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April 24, 2014

'Futurama' - 'Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences' Recap

by Danny Gallagher, posted Aug 27th 2010 8:22AM
The (Season 6, Episode 11) "I'm Lrrr, ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8. Can I crash on your couch?" - Lrrr to Leela

'Futurama' usually finds the funny by delving into scientific and mathematical principles that could make a GED graduate's head explode.

Whenever a character references some in decipherable gobbledegook, my tired brain just imagines some overworked Ph.D laughing his head off that someone would take the time to work a "Coulomb's Law" reference into a major network comedy (and we wonder why they were canceled by Fox).

This week, the jokes were written for my people and me: the entertainment nerds. Sorry, Stephen Hawking, maybe they'll thrown in a saucy reference to Hoyle and Narlikar's theory of gravitation next week.

The episode starts by taking the audience to more familiar ground: the never-ending behemoth of girlish fanboys and actual girl fangirls of Comic-Con. It's a perfect setting for 'Futurama' because it's so easy to throw in a million background jokes and references that require multiple viewings.

This, of course, leads to the eventual self-serving scene of Matt Groening and David X. Cohen taking some shots at themselves and their former employer (not counting Groening) with a hilarious scene in which their latest cartoon creation is immediately canceled during the trailer screening. The cameo by long time Mad Magazine cartoonist and writer and "Groo" creator Sergio Aragonés had me giggling, and not just because I'm a hardcore Mad fan. The fact that his booth was the only one at Comic-Con involving comic books was a brilliant background joke.

Of course, the opening scenes are just a setup for the meaty part of the plot and in this case, our ol' friend Lrrr tries again to enslave the Earth at the behest of his nagging wife only to be mistaken for one of the billion costumed nerds at the convention. It's a classic convention of the Groening style, using one crazy scene to springboard into the main one. Of course, it always works if the two scenes aren't related, so naturally being surrounded by the dorks of Comic-Con would take them straight into a relationship plot.

Here's where the plot walks into a familiar television minefield. It's a risky move because plots about rocky marriages and guys rebounding from broken relationships have been done since the dawn of the medium. It's an easy plot that can fit into just about any show. Fortunately, it emerged from the skirmish unscathed.

Lrrr's trip through bachelor-dom and back had some clever and unique moments, particularly the big payoff when his alien fling, voiced by 'Battlestar Galactica' and returning 'Big Bang Theory' actress Katee Sackhoff, turns out to be a "trans-species cross dresser." The show discovered some fun and fresh ways to put a new twist on an almost tiring TV convention (and no, that wasn't another crack at Comic-Con, although it could be a damn clever one).

Instead, it takes the even less traveled road that forks off from the less traveled road with a great subplot involving the head of Orson Welles, which is also a clever way of letting voice actor and 'Futurama' regular Maurice LaMarche do his spot-on impersonation of the former Paul Mason Wine spokesperson.

The convention that impressed me most wasn't the material or the clever plot or even the usual high caliber level of comedy. It was the source material. There had to be some confused viewer out there who doesn't know anything about the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast or the obvious reference to Welles' tendency to argue over commercial scripts during recording sessions. It just doesn't care if you get it or not. The simple fact that a show like that has managed to score a sixth season never ceases to impress me.

Other observations:

- When I said earlier that this show seemed to be written just for me, it goes much deeper than just the Comic-Con angle. In the opening scenes, Lrrr wakes up from his nap after his wife turns the TV off and he complains that he was just watching my hometown team, the Saints, who were one field goal away from tying the game. They must have been referring to kicker John Carney's infamous missed field goal that gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the win in overtime last season, the only game I attended in New Orleans in the Saints' lead-up to their first Super Bowl win. I'm actually afraid that David X. Cohen might be stalking me. If I disappear next week, you'll know where to find me.

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