Futurama, Season Six, Episode Twelve, “The Mutants Are Revolting”

Written by: Eric Horsted
Directed by: Raymie Muzquiz
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“We’ve been hired to make our one hundredth delivery.”
“That’s almost ten per year!”

This one was a hard one to categorise because I’m not sure how I feel about it; it’s an extremely rare CC-era case of a very good idea with inconsistent-at-best execution. The central satirical point is a surprisingly progressive one for this show in which noblesse oblige is simply a cover for both contempt for and exploitation of lower classes, and the central plot turn is a shake-up of the status quo in which the law enforcing mutant prejudice is overturned through collective action, which is great both if you’re into seeing fictional characters live out your progressive values (I presume) and if you’re into a series evolving and finding new angles. Futurama really benefits from being able to shake up the status quo in a way The Simpsons never quite could; I find myself thinking of how The Good Place thrived by burning through plot and situations as quickly as possible. Sitcoms have historically been an aesthetically conservative format, but we can see time and time again that being willing to change that status quo allows a show to keep remaining relevant and maybe even get funnier.

It’s actually harder for me to lock down what bothers me about “The Mutants Are Revolting”; I suppose the major thing is that there’s a lot of comedic dead air in it. I do enjoy Bender only freaking out for a moment before hugging mutant!Fry, but a) it’s not funny and b) the buildup to it is neither funny nor sweet. There’s a lot of good lines in this, but it’s not laugh-for-laugh consistent as even something like “The Deep South”, and once the revolution gets underway, it feels like the show is just counting time. I’ve written before about how it’s easy to take the show being funny for granted, but that also makes it easier to tell when the show is failing a pretty basic test; this episode isn’t as offensive or offensively unfunny as, say, the movies, but it’s certainly missing the spark that comes from its comedy.

Title Card: An infographic of 100 with a drawing of Bender.
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“I shall take it here, under my fork.”

Mark Mothersbaugh guest stars as himself, and he’s up there with Beck in terms of being willing to make fun of himself (I particularly get a laugh out of his response to play “Whip It” – “No. Play the other one.”). This episode does contain the funniest souffle joke of all time, expertly working in Bender’s inner gyroscope. The show choosing to repeat riffing on the Titanic is inexplicable, though admittedly it finds some way funnier jokes with the concept even if the episode as a whole is weaker. I also find the explanation for why Leela has never met her grandmother to be hilarious (“My mother’s nuts!”). David X Cohen observed that syncing the 100th episode up with the sixth season finale was unplanned and he considers both the sixth and seventh broadcast seasons to be one season all together, due to both being made together, as if my ordering of episodes weren’t confusing enough. The episode is dedicated to Futurama co-producer Alex Johns, who passed away in 2010 at the shockingly young age of 43.

“Eighty dollars worth of action it is!”

When the Blob enters Bender’s party, he remarks “Hey hey hey!” in the manner of Fat Albert. Multiple Devo references are made; a character drops the line “Are we not men now?” from the song “Jocko Homo”, Mark Mothersbaugh describes himself as “40% potato” in reference to Devo fans calling themselves Spuds, and of course they play “Beautiful World”. As a mutant, Fry drops a reference to the film The Ten Commandments. One of the mutants is Krumm from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. The Westside Pipeway lifts from the film Metropolis. There is yet another parody of the famous scene from The Seven Year Itch. Morris references the movie CHUD. 

Iconic Moments: “One does not explode in Mrs Aster’s face.”
Biggest Laugh: It was very nearly “Hand me some more of that cruise director!”, but ultimately snappiness won out.

Next Week: “Holiday Spectacular”.