For Futurama's season finale, Comedy Central ran a double feature with a standard episode featuring acclaimed thespian and geek icon Patrick Stewart; and a new anthology episode putting the Planet Express crew in the wild.
Bender Bending Rodriguez cares not for precious “life” – save for the majestic turtle, of course. But robot life is sacred. Thus was the plot to this episode, an amusing affair featuring Bender taking on that most heinous of societal misdeeds: robot animal cruelty!
I love when shows point out the ridiculousness of montage sequences, such as the one when Bender went on his moral rampage. Fry’s comment that they had solved the problem of robot animal cruelty within a 20-yard radius made me chuckle. Even if the whole scenario seemed loosely pulled together - with the “Planet Express needs new uniforms” leading suddenly to Bender finding a fancy fox-hunting outfit... then hunting a fox with fellow fox hunters. Sure, why not?
Leela’s confused activism, leading to a bewildered apathy as it turned out everyone, including the Huntmaster, was a robot. We do have this kind of technology in the 31st century, Tenacious D.
Patrick Stewart played the role of the Huntmaster, and he was great as usual. He is such an effective comedic voice actor because his voice conveys a kind of gravitas that has allowed him to play Macbeth as well as Avery Bullock on American Dad. He embodies the principle of humor coming from expectations defying reality. I love hearing him in anything that he does, and his performance was instantly memorable.
So, for the silliness and the Patrick Stewartness, I have to say that I rather enjoyed this half-hour. It may not be a classic episode, but I can dig it nonetheless.
There have been some great moments in the Futurama anthology episodes. Both "Tales of Interest" episodes are absolute classics, and even last season’s "Resurrection," which experimented with different styes of animation, had its moments. So, this seems to be the plan now, to have a similar format of episode to close out each season.
This year’s entry of the cast as wild animals would be entertaining enough if it was one part of a larger episode. As the theme of an entire anthology, it felt like it was stretching the premise to its very limits, well past the point of where the best humor comes from.
Too many jokes between each segment were repeated – each one in fact was about some animal version of the Planet Express crew trying to mate with someone else – and characters played roles that were far too similar in each piece. Everyone was supposed to represent themselves just as different forms of wildlife, but it felt like reading three slightly different approaches of the same basic idea.
The narrator and his pessimistic voiceovers at the end felt repetitive rather a the unifying thematic element it was supposed to be. The Morgan Freeman impersonation fell apart over time. The holiday special anthology implemented bad endings in a better way, by having them be part of each section's story, rather than something tacked on.
Fry and Leela’s scene in the "The Salmon" was kind of sweet, even if they wound up dead. Also, Nibbler made what seemed to be his first appearance all season in "The Elephant Seals." Welcome back, little guy! However, Zoidberg and Morbo's different cameos all felt like beating a dead horse. Yes, the joke was funny the first time it was used. The third time? Not so much. The one-shots of Hedonism Bot and the Hyper-Chicken were far more rewarding.
It’s a shame the season ended on such a flawed note. This was just a half-baked idea all around. At least the bar has been set low for Season 10's presumed finale anthology, when we may have to worry yet again that this beloved show is going away again... again. See you next year, readers!