Futurama season 7 episode 10 review: Near-Death Wish
Family ties, canon-breaking characters, and an (ahem) timely dig at The Matrix in this week's Futurama. Here's Cameron's review...
After the emotional turmoil from Bender in the previous episode comes another heartfelt trip, this time featuring the Fry family, Phillip J. and the Professor. And his parents… But before you say say "Wha?", let's see why.
After winning a Clippie (an award for delivery boys) in a wonderfully hilarious opening sequence (featuring a joke that made me laugh so much I had to stop and rewind), Fry becomes upset as his closest living relative, Professor Farnsworth, wasn't there to enjoy his win.
Needing some family love, Zoidberg suggests a visit to the Prof's parents (cue gasps and gags) on the Near-Death Star. Now, fans of the show may remember the space station from A Clone of My Own, a facility housing the elderly, and knowingly Fry proclaims, "Let's boldly go where we've gone before!"
The human-hating Barrier Bots are still amusingly present (Fry's Clippie allows access) but there are other changes. The elderly have been placed in cabinets and wired up to machines to supply energy. Sound familiar?
Yup, Futurama is having a go at The Matrix. Not exactly topical but, it has to be said, still very funny. Leela's rant at the stupidity of the plot is as valid now as it was back then when the less-impressed amongst us were saying the very same thing.
After tracking the elderly couple down, Fry names them Shabado and Gram-Gram, whilst he, Bender and Leela virtually make a visit in a cute computer styled scene. Realizing that his "grandparents" (as they are now dubbed) may not be entirely happy, the gang spring them free.
As always with the show these days, there's a fantastic montage and here we see Fry, Shabado and Gram-Gram spending quality time together much to the consternation of the Professor who has some unresolved issues with his parents. The story gets unusually convoluted and involved, though still gigglesome with further revelations on the Farnsworth family.
The die-hard Futurama fans (and by that, I mean pedants) may be slightly annoyed (and by that, I mean hugely) at the canon-smashing nature of the plot. In the show's very first episode, for example, we learn that Farnsworth is Fry's "only living relative" and yet we have some even older ones here (and in The Sting, the Prof claims to the oldest living member of his family). The shoe-horning in of a brother for Farnsworth is also slightly troubling for Futurama historians.
But, of course, for us normals, it's fine. Laughs will always cover holes.
Bizarrely, it's an unusually saccharine ending in Near-Death Wish, that will have the more cynical amongst you snorting derisively and bemoaning the episode's lack of bite whilst the more optimistic will share a smile and sympathise with the Professor's life.
Read Cameron's review of the previous episode, Free Will Hunting, here.
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