Futurama Fridays – S4E12 “The Sting”

Fry’s dead and Leela’s guilty. Time for some crazy trippy dreams.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) are told they’re not good enough to collect Space Bee honey for the Professor (West). Leela insists they are and drags the other two on a mission, even though it killed the last Planet Express crew. The crew reaches the space bee hive and paint Bender like a bee so he can communicate via dancing. They eventually find the previous Planet Express crew, a load of honeycomb, and a flow of royal jelly. Leela collects a baby queen bee and some royal jelly as the crew tries to collect the honey. Bender accidentally insults the queen of the hive and the crew is chased back to the ship. On route to Earth, the baby queen tries to kill Leela, so Fry jumps in front of her, sacrificing himself by being impaled with the stinger. He dies.

File:Old Planet Express Ship.png
This is how at least one previous crew died, so only losing Fry is still a net win.

Fry’s coffin is ejected into space after a sad funeral. Leela, blaming herself, eats some space honey to ease the pain, knocking her out. She dreams of a still-alive Fry telling her that he left her a surprise in his locker. She goes to work to find it and discovers that Fry did indeed leave her a one-eyed stress-relieving doll as a gift. Leela says this proves Fry is alive, but a brain-scan by the Professor says that she’s just blocking out memories due to grief. She has another dream of him being alive and awakes to his jacket on her, only for it to turn out to be her jacket when she shows it at work. They inform her that she might be having issues because she’s eating spoonfuls of Space Honey, which, if overused, can lead to permanent sleep. Leela tries to use it again that night and knocks over the jar, reconstituting Fry from the jelly. She celebrates Fry being alive, until Fry tells her to wake up, revealing it’s a dream. 

File:Fry's Funeral.png
I’m just curious why only 2 Neptunians showed up.

Leela starts hallucinating regularly and envisioning all of the crew telling her that she killed Fry. She decides to take enough honey to dream forever, only for Fry’s voice to reach her and tell her that sleeping forever isn’t an option. She’s stronger than that and she should fight against it. She starts to be surrounded by bees attacking her only for Fry’s voice to tell her that he loved her. She cries, only to wake up in the hospital next to Fry. It turns out that the stinger DID go through Fry… into Leela, who got all the poison. Fry had to get a new spleen, but after that he never left her side, begging her to wake up for two weeks. The voices she heard were him watching out for her. They hug.

File:The Sting.jpg
My ship is about to come in.

END SUMMARY

This episode was a lot darker on rewatch than I remember. Leela’s not only in a coma, but while in the coma she is seemingly about to make an active choice to put herself to sleep forever, which I can only assume means never waking up again in real life. Even worse, she’s doing it because she thinks that she’s killed Fry and is desperate to see him again. Despite the fact that Fry and Leela’s on-again-off-again relationship is not currently on, we see in this episode that Leela truly is starting to have feelings for Fry that are just as strong as his feelings for hers. More remarkably, it happens without Fry having the brain worms from the last time she was smitten with him. Having the entire episode inside of her head gives us a clearer picture of this character right before the show was going to need to wrap up this plotline. Still, having her so grief-stricken that she’s essentially going insane and about to kill herself is freaking dark.

S4EA - 1Frame.png
This is literally her suicide weapon next to a picture of her love. Super dark.

What’s more impressive in some ways is that the ending to this episode doesn’t feel like a cop-out to me. I mean, this is an episode where the twist is that it was all a dream, an episode where they fake having a main character die, and an episode where somehow you can dream within dreams and yet I didn’t hate it the way that I usually hate all of those cliches. I think it’s that this episode was pretty early in hinting to the audience that it wasn’t real and that it used the dream setting perfectly as a way of trying to show everyone how devastating grief can be. Leela blames herself for Fry’s death so completely that all of the walls in her apartment are chanting that she killed him. This is only made worse by the fact that Fry actually sacrificed himself for her. I also appreciate that in reality, Fry still did try to sacrifice himself for her, even if he ended up only losing a spleen. It shows again how much he cares for Leela.

S4EA - 2Walls.png
Great way to visualize guilt.

Overall, I like this episode a lot. I really enjoy the spontaneous musical number and the final hug between Fry and Leela. 

