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October 9, 2015

Futurama: A Fishful of Dollars

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 9th 2006 8:26PM
Futurama: A Fishful of Dollars(S01E06) The ironic thing about Futurama is that, while it's not an earthbound show, its actual "universe" is much smaller than that of Matt Groening's other creation, The Simpsons. What I mean by that is that Futurama doesn't have nearly as many recurring side characters as its predecessor; however, it allows for those side characters to be both more broadly-drawn and better-developed.

We've already seen a few characters outside the Planet Express family -- Nibbler, Zapp, Kif, and Calculon -- and now we're introduced to Mom. Mom's a ruthless businesswoman who is trying to take over the world. Even though the picture she puts out to the public is the kindly old grandmother in a big hoop-skirted dress, she actually smokes, swears, chugs cream soda, and orders around her three sniveling hench-sons. Oh, and she also has it in for Fry.

Fry, who goes to buy a pair of Lightspeed briefs after they infiltrate his dreams (they use gamma rays to do that, you know). He goes to his old 20th century bank -- which happens to stil have his records on file -- to get more money. He has to use his old-fashioned ATM card, with a PIN that's the price of a cheese pie and a large soda at the pizzeria where he used to work. He finds that his 93 cents has matured over 1000 years in to $4.3 billion, which apparently is still a lot of money in the year 3000. He spends his money on things that reminded him of his old life, including the last known tin of anchovies, a fish that was eaten to extinction by Zoidberg's lobsterman relatives.

Those anchovies, though, would ruin Mom if the formula for their oil got out. So she goes after Fry. I don't know what's funnier about Mom: her butt-like hairdo, her potty mouth ("Now I'm off to some charity BS for knocked-up teenage sluts."), or her hench-sons, Larry, Igner, and Walt.

Which brings us to this week's edition of:

Billy West's take: (Mom)was Tress MacNeille., I loved the characters. I tried out for one of the sons, but I didn't pass muster. (I asked him about the voice of Walt, which sounds a lot like Vincent Price)Yeah, that was Maurice (LaMarche). He was also the Brain in Pinky and the Brain. That was a good show.

And Mo... he's a stunner. There isn't much he can't do and he can pretty much do anything. Funny... And John DiMaggio is a hoot, he cracks me up. And Dave Herman (who voices hench-son Larry) is also extremely funny. He does these voices that you don't hear very often, like Wormstrom, who is Professor Farnsworth's enemy, you know the other professor. "What's the matter now, Farnsworth?" He did a lot of incidental voices. And that's the toughest assignment to have, if you don't have a regular character. It's like very week you've got to figure out how to create a character that's not established.

And there was one more voice in the show: When Mom's sons kidnap Fry and trick them into giving them his PIN code, they tempt him by using "contemporary actress" Pamela Anderson. Well, at least her head. Apparently, she also won an Oscar for the Baywatch movie, the first to be filmed completely in slow motion. Apparently she was there in the studio with DiMaggio, West, and company, as DiMaggio confirms in the DVD commentary. But Billy West went further, as he told me during my interview with him:

BW: Right. (sheepish Fry-like voice) I kissed Pamela Anderson.

JK: You did?

BW: Yeah. I wanted to put my head in her jar.

Anyway, it was funny seeing how much 20th century junk is worth in the future, like that "cute antique robot toy" Fry buys for Bender (Rock-em Sock-em Robots) and Fry's new 20th Century Apartment, complete with asbestos. I also loved the cutaway from Walt speculating that Fry "must be a mastermind of the highest order" to Fry watching Sanford and Son (we hear the tail end of the theme and "Esther, you ugly!". Genius). Oh, and seeing the crazed look in Zoidberg's face after he eats the anchovy-laden pizza bits everyone spits out -- hey, even in 3000, anchovies are a required taste -- and demands "More! MORE!" is the best episode ending I've seen so far.

One note on the DVD commentary on this episode: it seemed like a lot of the commentary consisted of Groening and company laughing at the episode. I hadn't heard a lot of that up until this one; they'd often laugh at each other's jokes, but not at the episode they were seeing. This is a good sign; it tells me that the writing was coming along, and that it's held up enough over the years to even make the people who created the show laugh out loud. If that's not the sign of a fantastic show, I don't know what is.

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Sam the Deaf

One thing I don't understand... when Mom not able buy that fish from Fry's. Am I hear that they await for their poo poo to collect "oil"?

July 10 2006 at 11:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Comparing the depth of Futurama's cast of side-characters to the Simpsons is a little unfair when you consider how many episodes there are of both series. If anything, Futurama did more in the first season to build a complex collection of people and places than the Simpsons did. I can only imagine how much more they are going to add in the new episodes!!!!

BTW, I watched the new Venture Bros. ep earlier today online, and it is hilarious. The Hunter S. Thompson parody is great and the whole homage to The Door's "The End" and the final segment of Apocalypse Now is outstanding. Watch it!!!

July 09 2006 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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