CWRU's humor magazine, est. 2000
Curmudgeons on Parade: A Column by Hallie Dolin
Futurama rules. I’m saying that completely seriously, and without complaint. I just started watching it last week and I’m already hooked. Thanks to Netflix, I’ve already reached Season 6, which is composed of four full-length movies that premiered after the show was canceled the first time. I know – I can’t believe it either.
However, since no review of mine is complete without at least a bit of complaining (see title above), I’m going to try to be as objective and non-nerdy as possible in my overview of Futurama’s pros and cons. I don’t think it has very many cons, but if I have to make some up, then by golly, I will.
Well, here’s one: the ongoing conflict between Professor Farnsworth and Mom the Evil Entrepreneur got old after the first few iterations. The Fry and Leela romance I could deal with, since the way she constantly shoots him down is hilarious, but as for Mom, not every evil woman is the way she is because of lost love. Why couldn’t she have decided to take over the world via enslaved robots for the hell of it?
Yeah, admittedly, the scene where 160-year-old Professor Farnsworth has to reluctantly seduce her in order to get the universal robot remote is pretty funny, as is the part where all his employees see him naked and are subsequently disgusted. Still, I could’ve happily gone without seeing that brand of humor.
Something else that really grinds my gears is the way the show keeps going back to the night in 1999 when Fry was first frozen, and changing things about it. The most interesting thing about Fry’s character is that he’s a complete idiot – one who randomly stumbled into the future, and who just happens to have the right brain waves to keep from being mentally enslaved. As a result, it’s kind of disappointing to figure out that he was really pushed into the freezing machine because he’s the only one who can save the world or something. Boring!
To be honest, the “chosen one” trope has been so overdone that Futurama’s humor really comes from Fry’s random appearance in the future, and the average qualities that come from having been a complete nobody in 1999. So when the show went into the “chosen one” realm, I just rolled my eyes. Even though Nibbler the Surprisingly Intelligent Pet was responsible, the whole plotline was way too formulaic for me.
Now, for the good: everything else (and Zoidberg)! The nerdy references that inevitably appear in every episode tickle me in a good way. My current favorite movie-episode, which I’m watching right now, is “Bender’s Game” for that exact reason. It’s a parody of both Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings, so although I’ve never participated in any of the former, I’m in geek heaven.
I also love that no character is perfect, including but not limited to the three major protagonists. Fry is lazy and kind of stupid, Bender is a sociopathic robot who runs on booze, and spaceship captain Leela is so high-strung and temperamental that her anger issues regularly put people in danger. And as for minor characters, my favorite is probably Professor Farnsworth. His inventions regularly land the entire universe in an entertaining mess of trouble, plus he’s a complete and utter dog.
And no, I don’t mean that literally. In the Futurama universe, you do kind of have to specify.
Sadly, the show is currently airing its tenth and final season, but I’m fairly sure that as soon as I finish watching every episode, there will be plenty of quotes and nostalgia to come.
Hallie Dolin is spending her summer in an entomology lab, redefining the world’s use of the word “superbug.” She wants to change the world for the better, but isn’t yet sure how.