Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Ten, “Game Of Tones”

Written by: Michael Rowe
Directed by: Edmund Fong
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“In my day, sound didn’t travel through space!”

This episode is often held up as one of the really good CC episodes, with people especially moved by Fry’s final conversation with his mother, so now I have to commit a little heresy and say I’ve always found it a little bit overrated. The good first: I cannot in any way deny that the context, both within the episode itself and the broader run of the show, elevates the idea within this to something moving. Way back on the first few episodes, there was discussion on how Fry’s life in the 20th century had to suck for the show to work without being unbearably bleak; if he was happy, he wouldn’t be able to function in the future. On one level, walking that back and showing Fry miss his family can be seen as grabbing an easy tool for sentimentality, trying to recreate the highs of past episodes. Certainly that’s the level I initially took it on back in first run.

But I also like how it reflects the evolution of this show’s emotions. I always took this show as a representation of burned-out Gen-Xers who, to their great shock, managed to make it and build functional families and lives, and this kind of reflection and retconning fits right in with that. It’s cliche to say that people will look back on the past with rose-coloured glasses, but I think it is true to say that when things are going well, you’ll reconsider experiences that seemed terrible at the time but inevitably led you to where you are now. This kind of stock-taking and reassessment fits in well with the point of this episode, especially in the way Fry realises what he’s lost; I was wounded by the final scene because, while my father is still alive, he’s so far gone from dementia that while I still feel a connection to him, I can’t share the things I’ve learned as a person any more than Fry can.

“Don’t call me old! A lot of young people have false teeth!”

It’s just this episode also isn’t all that funny, and I don’t mean in the sense that it’s depressing, I mean in the sense that the jokes never really kick into gear. The solution to the mystery is pretty hilarious (Nibbler being drunk is pure comedy gold), but the dialogue never quite sparks. They had a moment of inspiration in one aspect but not the other; the recreations of the pilot veer from inspired (“Every single time!”) to flat. If it weren’t for the sincere and effective emotion, I wouldn’t think of this episode at all.  

Title Card: If unable to see this message, turn on Futurama now
Cartoon Billboard: N/A

“Mom?! You know Leela?!”

Sarah Silverman makes a cameo as Michelle and Seth MacFarlane makes a cameo as Seymour-as-Brian-Griffin. I do also enjoy that Fry missed these guys, but they were all genuinely kind of just shallow assholes – it’s not that Fry is stupid for missing or loving them, but as viewers we have room to feel that he wasn’t really missing out on much. This is a rare case of me not being terribly impressed by a CC episode’s animation, though we do have the gorgeous (and therefore hilarious) ship.

“You can’t dump Fry! That’s my job!”

The title is a parody of the show and book series Game Of Thrones. Seth Macfarlane’s cameo is a reference to Family Guy. The football game is a reference to the video game Robots. The plot is a loose riff on both Inception and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. The final scene is a reference to the ending of AI: Artificial Intelligence. 

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh: Kind of a low bar, but I did think this was genuinely hilarious.

Next Week: “Murder On The Planet Express”. “And to be honest, I am jealous of how shiny your ass is, and sometimes at night, I unpolish it with sandpaper.”