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August 29, 2015

'Futurama' - 'In-a-Gadda-Da-Leela' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jun 25th 2010 7:30PM
Leela and Zap Branigan naked on 'Futurama'(S06E02) "Captain's log, we've lost control. Addendum: whoooaaoaooaaoaaa!" - Capt. Zapp Branigan

The real challenge of 'Futurama's' return is one of precarious balance.

In order to survive (again), the show has to find a way to please the hardcore fans that have kept it everyone's consciousness and bring in new fans who haven't kept up with it.

For the fans, that means sacrificing some of the facets that made the original so much fun and relying more on humor that can reach the broadest possible audience. The second episode of the new season, fortunately and unfortunately, featured a healthy mix of the two, healthy in a "gym class sex lesson" kind of way.

The episode really felt devoid of the usual 'Futurama' staples like the rage against technology and little in-jokes that drive its main humor. It also relied a lot more on crude humor that seems to have become the norm for Comedy Central's newer, homegrown shows (i.e. the horrific 'Secret Girlfriend'). 'Futurama' isn't above such humor like the penultimate "Spanish Fry" episode, but it also have to be clever and less predictable.

Zapp Branigan is a selfish, piggish and pathetic lump of a man who clearly seems over his head in every situation he encounters whether it's destroying a squadron of evil brains or trying to make it with a woman (Matt Groening described him as what the actual William Shatner would be like if he were a starship captain). So his very nature made the so-called "twist" of the episode very predictable. Anyone could see the execution of Zapp's plan coming, even if it took longer than normal (see? I'm not above crude humor).

The execution was still a lot of fun. Zapp and Leela are marooned on an Eden-esque planet after fighting off a giant "Death Sphere" (a clever crack at 'Star Wars') that censors anything objectionable in its path with a giant black glob of censor bars. Professor Farnsworth learns the "Sphere" is a really an out-of-control "V-Chip" satellite that crashed with an FCC satellite and the people of Earth have to hold back on the lovin' until they can stop it.

It was nice to see 'Futurama' stick with its satirical roots. The best of the old episodes always had a touch of something that spoke out about something (i.e. global warming in "Crimes of the Hot," environmental awareness in "A Big Piece of Garbage"). It really knew how to drive the episode, both on plot and humor, and it works here, for the most part.

Still, this episode lacked a real sense of cleverness and the things that make 'Futurama' so unique. That and Bender. He barely had a chuckle the entire show! Come on 'Futurama,' you can't keep a good Bender down. Next time, I want to see the robot with a drink in his hand and a chuckle in his mechanical heart for the entire episode. The preview with the two headed vomiting goat is a promising start.

Other observations:
- Did anyone else have a hard time recognizing the voice of the "V-Giny" satellite? According to the Internet Movie Database, that was Chris Eliot's voice but it still didn't sound anything like him. Maybe that celebrity voice recognition part of me part needs an oil change or something.

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The Death Sphere was also a nod to V-ger from Star Trek TMP.

June 27 2010 at 4:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vincent J. Murphy

This episode was chock full of Star Trek: The Motion Picture references.

June 26 2010 at 8:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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