FAVORITE JOKE

There’s a shot of all of the women Fry has slept with from the show. During the shot, Kug (Tress MacNeille), the Amazonian that banged Fry in “Amazon Women in the Mood” says “Him do good Snu-Snu” only for all of his other exes to say “eh….” Remember, Kug had never had sex before and it seems unlikely that she’s had it since, so her perspective might not be great. The other women we see present are Petunia (MacNeille) the hooker “Put Your Head on My Shoulders,” Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn) the bureaucrat “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back,” Michelle (Sarah Silverman) his frozen ex “The Cryonic Woman,” and the other 21st Century girl he hooked up with from “Love’s Labours Lost in Space.” However, next to them is a radiator… a reference to Fry saying he hooked up with a radiator woman from the radiator planet at the Miss Universe contest in “The Lesser of Two Evils.” Since this is in Leela’s mind, that means that Leela must, on some level, believe that Fry DID in fact hook-up with a radiator alien. I love that this is the man she eventually ends up with.

File:Women Fry slept with.png

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 65: Where No Fan Has Gone Before

NEXT – Episode 67: Bend Her

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 – S4E9 “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles”

The Planet Express Crew go where nobody wants to go again: Puberty.

SUMMARY

The Professor’s (Billy West) pet gargoyle Pazuzu (David Herman) escapes, leading the crew to chase after it, but the Professor’s stereotypical-old-man behavior leads the rest of them to get annoyed. They decide that he’s too old and send him to a spa to get Youthasized. After none of the treatments work, the Professor is put into a tar bath that supposedly sucks the age right out of people. Bender (John DiMaggio) tries to pump it to make it more effective, but ends up spraying the tar on everyone. When they wipe it off, it’s discovered that the tar actually worked: The Professor is now in his 50s and the crew are now teenagers. This includes Bender, whose robonucleic acid apparently can also be affected.

S4E8 - 1Florida.png
Ah, back when Florida only supposedly had three things to mock. 

Leela (Katey Sagal) decides to go back and live with her parents to get a taste of the childhood she never had, while the Professor tries to fix the problem. Leela’s parents keep trying to treat her as an adult, but Leela tries to force them to be strict. Amy’s (Lauren Tom) parents are annoyed, as they now have to wait longer for grandchildren, and Hermes (Phil LaMarr) bonds with his now same-aged son, Dwight (LaMarr). Fry (West) goes to pick Leela up for a date and ends up winning a sewer race against local jock Moose (Herman) and his girlfriend Mandy (Tress MacNeille). 

S4E8 - 2FryDate.png
I love how cute they are as teens.

The Professor creates an oil-eating bacteria to try and fix the problem, but it ends up backfiring and making everyone younger. Additionally, they’re now aging in reverse, meaning they’ll eventually face the horror of pre-life… then death. Leela, who didn’t want to get older and thus wasn’t given the bacteria, is now a babysitter for most of the crew. She reads them a story about a mythical place called the Fountain of Aging, the opposite of the Fountain of Youth. She takes off with the now-infant crew and manages to locate the fountain. With the Professor now a toddler, the crew now fetuses, and Bender a cd of his blueprints, they jump into the fountain, but the Professor loses his grip and they start to slip into the Fountain’s black-hole center. Leela manages to save everyone, now back to their right ages, but loses the Professor, who is saved at the last minute by Pazuzu. In gratitude, the Professor grants the gargoyle his freedom, and he moves to Notre Dame to raise his children. 

S4E8 - 3Story
Zoidberg’s childhood was very different. 

END SUMMARY

This is one of those episodes where I feel like they threw darts at a wall full of other properties and combined what stuck. In this case, it hit Muppet Babies, Archie Comics, and Golden Girls. Not that this is a bad episode, although it’s at the bottom of my Futurama rankings, but it still just feels like it was more three short premises sewn together into a single episode, and they had to really stretch character traits to get there. I mean, yes, the Professor is typically depicted as being old, but in this episode his behavior is so exaggerated that the show even admits he’s a super-senior stereotype. When the crew gets de-aged to teenagers, they all pretty much act like what films think kids acted like in the 90s. It sometimes feels like they’re cashing in on a lot of easy jokes for these.

