Tonight marked the start of Futurama’s seventh season and second on Comedy Central. The last two years contained the whopper 26-episode sixth season, so really this is the start of the comedy series’ sophomore campaign on basic cable. Even so, it would appear that the Matt Groening-created program is already well past its prime as the show debuted on Fox over thirteen years ago. With such a time gap, there is the inherent question as to whether Futurama’s strengths may have gotten lost through the years.
It is with that in mind that we take good hard look at the series’ first episode for the next two years entitled The Bots in the Bees in which Bender overcomes his fear of parenting after he impregnates a soda machine by the name of Bev who is voiced by comedian Wanda Sykes. The episode had a lot of good stuff in it that definitely should go a long way in convincing the series’ most loyal followers that this current run is definitely up to par.
Highlights of the half-hour included a hilarious throwback to Fry’s Slurm addiction days in the episode called Fry and the Slurm Factory and an emotional angle related to fatherhood. While Fry had the B-plot firmly in his hands, the real story was with the latter as Bender was tasked with raising his son Ben after Bev abandoned him for an unspecified period of time during which Ben evolved from infant to tween.
A deep narrative centered on Ben’s quest to be able to bend things like his father which he quickly realizes is impossible. What really brought the story home is that Bender wanted his son to have this so badly that he sold out Ben’s unconditional love so he could be a happy and functioning bending unit. Cartoons seldom have genuine emotional appeal anymore, so it is certainly great to see that Futurama is still trying even though Groening’s other series The Simpsons abandoned that strategy years ago.
Ultimately, I would grade this outing as a strong B+ and say that The Bots and the Bees is clearly above the average post-Fox Futurama episode. While the time travel one entitled The Late Philip J. Fry seems to be the heavy favorite from the HD era, this latest addition to the series’ library is not too far off from that in terms of watchability.
Here are some quotes that I pulled from the episode for your amusement:
Fry: We’re beating eaten by a giant spider!
Leela: There’s no time for that. The professor needs us.
Fry: So I went to the bathroom and my pee was green. Pretty neat, huh?
Female Robot: We don’t got to put up with this. We got poli-sci degrees.
Bender: Aw, I’m gonna call him Ben after the first half of me, Bender.
[Ben burps fire]
Bender: That’s my bastard!
Professor: I hate to crush a boy’s dreams, but what the heck.
Bender: Don’t tell my son what he can or cannot do. You may know what’s in his head, but you don’t know what’s in his heart.
Professor: There’s no slot in their either.
Bender: I said shut up!
Ben: What’s gonna happen to us now Dad?
Bender: Well, I reckon we’ll sit around the camp fire for a while.
Ben: But then what?
Bender: Only a fool plans more than a few centuries ahead son.
Bev: I’ll tell you what. You keep the big one. As long as I got a baby to neglect, I’m happy.
Leela: Should we call child services.
Officer URL: Nah, let’s just get out of here.