Monday, December 17, 2007

Bender's Big Score is Big and Brilliant

I always saw Futurama as the pick of the litter in regard to the slew of animated series that have proliferated in the last decade. The Simpsons has grown into such a massive universe that it has gotten away from me a bit - and I was around 19 or 20 when it premiered as a stand alone show. As such, I've been with it from the beginning and treasure every single episode. Family Guy leaves me cold, empty, and occasionally emotionless. It's a crack pipe approach to media, light it up and get your fix. I don't find anything necessarily "wrong" with this approach, but I echo Matt Stone and Trey Parker's sentiments that it is a somewhat lazy shotgun/non-sequitor approach to creating media texts - with little attention and development to the actual storytelling process (see South Park - The Cartoon Wars, Season 10) King of the Hill is consistently excellent. And American Dad? Well, I've seen a few episodes and find it to be an even cheaper version of Family Guy.

Bender's Big Score is probably more thought provoking and engaging than 80% of the product at your local cineplex. My buddy Fred has noted on more than one occasion that Futurama was almost too intelligent for its own good (which can be attributed to the series writ large). Futurama's humor was often quite high-brow (comparatively within the contemporary milieu) and an antithesis to show's like Family Guy which (at least since its resurrection) prefer to link pop culture references into a narrative chain that resemble anything but a cohesive cause/efffect character and situation driven plot and story. I do enjoy Family Guy, but am tired of being told how brilliant it is. What's brilliant about it is that it has hoodwinked millions into thinking its brilliant. In a nod to the old "Magic Bullet" theory of stimulus response hypodermic needle media, Family Guy gets an A++. It does inject you with a quick fix of pop culture intertextual jokes (based purely on cultural capital) often without having a situational device to set them in motion; hence the "remember the time..." modus. It's getting old (at least to me).

Futurama fans rejoiced this November when Bender's Big Score (a feature length DVD) was released. It does NOT disappoint. The plot is complicated but very traversable, the character arcs that began seven years ago also make considerable strides, and the show's charm, quirkiness and acute insight are all brilliantly on display. They begin by lampooning the "moronic" Fox executives that cancelled the show and end by sentimentally pulling on the heart-strings of their devoted fan base (your author being a Futurama nut). So much for objectivity. Hey, my scholarship is full of objectivity - this is my BLOG. Thank God for it! Watching Bender's Big Score was almost "event-like" - I got chills when I threw it into the DVD player and was full of childish anticipation. I'll repeat, I was not disappointed. And, I don't think you will be either.

Just Dig The Chanukah Zombie's TIE Figther!

Occasional Viewer? BUY IT
Casual Fan of Futurama? BUY IT

1 comment:

JMR said...

I am woefully behind on viewing "Futurama". I hope to rectify that some day.

I agree with you assessment of "Family Guy". I enjoyed it when season one was first on the air and found a used dvd set and purchased it. Not too long ago, I tried watching it again and only laughed at the parts with Stewie. Everything else was just plain boring.