The attentive reader will notice that I didn’t recap ‘Futurama’ last week. There was an episode that week, of course, but I was otherwise occupied at Cedar Point, “America’s Rockin’ Roller Coast.” Yeah, that’s right, even bloggers get a day off once in a while.
The Prisoner of Benda
It isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. ‘The Prisoner of Benda’ just is. It exists without offending or exciting too much, like some sort of mild cheese. It’s predictable, but it works.
‘The Prisoner of Benda’ was written by Ken Keeler, who penned some of my favorite ‘Simpsons’ episodes such as ‘Two Bad Neighbors’ and ‘El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer’. He’s also the guy behind some great and some not so great episodes of ‘Futurama’. Keeler wrote the excellent ‘When Aliens Attack’, but also the dismal ‘The Honking’.
The body switching premise of ‘The Prisoner of Benda’ is interesting but not particularly funny. In any other show, hearing one character’s voice come out of another’s mouth would be a shocker. In ‘Futurama’, it doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary.
The biggest thing holding the episode back is that there’s really too much going on. There are a lot of stories to follow and none of them seem to get the coverage they deserve. It would have been great to see more on the robot circus.
If there’s one way to win me over, though, it’s to use Scruffy in an episode. The brief love story between the Planet Express janitor and his mop bucket is funny and a little touching to boot.
Despite a tendency to be a bit too self referential, ‘Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences’ is a far stronger episode than ‘The Prisoner of Benda’.
The whole thing starts at Comic-Con and really gives a lot of credit to the viewer. It has jokes about the increasing spectacle of the convention, and even features Sergio Aragones as the sole comic book author at the show. Hell, just putting Aragones in there is fantastic. It’s nice that Futurama can be a sort of a geek safe haven now that we’ve lost Comic-Con to the mainstream press.
The rest of the episode focuses on Lrrr and his failed relationship with Ndnd. It’s pretty solid, and Lrrr is always good for a few laughs. Hooking up with a girl in an Omicronian costume is a great touch.
Two things really stand out for me in this episode. The first is Fry’s comic book. I don’t think it works when Fry is portrayed as stupid, but when he’s innocent and childlike, Fry is at his best. The various iterations of the comic throughout the show are fantastic.
The second is the use of the head of Orson Welles to stage another ‘War of the Worlds’. The voice, unless I’m horribly mistaken, is handled by Maurice LaMarche, who plays Kif, Morbo, Hedonism Bot and a range of other characters. He’s also the man behind the voice of Brain from ‘Pinky and the Brain’. I’ll laugh every time at Orson Welles outtakes in any form, so this really works for me.