AVAHS – The Futurama Holiday Spectacular Review

AVAHS - Futurama Holiday Spectacular4

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.

The end.

AVAHS - Futurama Holiday Spectacular

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.

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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.

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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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AVAHS – Futurama: A Tale of Two Santas

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Plot: It’s Xmas again, and Fry, Leela and Bender are sent to Neptune to deliver Santa’s letters to him. Sick of cowering in fear every year by Robot Santa, they decide to try and destroy him. Their plan fails, but they accidentally encase him in ice. With Santa imprisoned, Bender takes over the role, but will people rejoice at the sleigh bells of a kind Santa, or will Robot Santa’s bad rep be thrown in Bender’s face?

Breakdown: Strangely enough, this Chri—Xmas special is the one I watch every year, over it’s predecessor, Xmas Story. Maybe that’s not so strange, because at this point in the series the writers had gained a better footing with their characters and humor, which hadn’t quite been cemented as firmly back when Xmas Story was made.

I love this episode. It has some great humor, no real tropes and is entertaining from start to finish. It addresses a few questions that were left behind from the last special like, why isn’t it more common to try and kill Robot Santa? He does have a lot of firepower, but you’re telling me the army or national guard couldn’t handle him? Apparently, no, they really can’t. The only reason they caught Bender was because he didn’t have the guns, rockets, missiles or toughness that Robot Santa had. Though that does beg the question as to why so many people are quick to combat Santa when, from all we’ve seen, everyone should be cowering in fear.

Still, if he can be thwarted by ice, surely there would’ve been a successful effort in capturing him in the past 200 years.

This episode reveals Robot Santa’s workshop, which is cleverly put on the north pole of Neptune with a bunch of growth-stunted Neptunians working as his slaves. They even add in that there are other holiday themed Robots like Kwanzaabot, who, understandably, feels ignored, and Hanukkah Zombie, which is never shown or explained, but I am endlessly intrigued by.

It’s interesting how Bender is actually putting effort into being Santa because it doesn’t benefit him at all. He does give up after getting attacked a bunch of times, but who wouldn’t? It’s also weird how just putting on the Santa outfit makes everyone mistake Bender for the real Robot Santa – he looks nothing like him otherwise.

The special is void of heartwarming moments – it’s a purely comedic holiday episode, which is perfectly fine. Not every holiday special has to tug the heartstrings, and there’s more than enough comedy to make up for it.

Finally, the song of the special, The Elves’ Song, is catchy, but a bit fast and cluttered. Makes it difficult to be one of those songs that you want to sing every Christmas, but you can’t help but try to sing along when you’re watching it.

 

AVAHS – Futurama: Xmas Story

AVAHS Futurama

Plot: It’s Fry’s first Christm—Xmas in the year 3000. He becomes very depressed when thinking about how different the holidays are celebrated now compared to his era, and the fact that his family is no longer around to celebrate it with him. Leela, being an orphan and the last of her species, never even knew a family with which to celebrate Christmas. When Fry goes out to buy a nice gift for Leela to cheer her up, he meets Robot Santa, who has been programmed to see nearly everyone as naughty – and those who are naughty get ho-ho-holes shots through them.

Breakdown: While this special is not one I’ve held near and dear to my heart for years, it’s still a very enjoyable and fun Ch—Xmas special that I’ve grown to watch traditionally over the past few years.

It shakes off many Christmas special tropes and does press upon two serious aspects of Fry and Leela’s characters. We never really think about Fry missing his family much, but as the seasons go by (especially later ones) we learn that he truly does miss his family. Living in a world where everyone you ever knew or loved is dead is heartbreaking.

Leela’s situation is equally sad, if not moreso, since she never had a family to begin with and she was more or less treated as an outcast throughout her time at the orphanarium.

It’s sweet that Fry risks his life to get Leela a present for Xmas, even if it does lead into a near mistletoe trope.

