Written by: J Stewart Burns
Directed by: Pat Shinagawa
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential
This is a pretty good episode in spite of the fact that it’s a perfect example of why the Amy/Kiff romance doesn’t work at all for me. The way that all of Amy’s normal personality traits and motivation are tossed aside to serve Kiff’s story of finding his manliness sets my teeth on edge, not just because of the sexism of it but because that’s just bad storytelling. Consider how, no matter what the show does with Leela, she never loses her essential character. Also, look, I’m not completely against stories of weak nerdy guys becoming tough and manly, but it’s up there with Daddy Issues and Guy Who Is So Good At His Job That Everyone Tolerates What An Asshole He Is in terms of stories you have to really work at to get me invested; the arc is enough of a cliche that I really need the emotions involved to be more nuanced and specific to get me to care, and this never really goes anywhere interesting with Kiff. Finally, I’m not in any way qualified to judge this, but I’m pretty sure the Native Martian stuff is thoughtlessly racist – although presumably the fact that they’re awesome and hilarious and the Chief gets the best lines of the episode balances that out.
On the other hand, the actual construction of this episode is great. The structure of the plotting is good enough that I’m invested in following along, even if I don’t care that much; the ticking along of incident tickles the same part of my brain that gets invested in Rube Goldberg machines, and the unsubtle hints of the Native Martians controlling the sandstorms are satisfying when they pay off. The episode doesn’t have really much to say about the exploitation of Naive Americans beyond that it was kind of a bummer, but I actually enjoy that kind of satire – articulating a fundamental moral truth in an accessible format, like a spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go etc. I also especially enjoy the final twist that the Martians had a bigass diamond (“We do have concept of ownership.”); it’s funny and it resolves the plot really well, something that isn’t always true on Futurama let alone other comedies. Naturally, of course, it’s also really funny; the running gag of Zoidberg being the worst houseguest ever is another gag that becomes funnier by playing the same note louder and louder. Even better is the Wong parents; Leo suffers from the same problem as Apu in that he’s voiced by a white man, but aside from that he’s such a great character – he actually articulates my problem with Kiff in that he’s a clear cliche – Rich Asshole – twisted just enough to become unique and memorable, not just in his accent and hat combination but in his all-encompassing meanspirited personality – I think it’s the fact that he’s consistently proud of himself for being such a douche that kicks him into memorable for me.
Title Card: Krafted With Luv by monsters
Cartoon Billboard: “The Emerald Isle”, 1949
I also really like the buggalo design. Betsy in particular manages to be cute and insectoid in a last-Brundlefly-design kind of way. Fry not seeing the mountain right in front of him is an all-time Fry-is-stupid moment and one that I can, unfortunately, relate to. On the flipside, his deep knowledge of campfire horror stories is, as Leela points out, something very rare and for me very fun to watch. I also really enjoy his line “It’s that ‘barbecue’s over’ sound again!”. The one Kiff Must Be Manly joke I actually really like is “Actually, I’m supported by a system of fluid-filled bladders” runner, because it’s an amazingly dorky line and therefore exactly what I come to Futurama for.
“The time for stupid statements is over.”
The title is a reference to a line from the folk song “Home On The Range”. The arrows used by the Martians resemble lightsabers from Star Wars. Zapp introduces himself with the phrase “man with no name”, a reference to Clint Eastwood’s character in the Dollars trilogy of films. The scene of a Martian crying at the can of Slurm is a reference to the Crying Indian conservation advertisements. The Wong ranch is based on the ranch from the movie Giant. Bender sings a parody of the theme song for Bonanza. The Face Of Mars is a reference to the purported Face of Mars (which actually doesn’t resemble a face at all when looked at closely). The Martian Chronicles newspaper Amy holds is a reference to the short story collection by Ray Bradbury, which itself contains themes of Martian colonisation and displacement of natives. The Marlboro Man and Joe Camel are both famous cigarette mascots.
Iconic Moments: “The quickest way to a girl’s bed is through her parents. Have sex with them and you’re in.”
Next Week: “Insane In The Mainframe”. “But I’m not a robot like you! I don’t like having discs crammed into me! Unless they’re Oreos. And then only in the mouth!”