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October 4, 2015

'Futurama' - 'The Duh-Vinci Code' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 16th 2010 10:00AM
Professor Farnsworth and Fry from (S06E05) "My God, this is the greatest mystery of all time! We must fly to Rome and exhume the body of St. James." - Prof. Farnsworth

"Didn't we used to be a delivery company?" - Hermes

"To the ship!" - Prof. Farnsworth

A friend of mine who was also a big fan of the original 'Futurama' before Fox kicked it out of bed quicker than one of Tiger Woods' mistresses didn't have any very nice things to say about the new premiere episodes. I'd reprint them here if the childhood literacy rate wasn't so, er, darn high.

In his defense, the first two didn't have the feel of the original series, even if they were able to stand on their own for the most part. Last night's hilarious adventure, however, could cause him to choke on those very words he used to describe the show's creators' digestive systems (don't ask).

It had just about everything that made those original shows so much fun to watch: deep creativity, adventure, pathos and lots and lots of comedy. This actually felt like the first episode so far in the new season that belonged in the show's original run. In other words, it was just good clean fun.

The writers seem to have gotten back into the swing of the original show by playing more the characters and what makes them work so well. This time, the characters weren't just plot drivers that helped bring the story home. They drove the humor of the show as well from major plot devices (Prof. Farnsworth's disgust with Fry's ignorance) to even the tiniest joke (learning that Dr. Zoidberg has a PhD in art history). Most of all, the old Bender is finally back to his full, fabulous form. He stole every chance he got, cracked inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times and laid into other people's misery with the force of a high school linebacker.

The plot, however, moved pretty fast. Ten minutes into the episode, it felt like they had traveled halfway around the world without giving the audience time to get over the jet lag. The episode had a lot of ground to cover in a half hour and it felt like there were a lot of bits and even whole plot points that had go on the film pyre for the sake of time (guess I'll have something to look forward to on the DVD extras). It probably could have felt less contained if they split the whole thing into two episodes, just to give it more space and ground to cover.

However, the plot twists were very inventive and tied the whole episode together nicely without trying to force them together with an acetylene torch. The idea of making da Vinci the dumbest man on a planet of know-it-alls was a brilliant twist and the discovery of his lost machine as a doomsday device set up for a great climatic ending.

And I laughed throughout this thing. Not just little tiny snickers, but great big throat laughs. The kind of laughs you save for when a friend tries to pick up a model and ends up falling off the barstool as he tries to make his big move. The kind of laughs you only have during Slim Pickens' scenes in 'Blazing Saddles.' The kind of laughs that suck your attention to whatever is causing it and won't let you go until the endorphins in your brain have fizzled away like so much carbonation in a freshly poured soda.

It had funny lines, funny twists and (my all time favorite kind of funny) funny cartoon gags like Fry failing at sitting and da Vinci getting flattened by a giant cog. If you don't find that stuff funny, I feel sorry for you and then I laugh at you.

Other observations:

- I'm so excited to see the little joke captions on the bottom of the title screen instead of just the boring old episode titles. I was surprised, however, not to see one when they parodied the title screen with the "Futur-Roma" shot as the ship landed in Rome. Couldn't they just throw a quick line under there like "Home of the Fightin' Vatican Cardinals" or "Making Americans obese since 1880"?

- Call me crazy, but all calculus classes should require their students to answer in the form of an opera. Not only would the class be more entertaining, but college campuses could save hundreds of thousands by doubling the sessions with a music history credit.

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Did anyone else notice that the Space Pope was indeed reptilian?

July 16 2010 at 7:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As someone going for a Ph.D. in art history, I fell out of my chair laughing at Dr. Zoidberg's little revelation. So happy to have Futurama back!

July 16 2010 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I like that in the beginning he thought a nail was used to hammer in nails, then when he helped Leonardo DiCaprio (who wasn't that good in the Beach) build his machine he kept using a nail to hammer in other nails.

July 16 2010 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fry not being able to sit cracked me up, but one of the most hilarious parts of the original series for me was when (I think back in season one) Fry went to push a button after a countdown and completely missed and just poked the console and said "oops". Classic.

So far I'm enjoying the new episodes. Some haven't been great, and I only really liked the first "movie", but it's nice to see new content regardless.

July 16 2010 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am in the camp with your buddy.

I haven't seen last night's yet, but I'm close to giving up on the show. This is coming from yet another person that considered the original one of the best shows of all time (they had a few not-so-great parts of the final season, but it seems that's when they knew they were gone and started taking huge risks to see what happened.)

Now, though? Similar to the movies, they're just throwing in jokes that, when held to the Futurama standard, simply aren't funny. They're neither clever nor witty. Too often the jokes seem either entirely nonsensical in the Futurama world or like the easiest possible joke to make at that point.

Nothing has been Bender's Game bad yet, but nothing has been funny, either. At least each movie had one or two lines that made me chuckle. Can't say that about these new episodes. The whole Bender/Amy relationship episode was awful. I found myself skipping through channel listings looking for what else was on before I realized what I was doing.

July 16 2010 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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