

S3E5 - 5BabyPenguin

 

Second, Penguin Preserve on Pluto would be a good name for a prog-rock album. I am surprised it’s not been done yet, but Google found nothing. It also bugs me that they call it the penguin preserve, but there are also orcas and puffins on Pluto. If it’s a preserve, why did you import one of their biggest predators? Also, I get that the penguins are the big attraction, but if you’re going to have other things there, why not call it the Polar Preserve on Pluto?

S3E5 - 6Orca.png
That Orca choked to death.

This episode is one of the more ripped-from the history books plotlines in the series, as opposed to a twist on a classic sci-fi trope, because it’s basically just a hilarious take on the Exxon Valdez disaster from 1989. Given that this episode aired in 2001 and when I watched it then I thought it was hilarious, apparently 12 years is the amount of time for an oil spill to move from tragic to comic. Admittedly, that’s because in this version all the penguins were fine and, in fact, improved by the accident, as opposed to the real version, but it’s still impressive that they depict a horrible environmental tragedy and make it hilarious. I think the best crystallization of how it works is when they have Morbo (Maurice LaMarche) and Linda (Tress MacNeille) show the penguins slipping and sliding on the oil with funny sounds added and the caption “Sound Effects Added To Lessen Tragedy.”

S3E5 - 7PenguinSlips
The news we deserve.

Penguins Unlimited is a shot at Ducks Unlimited, a conservation group that preserves wetlands but also advocates population control through hunting. Leela points out that it’s not exactly “natural conservation” if you’re just doing it because you enjoy killing the animals. However, the end of the episode basically points out that everything is kind of pointless because all of the efforts now are just designed to counteract what we’ve already done in the past, so human involvement is implicitly always a very mixed bag.

Overall, I think this episode is fun from start to finish. It’s not particularly insightful and doesn’t have as many gags that I can point to and go “this was great,” but it’s such a goofy and interesting premise that I always enjoy it.

FAVORITE JOKE

Because I’m 12 years old on the inside, I’m going to have to say it’s the following exchange:

Free Waterfall Sr.: Good way to avoid frostbite, folks: Put your hands between your buttocks. That’s nature’s pocket.

Leela: Uh … I think I’ll go check on Bender.

Free Waterfall Sr.: Watch that he doesn’t pick your pocket.

Free Waterfall has a few of these pieces of old-timey wisdom, including rubbing your body with permafrost to keep warm, but this one is definitely the best. He’s literally got his thumb up his ass while he says this, and I can’t think of anything funnier than that.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 36: The Luck of the Fry-rish

NEXT – Episode 38: Bendless Love

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 – S2E18 “The Honking”

Bender becomes the undead… unrobot… unmechanical? Whatever, he’s a were-car.

SUMMARY

Bender’s (John DiMaggio) uncle Vladimir (David Herman) dies and leaves him his castle in the robot country of Thermostadt. It turns out that the castle is haunted by Robot Ghosts, which, it turns out, are real. The Professor (Billy West) determines that the ghosts are hologram projections from the castle’s ethernet connected to the deceased robots. He tries to explain this to Bender, but Bender has run onto the moors where he gets hit by a car.

S2EI - 1Ghosts.png
He looks good for 311. And dead.

After Bender gets back to New New York, he starts to have nightmares about the car and wakes up in an impound lot. He consults the Robot Gypsy (Tress MacNeille) who tells him he is a Were-Car, who will turn into a car each night and run people down, eventually his best friend, Fry (West). He must kill the original Were-Car to get rid of the curse. Bender, Fry, and Leela (Katey Sagal) try to keep Bender from transforming and fail, but Bender attacks Leela instead of Fry, angering the latter.

S2EI - 2WereCar.png
The rubber, it BURNS!!!!

After Bender returns to normal, the trio track down a series of were-cars to find the original, eventually discovering that one of them is Calculon (Maurice LaMarche), the acting robot. It turns out that the original Were-Car is Project Satan (Herman), an evil car made of the most evil parts imaginable. The three go to fight Project Satan, but Bender also transforms and attacks Fry, making Fry happy. Leela manages to get Project Satan to drive into a furnace, causing it to die and upload the anti-curse code. Bender is back to normal, but he tries to kill Fry again when Fry takes his last beer.

