Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Five, “The Inhuman Torch”

Written by: Dan Vebber
Directed by: Frank Marino
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“But here we are, stealing an unlimited supply of birthday-grade helium from the unsuspecting moon.”
“At night it’s called the moon.”

One of my favourite minor elements of this show is how entertaining it becomes when it throws its characters completely out of their element. The all-time best example of this is Bender’s own “Godfellas”, in which our favourite lazy, selfish hedonist is forced to consider his long-term morality when he literally plays God. This isn’t on that level, but the overall arc of gradually pushing the attention-demanding Bender to save the entire world without anybody other than Fry knowing is an incredibly satisfying one – this feels like another shading to what beloved commentor TheFunBoy3Version said on “Fry And Leela’s Big Fling” in that this feels like a good late-era episode of a show – we know Bender very well at this point and it pushes him to new and interesting places. I think it really kicks into gear story-wise in the second act when we find out Bender isn’t actually responsible for the fires because it was so plausible that he would be that we could actually be tricked into believing it.

“You clearly weren’t paying attention to what I’m about to say.”

This episode also juggles so many great fundamental features of Futurama; I love the entire scifi concept that drives the opening, as well as the science fantasy concept of the sentient flames, and the animation is some of the most beautiful the show has done so far. TV animation had reached the point that Flamo in this episode is actually more spectacular than a similar character in the theatrically released Howl’s Moving Castle! Finally, of course, the episode is filled with great one-liners; most of the best ones come from the Professor in the first act, for some reason, but this is otherwise a killer, straightforward episode of Futurama. 

Title Card: As seen at the 1939 World’s Fair
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“There is no fire department! I sold it to pay for Bender’s medal!”

“I’ll stay here and be in charge of not dying.” This is my life philosophy. I greatly enjoy the redesigns of the ship and characters; I grew up around firefighters and the Professor’s suspender-based uniform is incredibly familiar. 

“Polar bears don’t burn! I’ve tried many times!”

The title is a reference to the Marvel character The Human Torch. The caption is a reference to the show’s namesake. The alarm tones are lifted from the TV show Emerency!. Count Bankula is a reference to the book Dracula. The magazine Gort’s Illustrated is a combination of the magazine Sports Illustrated and the character from The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh:

Next Week: “Saturday Morning Fun Pit”. “Let’s blow them straight to–” / “Church!”