Futurama Review: "Cold Warriors" (6.24)

TV Reviews Futurama
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<em>Futurama</em> Review: "Cold Warriors" (6.24)

Just last week I was writing about the way “The Tip of the Zoidberg” was the only episode this season (well, half-season) to feature real heart, and here we are again this week with another heartfelt episode. Longtime viewers of Futurama will know that most episodes that flash back to the 20th century tend to be at least a bit touching, due to both the nostalgic nature of focusing on the past and the Fry family dynamics. It’s somewhat inescapable, not to mention that if there isn’t some sort of fairly meaningful reason to flash back, such as emotional connections, the show’s not going to do it.

One of the things that really sets Futurama apart from Matt Groening’s other show—you know, the one with the yellow people—is that it’s largely bereft of families. Hermes’ son and wife show up so infrequently that unless you’re a big fan you may not be aware they exist and Cubert even more so. Their co-workers comprise the show’s makeshift family, and while the bonds there are real, it’s still a very different thing than dealing with children and parents.

“Cold Warriors” primarily focuses on what happens when Fry accidentally reintroduces the common cold to the 31st century as a result of ice fishing. The show flashes back to when this same thing happened to him more than a thousand years ago and the tender moments between Fry and his father. In the present day, however, no one’s happy to just let the common cold proliferate, and in a reaction typical of what happens when Zapp Brannigan and Richard Nixon get together, a quarantine of the building soon becomes a quarantine of all New York after Bender breaks free from Planet Express.

With the government convinced that the only solution to their problem is to throw the city into the sun, Fry and Farnsworth realize it is in fact possible to inoculate against the cold. Soon rejecting Farnsworth’s idea of killing him to extract it, Fry remembers (courtesy of a few more flashbacks) that there’s another specimen out there and after retrieving it all’s once again right in the world.

There are more than the usual number of logical stretches required for “Cold Warriors” to make sense, but the episode moves so swiftly through them that it still works well. Fry’s science fair attempt isn’t particularly interesting, either, but it has enough great moments to warrant so much of the episode being spent there. With the combination of showing for the first time a real closeness between Fry and his dad and what happens when an epidemic breaks loose in the future, it also broached some interesting new ground.

This was a fitting way for Futurama to make its way towards next week’s season finale (note: not its final episode) and with the last few episode’s it’s really begun feeling like it used to before its first cancellation. There’s a lot more consistency here than with the first half of the season and less reliance on trendy pop culture jokes. It hasn’t quite recaptured the magic of the show’s original run, but it’s finally looking like it may get there again.

Stray observations:
•“Eating nothing but frozen neanderthal.” – a healthy part of your balanced breakfast.
•”Don’t worry, son, you’ll freeze before you drown.” – That’s just good parenting.
•”I’m not even legally a mammal.”
•”If you’re sober, it isn’t ice fishing.”
•”C’mon, Yancy, your brother’s sick. You’ll never have a better chance to take him out.”
•”I can make a space experiment-I just got a new thing of glitter.”
•So now we learn that Fry has had a long history of being tricked by monkeys.
•”I suppose it might even bring a few people back to life-anything is possible in science.”
•”Yesterday I was almost killed by a tight hat.”
•That was one mightily dumb Barack Obama “cameo.” Worst moment of the episode by far.
•The guinea pig stuff is incredibly cute. Not super funny but still enjoyable.
•”The situation is expected to deteriorate as newscasters whip the public into a panic.”
•”They’re flying Manhattan into the sun-they must’ve been out of piranhas.”
•”He already survived the vacuum of my mom… I mean my mom’s vacuum.”
•”Our weapons aren’t strong enough to punch through a thin plastic tent that thick.”
•”He walked on the moon and now he’s judging a high school science contest.”
•On a weird personal note, friends of mine actually did win a contest to have their science experiment done in zero gravity. Guess they must’ve had a lot of glitter handy, too.