Star Rating: 4 out of 5
Stars: Katey Sagal, Billy West and John DiMaggio
The Big Idea: Futurama returns for season six’s second half with a double-barreled blast of fun via back-to-back episodes.
The first ep, “Neutopia,” finds the Planet Express staff brainstorming ways to raise funds and avert bankruptcy (“free delivery” turns out to have been a bad promotional strategy for a delivery company). Plan A: a girlie calendar of the Planet Express lovelies, which pits Leela, Amy and office temp/Hermes wife LaBarbara against the “walking beer commercial” of Fry, Bender and the boys.
Plan B: transforming Planet Express into a space airline. That idea shows more promise, until “Goofus and Ganja,” a.k.a. Fry and Hermes, crash the maiden flight. Then, the battle of the sexes that began as a hairline fracture becomes a full-on, it’s-your-faultline between the women and the dudes, and it’s settled only when a powerful, but somewhat disaffected, asexual rock creature (hat tips to Star Trek and Galaxy Quest) intervenes with tests to determine the superior sex. Unsatisfied with the outcome, Rocky solves the issue by … well, a spoiler lies in the title of the episode.
Tonight’s second episode is “Benderama,” which revolves around the idea that there can definitely be too much of a – well, good is too strong a word – thing. It opens with a shoutout to The Twilight Zone that sparks a new life approach for Bender. Taking exactly the wrong lesson from the Zone, Bender marries the Professor’s latest invention with his own defining characteristic (sloth) to create a series of mini-Benders … just to avoid folding some clothing. Each successive Bender produces two more mini-Benders, each 60 percent of the size of its parent, but just as lazy and obnoxious as Bender Prime. And, oh, they’re hungry.
The Planet Express crew attempts mass extermination of the Benders to prevent them from consuming the earth, but fails. And thank goodness they do, as the Benders prove critical in preventing a really ugly situation from spinning out of control. High points of the episode are the “grey goo” hat tips to nanotechnology (it’s not just a funny show … it’s a smart funny show), and Patton Oswalt‘s guest-voicing of the gentle giant struggling with self-esteem, anger management and mommy issues. Big Bender to the Rescue!
To Watch or Not to Watch: Yes, but only if you want the context behind lines like: “In your face, decumbent urinators”; “Womanhood also takes some getting used to: for example, did you know there are more than two feelings?”; “Thank God most of our fans are such huge perverts!”; “Ah marriage – it combines the contentedness of being neutered, with the occasional sex of being not”; “Oh God, shield your eyes – it’s like Edward James Olmos on IMAX!”; “They’ll reproduce without limit, consuming all the matter in the world. Like the Kardashians“; and “It’s like fine cognac, with a hint of aged scrotum.”
The midseason premiere presents two very strong episodes of a show that consistently delivers, and a marked contrast to some of the other animated shows that (cough, cough, Book of Mormons took all our time) seem to have lost a step this recently-aired season.
TV Screener Tidbit: Don’t miss the end credits of “Neutopia” … the “girls” of Planet Express are on full display, for better or worse. Much, much worse.
Futurama‘s new episodes premiere Thursday, June 23, at 10PM ET on Comedy Central
Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred – returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET). Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) [...]
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