Good news, everyone! It’s Friday, and that means that last night a new episode of Futurama aired! Last night’s episode, “Attack of the Killer App,” had the Mom Corporation introducing the new eyePhone, the latest technological gadget that everyone needs. Along with being a phone (did you know it’s a phone, too?) the phone introduces a great new social toy – Twitcher! In it, users can Twit what they’re doing, as well as post videos and pictures of their ordinary lives! Of course, what people don’t know is that Mom actually has this tool as a way to assert her evil schemes for global domination (beyond the consumer control aspect) that will be activated when any user gets one million followers. How perfect is it then that Fry and Bender are in a race for popularity as Bender exploits people’s flaws and Fry posts his average day to day habits?
Of course, when Fry finally finds something to get him followers, he has to ask himself – is exploitation of friends worth the popularity he so seeks, or should he instead shake his head at regressing to Bender’s level and lose a bet like a man?
Let’s take a look at the episode behind the jump. As always, spoilers are discussed, and while Futurama certainly isn’t a show where spoilers hurt the show’s plot, I still urge you to watch the episode first.
This episode continues the trend that I assume we’ll be seeing a lot of in Futurama: social commentary! Everybody everywhere loves taking shots at the world we live in today, and Futurama has always done that in a veiled way to a certain extent. Generally, Futurama will dedicate to a couple jokes laughing at our outdated technology in their future and what not. However, with this episode and the previous one, we now have episodes dedicated to taking shots at on-going trends in social networking (although last week’s episode was a bit more toned down). It’s obvious why this will happen – Futurama has had a couple of years of material that it never got to make fun of, so of course it’s going to do it now.
That’s where the episode begins: the entire episode is an obvious parody of Twitter and the iPhone and our obsession with the latest technology as well as our love of stupid things on the internet and viral videos. This is illustrated from the very beginning of the episode as we view people throwing away perfectly good technology in lieu of a brand new phone, the
ieyePhone, and it’s odd methods of application.
Most of the jokes in this episode rely on us laughing at ourselves, as our heroes immerse themselves in a world of new trends. The inciting incident of the events of the episode involve Bender gaining the ability to film all the stupid things the crew does, and the turning point is Fry deciding to film a boil named Susan that has mutated on Leela’s butt (and apparently has been there for seasons now). I think that the Susan/boil (I get it!) joke was the most clever joke in the entire episode. While at first Futurama taking a shot at Susan Boyle (oh, NOW I get it!) was easily the joke most people failed to fully acknowledge right away, because Susan Boyle is a talent that had her career broken through viral videos. Of course, the viral video doubles as a commentary on internet fame as Leela becomes a constant source of ridicule due to the video, only to be quickly replaced by the next best thing – Fry falling off a faulty jumping board into a pool of goat vomit and diahrea, as well as snot!
I suppose when it comes to the enjoyment of the episode, it really depends on personal preference – if you enjoy quick social commentary, a la another Comedy Central show that has run for thirteen seasons now, you’ll probably love the episode. However, if you are more of a fan of all the humor being played off a humorous plot that might have a few jokes at our culture, I can imagine this episode will annoy you. I’ll be honest – I prefer the show running off it’s own mythos and storylines rather than harping on specific cultural trends for twenty something minutes. The episode is still funny though, and as much as I’m not a huge fan of this direction for the show I’m still laughing. It’s definitely a different approach, but I think that if the show kept doing the same thing over and over and didn’t take any chances now that it has a new home and less rules, it’d get stale fast. It’s sort of a dangerous angle for the show to take, but the jokes are still sharp, and the Susan Boil joke had me rolling, it was so unexpected.Continued below
The characters are still great, and they are very much themselves. I love Bender’s narcisism and exploitation, and that is amazingly relevant in an episode of this subject matter. Fry’s inert idiocy is also at play here, as his “twit’s” are boring and stale and lose him followers, much like people on the real thing. The episode also features a few recognizable parodies, all of which play out great. At the beginning of the episode, when everyone is discovering the eyePhone’s capabilities, most of their interactions with this new device are pretty priceless, especially as Leela attempts to drive the ship while chatting with her handsfree set and eating both a taco and some spaghetti, which then results in Bender’s first (shown) video. The episode also features a brief character return, which was pretry welcome in my book.
I like laughing at myself and the world we live in today, but too much of it coming from an outside source obviously won’t be that funny after a certain time. I think that for Futurama to take that as a direction for the future of the show, it’s taking a risk that will ultimately be polarizing for fans. The show became popular due to it’s character driven stories, and this is it’s strongest aspect that I think it shouldn’t forget. The main reason the other Comedy Central show (hint: it’s called South Park) has declined in recent years is because it spent less time furthering it’s cast along a sense of character growth and more time making fun of what happened that week. That’s not something I want to see happen to Futurama. I think that for the show to remain as good as it was before it was canceled, it just needs to go back down to a simpler formula.
In the end, it’s still funny though. As I watch the show, I’m still laughing, and I suppose that’s the most important part of the show. This angle of focusing on social commentary is still a new thing, so I am still willing to embrace it. My only hope is that the show doesn’t lose all of it’s heart and replace it with the real world… but in the future.