The Bots and the Bees Online / A Farewell to Arms
After months of waiting, Futurama made its hour-long return to the airwaves tonight, starting with “The Bots and the Bees.” And considering the show is now on its seventh season, it’s truly astounding that the show still has original stories to tell with these characters. Season 7 kicked things off with a very Bender-centric episode in which we learned a thing or two about robo-procreation.
Professor Farnsworth sends a signal to the Planet Express crew, and they all rush to the Planet Express building – including Fry, Leela and Bender, who are on the ship being attacked by a giant space spider. After all of the crew has arrived, Farnsworth announces that the company has acquired a new soda machine. The crew are all overjoyed at this, and Fry quickly seizes the opportunity to purchase large amounts of Slurm Loco. Bender asks the machine, who is sentient, if any alcohol is available. When she explains to Bender that people are not supposed to drink alcohol at work, Bender mocks her. Introducing herself as Bev, she takes the opportunity to mock him back. Later that day, Fry continues to drink large amounts of Slurm Loco, announcing that his urine has turned green. Meanwhile, Bender and Bev continue to trade insults, culminating in Bev criticizing his “shriveled up antenna.”
Highlights of the half-hour included a hilarious throwback to Fry’s Slurm addiction days in the episode called Fry and the Slurm Factory and an emotional angle related to fatherhood. While Fry had the B-plot firmly in his hands, the real story was with the latter as Bender was tasked with raising his son Ben after Bev abandoned him for an unspecified period of time during which Ben evolved from infant to tween.
Watch Futurama – The Bots and the Bees Online
Futurama S07E01: The Bots and the Bees
In addition to feeding Fry’s unhealthy habit, the soda machine butts heads with Bender, who is angered by the machine’s lack of alcoholic beverages. The soda machine, who calls herself Bev, even makes a jibe at Bender’s antenna, which he insists is a “grower not a show-er.” Part of Futurama’s hilarity has always come from the fact that the robots on the show act almost identically to humans, just with a robotic twist. “The Bots and the Bees” is one of those episodes that plays heavily on this similarity (and gets a lot of laughs out of it).
In fact, this episode succeeds because it uses Bender to generate heartwarming moments out of what is a ludicrous situation. Bender might have airs of being a rude, selfish jerk – and he is a lot of the time – but he can care about something other than himself. While leading Ben down a path of robbery and bending might not make Ben the best person robot it does depict how Bender is deeper than he lets on, while still being himself.
“The Bots And The Bees” benefits from a straightforward plot; “Farewell To Arms” is loopier, throwing together a standard Fry-and-Leela runner with the potential end of the world, jokes about 2012 and the Mayan (I’m sorry, Martian) calendar, and Zap Brannigan being an ass. There’s a story, to be sure: while hunting for Fry’s pants, the team finds a Mayan—again, sorry, Martian—calendar, which, after Amy’s helpful translations, seems to indicate the world is about to end. Since the weather has gone all hellfire and electronics no longer work like they should, everyone takes the prediction entirely at face value, and there’s a rush off the planet. While this is going on, Fry and Leela try and share some time together, despite Fry’s inability to successfully rescue Leela no matter how hard he tries. He even sacrifices his spot on the stone space-ship so Leela can get to Mars, only for the evacuees to learn that Amy mistranslated the calendar and it’s Mars that’s going to be destroyed. End of the world stories are fun, and Zap’s antics are entertaining as ever, but there’s so much plot in action that the attempts at emotional connection are a little fuzzy, and the jokes don’t have the cohesion they would in in a more directed narrative.
Watch Futurama – A Farewell to Arms Online
Futurama S07E02: A Farewell to Arms
Parodying the hullabaloo around the 2012 Mayan calendar, the Planet Express crew finds an ancient circular 3012 Martian calendar warning of the end of the world. Time to pack up a ship and launch only the world’s best and brightest! But that doesn’t include everyone – someone isn’t going to make the cut.
This episode also had some pretty good gags, but the frequency was far less than the previous episodes. And they take the time to randomly hate on Tron: Legacy which is a movie I loved! So I shake my fist at this episode even harder. My highlights include delivering the Martian calendar to Planet Express, Zapp Brannigan attempting to say “testament”, and Hermes Conrad trying to rally everyone at the end. And since I’m clearly honing in on the writers who need to get laid, there was another sex-driven moment in this episode where Fry and Leela are about to join “The Balcony Club” for some end of the world sex.
Upon further investigation, the buried Martian pyramid turns out to be a spaceship that will take 30,000 humans away from Earth as the world ends. A computer is put in charge of “randomly” selecting who is allowed on board and there are some funny reasons as to why some of the Planet Express gang are allowed on board (particularly Zoidberg going well with butter!). Of course, everybody gets a ticket to board the spaceship except for Leela. Unbeknownst to her, Fry decides to sacrifice his own ticket by pasting her photo over his, causing him to remain behind on the doomed earth.
Basically, “A Farewell To Arms” is just one thing after another until everything stops. The through line is Fry’s efforts to protect the woman he loves—which end up nearly killing her—and Leela’s exasperation at getting suckered, bashed, and broken by Fry’s efforts, even though she still likes the guy. People frustrated by the show’s on-again/off-again approach to the Fry/Leela relationship may have problems with this episode, and it’s hard to argue that this isn’t extremely well-tread ground. But there’s still some mileage to be gained from it.
This wasn’t the worst thing on TV, but when I have to watch a show to generously find things I like about it, it’s just not that great. Unless you’re like me and are really driven out of interest to see what Comedy Central’s Futurama produces, don’t bother looking for repeats. This is a skip. And for the love everything holy, Futurama, Comedy Central, please leave the memes to the internet.
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