S4E8 - 5Driving.png
The Professor decides to only fly at 38 MPH, for example, despite him flying normally otherwise.

The one thing that I like about the episode, and the thing that apparently inspired them to create it, is the part with Leela living with her parents. It’s simultaneously sweet to see Leela trying to recapture the part of her youth that she lost by having her parents treat her as a real kid, and hilarious to watch how little they actually care about doing it. It’s best summarized by her interaction in which she whispers to Fry, thinking he’s going to be re-aged, to sneak her some beer, and her father replies with “No beer until you finish your tequila!” Morris and Munda usually don’t get a ton of funny lines, but watching them fail repeatedly to actually parent their daughter is hilarious.

S4E8 - 4Tequila.png
I love that he put a silly straw in it.

Overall, just not a notable episode. It’s not bad, but it’s just not great by Futurama standards.

FAVORITE JOKE

It’s probably the Child’s Garden of Space Legends. When I was a kid, I had the Child’s Garden of Verses, a book of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Many of them aren’t really narratives like the fables in the episode, but it’s still nice of them to reference the book. However, I do like the fact that the cover of the book is a Gorn eating a kid and that it contains the stories “Snow White and the Seven Red Dwarfs,” which is both a reference to the white dwarf star and a reference to the TV show Red Dwarf, and “Charlotte’s Tholian Web,” a reference to the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and the Star Trek episode “The Tholian Web.” Just solid Futurama jokes.

S4E8 - 6Gorn.png
Dark humor seems appropriate for a book based on R.L. Stevenson.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 62: Crimes of the Hot

NEXT – Episode 64: The Why of Fry

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 – S4E8 “Crimes of the Hot”

Al Gore rides the mighty moon worm, windmills do not work that way, and global warming is real.

SUMMARY

New New York is struck by a heat wave. It turns out that the Earth has been dealing with global warming for a millennium, a thing which they’ve “solved” by having a team of people drop a big ice cube into the ocean whenever it gets too hot. Richard Nixon (Billy West) calls on Planet Express to go get the ice. Unfortunately, when they get there, Fry (West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Bender (John DiMaggio), learn that the comet they’ve been mining for ice has run out. Rather than go to, say, another comet or a frozen planet or any of the huge number of frozen entities in space, the crew gives up and comes home. Earth is now doomed, for some reason.

S4E7 - 1Comet
Because Halley’s comet is the only source of water in the universe, I guess?

As the effects of global warming start to increase, the polar ice caps melt and the heat makes Africa turtles migrate to Holland, where windmills will hopefully cool them down. Except that WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! It turns out that Bender likes turtles, because he can’t get up when he’s knocked perfectly on his back. 

S4E7 - 2Turtle.png
The poor animals. And the robot.

A scientific conference is held in Kyoto by Al Gore, the first Emperor of the Moon. He offers a bag of moon sapphires to whoever solves the problem. When it’s his turn, the Professor (West) makes a revelation: Global Warming is caused by robots, specifically the alcohol-powered “sport-utility robots” that the Professor designed for Mom (Tress MacNeille). Dr. Wernstrom (David Herman) proposes that they destroy all robots. Nixon plans to facilitate it by hosting a “robot party” on the Galapagos Islands, where they will set off an EMP to fry all of the robots. While Bender decides to sacrifice himself, he accidentally tells the other robots who start to panic. The Professor arrives with a solution: Every robot needs to vent their exhaust upward at the same time. They start to, but Bender is knocked over and can’t. He watches the turtle get up, then manages to right himself and vent his exhaust, moving Earth slightly further from the sun and cooling it off. This makes the Earth’s orbit one week longer, which Nixon declares “Robot Party Week.”

S4E7 - 3PArty.png
So many cameos, so little time to care about them.

END SUMMARY

This episode is ridiculous in all the best ways. It has so many of my favorite jokes from the series that I honestly forget how weird it is that Earth has apparently been countering Global Warming with giant ice cubes. What’s funny is that people seem to remember that Al Gore did this episode because it was about Global Warming, like his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Of course, that’s an easy assumption to make, if you don’t remember that this episode came out 4 years before that documentary… and is literally a part of that documentary. Instead, this was based on his writing of Earth in the Balance, here described as having a sequel called Harry Potter and the Balance of Earth. Aside from that, I imagine at least some of what led the former Vice-President to be on the episode was the fact that his daughter, Kristin Gore, was a writer on the show by this point… which she weirdly got after he’d already been on it in Season 2. 

