Plot: A series of three short stories where Fry and others celebrate the three main holidays of the season – X-mas, Robonukkah and Kwanzaa.
Breakdown: I honestly wasn’t even aware that Futurama had a third holiday special, so I was really looking forward to this. However, I was ultimately disappointed.
This episode is split up into three different holiday specials to cover Futurama’s versions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and even though I applaud them for getting some inclusion in because, damn, it’s really hard to find Hanukkah and Kwanzaa specials, all three stories are pretty much exactly the same thing and only barely focus on anything holiday related.
The first story focuses on X-mas and how Fry doesn’t feel like it’s really X-mas without an actual pine tree. Like we’ve been told in previous Futurama holiday specials, pine trees have been extinct in their future for hundreds of years…..But not really. There’s actually a reserve of pine tree seeds in a special vault that houses old plant seeds. Why they never tried to replant pine trees, I don’t know.
The reserve is right next to a germ warfare repository. They kinda make it too apparent that there’s cross-contamination happening between buildings, and they do it so blatantly that I know they’re doing it as a joke, but it’s not landing with me for some reason.
Fry takes a seed and plants it outside of Planet Express. The next year, it has sprouted into a decently-sized sapling that they decorate for X-mas. However, whatever bacteria had infected the seeds causes the tree to grow abnormally fast and shoot off pine cone grenades that cause a massive chain reaction. It takes mere moments for the entire planet to be absolutely packed with pine trees.
However, because there are so many trees, the oxygen levels go up too high. Bender lights a cigar, lighting the oxygen ablaze, and the entire planet goes up, killing everyone.
No, I’m not kidding. And, believe it or not, that’s pretty much the exact same structure each story follows.
Setup for holiday, song about holiday, (thing) is necessary for holiday, but we don’t have it. Go to get (thing) Getting (thing) causes everyone to die. Reset for next story.
For example, the next short is about Bender celebrating Robonukkah, which his coworkers accuse of being a made up holiday (that runs for six and a half weeks) that he invented to get off work. They reference some things about actual Hanukkah and make the fembots that come in Jewish stereotypes, but that’s about it.
Bender explains that part of Robonukkah is the oil, but not lantern oil – petroleum oil; for the sake of fembot oil wrestling. He only has enough oil to last for four and a half weeks of wrestling, however, so he goes to find more.
Petroleum oil ran out ages ago, and Bender won’t accept one of the main substitute oils, claiming it’s not proper to the holiday. The crew agrees to dig deep underground for some small deposit of oil and Bender forces them to dig too deep, making the ship collapse under pressure and they all die except Bender. 500 million years pass and the crew turns to petroleum oil, allowing Bender to celebrate Robonukkah. When he returns to Planet Express, he sees the fembots still wrestling and marvels in the miracle that was four and half weeks worth of oil lasting for 500 million years.
This story was the worst to me because, even though Bender can certainly be an asshole, here he’s amped it up by 10,000% and all for the sake of some holiday he might have made up. He not only gets all of his friends killed for petroleum oil when there are so many other oils available, but he only barely cares about their deaths and is perfectly willing to scoop up their remains to use as his fembot wrestling oil.
And the others are being ridiculously stupid here, too. Leela even points out how dumb it is that they’re risking their lives so Bender can watch fembots oil wrestle, but no one ever puts their foot down.
I’m also disappointed because they have referenced actual Hanukkah in Futurama with the Hanukkah Zombie, who later becomes an actual, albeit brief, character with the other future holiday symbols (voiced by Mark freakin’ Hamill no less!) but instead we get this.
The final story focuses on Kwanzaa. Yup, no fancy future name for it. Just Kwanzaa. They do very briefly go over some aspects of Kwanzaa during their song, which is the same thing every other story has been doing, and Hermes utilizes Umoja (unity) to help resolve the conflict of the episode, but that’s about it.
Hermes and his family invite everyone over for Kwanzaa, but Kwanzaa-bot points out that their candles aren’t beeswax candles, which are necessary for the holiday. Hermes goes out to get beeswax, but finds the bees on earth are infected with some parasite that’s making them fail to produce wax and honey, causing them to die off.
They decide to head to the space bee hive that Fry and Leela nearly died in several seasons ago. However, the bees there are all suffering from the parasite too. They’re basically Birdemicing themselves to death and the ones who aren’t exploding are too busy fighting each other to work. Hermes briefly preaches the Kwanzaa lesson of Umoja to the bees, somehow freeing them of the parasite, and the bees kill them all by encasing them in wax and making them into their own Kwanzaa candles.
This special as a whole is just so disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good jokes in here, but overall it’s just sloppy and lazy. Even the songs come off like they put very little effort into them.
Like I mentioned in a previous Futurama X-mas special, I’m not against the idea of a holiday special being purely funny with no warm fuzzies to be found. In fact, trying to instill that sense of warm holiday goodness can often come off as disingenuous if you don’t do it properly. However, this episode isn’t even funny. Outside of some quick one-off jokes that, at best, made me quietly chuckle, these stories are so sloppily written and bland that I was losing interest before we even got to the half-way mark.
I also think the three story format hurts this special a lot. None of these plots really have the potential to be full episodes, and the endings basically ensure that all of the stories are completely non-canon to begin with. However, the fact that all of these stories are so short and follow the exact same beats make it very repetitive and boring.
Each story has its own song to explain the holiday, and each song is very forgettable and lackluster. They are practically sleeping through each musical number. The best one was the Kwanzaa song, and they got Coolio for that one, but even that song’s not great.
I’m so bummed because the other two Futurama holiday specials are so much better than this, and the two songs that they each had were very memorable and fun to the point where I frequently sing both around the holidays. The first one had emotional substance while the second had much stronger humor. This one has nothing, and that’s a real shame.
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