6.17 Law And Oracle
Wow, a story that starts off as a Police Academy parody, jumps into both Tron and Avatar pastiches, with plot and imagery borrowed from Minority Report, whilst all under the umbrella of television show, Law & Order. It’s an absolute belter from Futurama this week.
Despite being engulfed in cinematic references, there’s plenty more to admire and hoot at in one of the strongest episodes in a very long time. Law And Oracle is also one of the more adult themed, with bum and cock gags and a singular use of the word “vulva”. I hope someone is thinking of the children.
Don’t worry, though, there’s some ‘brain’ laughs in there, too, with a wonderful Schrödinger’s cat skit that has not one, but two gigglesome punchlines, neither of which you’ll see coming. Videogames also come under the gaze of the show, with the FBI warning that “Winners don’t play video games”, after Fry loses at the arcade game Delivery Command (a thinly-veiled tribute to Paperboy). I couldn’t agree more!
But what of the story? Fry finds himself leaving Planet Express and enrolling in the local police academy (in an effort to impress Leela. Remember, he likes her). You’d think that parodying a film series that was so withered by the second instalment and almost thirty years old wouldn’t provide much in original laughs, but you’ll find more than enough here, especially in the form of their commandant, Chief O’Mannahan (a thinly disguised Sgt. Callahan from the Police Academy movies), whose foul language, abuse and propensity for nudity will raise more than a gaggle full of chortles.
Making a welcome return is URL, whom Fry is paired up with, and they quickly become part of the Future Crimes Division (after a terrific Tron-esque bike chase in Circuit City), where the story stoutly dives into Minority Report. It neatly dovetails back to Planet Express as Fry discovers his old buddy Bender will commit a crime. (No great shock there, then.)
The whole notion of predictions and changing the future comes under the microscope here, with incredibly pleasing results (makers of Doctor Who, take note). If there is an issue with the episode, it’s that Bender and Leela’s mission to Pandora, the 3D planet, is short-lived. Plenty more mileage could have been sucked out of that particular minefield.
Law And Oracle runs with very knowing gags, truly hilarious film references and near the knuckle knocks (including a Billy Dee Williams booze gag). Refreshingly, the gags are dynamite (despite the age of some of the references). Chuck in some appearances from Roberto, Hedonismbot, Hattie McDoogal and Smitty and you’ve got yourself Futurama-sized party of fun, fun, fun.