Futurama, Season Four, Episode Eight, “Crimes Of The Hot”

Written by: Aaron Ehasz
Directed by: Peter Avancino
DN’s Ranking: Bad / Nonessential / ESSENTIAL

This is an episode I’ve seen a lot because I kept intending to watch “A Big Piece Of Garbage” and kept getting it mixed up with this one. Strangely, I was still caught off-guard by how funny and necessary it was; I always remember this one as pretty funny but not one of the big important ones. I think that largely comes down to how perfunctory the central emotional arc is – it’s one of those incredibly old-fashioned TV episode arcs where the character magically gains and overcomes a flaw we’ve never seen before and will never see again (though admittedly, the deliberately flimsy explanation for it is hilarious). But when I actually sit down and watch the episode, it has a shockingly high number of iconic funny moments, and even outside that it’s a rollicking good time. Even more than that, I think part of my muted reaction comes from the fact that the satire is saying things I largely agree with, which makes me overlook how pointed it is and how well it’s saying it.

Its central idea is that the overall response to climate change is less about actually solving the problem and more about putting it off with the least amount of effort. In Daniel Yergin’s The Prize: The Epic Quest For Oil, Money, And Power, he describes how during World War II, Americans responded to calls to reduce personal use of gasoline and energy by driving and partying exactly as much as they had up until now. Here in 2022, we’re several years into dealing with people whose response to a global pandemic of a horrific disease was to try living life exactly the same way that they had before with no changes whatsoever. Futurama captures that same resolute-yet-half-assed denial in its educational video; the ‘solution’ to global warming presented is hilarious for being internally consistent whilst obviously wrong, and it’s honestly not that much more absurd than most attempts to deny real-world science (climatology or otherwise). It astounds me that there are people who think we should ignore advice from medical professionals, not even because they have reason to believe those doctors are wrong but because they just really, really want to, but I suppose Futurama tried to warn me they were coming.

And it doesn’t stop there! The reveal that the Professor knew this was coming ends up articulating the responsibility big business has had in worsening the crisis in its hunt for the almighty dollar. Mom’s rejiggering of the robot’s category in order to fit fuel emissions standards is obviously resonant with corrupt corporate actions, but I’m more intrigued by the Professor’s role in the plot. We’ve all talked about the apathy present in the show’s makeup and the ways it can justify politically rancid action (or inaction, as the case may be), but this feels like the show’s understanding of apathy gives it insight into something it finds wrong. Futurama fundamentally gets why someone would destroy the environment out of apathetic acceptance but equally gets why this moment here isn’t the one to be apathetic. Line of the episode for this is “I guess the environment can take one more for the team,” because it does come off as poignant; a recognition that humanity is collectively and actively sacrificing health for luxury. The fact that this all comes off funny as hell rather than preachy comes down to the good craft; the upshot of Bender having a nicer character arc for a change is that his childlike enthusiasm comes off extremely endearing (“We’re destroying the world and killing the turtles!”).

Title Card: Known to cause insanity in laboratory mice
Cartoon Billboard: “Much Ado About Mutton”, 1947

Al Gore returns as himself and everyone has fully embraced how funny the guy is. I love how comfortable they are throwing completely absurd dialogue at him, and I love how comfortable he is delivering it. He’s so sincere! One of the less obvious examples of his strangely good acting is “Yes, it’s your turn to speak.” One tiny gag that absolutely slays me in this episode is Leela yelling “heeYAH!” when opening a container, and it’s a stupid habit I’ve picked up. The global warming education video is one of those parodies that feels only a few degrees away from the real thing – the only thing stopping the section on the suns rays from looking like a real edutainment video is the slightly more brutal violence, and the word choice for the narrator is a clear, distinct influence on your handsome writer. The animation on Nixon as he lies about picking up some smokes is spectacular. Recycling Wernstrom’s mirror for the climax is some really great Futurama comedy plotting. “Aha! I’m even greater than I thought I was!” is a line I take a lot of inspiration from, and tends to go through my head whenever I learn any new skill.

“That’s awful, Professor, especially the making out part.”
“Yeah, I didn’t need to hear that.”

The title is a reference to the film Crimes Of The Heart. Bender’s empathy for a turtle is a reference to the Voight-Kampff test in the novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? and its film adaptation Blade Runner. The Professor’s early draft of a robot is a reference to C-3PO of Star Wars and he later references a line from Star Wars: A New Hope. Fry references comedians Johnny Carson and Yakov Smirnoff, as well as the case of an elderly woman who spilled McDonalds’ coffee in her lap. Curious Pussycat is a reference to Hello Kitty. Nintendo’s ROB can be seen at the robot party. Al Gore drops references to both his real book The Balance Of Earth and Harry Potter.

Iconic Moments: “Thus solving the problem once and for all!” / “But–” / “ONCE AND FOR ALL!” | “Morbo is pleased, but sticky.” | “Hey! There are parts of the Bible I like and parts I don’t like!” | “WINDMILLS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY! GOOD NIGHT!”
Biggest Laugh: It’s incredible that Hedonismbot was introduced this late in the original series.

Next Week: “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles”. “No beer til you finish your tequila!”