END SUMMARY

Futurama’s take on the monster movie is just as original as you would think. This episode combines multiple traditional horror elements: The haunted house, the werewolf story, the possessed car, and the Frankenstein story (Project Satan’s origin). The key is that, rather than have any actual supernatural elements, the story comes up with science-fiction elements to replace them, but each of the replacements is even more ludicrous than the originals would be. Rather than “ghosts exist,” the Professor comes up with a technobabble explanation so ludicrous, that he follows it with “Yes, that sequence of words I said made perfect sense.” Rather than Bender just being cursed, the Gypsy explains it as a Virus beamed to Bender’s operating system through demonic headlights. It’s so perfectly absurd.

S2EI - 3Villager.png
The ignorant and suspicious villagers… who are perfectly logical robots.

Beyond just the horror elements, the episode’s core is about Bender and Fry’s relationship. It’s amusing from our point of view, but it actually does hurt Fry’s feelings when Bender doesn’t attempt to kill him when he first has the chance. This leads Fry to question whether or not Bender is really the dedicated friend that Fry thinks he is. Ultimately, when it turns out Bender actually does consider Fry his best friend, it almost results in Fry’s death.

S2EI - 4Choke.png
Although, Beer > Friendship.

Horror allusions abound in this episode. The were-car that hit Bender in the beginning is clearly designed to be Christine from Stephen King. Bender’s car form is designed to resemble the Car from the film… The Car, which is about a demonically possessed car that came out years before Christine was published. The blood on the walls that only make sense in the mirror is from The Shining. The line “Mumbo, perhaps. Jumbo, perhaps not” is a reference to the classic Bela Lugosi film The Black Cat.

S2EI - 5Satan.jpg
And this is the horror of the electric car.

Overall, I think this is a great episode. It’s one of the best examples of how Futurama can adapt an overused cliche-riddled genre and turn it on its head.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s the jokes that are made about Windows 98 throughout the episode. The first one that really gets brought up is the opening sound cue that plays when the ghosts arrive. The second follows that immediately, which is the windows logo and the After Dark toaster chasing Bender. The last is the Gypsy reading “The Curse of the Were-Car for Windows 98,” which she refers to as an “ancient read-me file.”

S2EI - 6Windows.png
That book takes a while to load.

It’s tough to remember now, but when this episode aired, Windows 98 had just been replaced by Windows ME. Prior to that, everything computer related had been about Windows 98. After the game-changer that was Windows 95, every company that could was excited to put Windows 98 on their software and instructionals. While a lot of people complained about the perceived flaws in it, including South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut having a scene saying that all of the promises were bullsh*t, most of the problems were actually because, as the focus of much of the Tech world at the time, every program was trying to work with it… even ones that shouldn’t. As such, it became one of the first major sources of crashes, malware, and even viruses. So, it makes perfect sense that the episode would equate one of the guides to a magical tome.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 30: War is the H-Word

NEXT – Episode 32: The Cryonic Woman

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 – S2E16 “Anthology of Interest I”

The Planet Express crew participates in a scientific version of “What If?”

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) is demonstrating his new invention the “Fing-longer” which, as the name suggests, is just a glove with a long finger. He uses the device to turn on the What-If Machine, which generates a hypothetical story in response to any “What If” question. The crew tries it out in 3 different stories:

S2EG - 1Finglonger.png
Behold, the FUTURE!!!!!

First, Bender (John DiMaggio) asks what it would be like if he were 500 feet tall. A giant Bender is built on another planet and proceeds to head to Earth, where he quickly befriends Fry (West). However, their interactions are now more destructive than usual due to Bender being larger than most versions of Godzilla. When Zapp Brannigan (West) is sent to stop him, Fry is injured, resulting in Bender going on a rampage. The Professor decides to enlarge Zoidberg (West) to 500 feet tall to fight Bender, but Zoidberg soon starts destroying stuff as well. The two do end up fighting and Bender appears to win until Fry distracts him with shrinky-dinks and Zoidberg impales Bender on a large building. Bender says that his simple dream was only to kill all humans, then he expires.