The plot with Robot Santa is an interesting take on the character who definitely adds an entirely new spin to these Xmas specials. Robot Santa is one of my favorite versions of Santa ever. I don’t know why, but I still get all happy when he gives Zoidberg a present.

Other than that, we have Bender who is off on a side plot in a booze kitchen for down and out robots. He recruits some homeless robots to help him scam and rob people, and it’s the introduction to Tinny Tim (no typo). I have no clue why, maybe I’m a little sadistic, but I love Tinny Tim and his interactions with Bender.

This episode is not particularly hilarious nor is it horribly heartwarming, but it is funny, has many memorable moments and will tug at the heartstrings a bit. It’s a great episode to watch around the holidays or anytime. Now let’s all sing A Xmas Carol to play us out!

♪ He knows when you are sleeping,

He knows when you’re on the can,

He’ll hunt you down and blast your ass from here to Pakistan!

~Oh~

You better not breathe, you better not move!

You’re better off dead, I’m telling you, dude.

Santa Claus is gunning you down! ♫

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) Robotomy

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Plot: In a world populated by only robots, life happens. Some of its kinda funny.

Breakdown: This show seems a lot like it’s trying to be an all-robot Futurama. Starring Patton Oswalt and other people, I’m sure, this series was Cartoon Network’s attempt to make slightly more mature programming bordering between their regular shows and Adult Swim.

It did not succeed. This series stands as Cartoon Network’s shortest original series with merely ten episodes under its access panel.

While I can’t say the show has gigantic flaws, it really is forgettable, and, like I said, it’s just an all-robot version of Futurama to me, in terms of the tone of humor.

And the humor really isn’t that great. A lot of it is the typical stuff you’d expect of a robot show, while other jokes are trying to make new stuff based on their robotic environment. The latter is hit or miss, and the hits are like first base at most. It never made me laugh or break out a smile, but it made me do that internal ‘hm that was kinda funny’ thing.

The two main characters, Thrasher and Blastus, who may as well be interchangeable because, while they seem to be going for a goofy impulsive guy and straightman dynamic, they’re basically the same character. Damned if I can tell you which one is which, to be honest. The skinny one is the one voiced by Patton Oswalt, though.

To fit the demographic, this series takes place in a robot high school, which, sadly, just shoves a lot of tropes down this series’ throat, like social media, wanting to be popular, embarrassing yourself in front of your crush etc. It also basically makes this a neutered Futurama clone.

The story of this episode is everyone is joining a social media site called Frienemy. When Thrasher and Blastus join up in hopes of getting popular, they find that they have no friend requests. They send in a complaint to the website itself who offers to be their friend. They accept, but find that Frienemy, who takes the physical form of a giant floating spiky head, is incredibly clingy and possessive. They can’t escape him, so they destroy him by having thousands of robots poke him, which doesn’t make any sense because why would the website, the being that encompasses and creates the poking, be negatively affected by a lot of poking? And if Blastus and Thrasher aren’t popular in the least, how did they instantly convince so many people to poke him?

As an intro, it does a decent enough job of introducing us to their world and the characters, even if the main two are entirely interchangeable. But it doesn’t do a great job of making me want to watch more. I don’t think this series deserved a pitiful ten episode run, but it’s certainly not a very good show.

The art and animation are pretty good with some nice style here and there, but it’s not incredibly creative.

The music is meh. The opening is repetitive and forgettable while the BG music is just forgettable.

Final Verdict:

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It’s a very short series with very short episodes, and it was just entertaining enough to make me feel compelled to tell people to at least give it a shot. I, personally, won’t continue, but I can see how someone else might find this funnier than I do.

Recommended Audience: Despite their drive to hook in a teen audience, there’s not much in regards to anything that mature. One of the robots gets their innards exposed like guts, but they’re robots, so that’s basically censored. Uhhh…..I honestly can’t think of anything. E for everyone, but aimed at teens I guess.