Futurama Fridays – S7E1 “The Bots and the Bees”

Okay, kids, it’s time to learn about… oh, right, it’s in the title.

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) reveals that he purchased a new vending machine named Bev (Wanda Sykes) for the office. Fry (West) quickly becomes addicted to Bev’s Slurm Loco, leading him to start glowing green and not sleeping. Bender (John DiMaggio) starts off hostile towards Bev, but she turns out to be better at insults than she is. He goes out to a bar to drink away his pain and picks up two robot floozies. He takes them back to Planet Express, but Bev ends up insulting the girls and spraying them with Slurm until they leave. Bender and Bev start fighting, but then eventually move to having sex. The next day, Bev gives birth to a tiny robot who looks like Bender. Bender denies paternity, until the baby says “Wipe my tiny metal ass.” 

She’s a big lady and Bender is down with that.

Bev starts to take care of the child and Bender is wary of fatherhood. When asked how it’s possible for him to impregnate another robot, Bender is shown a video explaining that robots can reproduce sexually. Bender decides to relinquish paternity, something Leela (Katey Sagal) endorses, as she believes Bender would be a terrible parent. When he tries, however, Bev instead leaves the child, Ben (Phil LaMarr), with Bender and takes off. Bender tries to raise the child, bonding with him over their love of bending. Ben wants to learn how to bend as well, but it turns out that bending is matrilineal. Farnsworth, taking a look at Ben’s specs, informs Bender that Ben only has one slot for memory in his head, meaning he can’t have a bending card installed. Ben will never bend. At his 13 day old celebration, he is set to be upgraded to a manbot. He thanks Bender for being a great dad, only for Bev to return to reclaim him.

Why do robots get acne?

Bender refuses to give custody to Bev, but she reveals Bender’s original certificate of abandonment, allowing her to take Ben. Bender eventually rescues Ben from Bev’s trailer, but the pair are pursued by the police. Bender mangles his arms trying to bend a helicopter and needs Ben to bend a set of steel bars. Unfortunately, Ben can’t and the police and Bev catch up. However, Bev gives birth to another baby, courtesy of police officer URL (DiMaggio). Because this gives her another child, Bev lets Bender keep Ben. However, Ben’s dream is to bend, so Bender has Ben’s memory, including his memories of Bender. Bender tries to take Ben to enroll in Bending College, but the registration is in an hour and the air is filled with fog. Fry, now glowing radioactively, acts as the Rudolph so that the ship can fly.

END SUMMARY

This episode has one of the most ridiculous premises in a show often filled with ridiculous premises. I would say that they needed to get an unplanned pregnancy storyline in, but they sort of already did that in “Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch.” I guess it’s more of an unplanned fatherhood episode, then. By using Bender, they could give us a full parenting episode that wouldn’t have to take several years. However, they also had to somehow justify how a robot can be a parent accidentally. The concept of robot sex has always been insane, but now we find out that robot sex does actually have a mechanical purpose. They don’t really explain how robots age, but let’s be fair, that would be too much to handle. 

Ben can lift a girder at like 2 days old. Does he get stronger?

This episode barely has any subplot, with the closest thing to a B plot being Fry’s addiction to Slurm, but they needed to focus on Bender bonding with Ben so that at the end of the episode Bender could actually have an emotional connection that requires him to make an uncharacteristic sacrifice. Then again, we never see Ben again, so maybe he just wanted out of parenting. At least at the end they tie Fry back in, even if it’s extremely convoluted.

It’s nice to see Bender be genuinely nice.

Overall, at least it’s an entertaining episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Hands down, this is the Temple of Robotology’s sign: Happy ln(bΩmer). The ln means the natural log and the omega here represents resistance, which is measured in Ohms. So, this translates to “Happy Natural Log(B(Ohm)mer.” This is a reference to the Jewish Holiday Lag BaOmer, which celebrates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the disciple of Rabbi Akiva. I don’t think there’s any further connection between the holiday and the episode, but a math pun is always a win.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 102: Reincarnation

NEXT – Episode 104: A Farewell to Arms

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DCUniverse Mini-Review: Harley Quinn – So Close To Nailing It

Harley Quinn gets her own television show and it had all the parts to be amazing without quite getting them together… yet.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) is the Joker’s (Alan “Curse this sudden but inevitable” Tudyk) girlfriend. After he uses her to escape from Batman (Diedrich “The Brave and the” Bader), she is locked in prison with Poison Ivy (Lake Bell). The pair break out and Harley realizes that the Joker doesn’t really love her, so she sets out on her own and get her own crew. She picks the baddest of the people who couldn’t do better than her: King Shark (Ron Funches), Doctor Psycho (Tony Hale), Clayface (Alan “Were I unwed I would take you in a manly” Tudyk), and Sy Borgman (Jason “I was also Duckman” Alexander). Together, they help Harley get into the Legion of Doom in order to show the Joker that she’s the real villain.

