Futurama, Season Seven, Episode Eight, “Yo Leela Leela”

Written by: Eric Horsted
Directed by: Frank Marino
DN’s Ranking: Bad / Nonessential / ESSENTIAL

“Welcome back the bedwetter of Building D, Turunga Leela!”

I’ve said before that I really identify with Leela, and this is not only another great episode tearing into the character, it’s the best of them all at achieving that. “The Problem With Popplers” is funnier, but I dearly love the absolute brutality of ending with Leela in her own personal hell, particularly as I can see exactly where she’s coming from in feeling it. Her highest motivation is to be a good person, and for her that generally means doing three things: telling the truth, working hard, and being smart. Another way of looking at it is that it’s morality based on imperatives – telling the truth is a good thing in and of itself. The thing is, people who base their morality on imperatives tend to act as if good consequences will naturally follow, as if the universe will punish the wicked and reward the good. So you could see why someone like Leela, when inevitably slipping from the path of righteousness, might be horrified to see their bad actions have absolutely no negative consequences whatsoever. The ending of this episode recalls the ending of Werner Herzog’s Port Of Call: New Orleans; both end with their protagonist realising the universe has let them get clean away with evil.

“Yo Leela Leela” also works as an exploration of creativity. It’s a lot of fun seeing Leela start from a position of absolute incompetence – she literally cannot comprehend how someone could make something up and resorts to flagrant plagiarism. But then it makes me think of how much of this show is recreation of the past – indeed, how much of its joy comes from that. One distinction is that Futurama doesn’t just recreate the past but warps it for its own ends; the goals of Star Trek are very different from the goals of Futurama, radically changing the context of the imagery. Plagiarism is bad, but it’s an effective way to pad out a first draft before meddling with it to achieve your own goal. Perhaps Leela’s mistake wasn’t taking from the Rumbledy-Humpians, but in taking from them and then doing nothing with what she took.

“Sometimes you gotta choose between eatin’ and readin’, so they ate the books!”

Title Card: Penetrates even the thickest foil hat
Cartoon Billboard: “The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg”, 1936

“Damn it, I’ll call you back Grandma.”

Tom Kenny returns as Abner Doubledeal, and there’s nothing new I can say about Kenny or Doubledeal. The other thing about this episode is that it’s just really funny in a typically Futurama way, where every line is one word funnier than it ‘needs’ to be. I also think the parodies of kids’ shows are on point, which might be because they’re very brief.

“The show looks so cute, kids will love it! And it looks so cruddy their ironic hipster parents will ‘love’ it.”

The title and Leela’s show are largely references to Yo Gabba Gabba!. Leela’s observation she just needs three kinds of animal to write a story comes from the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Fry only being able to play “When The Saints Go Marching In” may be a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Riker’s habit of playing it on trombone. Tickelodeon is a reference to Nickelodeon. Extreme Toddler Wrestling takes place in the Rowdy Roddy Piper Daycare Center. Doubledeal uses the term ‘smart mark’, a professional wrestling term for a fan who thinks they know more about the business than they do. Spongebot SquareBolts is a reference to Spongebob Squarepants (played by the very man who voices the reference in the first place!). Albert eats a book called Go LadyBuggle Go!, a reference to Go Dog Go by PD Eastman. 

The Young People’s Choice Awards is a reference to both the People’s Choice Awards and the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards. Yo Gimme Gimme! is another parody of Yo Gabba Gabba!, Dora The Destroyer is a reference to Dora The Explorer, and The Adventures Of Pit-Bull And Scardey Squirrel is a parody of Rocky & Bullwinkle. Leela drops a reference to the PBS motto. The fembot Bender hooks up with is a parody of Hannah Montana. Fry compares Leela to Lady Gaga. 

Iconic Moments: “We all know any TV show that’s even slightly good gets cancelled. Sometimes, two or three times.”
Biggest Laugh: “That wasn’t really a question.” / “That wasn’t really a story.”

Next Week: “Fry Am The Egg-Man”.