S2EG - 2GiantFight.png
King Kong ain’t got nothing on them.

Second, Leela (Katey Sagal) asks what she would be like if she were slightly more impulsive. This results in her killing the Professor in response to him calling her boring. Hermes (Phil LaMarr) discovers this, but she kills and dismembers him. Bender tries to blackmail her over Hermes’ remains, so she kills Bender with a microwave. Amy (Lauren Tom) insults Leela, so she dies. Cubert (Kath Soucie), Scruffy (David Herman), and Nibbler (Frank Welker) all accuse Leela and are impaled on the same sword. Zoidberg finally figures it out, but Leela eats him. After Fry actually determines the truth, Leela silences him… through wild sex acts, which he really likes.

S2EG - 3Kills.png
This is genuinely impressive. Most people can’t do the triple impale.

Last, Fry asks what would have happened if he never came to the future. Back in the year 1999, Fry fails to fall into the cryogenic freezer, resulting in a space-time rip that shows Planet Express. The next day, Fry sees Stephen Hawking in his pizzeria and tells him about the rip. Later, Fry is abducted by the “Vice Presidential Action Rangers,” a group dedicated to preserving the space-time continuum, with members including Hawking, Al Gore, Nichelle Nichols, Gary Gygax, and Deep Blue (Tress MacNeille) the chess computer. They determine that the rip means that Fry should have died, and try to beat him to death to save the universe. This makes the rip worse, so they realize Fry would have to be frozen, but Fry breaks the tube, resulting in the universe collapsing. In response, the group plays Dungeons and Dragons.

S2EG - 4FryHole.png
Weirdly, these characters are together even without Fry.

The entire episode is revealed to be the Professor asking what life would be like with the fing-longer.

S2EG - 5WhatIf.png
He does eventually make it, though. Because science!!!!

END SUMMARY

This was the Futurama version of the “Treehouse of Horror” from The Simpsons, but these are less directly parodying popular films or movies. Bender’s story is a bit of a parody of The Iron Giant and Godzilla, and the name of Leela’s is a parody of Dial M for Murder, but it never feels like they’re being too direct about the rip-offs. In the DVD commentary, they say that they wanted to do some stories that they just couldn’t work into the normal continuity, similar to Marvel’s “What-if?” comics line.

S2EG - 6WhatIf.png
Much like that line, some stuff in these became canon.

This episode kind of highlights what I think is a strength behind both this show and The Simpsons as well as the other shows that have sense copied it: They’re willing to play with the medium of sitcom. They know that television is, by default, repetitive and that one of the best ways to keep people from going insane is to occasionally have an episode that bucks that. These episodes also often have the benefit of containing ideas that were generally deemed “good” but not good enough to stretch into a full episode, so most of the quality is condensed into each vignette.

Bender’s segment, “Terror at 500 Feet” is pretty much great from start to finish, including the way that Bender’s lead-in very clearly suggests he was going to ask what it would be like to be human (something that they actually did in the sequel episode to this). It’s surprisingly efficient, with most of the interactions of characters happening in only a line or two, and a lot of it being conveyed through quick cuts of Bender and Fry’s friendship. The ending is one of the best random lines in the series, with Bender saying that he’s not the real 7-billion-ton robot monster… despite the fact that he also was planning genocide.

S2EG - 8Impaled.png
Might wanna get that checked out.

Leela’s segment, “Dial L for Leela” actually does a nice exploration of the character that is fairly accurate to her canon portrayal: If Leela were more impulsive, she entirely gives in to murderous rage (and apparently lust in some cases). While in this episode she’s comically over-the-top, if you pay attention to Leela throughout the series, she does have some pretty pronounced issues with violence. She also spontaneously sleeps with people that she regrets a few times, including most famously Zapp Brannigan. Basically, this segment is just telling us that Leela is always about to go on a killing rampage… which we honestly should have known already.