S4E7 - 4Books.png
I find it funny that he ends up abandoning Earth for the moon.

The weirdest thing about the episode is that it is extremely similar both in scenes and themes, to the earlier episode “A Big Piece of Garbage:” There’s a problem that was caused in the past that’s a metaphor for an actual environmental issue; The team has to go land on an object flying through space to solve it, but they fail; There’s an educational video about the problem; A bunch of people, including Dr. Wernstrom, try to solve the problem but they fail; and the solution is actually tied into the problem and doesn’t permanently solve it. It’s so similar even the commentary on the episode points it out. However, this episode is just so much funnier than that one… it’s like a vastly superior remake. 

S4E7 - 5C3PO
Better Cameos, too.

Also, this episode was our introduction to Hedonismbot (Maurice LaMarche), one of the best characters the show ever created. He apologizes for nothing.

S4E7 - 6Hedonismbot
He isn’t a hedonistbot, he’s the literal hedonismbot.

FAVORITE JOKE

Look, there are so many good ones in this episode, including several that I frequently use in real life. So, I’m gonna do a top 5:

5) The end of the “None Like it Hot” educational film:

Narrator: Fortunately, our handsomest politicians came up with a cheap, last-minute way to combat global warming. Ever since 2063 we simply drop a giant ice cube into the ocean every now and then.

Suzie: Just like Daddy puts in his drink every morning. And then he gets mad.

Narrator: Of course, since the greenhouse gases are still building up, it takes more and more ice each time. Thus solving the problem once and for all.

Suzie: But–

Narrator: Once and for all!

4) “This could mean the end of the banana daiquiri as we know it … also life.” Bender has his priorities straight.

3) The random appearance of a wizard who is clearly supposed to be Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He gets offended at Al Gore’s stereotyping of wizards, but then mentions he wants the moon sapphires to open the Gate of Garash. 

S4E7 - 7Tim.png
There are those who would call him… a cameo.

2) “I have ridden the mighty Moon Worm.” I want you to know, I would vote for any politician that says this. No other information required.

S4E7 - 8Gore
Emperors don’t have to worry about recounts.

1) “WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!!” I use this whenever anyone mentions anything about windmills. Even by the standards of Morbo, this is one of his best lines.

S4E7 - 9Windmills.gif 

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 61: Jurassic Bark

NEXT – Episode 63: Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles

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 – S4E4 “Less than Hero”

The team become superheroes, because why not?

SUMMARY

Leela’s (Katey Sagal) parents are coming to the surface for a one-time visit, due to their mutant status. After securing them permits, she and Fry (Billy West) have to build a supercollider from πkea, the Swedish furniture of the future, for the Professor (West). This ends up being extremely difficult, making them sore. They obtain a miracle cream for the soreness from Dr. Zoidberg (West), which appears to work. Later, the pair are mugged, but are surprised to find themselves superstrong, invulnerable, and superfast. They realize they got the powers from the Miracle Cream and, with Bender as a third, create a superhero team called the New Justice Team. They adopt the superhero names of Captain Yesterday (Fry), Clobberella (Leela), and Super King (Bender), to protect their secret identities. 

File:New Justice Team.png
This would have been okay as a show on its own.

The three are challenged by a supervillain known as the Zookeeper (West). They manage to stop the crook, but it prevents Leela from meeting her parents. Desperate to apologize to them, she reveals that she’s a superhero, which her father immediately tells everyone. Now knowing her secret identity, the Zookeeper kidnaps her parents and holds them for ransom. The trio rob the natural history museum for a gem and deliver it to the evildoer, but discover they’re out of miracle cream, ending their careers… after Bender and Fry commit a few more crimes. 

END SUMMARY

This episode would usually be a sign that the team was running out of ideas. “Let’s have them become superheroes” seems like the kind of idea that you just throw out when all of the other options have been explored. Despite that, this episode is actually pretty solid. The A- and B-Plot interplay works well, because even as Leela is living a dream of superheroics, she realizes that it’s causing her to sacrifice her other dream of having a relationship with her parents. This ends up forcing her to choose between the two, and she naturally chooses her parents. It works out well. 

