Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Nine, “Leela And The Genestalk”

Written by: Eric Horsted
Directed by: Lance Kramer
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“Still, someone should eat the hat.”

I remember very strongly disliking this one and was pleasantly surprised that my opinion had changed since last watching. I remembered it as a very sloppy episode that seemed to move from idea to idea nonsensically, which I no longer consider true – the ending feels jarringly quick considering the stakes, but even then that’s kind of the joke. I haven’t done a complete 180 because it’s still not much of an episode; there are hints of interesting stuff with Fry’s character in how he continues to stand by her as she gets sicker; I’ve heard that men abandoning their sick wives is so common that nurses warn women about it when they get sick as standard procedure, and for whatever flaws Fry has a human being, I cannot possibly see him doing that, and this episode felt if it had leaned in harder on that it could have had more emotional impact.

“Ah, just as I had no idea!”

Luckily, two things really work here. The first is that the theme is fascinating, finding a funny spin on genetic engineering by crossing it with fairy tales. I like squidification as a riff on what we already know about mutants, and Futurama finds some really creative riffs on the basic idea of turning Leela into a pile of tentacles. I love that she gets little purple freckles on her face, and the animation of her tentacles when she uses them as grapples or weapons is really sharp. The second thing is that the show is absolutely on fire when it comes to its one-liners; they are typical in finding the strangest way of wording familiar concepts and they manage it for just about everything.

Title Card: Spoiler alert: robots and whatnot
Cartoon Billboard: “Rocketeers”, 1932

“Sometimes I don’t wash my hands for years at a time!”

Adam West and Burt Ward guest star as themselves, and I suppose the weird cruelty of their gag was one of the things I initially didn’t like (I remember the episode as being significantly grosser than it actually is). I had to do line-dancing as a kid and deeply appreciated the potshots they take at it in the opening.

“So how many cures are there for this disease?”

The title and much of the plot is a reference to the folk tale “Jack And The Beanstalk”. The ‘command centre’ for the Texas bar is a riff on the movie Westworld. The name of the bar is a reference to the film THX 1138. Leela’s use of the phrase ‘deluxe apartment in the sky’ is a reference to the show The Jeffersons. Leela letting her tentacles down is a reference to the folk tale “Rapunzel”. Adam West and Burt Ward’s cameo is a reference to their show Batman. There’s a cameo from Finn the human and Jake the dog from Adventure Time. The very final shot contains a reference to the Vulcan sign for “live long and prosper” from Star Trek.

Iconic Moments: Bender bending the wooden door has been shared as an example of how Dungeons & Dragons tends to work.
Biggest Laugh: Classic Fry line here.

Next Week: “Game Of Tones”.