“ATTACK OF THE KILLER APP”
It’s recycling day in New New York until Mom comes up with the “eyePhone,” a heads-up display video phone implanted painfully in the eye. Suddenly everyone is twittering (I don’t know what that means, and we even do it here on the site, yet I still don’t know what it means. I’m old.), and Bender and Fry are trying to get to a million followers first. Whomever loses has to swim in a hot tub full of filth. Mom, meanwhile, has set up the eyePhone system to launch a brain virus when someone hits a million “Twits,” and then all of them will do her bidding.
Fry is losing (Bender’s a jerk, and thus far funnier, hence more followers) until he discovers that Leela has a sapient boil on her right buttock (Named “Susan.” The boil, not the buttock, that is. Insofar as I’m aware, Leela never named her cheeks like the rest of us have, or if she has it’s never been revealed on the show). “Eww! It’s Scottish!” Fry recoils in horror, films her butt unawares, and throws it up on the web for his followers to…uhm….follow? I don’t quite get how that works. I mean it’s not like it’s a website where people physically come and look at stuff, right? I’m old. (And don’t bother explaining it to me, it’ll just frustrate both of us. I’m old.)
Both Bender and Fry hit a million followers simultaneously, which means the brain virus is downloaded into TWO million people. Zombie-like masses lurch through the night, but it’s New New York, so no one seems to notice.
Leela is horrified to be an internet sensation, but eventually more-or-less adjusts to it just as people lose interest in her singing hinder. Fry felt bad, jumped into the hottub of filth, and became a new internet sensation, replacing Leela.
The Zombified twits, meanwhile, shamble to the Mom Store to buy the eyePhone model 2.0. “Stupid bastards,” Mom chides.
Amy and Kiff break up. Since she likes bad boys, she hooks up with Bender, and the two of them have a secret robosexual relationship, since humans knocking boots with machines is a major taboo in 31st century society. They get found out, of course, and Professor Farnsworth does everything in his power to break ‘em up: He sends Amy off with her parents on Mars, and Bender is interned in the Robot Preacher’s camp or retreat or whatever for curing machines of their robosexual ways. Preacher seems unduly turned on by robosexuality, despite verbally opposing it.
They get rescued by their friends, of course, (There’s a whole lot of really predictable “Of Courses” in this episode) and spend the rest of the half hour campaigning for “Proposition Infinity,” which would make robosexuality legal. (“Everyone else can get married if they want to: Man and woman, man and man, man and alien, even horse and ghost”) As if all this wasn’t obvious enough, the disembodied head of George Takai turns up to moderate a debate. (“I haven’t heard such an impassioned explanation since Shatner told me why he couldn’t pay me back!”) During this, Farnsworth reveals that he was a robosexual who had his heart broken by an unfaithful robo-chick.
The proposition passes, and Amy and Bender can now get married, until Amy mentions she wants him to be monogamous, and which point he kicks her to the curb (Or, if you’re English, “Kerb”) and heads off to Mexico with two gynoids. (Or, if you’re a Trekie, two androids in the form of women). Kiff buys a motorcycle, and since he’s now a bad boy, he and Amy get back together.
Preachy allegory is a longstanding SF tradition, particularly in TV SF where it’s almost always poorly done. (Think: Any episode of any incarnation of Trek) I don’t mind stories having a message - in fact I like it, I’ve used it in my own stories on occasion - but I’m annoyed with “Very Special Episodes” that wear their agenda on their sleeve, and let their basic job (“Being funny”) slip. There were a few good gags in this episode (Amy: “Kif, stop being such a spineless jellyfish!” Kif: “You know I’m more closely related to the sea cucumber!” Amy: “Not where it counts.”) and I liked all the robosexual perverts dressed up in sloppy robot costumes at the Greenwich Village Pride Fest, but on the whole this simply wasn’t a very funny episode. There were a lot of throwaway gags that seemed rather obtrusive and random - the Professor’s weather pickling hobby, Hermes’ clown virus, etc.
The Robosexual allegory for gay marriage was over-earnest for a show like this, and unusually one-sided (Generally, they tend to make fun of both sides to a greater or lesser extent), and more irritating yet, you just knew from the start of the episode that everything would go back to the normal status quo by the end, just like that TNG episode where Riker becomes gay(ish) for one episode on The Planet Of Pats
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Outcast_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation) . TNG was always self-righteous and preachy and prone to over-earnest allegory, though, so it was less obtrusive there, but actually this episode has almost the same exact failings as that one, which makes me wonder if they’d used it as a template.
Basically, the whole “Gay” thing has been handled much, much better in shows like Kings and that World War II episode of Torchwood, Babylon 5; hell, even that Geico commercial with Flo and the gay couple. To be fair, it’s been handled worse as well: Virtuality, a bunch of *Other* episodes of Torchwood, that terrible remake of The Prisoner. I don’t mind them breaching the subject - it’s probably long overdue - and I don’t even mind them taking the ‘pro’ on it because, come on let’s face it: since when has SF ever been a recruiting device for our party? I do object to them doing it in a near-humorless manner. If I want to watch preachy entirely humor-free sitcoms, I’ll netflix the last three seasons of M*A*S*H*. Entertain first, and work a message into the plot. Don’t have a message and work the entertainment into the plot, particularly since pretty much the whole target audience for Futurama already agrees with Gay Marriage. It’s like they’re trying to convert people who are already members of their church.
Though considerably less challenging, “Killer App” was far funnier, and really far cleverer, with the whole obsessive twittering (Whatever that is) and pokes taken at the evil international communist juggernaut that is Apple. (That’s a joke, son, yer’ s’posed t’ laugh! [Not really]) and while the Boil/Boyle gag was hyper-obvious and not really all that funny, the rest of the ep was great. (I particularly liked the cameo by Flexo) Competitions between Fry and Bender are always funny, and Fry generally becomes less of a cipher when he’s feeling guilty about Leela for whatever reason.
WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THESE EPISODES?
Nope. Well, I guess it depends on how you feel about disheveled Scottish songstresses for the first one, but generally Conservatives aren’t going to like Futurama much to begin with, though “App” is funny enough to take the curse off it. Of the two, Conservatives are more likely to like that one. They ain‘t gonna‘ like“Infinity,” however: a clear case of preaching to the choir if ever there was one. And not really very funny at that.