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April 19, 2014

Futurama: When Aliens Attack

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 20th 2006 8:01PM
Futurama: When Aliens Attack(S01E12) Very few writers can somehow lampoon both Independence Day and Ally McBeal in the same episode and somehow make it look like it makes sense. I mean, take a look at Family Guy; it rockets from one pop-culture reference to the next without much of a thought to context or its relatability to the actual plot of the episode. The writers of Futurama, however, seem to take such a juxtaposition and smoothly incorporate it into the plot of the show. It could be the fact that the show takes place in the future, where you can create something like Monument Beach and make it sound plausible. But it might just be damn good writing (or at least, writing that's not done by manatees).

Anyway, nowadays it does seem like all the hubub over Calista Flockart's skinny legs and dopey fantasy sequences seems silly, doesn't it? But in 1999, Ally McBeal was more talked about than Desperate Housewives, to the point where every nerdy male who never got laid avoided the show like the plague.

Hence the treatment the show gets in this episode. Jenny McNeal of Single Female Lawyer sleeps with judges, jury foremen, and the defendant. Ally McBeal sleeps with everyone else. They both wear unbelievably short skirts. I guess aliens a thousand light years away liked this kind of stuff because when the season finale from 1999 was interrupted (by a very careless pre-frozen Fry), they attack Earth looking for the episode. "Surely you know McNeal. She is an unmarried human female struggling to succeed in a human male's world," Lrrr, the king of Omicron Persei 8, tells Zapp Branigan. Aliens have no taste, I guess.

So the Planet Express crew decide to act out the finale, as we hear in this week's edition of...

Billy West's take: Oh yeah! They had to act it out. It's a swipe at Ally McBeal. I had a great line, but I never told anybody that I wished that Ally McBeal character could have said. It was in my head but I didn't dare say anything. I was thinking she should say, "Do these bones make me look fat?"

That would have been a good line. Speaking of Billy, we see Zapp again, in all his obnoxious glory. When he instructs all the recruited pilots (including Fry, Bender, and Leela) on their plan of attack, Bender volunteers for a suicide mission -- after Zapp activates his Patriotism chip. Zapp responds in classic Zapp fashion: "You're a brave robot, son. But when I'm in command, every mission's a suicide mission."

Some notes:
  • The Fox station depicted in the flashback, WNYW, is for real. It's the Fox affiliate in New York.
  • The reason why the writers named the planet Omicron Persei 8 is because the star Omicron Persei really is about a thousand light years away from Earth. Of course, the planets in that solar system are all different. When Lrrr and his wife Ndnd are watching the crew play out Single Female Lawer, Lrrr asks, "If McNeal wishes to be taken seriously why does she not simply tear the judge's head off?" Ndnd sighs and says, "It is true what they say; 'Women are from Omicron Persei 7, men are from Omicron Persei 9'."
  • Like I said in the first paragraph, the reason why Monument Beach was created was solely to have aliens destroy the White House like they did in Independence Day. If they got to destroy other monuments (including Randy's Donuts) at the same time, all the better. I personally liked the tiny ship that destroyed Fry's sand castle.
  • The battle scenes are taken directly from Star Wars and Star Trek scenes. Though I never remember seeing a flying school bus in any of the six Star Wars movies.
  • I also liked when the Planet Express crew destroys what they think is the mothership; Zapp appears on their communicator screen to congratulate them. When the real mothership decloaks, not only does the crew shoot around to look, so does the monitor Zapp is on. I also like how Kif tells Zapp that the ship they destroyed was "The Hubble Telescope," even though it looked like an Omicron ship.
  • This is the first time we see Zoidberg scuttle. It bears mentioning because it's so damned funny to see.
  • Oh, and Nibbler's back! How'd he get back from Atlantic City?
By the way, next week is my last Futurama review for the summer. Be sure to read next week's review, because there will be a little bonus at the end. I guess I can say it's a reward for your loyalty and readership, but really, I just had no where else to put the material...

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artymarty

Great review.

The flying bus I think was a tribute to "space-balls" it was their substitute for the millennium falcon - a flying camper-van thing... :o)

I have different twist on this episode at
http://www.marty.com.au/science-fiction-to-fact/17-reviewsbookmovieaudio/153-what-are-our-alien-neighbours-watching-on-tv.html

July 06 2009 at 2:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dailybeating

I always thought the name Omicron Persei 8 was also a gag like "Uranus".. it sounds like "Omicron Pussy I Ate".. but maybe im wrong..

August 22 2006 at 4:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

"Jenny McNeal, the single female lawyer! She wears miniskirts and is promiscuous!"

August 21 2006 at 5:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tidut

I think this episode plot has something to do with star trek 4th movie.
except the fact aliens wanted to see ally mcbeal instead of hearing some whales.

August 21 2006 at 4:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gavin

"Single Female Lawyer
Fighting for her clients
Wearing sexy mini skirts
And being self-reliant"

August 20 2006 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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