Futurama: S03E08: That’s Lobster-tainment!

This episode has never really flipped my switch. I can’t really pinpoint a reason after viewing it; it’s a perfectly respectable episode. It may have something to do with following a classic example of a Futurama episode, The Day The Earth Stood Stupid. One of my favorite things about Futurama is the way the writers and creators reference past plotlines and characters without sacrificing the current plot. This episode, like most others, is full of sight gags too numerous to record, so keep a sharp eye out.

Zoidberg tries his hand at an amateur comedy night but bombs big time with his gross and/or nonsensical humor. Not even Fry, Leela and Bender can stomach it. He’s disheartened by his total failure because he feels comedy should be in his blood. At the office, he reveals that his uncle is a famous comedian named Harold Zoid from the silent age of holograms. Turns out the Prof is a big fan, so he shows them an old holodisk of your classic vaudevillian barber shop sketch, except the giant lobster. Hermes uses this opportunity (as he always does) to tell Zoidberg that not even his uncle could make his sorry self funny. Zoidberg decides to write to his uncle and ask for some pointers.

Uncle Zoid is spending his not-so-golden years living in a retired actor’s home in Hollywood. After reading his nephew’s letter and discovering that he’s a doctor, Uncle Zoid sees his opportunity to get the hell out of that crappy old age home and be on top again. He writes Zoidberg back and tells him to bring all of his money in the form of a cashier’s check and hightail it out to Hollywood.

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Zoidberg, Bender, Fry and Leela all fly out together. They take a bus tour of the city, during which they pass Calculon’s house. You may or may not remember him as the robot star of the soap opera All My Circuits that used to be a were-car. Bender takes this opportunity to jump ship and meet his idol again. Calculon doesn’t have any time for Bender unless he’s his new hot water heater, so that’s what Bender becomes.

The tour also passes the fancy shmancy restaurant, Ebola, at which Zoidberg is supposed to be meeting his big shot uncle. During said meeting, both lobsters pretend to be successful and respected members of their respective professions. Uncle Zoid convinces Zoidberg to finance his movie in return for a small part. He plans to write, direct and star in this dramatic epic for the measly price of one million dollars. Zoidberg is disconsolate back in the ship, since one million dollars is a little out of his price range. “I haven’t even been here a day and already I’m a Hollywood phony!” Bender offers to hit up Calculon for the dough.

Upon hearing that Harold Zoid is the writer, they pique Calculon’s interest. After securing the starring role for himself and wringing the promise of an Oscar out of Bender, he agrees to finance the production. Production begins immediately on “The Magnificent Three.” A hackneyed, weak plot and Uncle Zoid’s total lack of knowledge of the dramatic arts make for an interesting shoot at best. Broad comedy in the background of a dramatic scene does not an Oscar-winner make. Calculon hams it up to the nth degree as well. Having spent all their money on the production, editing is a quick and sloppy affair resulting in a speedy premiere that Friday at Loew’s Quadafi’s Mann’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

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Leela and Fry end up stuck in a tar pit after Leela mistakes it for a parking place and never make it to the premiere. That may have been a lucky break as the movie turns out to be just as bad as it seemed during production and everyone in the theater walks out. Calculon doubts that a best actor Oscar is in his future and threatens all of them with death if he doesn’t win one. They aren’t among the nominees announced but Bender and the two Zoids decide to rig the ceremony. Calculon doesn’t care if an Oscar lands on his mantel.

Fry and Leela are still stuck in the tar pit. Fry is disappointed that he missed his first Hollywood premiere and seeing all those stars. He spots Sylvester Stallone floating by outside the ship, really a Cro Magnon skeleton complete with club. That one is a low blow, man, but probably not entirely untrue. Back at Uncle Zoid’s humble abode, the truth is finally out about both him and Zoidberg. Uncle Zoid tells Dr. Z that he just wanted to be remembered one last time as something other than an has-been or ancient history. Zoidberg vows to find a way to make that dream come true for his uncle.

At the Oscars, Bender and Zoidberg sneak in the back as caterers while Uncle Zoid is seated with Calculon. Calculon’s old friend and co-star, Boxy, holds Uncle Zoid at gunpoint in case the Oscar outcome isn’t to Calculon’s liking. Back in the tar pits, Leela and Fry finally hit bottom after two weeks. The ship’s sensors tell them they’re near the LA subway system, so they blast through to escape. Bender patches into the auditoriums PA system and introduces Dr. Z as the presenter of the best actor Oscar. Dr. Z adds Calculon’s name to the list of nominees, but when the time comes to announce the winner, he chooses his uncle. Uncle Zoid is finally happy and very grateful that he has someone who cares about him. Awww!

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At the Ebola after-party, Uncle Zoid thanks Dr. Z for his award, even though he doubts he’ll live to enjoy it long as he sees Calculon stalk over. Calculon grabs the Oscar but decides to let Uncle Zoid keep it out of respect for his work. About that time, Leela and Fry burst through the street in time to hit the party. They are almost turned away from the private soiree, but the maitre ’d happens to spy “Mr. Stallone” clinging to Fry’s pant leg with his bony hand. (Tee hee)

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Futurama reviews are © 2006 Chrystal Litchford.
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

Futurama names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.

Images courtesy of ‘The Leela Zone’

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