File:'tude Guard.png
We also see more anti-mutant racism, which eventually builds to a head.

The identities and the theme song of the superheroes is hilarious. Fry’s alter-ego is designed to look like a person from the 1970s, despite the fact that he was from the 90s. Leela’s outfit is clearly supposed to be a send-up of the typically revealing costumes female superheroes wear, as well as making her symbol a sexist rolling pin. Bender’s is just him wearing a king outfit and a mask. None of these costumes would be at all useful in keeping their identities secret, as Fry’s shows off his hair and mentions that he’s from the past, Leela’s shows off her cyclopic nature, and Benders still shows he’s a robot. Hilariously, Bender already had these when they revealed their powers to him, meaning that he had anticipated one day forming this team. Also, the theme song includes the line “winners don’t use drugs,” a Reagan-era comic throwback.

File:FlimFlam2.jpg
Also, the random mutation cream giving powers is hilarious.

The best part of the episode, though, is the Zookeeper. He’s among the most ridiculous supervillains ever crafted. He uses animals, though they are apparently only highly-trained, not controlled by him using any superpowers. His menagerie is the best part, as they are not the kind of animals one would expect. They include: a badger with a troubled past and nothing left to lose, an elephant who never forgets to kill, a crab named Lucky, a.k.a. Citizen Snips, a yak, a boxing kangaroo, a python, piranhas that can walk on land, and a hawk. I mostly love the fact that the crab has two names and attacks Teddy Roosevelt’s disembodied head. 

File:Zookeeper.jpg
He also is just the right amount of Camp.

Overall, this is a great episode. It focuses more on gags than on plot development, but the gags are pretty great. 

FAVORITE JOKE

Everything about the trio’s meeting with Mayor Poopenmeyer (David Herman) is great, but I particularly love how they get out of his office in order to change into their superhero personas. Leela claims that she forgot that she left her apartment on fire. Bender says that he’s late for his LSATs. Fry just says he can’t take life anymore and jumps out the window. 

File:Quantum Gemerald.png
And in a series in the future, they still use the green-line holograms. 

While this joke does obey the rule of three, obviously, it also subverts the normal structure of a Futurama rule of three gag by having all three of the statements be absurd. Typically, the first two would be somewhat normal and the third would be the insane one, made more insane by the comparison to the first two, but this time, Leela’s is a subversion of the more normal excuse of “I left my stove on,” and the others are even more insane. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 57: Love and Rocket

NEXT – Episode 59: A Taste of Freedom

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.

Netflix Review – Disenchantment (Season 2): It Got Better, But Not Quite Enough

After the first season of Disenchantment didn’t win me over, this one gave me more entertainment, but still falls short of its premise.

SUMMARY

At the end of last season, Princess Tiabeanie “Bean” (Abbi Jacobson) revived her mother Dagmar (Sharon Horgan) from her stone curse, only for her to be revealed as an evil witch who poisoned herself. Dagmar then imprisons Bean’s personal demon Luci (Eric Andre) and turns everyone in Dreamland into stone except for King Zog (John DiMaggio) and his second wife Oona (Tress MacNeille). Elfo (Nat Faxon) continues to be dead for like 2 episodes. 

Disenchantment - 2Leads
He gets better.

This season, Bean travels to Hell in order to revive Elfo, saves Dreamland, helps her dad bang a bear, delivers a spoken word poem about her life, and some other stuff. 

END SUMMARY

So, the reason why I started watching this is that it’s the third series by Matt Groening. The first one, The Simpsons, is the longest running prime-time show and, for at least 7 years, was probably the single funniest thing on TV. The second, Futurama, is so good that I am reviewing it episode by episode every Friday from now until eternity (or until 2021). So, it stood to reason that this show kind of had to be at least pretty good. Unfortunately, while it’s not bad, it is firmly seated at “only average.” 

Disenchantment - 1Flame.jpg
I’d say “not so hot,” but that requires the fire joke.

