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"Reincarnation" times three for Futurama

Futurama poster

Written by : published Friday 9th September 2011

Please click here to watch the latest episode of Futurama online.

     What do Steamboat Willie era animation, anime, and an 8 bit video game have in common? Usually, almost nothing. But in "Reincarnation," the season six finale of Futurama, there are all used to reimagine out favorite characters. Season six is the first season to air on Comedy Central, after FOX cancelled the show five seasons in, and four straight-to-DVD movies were released. These three stories are all connected somehow by a comet, though that's not important, nor relevant. Instead, enjoy two really fine pieces of art, and a third one that's just funny.

     The first vignette involves Fry (Billy West) trying to secure an engagement ring for Leela (Katey Sagal). Their romance is a continuing thread that was explored quite heavily in the straight-to-DVD films, and then barely touched on throughout season six, at least until last week's episode, which revealed that they would eventually have a happy ending. "Reincarnation" does what so many other Futurama episodes do, which is allow Fry to touchingly pursue his one-eyed crush, and she responds to it, but the story will have no lasting consequence to continuity. It's disappointing that the animated show refuses to take that bold move and give their two leads a real relationship after so many seasons. On the other hand, this stand alone story, which ends with Fry proposing to Leela, then the two getting froze in the moment, only to end up as a stone in an alien engagement ring a billion years later, is emotionally very satisfying. Not the ending the series will go with, but a nice plot, nonetheless.

     The second story has Professor Farnsworth (also West) discovering the final answer to science, thus leaving nothing more for mankind to pursue. Even Stephen Hawking (voicing himself, or rather, his own head in a jar) is impressed. Farnsworth brings a startling halt to progress, and to make matters worse, almost no one cares. While Farnsworth goes crazy with nothing to solve, his employees veg out in front of the TV. Then Farnsworth begins to wonder why the universe is the way it is, opening up a whole new avenue to explore. Which his loved ones think means he has wasted his life as a scientist, but Farnsworth sees it as quite the opposite.

     It's rare that a cartoon would delve into the inner workings of human motivation, and the nature of science, in such a profound way. While still being humorous, this is a really neat brain exercise, made even more ironic when presented in such a low-tech animation style. The addition of Hawking to the episode lends gravitas to the concept, and gives smarter viewers something to ponder long after the episode ends.

     Finally, the third bit involves a race that does not have mouths coming to conquer the planet after they are accidentally insulted. Our main characters can do nothing to stop them, until Zoidberg (also West) sheds his skin and does a very complex, but not shown, dance. This isn't a deep story, but it works on a funny level. Having the aliens (via subtitles) express that they have never heard of mouths, and so do not understand the humans' attempt to communicate with them is funny, as is Zoidberg's unseen movements, and Farnsworth's startlingly different voice. An obvious voice over of the word "English" when a character mouths "Japanese" also tickles. Not highly intelligent, it's OK to go light after two much deeper plots.

     Futurama will get a seventh season! Expect it to return to Comedy Central, likely next summer.

     If you like my reviews, please follow me on Twitter!

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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