Futurama, Season Eight, Episode “The Six Million Dollar Mon”

Written by: Ken Keeler
Directed by: Peter Avanzino
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“Good luck, everybody but Zoidberg.”

Not sure how controversial this take will be, but I consider this a sneaky good one that’s almost unnecessarily good given its relatively low ambition. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the concept of Hermes getting addicted to upgrading himself, but the episode keeps making the funniest possible turn at every point. I can imagine a lesser episode just presenting Zoidberg collecting Hermes discarded body parts on its own, perhaps riffing on it for a few scenes; having Zoidberg go on stage and use Hermes to tell old hacky ventriloquist comedy reminiscent of his insults is that extra step of thoughtfulness that kicks this into a higher gear for me, and the fact that this ends up saving the day is the icing on the cake.

The Zoidberg stuff this episode continues that recurring theme of ‘rehabilitating’ the character, and it’s definitely an iteration that I’m fairly indifferent to; this is where the low ambition really helps, because it’s just trying to be funny as opposed to sentimentalising the character. In fact, I’d say this captures what I like about Zoidberg much better than the nicer episodes turning him into a badass or whatever – the chief great thing about Zoidberg is that he’s a random victim of his coworker’s inexplicable hatred (“On the bright side, I won’t have to see Zoidberg ever again.”), something that people have occasionally explained but which we all know is really only done because it’s funny. And somehow, the fact that Zoidberg only becomes a successful comedian by doing hacky bits in a notoriously hacky format ripping off Hermes feels like it really captures the well-meaning incompetence of the character.

“Hermes! Boy, am I indifferent to see you.”

This also feels like a really fun use of Hermes as a main character. Stodgy characters like him often come off as wet blankets in wacky comedies like this – Marge Simpson has the same reputation. Hermes has a few distinct traits from everyone else in this show in that he’s a comfortable family man with a deep sense of responsibility, and the show does well in making this hilarious by putting him in a scifi world where his sense of professionalism is expressed in profoundly ridiculous ways (making him a near-sociopath also helps). 

Title Card: This episode worth 250 Futurama points
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“I missed you terribly!”
“You do everything terribly!”

Dan Castellanetta returns for a cameo as Robot Devil. The fact that Hermes’s hair is the one consistent element to him as a robot is hilarious to me. Continuing the theme of these seasons having better animation, the one shot of Roberto juggling knives with Hermes and LaBarbera reflected in them is incredible.

“Boy, I hope to god I’m using that word correctly.”

The title is a parody of the show The Six Million Dollar Man. Mark 7-G is likely a reference to the sector Homer Simpson works in on The Simpsons. The bureaucrat who delivers Mark 7-G is a caricature of Paul Lynde. Astounding Tales is a reference to both of the magazines Astounding Stories and Astonishing Tales. Lady Chatterly’s Janitor is a parody of Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Hermes reads a book called The Invisible Mon, a Hermesised version of The Invisible Man by HG Wells. Zoidberg sings a parody of “The Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Cryptkickers. Hermes paraphrases “Authority Song” by John Mellencamp. Zoidberg drops a reference to the film 2010. 

Iconic Moments: “My job? Toilets and boilers, boilers and toilets. Plus that one boilin’ toilet. Fire me, if’n you dare.”
Biggest Laugh:

Next Week: “Fun On A Bun”. “And I do have vague memories of people refusing to breed with me!”