Futurama, Season Nine, Episode One, “2-D Blacktop”

Written by: Michael Rowe
Directed by: Raymie Musquiz
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“Seatbelts are dead weight. I feel the need for speed!”
“Yes, but I feel the nafety for safety.”

I actually love that this is the standard for a middle-of-the-road Futurama episode. Aside from the fact that the emotional arc is perfunctory – which I can easily roll with – the only real active flaw I can see is that the 2D world stuff is so rich and interesting that it feels like it ‘should’ have come in during the second act rather than the third, giving us much more time to explore it and its implications. It makes the episode feel bottom-heavy. But because it accomplishes the basic goal of being funny, I’m willing to forgive some structural weaknesses; the tip of the hat to cosmic weirdness is a plus on top of that.

“Yo it is on! Before that it was off.”

As you might expect as an enjoyer of kids playing out boring adult concepts and robots playing out human concepts, I take much amusement in the Professor being an old person’s version of young person stuff (“Again, no idea what that means.”). I think it’s a particularly inspired move to bounce this off of Leela being a soccer mom; there’s been a small undercurrent of meta-analysis of the character’s roles in the CC seasons, with the characters realising the Professor’s lax approach to safety genuinely makes their world more interesting, and Leela’s role as nagging comic foil being pushed to extremes is pretty amusing.

Title Card: Put on 2D glasses now
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“Guess this is your lucky day, Pimparoo.”

There’s a really great moment where the agonising beauty the show is capable of becomes the joke itself, where we cut from a spectacular cosmic force to the boring radar the characters are using. The parody of youth dramas works really well considering the joke is literally just getting weirdly specific about the young woman’s Problems.

“Come. The king has requested a feast in your honour.”
“Wow. How did he even know we’re here?”
“Coz I’m him. Let’s eat.”

The title is a reference to the film Two-Lane Blacktop. A wrecked Enterprise from Star Trek can be seen in the scraplot. Sal melts down Speed Racer’s car, complete with a cameo. New New Jack City is a reference to the film New Jack City. The flat land is a reference to the book Flatland. Lords Of Flatbush are a reference to the band of the same name. 

Iconic Moments: “What’s the matter compressor?” / “Nothing’s the matter, Fry.”
Biggest Laugh: I’m such an easy mark for a dumb joke like this.

Next Week: “T: The Terrestrial”. “SOS? Those are the letters that Fry knows!”