Part of it is that this is the team’s first foray into serial television and they clearly haven’t quite figured out how to balance that with episodic plots. The episodes of this show tend to have difficulty with pacing because they want to advance the series along with the A and B plots of the episode. Admittedly, that’s been a challenge to more than a few screenwriters in the past, but it’s a little more pronounced in this series. The little things should build into the big things; they shouldn’t build separately. 

Disenchantment - 3Dagmar.png
Like maybe don’t have Bean’s mom’s importance change constantly.

I do like the main characters, but it’s shocking how little growth they’ve been given, despite how much the plot would seem to demand it. I think this, too, is a vestige of the episodic writing that Groening is used to, because we don’t really want TV characters to grow outside of a serial. Hell, we want them to get simpler so that we can keep adding more without having to keep track. That’s why the term for a character becoming more one-dimensional over time is “Flanderization,” from Ned Flanders. What’s more frustrating is that, at the beginning of the season, all three of the leads seemed inevitably headed towards major character-shaping changes, then… nope. We quickly reset the series pretty much back to the status quo.

Disenchantment - 4Satan.png
They go through literal hell and… mostly go back to normal.

The supporting characters are amusing, but due to the propagation of their kind of humor and archetypal variance has been pretty vast over the last 20 years, mostly due to the fact that The Simpsons and Futurama already did them so well. We’ve seen plenty of characters similar to King Zog or the Executioner or even Sorcerio (Billy West), because they’re just fantasy versions of the people of Springfield or Quahog (which is just North Springfield 10 years later). Without that element of originality, we get too familiar with them to feel any surprise at their actions or their words. Humor requires some element of the unexpected or the unusual, and these aren’t really either.

I will say this season was still a step up from the last one. The episode with Zog and the Bear Selkie was pretty funny and the episode with Bean doing a spoken-word account of her life because she isn’t allowed to put on a play as a woman does actually have a little bit of the heart that I’d expect from this kind of show… and that’s the problem.

This show doesn’t have the humor of its older siblings, but nor does it have the heart. The Simpsons was hilarious in its heyday, but it also had moments of sincere emotion. Futurama had wacky antics, but it also had some of the most tear-jerking and heart-breaking moments in television. This doesn’t have the laughing face or the sad face to the extreme it needs.  That said, on its own merit, the show isn’t bad, but it’s not what I was hoping.

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 – S4E3 “Love and Rocket”

Bender decides to start dating the Planet Express ship, only to suffer when he treats her like crap.

SUMMARY

Planet Express is entering into a contract with Romanticorp right before Valentine’s Day. The crew tours the factory of the company, finding out secrets like “lovey bears are actually corpses” or “candy hearts have earwig honey,” but they still end up taking the job. Based on the new influx of money, the Professor (Billy West) finally upgrades the Planet Express ship, including giving it a new AI which has a female personality voiced by Sigourney Weaver (APPLAUSE). Bender (John DiMaggio) quickly falls in love with the new ship’s computer while Fry (West) attempts to find the perfect pickup line to use on Leela (Katey Segal) from the trillions of candy hearts that Romanticorp makes. 

File:Lovey Bears.jpg
These bears are all culled for profit. Monstrous.

After a few dates that somehow still take place before Valentine’s Day, Bender gets sick of the ship and starts cheating on her with a number of cheap floozies. She sees him at Elzar’s restaurant with two of them and becomes suspicious, but Bender manages to talk his way out of trouble. The ship continues to grow more paranoid (justifiably), until Leela tries to talk her into dumping Bender, leading the ship to lash out. While the ship’s sanity starts to slip due to Bender gaslighting her, the crew delivers 20 Billion candy hearts to Omicron Persei 8’s rulers Lrrr and Nd-Nd (Maurice LaMarche and Tress MacNeille). Unfortunately, one of the hearts uses the term “wuv,” which confuses and infuriates the Omicronian Monarchs. While the crew flees, Bender dumps the Planet Express Ship. Somehow, they still make it out alive. 

File:Omicronian castle 3.png
They can’t understand WUV, but they understand Sweeps-Week.

