So it’s come to this, a show within a show. Again.
Leela (Katey Sagal) visits her old Orphanarium to read a story to the orphans, but finds out they have eaten the books due to budget cuts. Leela tries to improvise a story, but it’s terrible and the children make their displeasure clear. She tries to write a better children’s tale and, unable to concentrate at work, heads into space to work on it. When she returns, she reveals that she’s invented a happy fantasy world called Rumbledy-Hump inhabited by singing creatures called the Humplings. The children love it and Leela is approached by Abner Doubledeal (Tom Kenny) to create a show based on the characters. She hesitates, but the children encourage her.
Leela and the rest of the crew work on the show together, with Leela writing in her “special place.” Despite her not thinking much of the series, it becomes a sensation and she soon becomes arrogant. When she has to come up with a script quickly, she heads off to write, only for Bender (John DiMaggio), who was getting a massage on the ship, to stumble out and discover that Leela actually isn’t writing the show. Instead, she found a planet populated by cute little singing creatures and just copies what she sees them do. Bender blackmails her with this information, but the show goes on as normal. When the orphans visit and tell Leela that they were inspired by her, however, she comes clean. She takes the kids and the crew to the real Rumbledy-Hump and they meet the Humplings. Doubledeal, realizing that the Humplings are real, just decides to film the creatures rather than make a show. He adopts all of the orphans to work on the set. Leela is horrified by the corruption of the innocent, but it’s revealed that literally everyone is happy with the arrangement except for her.
This episode is yet another story about a member of the crew becoming a celebrity, but this time it’s Leela that lets the fame go to her head. Unfortunately, the episode suffers because it hits a lot of the same general beats as “Bender Should Not Be Allowed On Television,” “Bendin’ in the Wind,” and even “A Leela of Her Own.” Leela becomes famous, then she becomes arrogant, then she’s revealed to largely be a fraud. The only difference in this is that, after Leela is shown to be faking, nobody really gets upset with her. However, that ending, combined with some of the fun satire of the nature of children’s television, does still make this a fairly enjoyable episode.
Rumbledy-Hump being real is probably the most predictable “twist” in the series, but the revelation that the Humplings actually prefer the convenience of modern “future” society was a solid subversion. It turns out that all of the innocence in the world is secondary to indoor plumbing. The creatures themselves were well-made, containing a nice sampling of all of the characters that kids shows usually like to feature: The moral center (Lady Buggle), the big eater (Doingg), the sweet girl (Princess Num Num), the coward (Feffernoose), and the one with the strange speech pattern (Garbly). I have nieces that are extremely young and I can confirm that this lineup seems pretty standard.
Overall, kind of a middle of the road episode.
Most of the insane songs that the Humplings sing are pretty amusing, but my favorite is still the implied song that gets cut off by the ad break. After Leela says “Oh, Hell” when Bender finds out that she’s just been copying what the Humplings say, they say that she said a Rumbledy-Hump “no-no!” In response, they sing the song about words that you shouldn’t say, which apparently is 98 words long. The words include “poo-poo” and “pee-pee” and “penis” and “gay,” which leads to a tremendous amount of speculation as to exactly what the other 94 words must have been. Did the creatures say “f*ck” and “sh*t” and “craptacular” in the process of describing all of the things they can’t say? That’s like using George Carlin to actually explain what words can’t be said on Network TV. Also, one of the words is “gay,” which apparently is an allusion to the then-recent bill in Tennessee that banned any teacher from even saying the word “gay.” That part makes me sad.
See you next week, meatbags.
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