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...


At 1:00 AM, Blogger Bukko Canukko said...

Wow, Weas, you know a lot of chit! Futurama is one of those cartoons I wish I had more time to watch. ("Family Guy," "American Dad" and a few others, I don't care so much, and I got sick of "South Park" after the episode where Cartman conned the bully teenager into killing and cannibalizing his parents.)

Unfortunately, I work so many evening shifts that I don't get to watch 'toons -- I haven't even seen all the episodes of "The Simpsons." FWIW, all of the above were on TV all the time in Australia. Quite popular. Simpsons and Futurama humour fits in with the wry way Aussies make jokes.

At 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not Herbert. lulz


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