Leela tries to console the ship with girl-talk, but accidentally inspires the ship to fly into a Quasar in an attempt to force them to be together forever as a quantum singularity. Fry and Leela try to stop her, but she cuts life support and gravity. Bender tries to merge his consciousness with hers to distract the ship while Leela shuts down the computer’s brain. Fry keeps looking for the perfect heart message but notices that Leela is running out of oxygen. He tries to warn her, but she ignores him, so he hooks his oxygen tank up to her mask without her noticing. Meanwhile, in cyberspace, Bender is running from the incarnation of the ship as she slowly loses her intelligence. Leela finishes shutting off the ship’s computer, restoring life support. She finds that Fry is unconscious and revives him, finding the perfect heart: U leave me breathless. Bender is brought back out, and it seems he’s inherited some of the ship’s personality. The crew dumps the billions of candy hearts in the quasar, causing mystical love radiation to go across the universe, killing several planets, but making Earth feel the true Valentine’s spirit. 

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They wrote the whole story for this joke. You know it. I know it.

END SUMMARY

First of all, can we all agree that Sigourney Weaver is just amazing? I mean, she played the single most badass woman in film, possibly the most badass character ever, but here she plays the consciousness of a ship who gets gaslit into despair and she’s nailing it. I love the idea that she’s voicing the computer here, since several of her roles involve her fighting with an artificial intelligence. It also is worth noting that here she ends up being a parody of the HAL 9000 from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie WALL-E, Sigourney Weaver voices a ship’s computer and the counterpart of a HAL 9000-esque autopilot program, and I have to think that this role at least was part of the reason she was cast. 

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She makes “Me Want Engulf Bender” sound believable.

Second, my god, Bender is a giant a**hole in this. He is a total scumbag and honestly, even for a character who is supposed to be despicable, his conduct here stands out. It’s not because the conduct is worse than, say, that time he sacrificed his first born son to the robot devil, but because it’s so much more normal. Guys really do cheat on their girlfriends and then lie about it, just as brazenly as Bender does here. Moreover, some people really do feel no guilt for leading a partner on in a relationship, only to dump them and feel nothing. The episode tries to justify Bender somewhat by having the ship go crazy at the end, but I submit that she’s only in that irrational state because Bender has been gaslighting her and then treating her with complete disdain after he decided to move past her. It’s a complete d*ck move, and I don’t mean the quacking kind.

Still, this episode is pretty amusing, and I do love the sweet Fry and Leela subplot, so I still enjoy this. 

FAVORITE JOKE

I will always laugh at the Romanticorp tour, but particularly the Romance Acceleration lab. It features two wire-mesh dummies who deliver pick-up lines. The first one delivers the horrible “Is heaven missing an angel? ‘Cause you’ve got nice cans!” That line is so perfectly bad that it gets a chuckle. The second dummy delivers the sincere line “My two favourite things are commitment and changing myself,” something that even gets the tester to make out with him. Leela even asks if he has a brother. Is this a little bit of a stereotype and an old trope? Yes, but it’s still funny as hell. 

Because I really want to talk about it, I’ll say that the second best joke in this episode is the title. It’s a reference to the comic Love and Rockets and potentially to the band who took their name from the comic. Love and Rockets was a comic created by three brothers and primarily written by two of them, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. What’s notable about the series is that the brother did not really coordinate their stories in any way, with Gilbert’s taking place in Central America and featuring a magical realism storyline and Jaime’s taking place in Los Angeles and being more grounded. I think that the juxtaposition of fantastic and grounded, human stories has influenced many subsequent series, and I would have to believe that Futurama is one of them. If you haven’t ever read it, give it a try. 

Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 56: Leela’s Homeworld

NEXT – Episode 58: Less Than Hero

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 – S4E2 “Leela’s Homeworld”

Leela finally learns the truth about her cyclopic origins and it will bring a tear to your single large eye.

SUMMARY

The Professor (Billy West) builds a machine to make glow-in-the-dark noses and decode alien language which produces a lot of toxic waste. Bender (John DiMaggio) offers to dispose of it, which he does by dumping it on the sewer mutants. The mutants don’t appreciate this. 

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Their arguments DID have a leg to stand on. 

