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July 29, 2014

'Futurama' - 'The Late Philip J. Fry' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jul 30th 2010 10:15AM
The episode (S06E07) "This seems like a nice future. Let's just stay here. We can settle down on that mountain of skulls." - Bender

Anyone who has ever said that the new 'Futurama' episodes could never live up to the epic awesomeness of their seasonal predecessors can officially (according to the National Endowment for the Bureau of Determining Who Can Suck It) suck it.

Last night's time-tripping paradox through the ends and beginnings of time and back again had everything that make a 'Futurama' episode great: lots of heart, deep and complicated plots and jokes that don't suck.

It also finally addressed the slowly building love affair between Fry and Leela, something that felt like it should have been doing from day one (more like day 1.3). The wait, however, has been worth it. Instead of rushing into the relationship like so many cheap prom dates, its absence helps build the tension to a nice simmer in order to present the very sweet and silly story I was treated to last night.

Time travel plots are a natural for 'Futurama' since the entire concept is wrapped in the enigma of time and the frailty of the human condition. They are an easy way to allow for layered jokes that build on a single concept to reach a ridiculous outcome and create a complex plot that doesn't make your brain explode like a potato in a microwave.

The Professor invented a time travel device, but, of course, it can only travel forward and so Fry, Bender and Farnsworth are doomed to forever move forward through the future until they reach the infinite nothingness and beyond. I love how the whole episode had the feel of an epic space journey, something that's been missing since the new episodes started. This certainly beats any other space mission the Planet Express team has taken in the past or the future (although Bender's short stint as a large metallic god comes pretty darn close). Heck, it beats just about every other epic journey in all of literature. This makes the 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' look like a road trip to Duluth, Minn.

The humor also had a great sense of construction. Punchlines led to more punchlines, and bits led to more bits, like the pure genius of the 'Planet of the Apes' reference that had Fry reenacting the iconic Charlton Heston "Damn you all to hell" scene to every future point on the evolutionary scale. It took a great concept and found new and funnier ways to build on it until the entire scene turned into an orgy of endorphin-producing laughter.

And since this was a time travel episode that takes place almost entirely in the same spot (the loading zone of the Professor's laboratory), we hardcore 'Futurama' fans were treated to a whole host of inside jokes and references to episodes dating all the way back to the very first season. Even if you didn't watch the show regularly enough to identify them all, it made you want to find out what they were all about. That being said, I'm glad they didn't reference the 'Bender's Game' DVD movie.

Of course, the crowning jewel on this comedy tiara was its unique and always surprising ability to show a lot of heart. Fry and Leela's relationship has always felt like a great sense of struggle, even when they were close to sealing the deal. But now that they are together, they've found a new way to test it and even help each other grow in the ensuing emotional chaos.

However, the best and most enjoyable parts of the whole episode goes to (sing along with me!) "B-E-N-D-E-R! BENNNNNNDER! B-E-N-D-E-R! BENNNNNNDER! Saying B...E...N...DERRERRRERRR (mute)." His character has never been more in tune this season than he was in this episode. His jokes were hilarious, and his ability to create chaos in the plot just by being himself did more than just help move things along. It completely sold the entire episode. So next time, when he's bragging about his greatness and flinging narcissistic spitwads at every meatbag in the room, don't buy the hype. Believe it.

Other observations:
- Comedy Central needs to release a line of "drinking teeth." The same still goes for a pair of "ass-kicking feet."

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Marcus Gorman

Absolutely the best of the season so far, although the previous three were top-notch.

July 31 2010 at 8:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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