‘Futurama’ 6.05 Recap: Nooooooooooo! But Possibly Yes!

Despite the wonderful science fiction base of the show, ‘Futurama’ tends to go for the low hanging fruit. Sometimes, like in ‘Attack of the Killer App’ two weeks ago, that fruit is full of sweet nectar that can be refined into comedy gold. This weeks’ episode, ‘The Duh-Vinci Code’ was the other kind. It was like the apple you get that’s wonderful and ripe on one side and bruised on the other. ‘The Duh-Vinci Code’ isn’t the kind of apple you’d eat fresh. It should have been made into a pie, bread, or Waldorf salad.

To say that this week’s episode is all bad would be a lie, but it was definitely the weakest of the new season. Doing a ‘Da Vinci Code‘ themed episode in 2010 is asking a lot from the audience already, but the biggest problems are pacing, continuity and content.

The first five minutes of this episode move way too fast. Exposition is thrown out as quickly as possible with no regard for storytelling, which hurts a comedy far more than it helps it. Just because we’re already on board with these characters doesn’t mean they don’t need to be paid attention to.

It’s Fry who presents the most problems. The writers are falling down the Homer Simpson trap of making Fry too dumb. He’s not the smartest guy around, but he’s able to function in the future society. He’s the everyman and he’s supposed to be the character we identify with.

Taking Fry down to the level they do here, the writers insult the audience. If we’re supposed to identify with Fry, and it takes Fry hours to figure out that he’s in Rome after being expressly told that’s where he’s going, then what does that say about us? Also, why does Fry think that a beard is Nibbler? Nibbler is black and has short hair. The beard is white, long, and is clearly a beard.

The first two episodes of the season had heavy involvement by creator Matt Groening and the absolutely brilliant and perfectly cromulent David Cohen. The most recent episode was penned by Maiya Williams, whose main writing credits include ‘Mad TV’ and ‘The Wanda Sykes Show.’

That’s probably why the characters seem a bit off, and definitely why the show seems to lack that extra oomph. ‘Futurama’ is one of the few shows that actually caters to real nerds. But in keeping with the theme, this episode seems to have been dumbed down just a bit too much.

‘The Duh-Vinci Code’ won’t go down as the worst episode of ‘Futurama,’ but it was far from the best. There are a few great gags, but most of it is unmemorable.


  1. JoeRo

    I agree with you 100% Dick. This episode was just … off. If it were any other show I think I’d be less critical of it, but I tend to hold Futurama to higher standards. I guess it’s only fair that writers new to the show get a chance to find their space-legs, but I was a bit disappointed.

    I didn’t mind Fry’s sub-human intelligence so much, as the writing staff long ago established that Fry’s mind is “special”. I actually enjoyed the joke about hammering in nails with another nail. The callback to that joke later in the episode was a small stroke of brilliance.

    I’m curious as to what your overall impressions of this new Futurama are so far. I’m digging it certainly, but I’m still not wowed yet. I still haven’t gotten past that stage where I’m just grateful to have Futurama back on television, but I’m hoping that after the first ten episodes or so the cast and crew get back into the groove they worked so hard to find the first go-round.

    • The callback to hammering a nail with a nail was brilliant indeed! I do think, though, that there’s a point at which a character becomes too stupid. Homer did it around ten years ago and I’m really worried about Fry going down that path.

      As far as the new season go, I really enjoyed the first two episodes. They were well written and smart and had that good old Futurama feel. They probably won’t make any top 10 lists, but they were good.

      The iPhone episode was a little weak. It seems like a lot of the jokes (Susan Boyle) were written during the time the show was off the air and no one wanted to throw them out. I think Futurama is far better off when it doesn’t try to be topical.

      This last one though didn’t really feel like Futurama to me. Same characters and all, but it was like I was watching something else.

      Like you, I’m still just glad to see it back on the air. I think once this season’s over, it’ll be a lot easier to tell where it ranks overall.

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