Leela (Katey Segal) gets named “Orphan of the Year” for becoming a spaceship captain, and receives it while telling the other orphans that they should be proud of who they are. However, she tells Fry (West) that it was a lie, because she only ever wanted a family to love her. She hopes that her parents are looking down on her, only for it to be revealed that her parents Turanga Munda and Turanga Morris (Tress MacNeille and David Herman) have been watching her the whole time… because they’re mutants living in the sewers. 

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The not-so-subtle reveal.

The mutants finally get fed up by Bender’s dumping and pull him, Fry, and Leela into the sewers, preparing to dump them in the lake which Bender’s waste has made so much more toxic. The three are saved by two strangers who know Leela’s name. The crew follows them through the sewers to a house which has a ton of stuff about Leela. The mutants catch up and try to execute them, but the strangers convince the mutants to let them go. Leela dives into the mutagenic lake to pursue them, emerging to find out that it had no effect on her. 

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As opposed to this rat.

Back on the surface, Fry gives the note found on Leela’s baby basket as a child to the Professor so that he can decipher it. He uses the nose machine and eventually gets a result. In the sewers, Leela chases the two strange mutants and confronts them in their home covered in Leela memorabilia. She suspects they’re the mutants who killed her parents and is about to kill them when Fry unmasks them, revealing that they ARE her parents (something the audience already knew). Fry reveals that the note, while indecipherable, was written on recycled paper from the sewers, meaning that her parents were mutants, not aliens. In a flashback, it’s revealed that the pair left Leela on the surface so that she wouldn’t be subject to mutant discrimination. Rather than being mad at them for abandoning her, Leela embraces them, happy to find them. It’s revealed in further flashbacks that Leela’s parents have always been looking out for her from afar.

END SUMMARY

Well, this is what has to happen when you suspect that the show is not going to get another season: Wrap up those plot threads. This one had long been dangled, though not as directly as the secret origin of Fry that comes up later in the season. Back in season 2’s “I Second That Emotion,” Leela’s parents are shown in a crowd of mutants, and their resemblance to Leela is painfully obvious, but that is pretty much it until this episode. According to the DVD Commentary, they had decided they should wait at least 3 seasons to reveal Leela’s origins, even though they were written before the pilot was shot (that’s why there are mutants in the sewers in the Pilot). 

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That’s them in the corner. That’s them in the spotlight.

This isn’t a bad reveal by any means, since ultimately we were going to need an explanation as to why Leela appeared to be the only real cyclops in the universe despite her searching everywhere for evidence. This resolution shows that the reason why she couldn’t find them is that she was looking everywhere except below the Earth’s surface, because she’d been told she was an alien her whole life. It’s a great way to not impugn Leela’s intelligence while still making the solution viable.

The ending to this episode is one of the best tearjerker moments in the series. It’s so well done and so heartwarming that it would stand out more if it weren’t soon to be overshadowed by “Jurassic Bark,” which pretty much dominates the “I’m not crying, you’re crying, but I’m also crying” charts. Still, they perfectly convey how Leela’s parents have really done their best to be involved in her life, despite not being able to ever be near her. The fact that it’s completely silent aside from the musical accompaniment, like most of Futurama’s best montages, only makes it tug harder at your heart strings. I can’t hear “Baby Love Child” by Pizzicato Five without thinking of this sequence… but to be fair I don’t hear that song much.

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I’m not crying, my eyes are just leaking tears.

I enjoy this episode a lot. Sure, it’s not the funniest, but it does do a good job of focusing on Leela’s emotional journey and it gives us a happy ending that was well-earned. I can’t ask for much more than that.

FAVORITE JOKE

The awards that are given to the “Orphan of the Year” always give me a chuckle, because they’re just the right amount of tragic and amusing. They include “Diligent Flosser,” “Has Tasted Every McDonald’s Sandwich,” (which I think is genuinely impressive if you mean EVERY sandwich they’ve made in every country), and “Successfully Switched from Heroin to Methadone,” which is a reference to Annie Hall. However, I have to appreciate the one that says “Often seen in the Background of News Spots,” because a few minutes later, he appears in the background of Leela’s photo with her Orphan of the Year award, one of the most random quick call-backs in the entire run of the show. 

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Well, that’s it for this week.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 55: Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch

NEXT – Episode 57: Love and Rocket

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.