You never know what to expect when you watch Futurama. Well, you can expect hilarity, but will it be dark humor? Will it be mixed with political commentary? Will it be a beautiful character exploration? The two-episode premiere of the 7th season had a good dose of the latter and I loved it.
In “The Bots and the Bees,” Bender has a fling with a vending machine and out comes a little adorable abomination. Bender has been a father before and it hasn’t exactly been the most heartwarming of situations. He’s tried selling his adopted human children as meat in a Chinese restaurant and he sacrificed his real son to the Robot Devil without a second thought. I figured this episode would be more of the same, but instead we got a really sweet episode about a father and son. I was genuinely moved by little Ben struggling with his disability to not bend and Bender’s compassion for his son while also encouraging him to stretch beyond his limitation. Bender is actually a good dad — he also incorporates his son into his crimes, but for Bender that’s still pretty good. You believe they love each other — the performances by John DiMaggio and Phil LaMarr sell it perfectly. It takes a special sort of show that can pull off such a genuinely moving plot centered around a character who isn’t above stealing his best friend’s blood. Bender’s choice to give his son the happiness he craves — even though Ben will never remember him — was heartbreaking. Considering Father’s Day was just this past Sunday, this was a fitting premiere.
“A Farewell to Arms” (whose very title only makes sense in the last five minutes) has less character development than “The Bots and the Bees,” but it was also a Fry and Leela relationship episode and I’m all for those! While the writers have been keeping their relationship loose since the show’s revival in 2010, it’s good to see a storyline where they are most definitely an official couple. While all of Fry’s attempts at chivalry end up directing causing Leela physical injury (who knew arms were so easy to pull off), his intentions were noble and you see yet again how much he loves her. The writers also did the inevitable Mayan 2012 calendar parody early in the season so we can move on quickly. I actually thought they were exceptionally clever by pointing out why they couldn’t just fly away in their big spaceships (although I think Bender stops using his wind-up power source halfway through the storyline). They also brought back the native Martians from all the way back in season 3 and the number 9 soothsayer who was featured prominently in Into the Wild Green Yonder.
All in all, two great episodes with a lot of heart and some really funny visual jokes. Outside of the sweet moments, my favorite moment of the night and arguably the best title card ever was attached to “The Bots and the Bees”– it was the Fry squinting meme coupled with: “Not sure if new episode or just rerun of episode I watched drunk.” Welcome back, Futurama. It’s going to be a good summer.
All the best quotes:
The Bots and the Bees
“To the employment cave!” — Zoidberg after seeing the Planet Express signal in the sky
“Sex Ed Vol. 1 or … Pants Full of Shame!” — Sex Ed Video Title
“Yes, everything your body does is perfectly natural … Except masturbation! That’s just wrong!” — Sex Ed Video
“Aw, I’m going to call him Ben after the first half of me … Bender!” — Bender
A Farewell to Arms
“Ask your doctor if Futurama is right for you.” — Title Card
“I’ll save you, pants! Scruffy, do you have any varmint grease?” — Fry
“What viscosity do you need?” — Scruffy
“Who could have done this … the sewer mutants?” — Professor
“No, this isn’t mutant language. We use a lot more profanity. [falls down a hole] Son of a *****!” — Leela
“So the world will end in 3012 … why does that year sound so familiar?” — Fry
“Because that’s the year that’s this year!” — Professor
“Some of us were crazy before it was cool!” — Number 9 soothsayer to the rioters
“Well, it wasn’t a bad life. If only I could get back that time I spent watching Tron: Legacy.” — Leela
“Leela, I made up my mind. Before we die, I’m going to find and destroy every remaining copy of Tron: Legacy. It may take a couple of hours, but …” — Fry
Bender was actually a good dad
I liked how the son’s full name was Ben Vending Rodriguez :-)
I liked that, too.