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Nope, no HammerTime jokes.

END SUMMARY

Dear readers, I wanted to love this show. I wanted to scream of its success from the rooftops. I wanted to be able to say, “there is a property in which Harley Quinn is the badass that we all deserve her to be since Paul Dini had that stroke of genius.” Unfortunately, Birds of Prey ended up doing that better than this show, but this show has the potential to do so much more.

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There’s a lot of viscera in both.

This show fell into the same trap I felt like Titans fell into in its first season. You can practically hear the writers’ thought process: It’s rated-R, it’s a mature show, so naturally that means we have to justify it, right? Let’s put in a lot of f*cks and a ton of gratuitous violence and such. I mean, let’s have the Joker wear another guy’s face and rip it off like a mask, because that’s a thing we can’t show on any other cartoon? If we haven’t done it before, that makes it original and therefore good!

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Robin thinks this show is the height of comedy.

Well, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Putting a bunch of people saying “tits” on screen doesn’t make a show mature, it makes it what a 14-year-old boy thinks is mature. Now, I will say that the show definitely got better about this as the series went on, with the violence and the language feeling more organic, but the first few episodes felt really like they were straining to justify a red band trailer. I love some good old ultraviolence as much as the next droog, but make it count, people. Or make it funny. Your main character and her primary antagonist are both derivations of clowns, so I would hope you could make it a little more enjoyable to watch them go apesh*t.

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Admittedly, sometimes it’s hilarious.

It also doesn’t help that the emotional journey Harley is on throughout the season really seems like she’s just going around in circles a bit. I mean, she claims to be over the Joker, but then spends a season defining herself by trying to outshine him, which is NOT being over someone. Ultimately, I think she learns that lesson, but it feels like they stretched the arc by like half a season in order to make it land on the finale. 

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It lands pretty hard.

And, of course, as several people have brought up online, the show has some issues with how it handles certain topics. Mainly, there were accusations of being anti-Semitic, something that seemed to fly in the face of the fact that Harley Quinn is typically represented as Jewish (and is revealed to be in this series as well). In the second episode, which takes place at Penguin’s nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, Penguin’s sister-in-law is represented in a manner which was accused of being stereotypical. The same is true of Sy Borgman, who even the creators referred to, jokingly, as “half-man, half-Jew.” Harley’s parents are also not particularly flattering. I think these jokes probably were intended to be part of the “edgy” vibe of the show, but the fact is that they not only will upset people, they just weren’t that funny to begin with. I believe comedy should challenge and, at times, offend, but part of the reason stereotypes have been dropped from comedy routines isn’t just that they’re often inaccurate and offensive, but that they were the basis for comedy for like 50 years and they’re not funny anymore. Just write a real joke, people.

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That said, “Sy Borgman” being half-robot is… well, it’s up there with Victor Fries being cold.

However, aside from these issues, I thought this show did a great job. The animation style is fun. The supporting characters are amazing, mostly because they all have their own fun quirks. Poison Ivy develops an embarrassing crush on a fellow super villain, King Shark is a computer nerd despite being a giant mutant shark/human, Clayface (presumably the Basil Karlo version) is a terrible actor despite having the ability to become anyone, and Doctor Psycho is a misogynist who loses his previous supervillain status for calling Wonder Woman (Vanessa Marshall) the “C-word” on live television. Some of the commentary in the show, particularly the discussions of female villain inequality, are on point. The Queen of Fables (Wanda Sykes) is freaking hilarious. This is one of my favorite versions of the Joker because he seems even more self-aggrandizing and random than usual, while simultaneously having more normal habits, such as loving Reese Witherspoon. Also, just having Alan Tudyk in something gives it an additional Star in my ratings. 

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And they shamelessly mock other properties.

The thing is, this show has all the pieces to be great and, at times, is, it just needs to figure out better what’s actually good for a mature show and what’s just pretending to be mature.

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.