Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Futurama: "Lrrreconciliable Ndndifferences"

Illustration for article titled Futurama: "Lrrreconciliable Ndndifferences"

Part of me wants to be offended by this. Okay, "offended" is too strong a word—"bothered," maybe? The nagging wife, lazy husband plotline has been sitcom fodder for the past couple decades now, and watching Lrrr, the malevolent giant toad-like alien from Omicron Persei 8, shrug off his wife's rants about his laziness, his inability to conquer planets, his perhaps slightly less-than-ideal ass size, it's, well, it's been done. Especially seeing as how we've seen Leela run a similar dynamic with just about everyone else in the regular cast. There can be relationships where this is true, of course; everybody's had to spend an uncomfortable evening watching two people play out the nagger/naggee dynamic, two minds trapped in an endless loop of misdirected rage and passive aggressive loathing. (I remember one time I got stuck with a couple at this college after hours, and all they'd talk about was their son and I guess he didn't exist or something. So unpleasant.) But it's such an overplayed comedy trope that it just gets on my nerves now. We see it in ads for Sears, for god's sake—man-child-husband and mother-wife. He wants the big screen TV, she was an oven. Why can't they make this work?

Before the comments telling me to stop taking everything so seriously start flowing, though—ah, who am I kidding, there's no way to stop those, and they're probably well-deserved. But to mitigate them slightly, I say part of me wants to be bothered, but I got over that fairly early on in "Lrrreconciliable Ndndifferences" (a title I sincerely hope I'll never have to type again). I thought I'd mention it at the start of the review, because I do think it may kind of be a thing with Futurama, and, hell, even with The Simpsons. (Ducks laser beam shot from Matt Groening's head.) Female characters are nearly always the voice of reason both shows, and that has an unfortunate habit over the long term of turning the supposedly sane and responsible figures like Marge or Lisa or Leela into, well, humorless killjoys. We side with the lazy and the losers, because they're funnier, and they have cooler adventures, but Leela's a better character when she's allowed the opportunity to be just as crazy as everybody else—especially when her crazy isn't simply an extension of her being irritated at how ridiculous everyone else is.

Anyway, that's out of my system, and it may not be anything, and I'm not docking this episode any points because of it. Just wanted to put that out there. "Lrrreconciliable" worked because it was funny, and because it took that wife/man-child model to the point of absurdity and beyond. It's hard to take Lrrr and his wife Ndnd's marital woes that seriously when the only way he can prove his manhood and ambition to her is by staging a fake conquering of Earth using the head of Orson Welles as a narrator. I wouldn't go so far as to say anyone involved with the show is trying to satirize the model here, but the show's willingness to take something familiar and just go batshit crazy on it works, as always, in its favor. I didn't think this was quite as solid as last week's "Prisoner of Benda," as the central concept wasn't any where near as clever, and I didn't get quite the same charge out of seeing everything come together by the end. It was decent, though. Of the quick poll of people in my apartment, three out of three viewers considered it "good."

The Lrrr plot was fine, and he's a ridiculous enough character that it's good to see him getting more screentime. (Not really sold on Ndnd, though, but she wasn't nearly as prominent.) I wished we'd gotten more of his mid-life crisis spending spree with Bender, because seeing an alien do really stupid human stuff always makes me laugh. There was a lot of sitcom-structure going on tonight, even if it did get sort of crazy by the end. (Also, the "War of the Worlds" nod was similar to the "Single Female Lawyer" mock-up from the first season episode, "When Aliens Attack," which also had the fist major appearance from Lrrr. Hmmm.) Fry's attempts at creating a convincing comic book gave us some funny bits, and was sweet without being too much of a distraction. I'm not entirely sure the comics were a strong enough thread to use as the motivation for Fry's "sacrifice" near the end; it's not that I don't think Fry would give his life for Leela, it just seemed sort of out of left field to try and connect that with Delivery-Boy-Man. And they waited a little too long on the teleporter gun reveal, as the only thing surprising about the twist was how obviously it was set-up.

The Comic Con stuff was a hoot, and Groening and Cohen got a chance to take one more shot at Fox, with the short-short-short-short-lived series, Futurella. The Sergio Aragones guest spot was cute. And hey, Katee Sackhoff got to be completely goofy and voice a character that didn't look anything like her! In fact, it wasn't even till I was looking at info on the episode that I realized she was involved. So, good on her for playing a cross-species dresser, and for screaming orgasmically, which I'm sure we'll all enjoy more when we watch this episode in re-runs. In the end, Lrrr is able to prove his love, or at least his tolerance, for his wife's verbal assaults by trying to shoot Leela, accidentally teleporting Fry, and everybody winding up where they belong. We got Zapp Brannigan being cowardly, some good potshots at Orson Welles, even a very subtle Nixon joke. I prefer it when the episode pushes itself a little harder, or when the emotions have a little more depth, but everybody here laughed a bunch, so I'll count that as a win.

Stray Observations:

  • The Girlfriend Says, "I don't get why Fry immediately knew that they needed to use War of the Worlds. That seems like a pretty obscure reference, and Fry's kinda dumb." This didn't bother me, but she has a point—unlike "When Aliens Attack," Fry's specialized knowledge is a little too convenient here. But then, he is kind of a nerd, and I'm okay with any excuse to hear Maurice Lamarche's Welles' impersonation.
  • "Your key card may not open the Exercise Room, because someone smeared mystery on the lock." (Little disappointed by the Scary Door tonight. Seemed weirdly straightforward.)
  • "Lrrr demands the comfort of pop-psychological platitudes!"
  • "What's on the TV tonight? Oh wait, I don't care, I have a date!"
  • "Say goodbye to your forehead, because I'm gonna shoot you in it."
  • Oh, the Nixon joke—"Peace with honor" was on the real Nixon's standard excuses for prolonging the war in Vietnam. Simply leaving wouldn't have been as noble as napalming civilians, I guess.