As I explained in my Sci-Fi Month intro post, Futurama was possibly the first piece of sci-fi that I’d ever seen at the tender age of probably too young to really be watching Futurama. Seriously, I was going around saying “bite my shiny metal ass” before I was old enough to really know what Bender was saying. Out of all of the sci-fi shows that I’ve watched, Futurama is the one that has stuck with me the most. Even now I still quote the show constantly and will more than likely watch reruns on TV as well as on DVD. Unless Sky1 has decided to show the movies in a million parts for the hundredth time this decade… I’m not too fussed about the later seasons because I haven’t watched them that often, so I tend to stick to the first four seasons. So, without any delay, I shall begin to show my favourite Futurama episodes!
If there’s one thing I wish Futurama did more of, it’s these anthology episodes. There’s only two of them and while I do like both of them, I love the second one more than the first. This episode features mini imaginary stories about Bender being turned into a human (which is probably the most horrifying thing ever), life being a video game (my personal favourite of the three), and Leela finding her true family in a parody of The Wizard of Oz. I have quite a huge love for non-canon stories that can go completely off the wall (like the Treehouse episodes of The Simpsons and DC’s Elseworlds series) and these imaginary stories work so wall because Futurama is already a pretty off-the-wall show, so it’s incredibly fun to see it turn that up to eleven.
PARALLEL UNIVERSES ARE FUN, M’KAY? I love the idea of parallel universes where things are either the complete opposite or even the same just with certain things switched around (which would arguably be scarier than a universe where everything is the exact opposite). In this episode, the Professor creates a box that contains a parallel universe, and orders the Planet Express crew to not look inside of it before Hermes destroys it. So what happens? Leela flips a coin and looks inside the box. Good job. This episode is particularly wacky because we get to see just how different things would be if coin flips had a different outcome: Bender is gold, Fry and Leela are married, the Professor performed a lobotomy on himself, and so on and so forth. The amount of different universes that are shown in this episode is so vast that I wish there were episodes exploring them, but that obviously will never happen.
I’m not usually fond of jerkass characters, but there’s something about Bender that makes him so endearing. In this episode, Bender is probably at his most jerkass-ish and egotistical and ends up with a recurring role as Calculon’s son in the TV soap opera All My Circuits. What follows is a string of children attempting to imitate everything that Bender does on TV, which, knowing Bender, involves smoking and drinking, and also a lot of illegal things that children shouldn’t do. What I like about this episode is that it does have a kind of lesson to it: don’t imitate things you see on TV, but also, if your children imitate what they see in the media, it’s not really the media’s fault because parents and children should both know when things on TV are wrong.
Who wants a heaping does of feelings? No, not the one with the dog. In this episode, Fry goes through a string of bad luck and plans to go back to his house in the ruins of Old New York to find a seven-leafed clover that he hid from his brother. From there we get all sorts of flashbacks about the Fry family (specifically Fry’s brother Yancey) and what happened to them following Fry falling into the freezer tube. While this episode has plenty of laughs, it gets sad at times, especially towards the end when we find out what really happened to the seven-leafed clover. It’s nowhere near as sad as the dog episode, but it still tugs at a couple of strings.
For some unknown reason, I really have a thing for stories that involve American universities. Especially if it’s a parody of things that take place in American universities. I love the movie Animal House and anything that either references it or parodies it immediately becomes golden to me. This episode revolves around the titular university on Mars where the Professor teaches, and Fry decides to enrol in order to become a certified college dropout. Meanwhile, he has to share his room with a super-intelligent monkey, and Bender helps a fraternity of robot geeks to become cool. It’s all so wacky and so entertaining to watch.
These days, I tend to think that stories like this episode should stay on AO3 (y’know the whole human character has a non-human roommate and they have to learn how to deal with that in wacky ways), but I do still love this episode. Even though it’s very early on in the series, it does build up to Fry and Bender being the best friends that we know them as. It also kind of shows that Fry is still growing as a character because while he initially won’t hesitate to throw his best friend out just so he can watch TV, he learns that doing something like that is terrible, and that friends are more important than TV will ever be. Even if the apology is all backwards.
Superheroes are awesome! In this episode, Fry and Leela are given a weird healing cream by Dr. Zoidberg which has the unexpected side effect of giving them superpowers, so they decide to form a crimefighting team along with Bender, who doesn’t really do much because he’s a robot with only one purpose. From there we get to see the very brief adventures that the team get into, along with probably the best superhero team theme song ever made.
Celebrity cameos in cartoons are awesome most of the time, so having almost the entire original cast of Star Trek is even better (I say ‘almost’ because DeForest Kelley died in 1999 and James Doohan refused to take part). The best part of this episode is that it’s so self aware of how ridiculous fandom gets at times and how obsessive people can get over a TV series or a movie, or even a series of books. It even manages to take jabs at TOS by referencing the way that the Treknobabble was used (having a long-winded scientific explanation, and then having another character put it into simpler terms), Captain Kirk’s love of the ladies, and even the set designs in later episodes. Even that freaky alien at the end of the credits is made into a reference by replacing him with Kif.
One of my favourite musical artists is Beck, and if this episode didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have any idea of who he is. This episode sees Bender being mangled by a giant magnetic can opener and isn’t able to move anymore, so instead of being thrown out, Beck – who he meets in the hospital – gives him a pair of tiny arms so that he can become a “washboard player” in his band and tours around the country with him. Meanwhile, Fry, Leela, Amy, and Zoidberg follow them around in an ancient VW bus that Fry found, while ending up dressed as hippies. For me, the best part of this episode is obviously the music, because Beck is just awesome.
Look, it’s another heart-wrenching episode! Yay! Leela is probably my favourite character in the show, and episodes that focus on her are usually ones that I pay the most attention to (even though they may not necessarily be my favourites). In this episode, Leela is given the “Orphan of the Year” award from the orphanarium she grew up in, which then leads her to be abducted by sewer mutants, and then ends up finding out who her real parents are. It’s a bizarre way to set up a story, but just go with it. This episode is one of my absolute favourites because it finally gives Leela a backstory that goes further back than her life as an orphan, and it’s truly heartbreaking at times. I won’t ruin it for anybody who hasn’t seen the episode though. Oh, and if you have seen it and you’re wondering what the song that plays at the very end is, here you go:
What’s your favourite Futurama episode?
Louise is a bookworm, writer, and aspiring librarian from the North East of England. When she’s not reading or procrastinating writing, she can be found dreaming up story ideas, watching anime, movies, or trashy reality TV, and annoying her pets.