This Episode Worth 250 Futurama Points
Futurama has been riding a 'good but not great' wave since the fantastic two part, Season 7 premiere with last week's "The Butterjunk Effect" being another solid installment but certainly not as hilarious or inventive as the show at its best. "Junk" alternated between stretches that felt either eventless or too (event)full and never came together as a tight narrative or satisfying satire of professional sport. The seventh episode of the seventh season, called "The Six Million Dollar Mon" (a play on the title of the famous 1970s series about Steve Austin), sounds promising with Planet Express' resident bureaucrat, Hermes Conrad, on a journey of self-improvement and, his best buddy/hated coworker, Zoidberg attempting to bring him back from the brink of total technological transformation. We can rebuild him, why not Zoidberg?
"My job? Toilets and boilers, boilers and toilets. Plus that one boiling toilet. Fire me, if you dare."
"The Six Million Dollar Mon" opens with our titular 'mon' getting prepared for his annual performance review of the Planet Express crew and this year, he's wearing his firing tie. Being a thorough bureaucrat (oxymoron?), Hermes goes through all the necessary interviews even though he, and everyone else, knows that Zoidberg's going to be the one getting the axe. It turns out, however, that the most pathetically useless among those using 11-42% of their asses was Hermes himself and he's already alerted Central Bureaucracy of his firing. They arrive two seconds ago with the Mark 7G robot replacement and after a bit of applause worthy schtick, the job is done. Literally. Zoidberg take the departure especially hard since Hermes was the only one who always made time to tease him and now he'll never see his friend again.
"I'm expert in shadowy field of many things."
Back at Hermes', the recently fired bureaucrat is consoled by the fact that he'll never have to see Zoidberg again as well as LaBarbara's curried goat, which is so spicy it eats through the floor like the blood from Alien. Robot Devil! Sorry. The consoling continues on a evening stroll with the misses making a joke about her being impregnated by another man. Ha? The couple are then interrupted by the not-right-in-the-brain Roberto who demands that they hand over some skin. While the Conrads cower, Officer URL harpoons the mugger and saves the day while also highlighting the husband's frail humanity. Despite Roberto's promise to stab the electromagnetic chair, the execution is a success not to mention broadcast so Fry and Bender can catch in the dressing room. Hermes pulls Bender aside (which distracts Fry, to put it mildly) to ask about robotic upgrades and they end up paying a visit to the most sanitary black-market medical facility in all of filthy town.
"Nice shiny metal ass, Hermes."
Yuri, one of many great guest spots this week, quickly prepares the 'operating table' and before you know it, Hermes has a harpoon where his giblets used to be. And it's not just a useless accessory but a bureaucrat's best friend, helping Hermes get rehired! By himself! Zoidberg couldn't be happier to have his most-insulting friend back and it looks like the Mark 7G will be permanently out of a job. Unless he gets a sweet extendo-arm... Too late, a half-hour later (I hope Yuri made his tee-time) and Hermes has beat him to the punch. But after only mildly insulting Zoidberg, the crustacean starts to worry for his friend and requests the excised human parts in order to build his own Hermes. You know, to make jokes at his expense back at his dumpster, uh, home. The slope proves slippery and soon the harpoon and extendo-arm aren't enough for Hermes, it's time for more upgrades.
"How could you even ask such a thing. Of course, I tried eating you but your flesh was too spicy."
In Hermes defence, becoming more robotic is probably going to make him a better bureaucrat - something he obviously cares about deeply - but at what cost? The only part of his human self that remains is his brain even though Zoidberg has been carefully collecting all his discarded pieces to make a dummy. And the moment I saw the duo of 'Dr. Zoidberg and Little Hermes,' I knew this was going to be an episode to remember and the rest didn't disappoint. Zoidberg's comedy stylings don't register the way he hoped for his almost fully robotic friend, instead prompting MegaHermes to go for the ultimate upgrade. Collective gasp! Yuri's not nearly crazy enough to perform brain replacement surgery but luckily for the bureacrat, his employer is a mad scientist. This is the part of the episode where "The Six Million Dollar Mon" takes an even more overt Frankenstein-ian turn.
MegaHermes, Professor Farnsworth and Bender visit the local robot cemetery in order to procure themselves a fresh brain and in true Groening style (not the first of his series to make tombstone references) some of the dead include the Roomba, which I think is a vacuum, and Helper, from Venture Bros.. They grab a brain from an anonymous dead robot but the grave they rob happens to be not so anonymous after all, with it being the recently deceased Roberto that they dug up (I thought he exploded but whatever). Everyone assembles to watch the brain surgery, even Little Hermes, and I love the moment when Farnsworth calls forth the power of the heavens only to have the roof open on a beautiful day. LaBarbara interrupts, calling for the ultimate upgrade to be terminated before giving Hermes an ultimatum, the robotic brain or his family. Even though MegaHermes chooses going full robot, Farnsworth has a change of heart thanks to the litigious survivors.
? "I'll tell you, two, three. I was lonesome for my friend, a minute ago. When a happy thought dispelled my woe. And I felt perhaps he'd be a bit less dull, if i sliced up his cyborg skull. He wants a brain. He wants a robot brain. A robot brain. Let's see if he feels pain. A brand new brain. It might drive him insane. He wants a brain. He wants a robot brain. WAA OOO, WAA WAA OOO, waa waa ooo, waa waa ooo." ?
That's not going to work for MegaHermes and nobody's having noodles until the upgrade is complete! He won't force anyone but his encouragement drill can be very convincing. In a surprise move, Zoidberg volunteers to perform the surgery but not with his clumsy claws, instead he'll use the precise hands of Little Hermes. At this point, I realized where the episode was going - having a new Hermes emerge from the assembled pieces - but it was still brilliant bit of writing. In harmony with himself, Zoidberg successfully performs the switcheroo and manages to reawaken the Jamaican. But that's not the end, there's still the not so little matter of Roberto's brain inside the MegaRobot body. The way he bashes his new head to look like his old self was awesome and I even enjoyed him being bested by the heavily foreshadowed curried goat. Zoidberg not only saves the day but steals the end of the episode by pulling Hermes on his knee for one more speech. And it's a zinger!
"Ha hah ha ha. It's funny cause it's mean."
Futurama is always funny but sometimes manages to elevate above mere laughs and deliver a story that's either incredibly emotional or deliciously clever. Sometimes it's both. And while "The Six Million Dollar Mon" didn't exact pull on the heart strings, there is something to be said about Zoidberg's loving relationship with, sorry, for Hermes. Not to mention the loving Conrad family with LaBarbara and Dwight also making an appearance. There were actually a lot of great cameos sprinkled throughout the episode which made "The Six Million Dollar Mon" feel really fresh and any Futurama with the Robot Devil and Roberto is more than okay with me. For some reason, I'm usually a bit wary when the show strays too far from Fry but the supporting cast is so strong there really isn't anything for me to worry about. Hermes and Zoidberg handle things just fine on their own and "The Six Million Dollar Mon" is one of the best episodes of the season.
Futurama returns with “Fun on a Bun,” 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.