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Futurama – Politics and Time Travel 101

This week, Bender teaches us that manipulating time travel paradoxes is key to the political system. We also learn that it's pointless to try to make a difference in the world and that Hedonism bot doesn't have a tongue. Happy Election Year, everyone!

- Season 7, Episode 3 - "Decision 3012"

Like the Mayan/Martian apocalypse episode from last week, it’s no surprise that the writers brought out a subject relevant to this year — the election. Any episode with Nixon’s Head in a Jar is a fun one (fun fact: during the last election I started a joke Facebook called “Nixon’s Head in a Jar for President 2008.” It ended up getting over a hundred followers) and he was certainly at his most jowelliness in this story. The episode was a little heavy handed with the Obama Birth Certificate allegory, but when the real world has such a silly controversy, parodying it seems natural.

I did like that Travers (voiced by the fantastically clear toned Phil LaMarr) was indeed a good person — I kept waiting for the ball to drop and for him to be exposed as some sort of hypocrite because Futurama often likes to go for that kind of twist, but the fact that he was actually a very ethical, kind person was a nice change of pace for the show. They even avoided Leela and Travers becoming a couple, which would have been an easy but overused plot point.

The time travel twist was unexpected and a nice way to infuse some focus into the plot, which had started to meander by the end of the 2nd act. It was also a fun inside gag that the future human resistance discovers the time code from Bender’s Big Score because Fry (at one point or another) xeroxed his butt. But since there’s no way the writers would have let a good man like Travers stay President, the time travel paradox erased all the events of the episode, serving as a clever metaphor for our own political system. Of course, if Travers was never there then the future would be the same as it was at the beginning of the episode so his people would send him back in time which would cause the events of the episode to happen which would erase the need for him to go back in time and this is why time travel drives me crazy.

On a side note, did anyone else think the younger version of Travers with the navy suit, scruffy hair and red sneakers looks like a certain Lord of Time?

The plot itself wasn’t as engaging as the previous election episode, but the one-liners were really spot on throughout the story (check out the quotes for some of my favorites). There were also little details like Hedonism bot purring over “political intercourse” and Nixon sadistically rooting for the squirrel outside his window to fall or the audience learning that Scoop Chang is now reporting for Fox “News.” It was also a treat to see the opening title transition right into the episode thanks to the sign advertising free beer that makes Bender go off his rocker. If anything, I’m glad they got the election episode out of the way before the craziness of the actual election begins in the coming months. Here’s hoping the real election isn’t nearly as ridiculous … oh who am I kidding!

All the best quotes:
“Made from 100% recycled pixels.” — Title Card

“I’m proud to announce I’m running for re-election as President of Earth, the greatest planet in the world!” — Nixon

“The League of Extraordinary Women Voters” — sign outside debate

“We have a saying up in Alaska! … That’s all.” — Nameless female Alaskan candidate

“OK, let’s nip this Earther movement in the bud by releasing your Earth certificate. Where were you born?” — Leela
“Our Lady of Patriotism Hospital.” — Travers
“Patriotism, good! Where is it?” — Leela
“Kenya.” — Travers
“Cradle of humanity!” — Leela

“Without cheap alien labor for menial jobs like harvesting crops, teaching math and curing disease, the economy collapsed.” — Travers

“Wait, so I become ruler of Earth?” — Bender
“Indeed.” — Travers
“Yes! In your face, high school guidance counselor!” — Bender

Photo Credit: Comedy Central

Categories: | Episode Reviews | Futurama | General | TV Shows |

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