Futurama: S01E5: Fear of a Bot Planet
I sorta liked this episode. You more than likely won’t roll on the floor or even laugh out loud. Even so, it’s a generally entertaining episode and has the occasional cute line. There’s nothing that really jumps out at you, not the animation, story or the jokes. The series hasn’t really decided what it is at this point, but the definitions of the characters are getting tighter. It’s worth your time to watch if only to see how much things have changed.
Like most episodes in the first season, this one starts with a cold open (a short opening sequence before the credits that usually connects to the plot). Fry & Leela are standing on the bridge of the Planet Express ship watching stars and planets glide by. They are discussing how the view puts things in perspective when a seemingly distant planet splats against the windshield and Leela washes it away with the windshield wipers.
The staff is at the ballpark taking in a game of Blernsball, the future incarnation of baseball. It strikes me as being rather like a mix of baseball, pinball and paddle ball with some video game nuances thrown in. Conversation turns to the great players of the game. Bender’s robot choices are dismissed and he spouts off about the servile role and lack of respect robots get as a whole. Hermes interrupts to call them back to the office for a delivery to Chapek 9, a planet of human-hating robots. Bender must be the delivery boy and is not happy considering their earlier tiff. He tries to use a robot holiday, Robanukah, as an out, but he’s used up all his time off. He grudgingly agrees, but vows to hold it against them all. As he is lowered to the planets’ surface, Bender is still grumbling about how he’s nothing but a slave. Fry and Leela deck the halls for Robanukah to show him their friendship while he’s gone. They receive a transmission from Bender, calling for help because the robots have discovered he works with humans. It ends with Bender being dragged away into the shadows.
Fry & Leela dig up some half-assed robot costumes and set off on a search and rescue mission. They manage to get past the robot sentries at the gate and wander the streets trying to find a clue to Bender’s whereabouts. This is the only place the animation stands out. The scene of a multitude of rank and file robots going by during their one-minute lunch break is kinda cool. Fry feels the call of nature and a nearby robot shows concern for his mechanical condition. It’s suspicious of Fry’s refusal for repair (Who wants a blast of searing hot resin to the crotch, male or female?) yet passes by until Leela sneezes. Anti-human patrols are after them in a flash and they duck into a movie theater. The movie is similar to 50’s monster movies and is full of anti-human propaganda, attributing fire-breathing and lug nut eating to humans among other things. After the movie lets out, they are caught up in the daily human hunt. Bender is introduced as a celebrated human hunter and gives a rousing speech about his prowess and re-enforces the propaganda found in the film. He goes off to search (yeah right!) in the abandoned adult bookstore where Fry and Leela reveal themselves. He doesn’t want to leave with them; He’s happy with his fame and his fan base. He’s still smarting from their earlier argument and refuses to believe they think of him as a friend. They are attempting to leave when the robot mayor walks in. Bender quickly covers and pretends to be their captor.
After a not-so-lengthy trial, Fry and Leela are found guilty and sentenced to be servants like the robots on earth. They drop them into a room with a group of robot “elders” who have Bender brought in as well. They are the true rulers of the planet and they explain that the trial was for the public’s benefit. The humans will put to death by Bender because of his reputation; He’s unable to do it. He tells the elders that these humans are his friends and have never mistreated robots. He goes on to tell them that humans are no threat, in fact they’re cowards. The elders are already aware of this, but use humans to keep the public’s mind off social problems, most prominent being a lug nut shortage. Fry, Bender and Leela fake the elders out with their own propaganda and run for the ship. The entire populace is after them, building a tower of robots to reach the ship. Suddenly, Bender remembers the package and uses it to knock over the robots. The package breaks open revealing lug nuts; the humans are now heroes. Once on the ship, they all celebrate Robanukah having learned a lesson about friendship.
It’s a little trite, I know! I really think the powers that be who worked on the show were trying to fit into their 7:30 p.m. time slot, though that’s never when they intended Futurama to be shown. The censors and the executives at Fox made their vision a tad difficult to follow from the beginning. Things definitely even out later in the season.
I’d rate this episode a passable 3.8 out of 10. What did you think?
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Futurama reviews are © 2006, 2007 Chrystal Litchford.
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Futurama names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.