S2EG - 7SexyTimes
She also got new boots with a fun green stripe.

The last segment “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime” is basically an excuse to say “look how many celebrities we can get.” It’s got Stephen Hawking, Gary Gygax, Nichelle Nichols, and “literally running for President at the time” Al Gore. This was Al Gore’s first appearance on a fictional show and it’s honestly hard to believe that he agreed to this, since, again, he was literally the sitting VP at the time and running for President. I assume it was trying to break up his reputation as being weak or super-serious (super-cereal as South Park would put it) by being a violence-prone caricature in a comedy show, but it’s still a weird event in pop-culture. The fact that he’s paired with Gary Gygax, someone that his wife, Tipper, had repeatedly attacked as corrupting children (because she saw Tom Hanks in Mazes and Monsters, I assume), is even more bizarre, but, again, maybe it was supposed to show that serious Al Gore could lighten up. Hawking was likely there because he repeatedly guest-starred on the Simpsons. Nichelle Nichols was there because she’s awesome. The complete randomness of the assembly really only serves to drive home both the ludicrous nature of the premise as well as the dysfunction of the group. I actually think that this is a premise that, with the right writing, might have carried an entire episode, because it honestly feels a little rushed in this segment. Still, it’s funny and filled with stars.

S2EG - 9DnD.png
And DnD would never look cooler than this.

I also love that “The Un-Freeze of a Lifetime,” written by series creator David X. Cohen is basically a giant ball of foreshadowing. When they duplicate the events of “Space Pilot 3000,” the shadow which prompted Cohen and Groening to shout “secret” in the first season’s director’s commentary is missing. When Fry misses the tube, the universe starts to unravel. However, it’s not that the universe is unraveling just because he missed the tube, but because without Fry being in the future, there’s no one to stop the evil brains. Also, unless he goes to the future, Fry can’t go back in time and become his own grandfather, meaning that his very existence violates the laws of the universe… or at least the ones that are in place until they get broken in “Bender’s Big Score.” Apparently, the “What if?” machine can take into account information that no one knows outside of the Nibblonians. Still, nice work, Cohen.

S2EG - ANoShadow.png
Behold, the floor.

FAVORITE JOKE

My favorite gag is that Stephen Hawking steals ideas and claims them as his own. First, he agrees with Fry’s claim that he invented gravity, then he steals the space-time rip by claiming it as a “Hawking Hole” instead of a “Fry Hole.” When Fry calls him out on it, Hawking counters “Who is The Journal of Quantum Physics going to believe?”

S2EG - BHawking.png
Rest in Peace.

This plays into the longstanding rumors that Hawking had plagiarized or stolen some of his more famous theories, particularly related to space-time. This was even played with in one of his appearances on The Simpsons where he talks to Homer and says he might steal his theory of a donut-shaped universe. It’s been claimed that Hawkings developments, particularly the ones which were later overturned, were not as significant as he claimed and that they were just taking a small step past what was previously discovered by others, but with good press.

S2EG - DHawking2.jpg
Those thieving glasses…

The truth is that physics, even more so than most other sciences, is developed by expanding upon the theories and research of previous people. Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence paper (the E=Mc^2 thing, though it wasn’t in the paper) was revolutionary, but most of it was similar to a paper by Hendrik Lorentz. Isaac Newton once said of his accomplishments “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” and even that expression was a turn on a statement from the 1100s by Bernard of Chartres which stated that each generation advances only because we are dwarves standing atop of the giants that are our ancestors.

Hawking’s work was not only great because of its scientific advancement, but also because he, like Einstein or Richard Feynman or Neil DeGrasse Tyson, went out of his way to try and put science into the zeitgeist and make scientists look cooler.

S2EG - CSchrodinger
Though none matched Schrodinger for cool.

One of the best things about this was that Hawking rolled with all of the punches (yes, pun intended) and just dealt with it as part of being in the spotlight. So, yeah, I think they gave him a couple of good-natured shots so that he could show that he’s able to handle it.

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 28: The Problem with Popplers

NEXT – Episode 30: War is the H-Word

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.