EPISODE REVIEW: Futurama: “The Prisoner of Benda” (Season 6, Episode 10)

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My thinking going into this episode was “They’re going to have to try really hard to be anywhere as good as last week, and being better than last week is clearly out of the question.” Then I heard this was a brain-switching episode, and those are always comedy gold, right? I mean, if Kim Possible can pull off a hilarious Brain Switch episode - if Chowder can pull off a good one, for gosh sakes - then it’s pretty much a gimmie, right?

Republibot 2.0 had a theory that it’s impossible to do a bad song about Superman, but then Five For Fighting came along with a song so terrible it blew that out of the water. So would the always-erratic Futurama ruin my theory about Brain Switches being inherently hilarious?

No. No they would not. They did really creep me out at one point, though.

In a nutshell, Bender wants to become the Robohungarian emperor, while Amy longs for the ability ot overeat like she did when she was younger, and the professor longs to live life to the extreme and rock the mic like a vandal, light up a stage and wax a chump like a candle. But he just goes Rockeboard skiing instead. Then he wipes out and decides he’d rather be old and infirm again. Amy, meanwhile, finds that overeating isn’t as much fun when you’re old, and she suckers Leela into trading bodies with her.

So Leela’s now an old dude, and Amy’s Leela, and the Professor switches with Bender, who decides to use Amy’s body to sneak aboard the Robohungarian imperial yacht and seduce her way inside. Alas, the crew is entirely robots who are not impressed with a fleshy meat bag like her. He manages to con his way in just the same, and hits it off with the emperor, who has Dickensian dreams of being a commoner.

Leela, meanwhile, is upset at how Fry is grossed out by her being an old man with a penis, and simultaneously grossed out at how Amy’s overeating is turning Leela “Into a parade baloon,” and she lites into him about that. Irritated, Fry decides to swap bodies with Dr. Zoidberg, since he’s so repulsive it’d prove Leela was only interested in him for his looks, and is just as shallow as he, himself is.

Meanwhile, the Professor decides to run away and join the circus, where he performs under the name “Nonchalanto,” a really really really really incompetent daredevil (“That’s the stupidest thing anyone’s ever done! You’re hired!”). Easily the best gag in the whole thing is him attempting to land on a trampoline, missing entirely, and crashing through the bleachers, to much applause.

Amy and Hermes change bodies, which means Hermes is now Leela, and Amy is now Hermes. Meanwhile, Fry and Leela have sex. Gay alien/geriatric sex. Gay alien arthropodic/geriatric sex. While brain switched, which makes it kind of like demonic possession, don’t you think? Gay alien arthropod/geriatric posession sex. It’s a blow off gag, but it is creeeeeeeee-peee with a capital “Kree.”

Uhm…I lost track again. Oh, right, so Bender switches bodies with a robot-bucket, so Bender’s now a bucket and the bucket is Amy, who tries to seduce Scruffy, but Scruffy has an attack of ethics and rejects her. Bender (The bucket) then changes bodies with the Emperor, and the Emperor tries to pass himself off as Bender while Zoidberg attempts to pass himself off as Fry.

The Emperor’s bodyguard and girlfriend attempt to kill said Emperor while Bender’s possessing that body. Higgaldy Piggaldy ensues. Then the Harlem Globetrotters show up to deus-ex-machina everything all better again.

The End.

OBSERVATIONS:

There’s a nice little bit when Fry thinks Leela is in Amy’s body, since he’s clearly attracted to Amy, but in love with Leela - best of both worlds - and it’s funny how quickly his face falls when he realizes that isn’t the case.

“I always wanted to be an emperor. You know, for Halloween. And forever after that.”

The bit with Scruffy and the Love Bucket was pretty funny. The bit about Fry/Zoidberg and Leela/Farnsworth making out curing Amy of her food addiction forever was pretty funny as well.

And yet…and yet….and yet….it never quite went off the rails for me, you know? It wasn’t a *bad* episode (Aside from the VERY disturbing sex thing), but it never completely jumped over into total hysterical lunacy either. For a brain-switch episode, it was surprisingly sedate, and a little disappointing. And rather disquietingly since this show came back, it really only had one solid belly-laugh.

For the record, my absolute favorite Brain Transfer story of all time is “The Tick vs. Science” which you can watch here

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS EPISODE?

Gay alien arthropod/geriatric posession sex. I'm gonna' guess that means "No."

On the other hand, conservatives will probably find "The Tick Vs. Science" to be an utter scream.

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