I always liked Futurama. The Simpsons have been one of my favorite shows since it hit the air and when Fox started running ads for Matt Groenig and David X. Cohen’s new show, I was excited to see it.
Futurama had a lot of the goofy cartoony humor that the Simpsons were already known for, but the show was also able to establish its own voice. In addition to poking fun at the well-used devices of science fiction and intricacies of the world today, the show effectively used dramatic moments between the characters in a way that the Simpsons did not. Some of the storylines between Fry and Leela as well as Wong and Kiff was touching and credible in ways that some live actions shows couldn’t come close to.
The show was never really able to stand on its feet though. Fox first put it in Sundays, then shuffled it around and eventually dropped it entirely halfway through its fourth season. Fan support kept it from dying though, and it survived on Cartoon Network and Comedy Central in reruns.
All Hail Hypnotoad!
Now jump ahead to two weeks ago in my local video store. Futurama: Bender’s Big Score was sitting on the shelves; I remembered reading that Futurama was coming back as a straight-to-DVD movie, but I didn’t know anything beyond that. Of course I rented it.
The movie is definitely worth seeing by anyone who liked the show (if you really really liked the show, go ahead and buy it) and it is even jam packed with winks and nods and dangling plot threads from the series for fans to remember fondly. Because of this, there’s a lot going on. Hang on and enjoy the ride nonetheless.
The Planet Express crew makes a delivery to a nude beach planet and a tattoo is discovered on Fry’s rear end. The crew is then tricked by nudist scammer aliens who take over Planet Express and use the code on the tattoo to send Bender through time to steal treasures from the past. Meanwhile, Hermes’ body is destroyed and his head is placed in a jar until it can be replaced. Additionally, Leela meets and is romanced by another man and because of this, Fry decides to go back to the past to live out his life. Deciding to keep Fry out of the picture permanently, the nudist aliens send Bender back to kill him and all kinds of wackiness ensues.
There is a lot of time travel going on in this movie and I am very surprised how the writers kept track of everything. They seriously must have had a giant flow chart on the wall where they could graph out all the comings and goings. It all works though and everything that is used is wrapped up at some point in the story.
There was one plot point that I figured out, though I have to admit that I thought of it, then dismissed it, then said “aha” when it was revealed at the end of the movie. Though common decency prevents me from spoiling it here, I’ll let you know that it involves Leela’s handsome suitor.
Bender’s Big Score is definitely worth a look, fans of the series will see just about everything they liked in the show and newcomers should enjoy it as well as long as they can keep track of everything that’s going on. So come for the story, but stay for Fry, Bender, Nibbler, Leela, Amy, Nudar, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Hypnotoad, the Harlem Globetrotter Scientists, two narwhals, gratuitous nudity, Al Gore, golden Death Stars, Torgo’s powder, Mark Hamill, Zapp Brannigan, Richard Nixon’s head in a jar, Seymour, Barbados Slim, the Box Network, Elzar, owls, suicide booths, hellacious space battles, Scruffy, sewer mutants, pizza deliveries, robot gangsters, Olympic-class limbo, Robot Santa, and everything else you loved from Futurama.