Friday, June 25, 2010

Rebirth and In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela

After watching both episodes of the Futurama Premier last night, I'm hopeful that the series can at least match the creativity seen during the FOX years.

'Rebirth' was a good starting episode. It picked up at the end of 'Beyond the Wild Green Yonder'. In the end of that movie we saw the characters headed for certain death. And in fact, most of them are dead at the start of the episode.

The symbolism was obvious. The series had been dead and needed to be brought back to life. The dialogue about the move to Comedy Central move right up to the edge and didn't quite get to annoying. It was reminiscent of the Cochrane quote in the movie, 'First Contact', when he exclaims, "You're astronauts...on some kind of star trek?" That line still makes me groan. It was unnecessary, didn't fit and likely could've been written better. At least with Futurama you expect to groan at some of the jokes. In fact the characters themselves often remark that some of the puns are a new low. Especially when it comes to Bender...

The episode gives a nod to the Sci-Fi channel show, 'Caprica', when Leela's and then Fry's personalities are recreated from webcam footage and downloaded into robots. Toward the end, there is a nod to the Terminator series as these robots reject their human forms and go to being pure robots, while speaking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

During this episode, Bender gets a new power plant (actually a doomsday device from earlier episodes), and must party all of the time to burn off the excess energy. Otherwise he'll explode and kill everyone. In the end of the episode, Bender's power supply malfunctions and then operates at a lower level.

In this episode, Bender parties a lot, but doesn't drink much. And now he has a power supply that doesn't need alcohol. I hope that this doesn't adversely effect his character development in later episodes.


In 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela', we have a vignette featuring Captain Zap Brannigan's rich fantasies. It alternates a bit between a regular color cartoon and a clunky black and white done in the early style of Disney as represented by the Steamboat Willie cartoon. This is the second episode that I can remember, that hearkens back to that earlier age of cartoons. The other one was the feature length film, 'The Beast with a Billion Backs'. That one had an interesting take on the Flying Spaghetti Monster, complete with pirates attempting to harpoon the beast... Or was it meant to be something else...? :)

In this episode, we have a Death Sphere headed to Earth. It's mission is to censor planets where naughty things happen. It's a take on V'Ger from Star Trek and the Death Star from Star Wars. The invisible stealth spacecraft was cute. Though the ship could become invisible, the occupants could be clearly seen. Nod here to Wonder Woman, and her invisible jet airplane... That made for some strange visuals as Leela and Zap share the single man cockpit with her in his lap.

They take on the Death Sphere which has the name V-GINY. It's the result of the collision of two satellites, V-CHIP and FLYING DESTINY (Air Force).

It did have a couple of lines that had me snickering out loud...
“Magnify that death sphere…. Why is it still blurry?” – Zapp
“That’s all the resolution we have. Making it bigger doesn’t make it clearer.” – Kif
“It does on CSI: Miami!” – Zapp

It continues after Leela and Zap crash land and Zap tricks Leela into thinking she's on a paradise of a planet and the Earth has been destroyed. When caught in his web of lies, Zap responds with, "My motives were pure. I just wanted to get laid."

This episode had it's moments, but seemed forced. I think it's intended to be a bit of satire directed at FOX, and represents all of the shows that were ruined by studio management when committees started rewriting plots. The last season of the original 'Star Trek' comes to mind. In that season, many of the plots didn't make sense. The characters were doing things they wouldn't normally do...

And, now that I've gotten this far in writing this cheesy review, I think that is exactly what they were riffing on! It's obvious now! It's a riff on 'The Way to Eden'.

Still in the end, I think this episode represents Zapp Brannigan's rich but pubescent imagination and doesn't reflect on the future of the show. Now that I've finally figured it out, I may have to go back and watch it again...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Good News Everyone!

Futurama is back tonight with a new episode.

It's a sci-fi geek cartoon from Matt Groenig, in case you've never heard of it, and will air on Comedy Central at 9:00pm Central Time.

