Purveyors of Entertainment to Her Majesty the Space Queen
Although attending Comic-Con afforded me the opportunity to attend Comedy Central's Futurama panel (here's the "Live Blog"), it came at the cost of not being able to recap last week's episode. Or even watch it until this week. "Zapp Dingbat" was satisfying in the amount of laughs (the presence of Zapp and Kif never hurts) but the story was pretty formulaic, starting with Munda and Morris' anniversary fight right up to their reconciliation. It was a nice surprise to see Zapp invest so much in a relationship but once his lies were proven true, it was clear their love was never meant to last. "Zapp Dingbat" was actually similar to the previous installment, "The Thief of Baghead," in that it didn't quite live up to the fantastic standard set by the first three of the seventh season but was still a very solid episode. Now, it's time to find where "The Butterjunk Effect" lands on that scale.
"Let's go, let's go. We've got to get these Moon rocks to the Moon by Moondown."
The episode opens at Elzar's with Fry and Leela on a double date with Amy and Kif. Right away the gender lines are drawn between the foursome, with the girls getting catty - RIAWR! - but that's apparently no big deal because there's only a problem if girlfriends are being polite to each other. The, uh, healthy bitching continues back at Planet Express as the crew prepares for a trip to the Moon (no, not the Georges Méliès' film) to deliver some culturally significant stolen moon rocks. Or so the big city dummies believe. If they want to take in some real local culture though, they can head down to the Butterfly Derby where skimpy outfits are a necessity of the sport and you can even earn $50 bucks (plus hillbilly hollers) if willing to prove you're not fighting by fighting. And there's the reason the women were bickering, to get them in the ring, uh, wings.
"Ladies, that is the kind of can-do performance I like to see from my new Butterfly Derby team! Which is what I am offering you to be. Because I am the commissioner of the Butterfly Derby. I'm Abner Doubledeal, Hello."
In their derby match against last year's champ, the Muderflies, the newly named Wingnuts don't fare too well but their gutsy, non-parlyzing performance catches the attention of Doubledeal, a character who makes an appearance almost every time Futurama takes on the sports movie genre (he's also the owner of the Ultimate Robot Boxing League and New New York Mets blernsball team). Soon the pair of Leela and Amy are losing to just about every opponent you could possibly imagine but unfortunately the match montage isn't that funny or thrilling, which kind of hinders "Butterjunk" at a few key moments. Like now and near the end. Fed up with the floor being mopped with them, the Wingnuts start juicing - since taking steroids is still a hot button topic - and turn to a disposable phone using (The Wire!) nectar dealer, uh performance enhancement trainer. The stuff works but there are some nasty 'arm and hammery' consequences.
"And she doesn't even want to cuddle anymore. She just wants to hit me with various chairs."
As SportsBot reports, the Wingnuts go on a crazy winning streak, dominating not only the Butterfly Derby but also their face-bladdered boyfriends. And since Leela is too winning and busy pumping iron, that leaves no time for Fry, but luckily Bender is willing to be the back-up booty call. Uh, we don't actually witness what they do together but instead follow the derby wives, Fry and Kif, to the Monsanto Yokel Dome to watch the flying fights. The next bout is not only the championship match against the Murderflies but a little boys life might hang in the balance! That may have been trash talk. Either way, Leela and Amy know they're going to need some of that sweet nectar to win but their opponents have snatched up the dealer's entire supply. Not to worry, the source of the stuff is Kif's home planet and Fry thinks it will make for the perfect romantic getaway for four. Cue Bender. Who knows, maybe Fry willl even get some verbal abuse!
"Pffff. What's he going to do? Migrate at us? Heh heh heh."
At the Butterfly Preserve, the five-some meets the lady in charge (for the week) and are given a vague but explicit warning to do whatever the hell they want except disturb the aggressive male because it's mating season. The group splits into teams, not couples, and the boys soon stumble across the aforementioned aggressive male and yes, Fry does get migrated-at. In fact, he gets two migrate-shots straight from the butterjunk and ends up smelling like a skunk stuffed with feta cheese. I don't think any line made me laugh as hard as Kif's father saying, "one of you stinks." Good news for Fry, the butter from the butterjunk emits pheromones that attack those who've been swilling back nectar (this episode is really sexual now that I'm typing this) and both Leela and Amy come barking up his tree. Those girls have gone wild and all Kif can do is sat back and sigh.
"Let's get this party ended!"
And watch them constantly kiss Fry, whose face is hilariously stationary the entire time. Smiling, of course. After the Planet Express crew shows them how desperate they look needing Fry for a fix, Leela and Amy decide warm turkey won't to be enough to kick this habit and they'll need full on rehab. Their boy-toy isn't faring much better, he slinks away feeling 'catepilly' and doesn't turn back up for a cocoon's, uh, length of time. The rehab montage not only works for the ladies' nectar addiction but also because any sequence showing Scruffy mop up other characters' faces is more than alright by me. Leela and Amy might have kicked the nectar's butt but they still have to face the juice in the form of the juiced-up Murderflies in the Butterfly Derby Championship. Oh, and Kif is obviously quick to forgive Amy because, well, he's literally spineless not to mention any alien who can buzz like that is worth keeping.
"Everybody kill everybody!"
Even though they bring out the hot lava, the final match against the Murderflies is no more thrilling than the first (no funerary urns are needed) so I was happy to see Fry not only blossom into something more beautiful than ever before but also interrupt the ass-kicking being handed to the Wingnuts. The way they each were stripped of a wing and united to make a set felt more forced than normal for Futurama, and not nearly as emotionally satisfying. At least the bickering between the women stopped as they both felt left out of Fry's mating dance with the Murderflies. Back at the lab, there is nothing that Professor Farnsworth can do for ButterFry (yes, said it), he's grown all those insect parts and has no brain activity. Wait! They went out on a good joke and managed to wrap up the crazy ending quickly.
"Ladies and gentlemen! I am so sorry for allowing this lurid sex act to taint an otherwise delightful day of family friendly violence."
Quick would actually be a good way to describe “The Butterjunk Effect” but not necessarily in the ‘time flies’ sort of way. Or Murderflies sort of way. This episode of Futurama felt really full, like the writers jammed one too many turns into the story, with the story itself coming across as a bunch of recycled news. I mean, steroids and women’s sports jokes aren’t exactly the talk of the town anymore, especially the former since Baseball exhausted the topic and us (but jokes about the latter will always be funny… I kid!). “Butterjunk” still had a lot of great one-liners, gags and character moments though but overall the sports movie spoof falls on the lower end of the seventh season spectrum. Sorry, it’s a good spectrum! By the way, it took me ten minutes to figure out how to type RIAWR. And that’s what I went with… RIAWR.
Futurama returns with “The Six Million Dollar Mon,” Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central. It stars Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio. It was created by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.