There’s a type of Futurama episode that I’d describe as taking whatever random concept the show’s writers are currently interested in, then throwing it into the Futurama universe and seeing what happens. The show has joked a lot about just adding “space” as an adjective to various objects (my favorite still being “Space Earth”), but it’s a joke that continues paying dividends not just in individual lines but also in entire stories.
“Mobius Dick” is unabashedly just a take on the Bermuda Triangle and Moby Dick, in space. The crew sets out to deliver a package and takes a short cut across the Bermuda Tetrahedron, despite a warning from Professor Farnsworth about its notorious properties. There they encounter a white space whale jumping in and out of the fourth dimension, which sets upon them. Of course, when a white whale and a ship are involved, a Moby Dick parody must obligatorily follow, so Leela becomes obsessed with hunting it down and, at some point, completing their initial mission of transporting a statue commemorating Planet Express’s first crew.
It’s not the sort of true “what if” science fiction that’s my preference for the show, nor is it an emotionally filled episode that plays an important part in Futurama’s overall storyline. In fact, since moving to Comedy Central, those episodes have been the biggest thing missing from the show. That being said, “Mobius Dick” was the most sheer fun I felt like the show’s had this season.
A lot of this came from keeping the entire Planet Express crew together. It’s fine for the show to forget about minor characters like Amy or Scruffy for a while if they’re really trying to explore the nuance of Bender and Fry’s relationship (for, admittedly, the 12th time). However, it misses out on a lot of material. In fact, just having Zoidberg around for the entire time will probably improve an episode, and with so many personalities abounding “Mobius Dick” didn’t have to rely on just one type of humor. It wasn’t an episode that made me think or left me moved, but “Mobius Dick” provided the biggest belly laughs I’ve had all season.
•”I knew you had other crews, but I never knew you had a first crew.”
•”I remember it like it was interesting.”
•”I thought you said he didn’t have hair.” – I loved the hair jokes through most of the episode, but by the end they were starting to become overdone.
•”Supposing we’re not stupid, what kind of stupid mission is this?”
•”Oh, right. There was a giant killer space whale.”
•”You’ve gone from crazy like a fox to crazy like Fox News.”
•”Giraffes are basically just land space whales.”
•”A lot of Bender fell out of the crow’s nest.”
•Planet Express: Fifty Years of Grieving