For the final new episode of the year, Futurama went full-on fauna in “Naturama.” Depicting three harrowing tales through the lens of a National Geographic-esque documentary series, we watched as the Planet Express crew lived their sexually-driven lives as various forms of wildlife. All of these vignettes were also narrated by Phil LaMarr, who delivered a Morgan Freeman-inspired performance throughout.
Several times during the first segment of the three-part anthology, the people in the room with me turned to each other and said, “This is weird.” Not in a hostile way, or even a confused way, but in a way that meant that this was different from anything we’d seen before. And if Futurama is meant, as a show, to do one thing, it’s to show us stuff we’ve never seen on other shows.
Salmon Fry meets Salmon Leela and they agree to go back upstream together when they’re mature to make little salmon babies, even despite Salmon Zapp trying to get Leela for himself. Fry and Leela have a mini-montage of romantic undersea dates, including a Lady and the Tramp-type sharing of an underwater worm. But when the time comes to return to the stream they were born in, it turns out Leela was born one stream over from Fry, and they can’t just switch. Even the narrator can’t explain it, which was a welcome change for me from most nature documentaries.
It was around the time that Bender started B.A.R.F. (Bender’s Animal Robot Front) that the story bordered on uninteresting. While it’s usually amusing to watch Bender fixate on new and different passion projects, this one felt a little stale. It just seemed like a needlessly roundabout way of getting them all back to the country club, where they sprang the robot fox free from his cage.
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