Futurama: S01E12: When Aliens Attack
We’ve got another first appearance in this episode: Lrrr and the inhabitants of Omicron Persei 8. It amazes me that so many characters and cultures introduced in the first season reappear as much as they do throughout. In most series, the first season notions are either left by the wayside in favor of better ones or evolve into something unrecognizable. It just displays how much prep work they put into this series from its inception.
Earth: 1999. Fry makes a pizza delivery to his local Fox affiliate, WNYW. He joins the engineer to watch Jennie McNeal prance around in short skirts on the season finale of “Single Female Lawyer”. (Ally McBeal, anyone?) Fry spills beer on the console and knocks Fox off the air. As he says, “Like anyone on Earth cares!” But on Omicron Persei 8, one thousand light years away and one thousand years later, somebody cares. Two large green reptilian creatures are watching “Single Female Lawyer” as the signal cuts out. Thoroughly pissed at the prospect of eight animated shows in a row, the male disintegrates the TV.
Back on Earth, Hermes walks in on Bender and Fry loafing in front of the TV. He chastises them until they tell him it’s Labor Day, then he joins them for a day off. Leela and the rest of the gang come in to round them up for the last beach trip of the season. Fry wants to stay behind, but Leela prods him to go along.
They arrive at Monument Beach. The presence of most of the world’s most recognizable monuments confuses Fry. Leela explains that the citizens of New New York elected a super-villain as mayor in the 2600’s, who then moved the monuments to beach. The rest of the afternoon is spent pursuing typical beach activities: cook-outs, volleyball, swimming and sand castle construction. Fry puts the finishing touches on his sand masterpiece and Leela suggests a picture before the tide comes in. As Bender adjusts his camera eyepiece, that robot has everything-he’s like a Swiss army bot, a great shadow falls over the assembly. A fleet of saucers has descended and is destroying everything in sight, even Fry’s sand castle.
The staff manages to make it back to the office as chaos rages. Earth President McNeal addresses the nation, encouraging them to lick boots. The male creature we saw in the open interrupts the broadcast, introduces himself as Lrrr of the planet Omicron Persei 8 and tells the world they want McNeal. President McNeal changes his tune when he thinks his ass is on the line and calls in Zapp Brannigan to wage war on the invaders.
Zapp activates all robots’ patriotism circuits and drafts anyone with a space ship. Leela, Bender and Fry join a fleet of others as they head for the Nimbus. Inspired animations follow of ships flying through space and Star Wars inspired laser cannon battles. It’s a dream come true for animation and sci-fi fans alike. Zapp asserts his ignorance and dominance from the get-go. He makes his token move on Leela, who gives her token brush off. His plan consists of sending ship after ship into the alien mother ship’s cannons until they overload. The draftees take off and kick ass. Fry delivers the death blow to the ship. The mood is celebratory until the starscape shifts to reveal a monstrous mother ship. All they blew up was the Hubble telescope, which if I may say, has a right impressive defensive array for a telescope. The battle takes a turn for the worse as ship after ship meets its doom. Leela retreats to Earth to die in the comfort of her own home.
They walk in on the professor hiring a new crew as Lrrr appears on TV once again to demand McNeal. The president still refuses to give up, but Zapp sneaks up and puts a sack over his head. He delivers the president to the alien ship only to learn that the president is the wrong McNeal. Lrrr describes the plot-line to “Single Female Lawyer” and Fry seems to find it familiar. When Lrrr flashes a picture of Jennie McNeal, Fry tells them all about the TV show from the past. The Omicronians threaten to raise the Earth’s temperature by one million degrees a day for five days if they don’t see the show by 9:00 p.m. (eight central) the next evening. Amy researches the situation, discovering that all copies of the show were lost in 2443 during the second coming of Jesus.
Fry comes up with the idea to write a new ending for the episode and re-record it to appease the aliens. Leela plays Jennie to Hermes’ jury foreman, the professor’s judge and Zoidberg’s prosecutor. Fry didn’t write enough dialogue and Leela is forced to ad-lib Jennie’s marriage proposal to the judge. Fry goes to commercial, alarmed by Leela’s move. He tells her that clever, unexpected things scare and confuse the audience. Lrrr breaks in at that point to say he is scared and confused by the show, change it or die. Fry works up some cue cards and restores Jennie to her promiscuous plucky former self. The Omicronians are satisfied and depart to catch a thousand-year-old Leno monologue. Fry is gratified that his love of TV paid off. He tells them he knows the secret of good TV, everything is back to normal at the end of the show. The scene pulls out to show the city in smoldering ruins.
Truly beautiful animation sequences, very realistic. The Omicronians don’ shine as brightly in this one as they do on later episodes, but make quite an impression. At least on the landscape! It makes a SadGeezer’s day to think TV addiction has a bright future*grin*.
This one gets an earth shattering 8.2 out of 10. What did you think?
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Futurama reviews are © 2006 Chrystal Litchford.
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