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"THE ONLY SHOW BROADCAST AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT"
There might not have been a recap of last week's Futurama but there was plenty of exciting Futurama related news last week. The animated comedy made what could be its final trip to Comic-Con and, while that in itself made the panel a twice in a lifetime event, Matt Groening also announced that the Planet Express crew would be making a special delivery to Springfield. That's right, an official Futurama-The Simpsons crossover, à la The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, is coming to Fox as an episode of the latter well after the former's time at Comedy Central is over. And considering the quality of "Saturday Morning Fun Pit," the installment that aired during the event and thankfully didn’t get recapped, it might be the right time for the series to call it quits. Or did "Calculon 2.0" manage to reboot our faith in the show? Yeah. Maybe I'm being a bit over dramatic.
"Rise from the dead in the name of Satan."
Before getting to "Calculon 2.0," I should probably take a second to defend my statements about last week's lacklustre episode. "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" was another one of Futurama's famous triptych installments (like the original few "Anthologies of Interest" or, more recently, "Naturama"), this time with each of the three threads parodying a different Saturday morning cartoon. And not one to great comedic effect. The episode also used an equally unfunny framing device with President Nixon watching said cartoons (spoofs of Scooby Doo, Strawberry Shortcake and G.I. Joe) before he eventually joins in on the, uh, fun thanks to a censorship gag in the final reel. There were a few things to like about "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" like Billy West's half-Fry, half-Shaggy voice or the final PSA but overall the experience was uninspiring and, worst of all, just not that funny. Since the quality (or lack thereof) was kind of depressing, I was happy to not have to recap the episode in full and even more happy to see that "Calculon 2.0" was such an improvement.
"Never again. I'll never pause again."
Then again, I'm a sucker for any episode featuring the Robot Devil. "Calculon 2.0" opened with Morbo on 'Entertainment and Earth Invasion Tonite' throwing to an 'All My Circuits' segment honoring the late, great ham Calculon. If you don't remember, the great soap-opera acting robot died in "The Thief of Baghead" during a performance to prove he was the greatest thespian in the universe. Since his death, the show, now sponsored by Anonyo (a great gag), has replaced him with the young and edgy Vaxtron but Fry and Bender miss the overacting genius that used to distract them from having to talk to each other. Leela likes the brooding, less is more, replacement but who is she? If only they had a way to bring Calculon back to life? Of course, since he's a robot it's pretty easy, even for simple simpletons, the Professor just needs his corpse (check, thanks to Bender) and his cloud hosted soul. The latter requires the boys to take a trip to Robot Hell, where Calculon has been busy driving the Robot Devil crazy. And Hell used to be such a nice place.
"In the world of theatre, there are no second acts."
After 'besting' the horned bot in a battle of wits, Bender and Fry return to Planet Express with the soul and the Professor is able to perform some demonic black science which brings Calculon back to life. Rosebud! Now he just needs to prove that he's still got what it takes and, after a quick test of his dramatic pause, it's off to Hollywood to meet with some brainstorming executives. Things don't go so well for the old ham though, with a little cellphone in an even littler chair calling him a has-been before kicking him to the curb. Not his trailer, the actual curb! Bender does his best to reassure Calculon but the TV is quick to pile on, showing the ceremony where Robert Wagner's second star replaced the acting robot's on the Walk of Fame. That's it! It's time for Calculon to regain his reputation even if that means starting all the way at the bottom! No, not Fox. Again. The theatre! I must say, that despite the terrible reviews he receives while eating at the Tragic Pan, I thought his performance as HAL 9000 was riveting. Certainly not the worst play in history. Although the humility that comes with the beating is a welcome change for Calculon and, just when all seems lost, he manages to impress Leela with his acting for the first time ever.
"Don't tell me how to do humble. My humble ranks among the greatest in the history of the universe!"
If only there was a way to show the 'All My Circuits' audience? What do you know, there happens to be an audition for a bit part on his former soap opera and, since they're looking for an over the top and horrible Calculon type, he's got a real shot at landing the gig. And even though he's rocking a great disguise, he books the part on looks alone, something that doesn't do wonders for his humility. Nope, the pause is back! Well, for one scene that he ruins before being forced to learn the phrase second take followed by some really humility thanks to Leela's mean words. Really mean. It does the trick and Calculon is able to give one of his best performances and, once again, go out on top. Yes, go out. There will be now more bows for the great acting bot because, well, he says so and is then crushed by the stage dressings. What a way to go! Truly befitting the legend that is Calculon. And we can always visiting him in hell, where his performances will never die. Sorry, Robot Devil. Oh, and thanks to Calculon's fearless final performance, Fry and Bender are able to continue their friendship in comfortable silence. Isn't that sweet? Huh? Don't you think?
"Shut up, I'm watching the thing!"
Futurama returns with Episode 21, "Assie Come Home," next Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.