Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Two, “T: The Terrestrial”

Written by: Josh Weinstein
Directed by: Lance Kramer
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“Patricide? Well, let’s work up to that one.”

I was wary of doing this episode because I’d remembered it as quite bad – not in an actively offensive way like “Neutopia”, but in a bland and limping sense. Happily, I enjoyed the episode – it’s still not the greatest half-hour the show ever did, but there’s enough funny lines and situations to keep me entertained and I apparently remembered it as being far more dependent on the ET jokes than it actually is. One of the most consistent jokes the show ever kept up with is that Fry will yes-and almost any situation he’s put in, not because he’s cynically taking advantage of the situation for profit like Bender, but because he’s so easy-going/stupid that he accepts what’s happening, and turning him into a pet is a solid jumping off point for those kinds of jokes.

This is also the deepest we’ve gone into Omicronian culture, and it feels like we could get more – building an entire culture out of active, malicious cruelty is a funny gag (I particularly love the foos), but it never quite manages to push the logic until it breaks. I can best explain this through the bikes powered by love, where the final chase scene in which the villains fall to the wayside because they’ve been ‘hurt too much!’ made me laugh from the absurdity; individual lines manage to pull this off (“I thought I told you to kill those foos.”) but the plot never fully gels.

“He killed my second-to-last Agnew!”

It’s always good to get another side to Lrr, ruler of the planet Omicron Persei Eight, though. His indifferent and lazy parenting is probably the most real he’s ever felt; I particularly enjoy his thoughtless hovering over Jrr’s invasion of Earth, which must surely have been lifted from the lives of one of the writers. There are a lot of men like him who just kind of react to everything without thought, chasing the immediate sensation of the moment without any self-awareness. The central conceit of Jrr going through a classic “softhearted kid who stands up to his manhood-obsessed father but also lives in and was shaped by a cruel, actively evil culture” is a decent one, it just feels like they could have pushed it further.

Title Card: One of the 7⁷ Wonders of the Future World
Cartoon Billboard: “Wot A Night”, 1931 

“Fry? Are you home? We’re supposed to have a date at the adults-only pancake house.”

Bender feeling guilty is always a great plot for me, and I enjoy him covering for Fry – although deliberately having Fry pronounce “Olive” weirdly for the sake of the plot is a bit too much of a cheat for me. I’ve also decided this has the best riff on the “good news!” catchphrase. “The Finder Outer” is hilarious because right now most cop shows are pretty much like that. 

“We’ll take him to the yard and after you shoot him, we’ll play catch with his bladder.”
“But I can’t. He’s my pet.”
“You shot your hamster.”
“I told you, that was a suicide!”

The plot merges much of the film ET: The Extraterrestrial and the book/film Old Yeller. The Jeffersons Memorial is a reference to the sitcom The Jeffersons. Bender drops a reference to the Three Laws Of Robotics of author Isaac Asimov and another to the song “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”. Jrr tossing a ball into the toolshed and it being thrown back is lifted from Those Terrible Toy Breakers by David M McPhail. Jrr’s room contains ET’s skull, Blinky from The Simpsons, Boba Fett from Star Wars, and a Klingon bat’leth from Star Trek. Bender knocking out Fry is a reference to a photo of Muhammad Ali knocking out Sonny Liston. 

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh:

Next Week: “Fry And Leela’s Big Fling”. “YOU WERE IN A ZOO!”