This isn’t on Superversive SF because I don’t have a ton of specific stuff to say about it yet, but after considering the show for awhile I’ve finally decided to try it out.
Here’s the thing: I can’t stand adult cartoons as a rule. Yes, even “The Simpsons”. Yes, even “King of the Hill” (which I’ve tried a couple of times and never found remotely funny). And given the choice between gargling rusty razor blades and watching “Family Guy”, I’d seriously consider the razor blades. With “The Cleveland Show”, I wouldn’t need to consider. Razor blades, please.
But, credit where credit is due. Perhaps once in every three or four episodes I’ll like “American Dad”. Its core problem is that it’s basic premise is “mock conservative America”, which is about as unoriginal as you can get, but when it’s not doing that or making lame sexual jokes (sex jokes being the bane of the adult cartoon’s existence, often functioning a lazy way to signal that kids Should Not Be Watching), it makes me laugh. Like I said, it’s doing those two things most of the time, so it’s not funny a whole lot, but it happens.
Almost all of Adult Swim is, as far as I’m concerned, unwatchably awful (“Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, anyone?).
“Rick and Morty” I’ll have to try one day. It looks like a somehow even more cynical Futurama, but the one episode I watched made me laugh.
And “Bob’s Burgers” is a legitimately good show that occasionally reaches “great” territory (The “Dog Day Afternoon” parody still cracks me up, as does basically anything to do with Tina).
So now “Futurama”. Why “Futurama”? Because I heard some things about it and it sounded interesting. The premise is pretty high concept, for one. And the show’s visuals alone are stunning.
So what do I think of it? Well, first off, I’m doing what every self-respecting millennial does when he binge-watches cancelled shows on Netflix, and looking up the best episodes on Google first before picking which ones to watch, which has been wise. And so far, let me tell you, there have been some CLASSICS.
“Luck of the Fryrish”‘s ending was legitimately moving and unexpected. This was an episode that was entirely unsentimental throughout, but when the reveal came it hit HARD. “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings” started a bit slow, but the climax was PERFECT (“Your music is bad and you should feel bad”).
Outside of that climax, I liked “The Sting” even more. “The Sting” was suitably hilarious while also having a legitimately compelling mystery, a surprisingly crushing and realistic portrayal of grief, and some clever twists (if you didn’t think royal jelly Fry was really Fry when you first watched it, I don’t believe you). And, again, the ending was touching.
“Futurama” does time travel right too. “The Late Philip J. Fry” is a very entertaining time travel episode (the two gags of Farnsworth killing Hitler then later missing and killing Eleanor Roosevelt were pretty funny), while showcasing the general undercurrent of cynicism that runs throughout the series (like in many great comedies). Fry’s joke when he finally meets up with Leela – “That was the old me. He’s dead now.” – is absolutely hysterical but pretty damn dark when you think about it, punctuated by the shot of Bender burying all of the dead bodies.
But I think so far my favorite episode of the series is “Roswell that Ends Well”. It didn’t have any of the touching moments of those other great episodes, but holy shit is it FUNNY. Really, really funny. The plot with Fry and his grandfather is so far the funniest thing I’ve seen the series do. Everything about it worked – Fry tackling his grandfather into a pile of rusty pitch forks, running out into a “bomb testing area/former mine field” to try and keep him safe and the final gag of locking him in a house just before an atomic bomb blows him up.
And Fry sleeping with his grandmother? That was funny, but it his and the rest of the crew’s reactions are absolutely spectacular. The best moment of the episode is this exchange between Fry and Farnsworth:
(After learning that Farnsworth has decided to steal a satellite dish from Roswell’s military base in order to fix their time machine)
Fry: But won’t that change history?
Farnsworth: Oh, a lesson in not changing history from Mr. “I’m My Own Grandpa”! Let’s just steal the damn dish and get out of here! Screw history!
And, of course:
Farnsworth: Well, now everything is back as it was. And if history doesn’t care that our degenerate friend Fry is his own grandfather, then who are we to judge?
Pure gold. And those are just two of a ton of great lines.
I’ll be seeing more of this show. Any suggestions for best episodes?