Futurama‘s new season got off to something of a bumpy start last week. This week, though, was a champion episode mixing a great pop-culture send-up and some of the show’s better tendencies.
The episode, “T. The Terrestrial”, is as you may have guessed a parody of E.T., but there’s a lot more to it than that. Remember Jrrr, the Poppler from planet Omicron Persei 8? He’s now in the Omicronian Scouts, and Lrrr’s attempts to bond with him over getting his Planetary Conquest merit badge drive this episode.
Not surprisingly, Lrrr is a crappy father, more interested in TV than raising his child. Jrrr is a bit more sensitive than dear old Dad, but is being pushed into, well, being ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8. While this is going on, the Planet Express crew are looking for a specific herb that Professor Farnsworth needs that grows only on Omicron Persei 8. Fry promptly gets stranded and, well, you know the rest.
What makes the episode work is the pacing and the fact that they gave themselves enough to work with. The episode rotates so quickly through pop culture parody, a sitcom chestnut of a side plot, and stoner jokes that nothing has any time to get old. It helps that the jokes are often pretty funny in of themselves; instead of trying to make us laugh at one-off characters we don’t care about, the show plays off its own cast beautifully. If the rest of the season is like this, we can’t wait.
Some other random notes:
- The show’s odd Richard Nixon fetish is on full display: There are not one, but two, gags that only people who have studied Nixon’s life would ever, ever get.
- The sheer number of weed jokes in this episode, funny though they are, is pretty surprising; you’ve got to wonder if they had any arguments with standards and practices, considering they all but flat-out state they’re going to Omicron Persei 8 to score drugs. Also, you kind of wonder why Hermes didn’t just go to his regular connection instead of violating a space blockade.
- Speaking of which, the revelation of what, precisely, is in the Professor’s “Good News” explains a lot. So he’s not only crazy, he’s also constantly baked? Yeah, makes sense.
- Scruffy and Zoidberg barely get any lines, but they also get the funniest lines in the episode.
- As you can see from the still above, Blinky is alive and well and living on Omicron Persei 8.
Next week? Bender’s folk music obsession is likely returning to the fore, considering the episode is titled “Forty Percent Leadbelly”.