This review contains spoilers.
7.4 The Thief Of Baghead
Last week I was praising the partnership of Bender and Nixon but I foolishly forgot there’s an even more audacious, shiny-assed and bitingly hilarious pairing in Futurama – Bender and Calculon!
The feisty robot’s actor buddy makes a magnificent return from a snatch of All My Circuits (prompting Bender to comment on his hero’s acting, “He really Shatnered the hell out of that one!”) to an appearance in the local aquarium where Bender gets in the mood to show off his photography skills.
Oddly, he’s a bit old-school when it comes to the camera, choosing film over digital. His snaps of Calculon kick-start the story proper where Bender jaunts over to Hollywood and joins Us People Magazine as a paparazzo. Finding the job too easy, popping Celebs right, left and underskirt in yet another brilliant gag-filled Futurama montage, the classy assy automaton seeks to capture the reclusive actor, Langdon Cobb.
Well, I say reclusive. His face is, at least. The ‘baghead’ of the episode’s title refers to the actor, dubbed the world’s best, who wears a paper bag over his head – thus tempting Bender into hunting his countenance. Needless to say, he manages to do this pretty easily but the results of the photograph lead to a cracking sci-fi story that Doctor Who’s Steven Moffat would be proud to use.
Langdon is an alien whose face causes people’s life force to leave their bodies, thus feeding the alien. Even an image of his face causes this effect, though Bender manages to kill off Fry, Amy and Hermes before he realises this. To be honest, the sight of their souls – I mean life forces – leaving through their orifices is a tad eerie and slightly unsettling.
To defeat this ego-driven extraterrestrial, the Prof, Leela and Zoidberg employ Calculon in an acting face-off; featuring a heavy dose of touching/laugh-inducing acting from both faceless wonders. It’s a wonderful set-piece that caps off a perfect episode.
The Thief Of Baghead plays on religious beliefs that the soul is stolen once photographed whilst mixing it up with the current fascination with celeb-based culture (okay, not exactly cutting edge). Throw in an incredibly solid sci-fi/horror story and you’ve got a total Futurama treat from start to finish. Mind you, it’s a Bender episode – and it seems impossible, still, after all these years, to fail to deliver when he’s in charge.