The element of Futurama that’s been missing the most since its return is its heart. Not that the show was ever filled to the brim with poignantly moving episodes; comedy has always been its core. But during its initial run the show occasionally took the time to deal with deeper human issues than just outsmarting an alien race intent on destroying the Earth. Episodes like “Jurassic Bark” aren’t something you can repeat, but smaller moments like Fry’s relationship with a Leela-esque narwhal were equally touching. Those little bits of humanity help the show remain grounded in a universe where at any given moment you can be grabbed from below by mutants or eaten by a giant space whale.
“Fry Am the Egg Man” was not in fact one of those episodes that’s deeply moving. That being said, it had the most heart of anything we’ve seen during season six, something it pulled without feeling the least bit manipulative. I’m also pleased that it didn’t try to repeat one of the show’s earlier pet-based stories, something it definitely risked by going into territory Futurama really loves.
The episode begins with Fry and Leela returning from a delivery (why isn’t Bender there?) and deciding to stop off for a quick snack afterward. However, Leela soon becomes incensed with the unhealthiness of the processed food they’ve been eating and begins proselytizing healthy food. When she buys some fresh eggs from somewhere in space, Fry decides to keep one and hatch it, soon resulting in the birth of Mr. Peppy.
Mr. Peppy, it soon turns out, isn’t just an acid-spewing space monster, he’s also a bone vampire. Fry initially doesn’t care about his pet’s monstrous tendencies and raises him as a vegetarian, but because Mr. Peppy’s species reproduces asexually and is extinct on his home planet, he agrees to reintroduce him to the wild. The locals, however, aren’t so keen on this prospect because, well, Mr. Peppy’s a bone vampire. At first they accept that perhaps Fry having raised Mr. Peppy may keep him out of trouble, but soon afterwards their livestock are found dead.
The episode is really about the bond between Fry and Mr. Peppy, which works great because Fry’s simple nature makes his love for whoever ends up as his pet believable and infectious. Sure, Mr. Peppy may be a bone vampire, but he means well and more importantly Fry loves him. Unlike with previous pets, here Fry actually makes the choice to let him go (well, mostly). It’s also a nice twist, however slight, that rather than demonizing Mr. Peppy’s true nature, the locals celebrate him for it. It’s a well-done ending that, while not particularly surprising, doesn’t feel as forced as many of the show’s third acts this year.
A lack of a real b-story is also helpful in a show that’s had some trouble adjusting to telling 21-minute stories again. Every episode this season has felt like it would benefit from five or ten more minutes to tell a story as complete as Futurama’s ambitions would like, but “Fry Am the Egg Man” kept things uncluttered and as a result didn’t need to rush through its ending. It’s one of the show’s more simple stories, but sometimes those are what work best.
There have also been a few episodes since Futurama’s returns that work for the most part but rely upon the Planet Express Crew acting a bit out-of-character. Last week suddenly Leela was completely obsessive about completing their deliveries, which may have been necessary for the Moby Dick-inspired plot, but didn’t really work with what we already know about Leela. Here, Fry and everyone else simply reacted to the strange events occurring around them in exactly the ways we’d expect, making the humor flow organically from the characters rather than changing their personalities to fit plot points.
The end result worked well and illustrated that while Futurama’s quality may be a tad more variable than it used to be, the show can still pull off more simple episodes alongside its ambitious set-pieces.
•Nice to see more from Fishy Joe’s and Lehr, neither of which we’ve seen much from lately
•”Oww, I’ve got a bone in my fruit.”
•”See all the dirt and earwigs? That’s the sign of healthy food.”
•”Smoke one of these and god himself will ask to be seated far away from you.”
•”Mathilda’s more of a mongoose than a wife.” – Whatever the context, this is a brilliant sentence.
•”You’re not my breakfast friends, what are you doing here?”
•They have Arrogant Cigar Jerk magazine in the future – and to think today the industry’s still doing terribly
•”It’s no different than stomping a puppy.”
•”Kill it before someone names it.”
•”Mr. Peppy’s not like Zoidberg: he’s my friend.”
•More of All My Circuits also makes this feel more like an old episode of Futurama
•Gygaxacon – In the future they use dnd entries for info on creatures. All I can say is: awesome
•”Excuse me, but we’re guests on your planet: speak English.”
•”I’m driving so I’ll have the smallest whiskey you’ve got.”
•”He’s a vegetarian, and he’s not even preachy about it.”
•”My father told me you can tell a lot about a man by the rigidity of his shins.”
•”This is going to kill him more than it does me.”
•”Mr. Peppy? Bullets make you talk!?”
•”Like Dwayne “The Rock” “Tooth Fairy” Johnson.”