Futurama, Season Nine, Episode Twelve, “Stench And Stenchibility”

Written by: Eric Horsted
Directed by: Crystal Chesney-Thompson
DN’s Ranking: Bad / NONESSENTIAL / Essential

“There! My home’s all clean except for one part: the inside.”

Regular readers may be aware of both my distaste for romance as a way of characterising a protagonist and the CC season’s little project of ‘redeeming’ Dr Zoidberg, so combining them into ‘redeeming Dr Zoidberg by ‘rewarding’ him with a romance with a cute flower saleslady’ obviously raises my hackles, even as the layers of quotation marks indicates that I don’t think it was fully intended that way (instead it’s thoughtlessly presented as such, which I actually find worse). I strongly dislike romance being presented as a reward for behaviour because I just don’t think emotion works that way; you can be a perfectly nice, funny, charming person and still not have someone fall in love with you (as well as vice versa, falling in love with someone awful). Treating romance as a puzzle to be solved can leave you bitter.

“I need something beautiful and cheap for a lady who is one of those things.”

Still, there’s a lot to like in this episode. Zoidberg’s relationship with Marianne is much better when seen as a gross parody of romance stories; their ‘falling in love’ montage that takes place in various disgusting places (including a shot at America’s official joke state) is hilarious, and the plot ends up a machine for some good one-liners. Bender’s rivalry with Legally Not Shirley Temple is a lot of fun too and largely carries the episode; adults engaging in violent arguments with children is reliable comedy, and we get the spectacular comic sublime of Leela fulfilling her comic foil role while Fry is barely paying attention and vaguely supporting whoever is talking. 

Title Card: Not The Episode With The Dead Dog
Cartoon Billboard: “In A Cartoon Studio”, 1931

“It’s like Comic-Con in a submarine!”

Emilia Clarke guest stars as Marianne, and I do enjoy how much sincerity she brings to lines like “You can brew it into a tea if you like severe stomach cramps.”. Tara Strong also guest stars as Tanya and it almost feels disrespectful to say that one of the most experienced actors of children on the planet is, you know, good at playing an asshole kid. I have complained about overreliance on Randy in the past but this does get some good gags just out of the concept of him doing things.

“You’ve accomplished so much more than most of us would bother to.”

The title is a reference to the Jane Austen novel Sense & Sensibility. Tanya and Bender dance to “Yes Sir! That’s My Baby” by Coon-Sanders. Bender’s roach bombs are named after actor, director, and producer Hal Roach, and the case contains a reference to his work The Little Rascals. Marianne’s flower stand is named after The Towering Inferno. The plot is a loose riff on the Charlie Chaplin film City Lights. Zoidberg’s perfume in the montage is named after Liz Taylor. Bender drops a reference to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. 

Iconic Moments: N/A
Biggest Laugh: I’m always a sucker for dumb gags like this.

Next Week: “Meanwhile”. “What do you say? Wanna go around again?”