The Six Million Dollar Mon
This week’s episode, “The Six Million Dollar Mon” proves that Futurama can still be funny when the main cast takes center stage. Case in point: ‘The Six Million Dollar Mon’, whose plot was almost certainly built out of an excuse to use that face-palm of a pun, centred around Hermes’ desire to increase his bureaucratic efficiency by becoming a robot. Nothing particularly dark there, until jokes from the second act onwards start focusing on backstreet surgery, skin peeling, epidermicide (my new favourite crime) and the reconstruction of a human being from individual parts stored in a bloody paper bag. The show also appears to have killed off its second robotic supporting character in the space of under half a season (following the demise of Calculon in ‘The Thief Of Baghead’) in the shape of the stab-happy Roberto.
First, after a routine performance review, Hermes realizes he’s the least valuable employee at Planet Express, and does the only logical thing: he fires himself, only to be replaced by a more efficient ‘bot. Then, while he and LaBarbara are taking a walk in the park, they’re attacking by the psychotic, skin-obsessed Roberto, another machine. Roberto is dispatched by the police (the robot cop makes the arrest, naturally), and Hermes decides that the only way he can be happy is with a little upgrade. It’s an effective progression, one that explains why the character is having a change of heart now, while still being built on top of aspects of his personality that have long been established.
Hermes showed us why robotic implants are just trouble. Sure, it starts with the desire to launch a harpoon out of one’s chest, but it always just goes quickly downhill. I mean, it always leads to becoming a giant dehumanizing death machine, without question. Great science-fiction like this does use the future to comment on the present, after all! Hermes’s enjoyment and tolerance of extremely spicy food is something I can relate to, though I would hope that my skin wouldn’t cause robots to melt, and to burn holes through people’s bodies. Also, I hope that no one ever tries to eat my skin.
Admittedly, the modern culture parodies haven’t gone away and still feel out of place in a world a thousand years in the future, but episodes like ‘Decision 3012’ have at least mixed up an otherwise polemic-driven premise with a science fiction twist (the election candidate from the future disappears upon the completion of his task to change the past, thus undoing all his work) and a higher-than-before batting average for jokes, suggesting the newer writers have started becoming comfortable with the kind of humour that works in Futurama’s setting.
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