One of the co-writers, David X. Cohen has a bachelors degree in Physics and a Masters Degree in Theoretical Computer Science. With his input ever episode is sure to have a few sly science jokes slipped in.

And combined with science, the show has plenty of alcohol. One of the main characters, 'Bender', is a robot that runs on alcohol burning fuel cells.

If you ever catch the show, pay attention to the labels on the beer bottles, they are always interestingly geeky, like this one:

Or the less cerebral beer, brewed by Bender himself:

And finally, here is the website of a true fan. He built himself a beer making machine in the shape of the beer guzzling Bender!

Anyhoo, if you enjoy the show, then cool. If you hate it, well, you can, "Bite Bender's shiny metal butt."

Fox Tapped To Oversee Foxes Tasked With Guarding Hen House

BP picked as the independent agency to oversee BP's $20b fund.

US BP executive Bob Dudley to manage oil spill crisis

Tony Hayward steps aside as Dudley is appointed head of new unit to manage response and clean-up operation

Hayward, Dudley and McKay of BP BP chief executive Tony Hayward, managing director Bob Dudley and BP America chairman and president Lamar McKay after a meeting with Barack Obama. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Bob Dudley, an American BP executive, today became the new man in charge of handling the company's oil spill crisis, taking over from the embattled chief executive Tony Hayward.

Dudley will report to Hayward as the head of the newly created Gulf Coast Restoration Organisation, and will be responsible for managing the cleanup and evaluation of environmental damage in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said.

"In the near term, my focus will be on listening to stakeholders, so we can address concerns and remove obstacles that get in the way of our effectiveness," Dudley said. "And we'll build an organisation that, over the longer term, fulfills BP's commitment to restore the livelihoods and the environment of the Gulf coast."

BP said that the newly formed organisation will manage all aspects of its response to the Deepwater Horizon incident and the oil and gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That includes clean-up operations, co-ordinating with the US government and local officials, and managing the $20bn (£13.4bn) escrow account.

"Having grown up in Mississippi, Bob has a deep appreciation and affinity for the Gulf coast, and believes deeply in BP's commitment to restore the region," Hayward said.

Dudley, 54, lost out to Hayward when BP chose a new chief executive three years ago. His oil industry career began in 1979 with Amoco Corp, which merged with BP in 1998.

Between 1994 and 1997 Dudley was based in Moscow, working on developing Amoco's business in Russia. From 2003 to 2008, he was president and chief executive of TNK-BP, a joint venture in Russia.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Truth About Retail Sales, Bankruptcy Data, and Stimulus.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Don't Cry For British Petroleum

BP's Promo Video

I've seen some folks comment that they are incredibly fearful that this spill will adversely affect British Petroleum's profit margins. They worry that Mr. Hayward won't be able to buy a few hundred yachts next year for his personal enjoyment.

Don't worry folks. BP will make money from this. The US taxpayer pays out billions of dollars every year in subsidies to the oil majors. It's estimated that the US Tax Payer gifts BP $30 Billion / year. You see, when you're the world's most profitable industry and breaking profit records every year, you shouldn't have to pay your own bills. That's why you and I work for a living. It's our job to make sure that Hayward, a British Citizen enjoys the comforts and pleasures that real wealth can provide.

So there is no reason to believe that the you and I won't be bailing out BP at a cost plus basis. BP is going to make record profits on this spill.

Oh and the BP workers we're hearing about getting sick? They've found a solution for that. They are using our tax dollars to clean beaches that are unaffected by the spill. After all, cleaning up the real muck may eventually expose them to liabilities that will turn into multi-generational court fights.

Don't cry for BP. BP has been creating disasters in the US every year for decades. It's what they do. It hasn't hurt them yet. After all, if you have a job, a portion of your paycheck is going overseas to London, to rest in Hayward's personal bank account.

British Petroleum will be fine.

Some say the devil is dead, the devil is dead.
Some say the devil is dead and buried in the bayou.
Some say he rose again, some say he rose again.
Some say he rose again and runs a BP oil crew.