Alright. Time for a long post. This is maybe not 100% the right thread, but we no longer have an “everything is worse now!” discussion.This post
by noted nitpicker DotheBartman
in response to my complaints about “The Six Million Dollar Mon” was in danger of seriously dragging that thread off-topic. So I’m responding here.
I hate to insult the writers and don't really mean to, but in a sense you're giving them too much credit. There were a few major things worked into early shows that were paid off, but even with those the writers were still figuring out exactly what and when the payoffs would be. They knew Nibbler had something to do with Fry being in the future, but not the details. They laid them in there in part to give themselves future story opportunities, not because there was ever an end goal in mind for the whole series
Firstly, there were a few major things worked into the early episodes because there was a planned payoff
. In the commentaries for the first season, DXC and MG discuss these things – from Nibbler’s shadow to Bender’s magician outfit, there are a ton of things that were planned right from the beginning to be called back to and re-referenced. They were at that stage quite involved in “world-building”. They wanted it to be something that would reward constant and consistent viewers, in much the same way as the first eight or so seasons of The Simpsons did. They knew that Nibbler was “I.C. Weiner” from the very beginning. They knew that Fry had to fight the brainspawn. They knew that they were going to have to figure out why it was so important that he be the only one who could do that, and they knew that they wanted Fry to appear in more than one location in his family tree.
They built all of that in.
They kinda wrote themselves into a situation where they needed to use time travel to pull it all together by the time that they got to a certain point (even though they’d said they would stay away from it at some point). That’s fine. They did it with a certain style, and it was a wonderful result.
There was an interview somewhere last year where David X. specifically used the word "abandon" and described that they had to give up on strict continuity after a while because it just wasn't feasible to maintain.
That flies in the face of what was said in this 2010
I should point out that this means the point where continuity was “abandoned” as a conscious decision was post-6A. Which means that anything you’re citing as an example of continuity being abandoned from the original run has no place being used to justify your stance.
Futurama is still an extremely clever show. I can think of very few that surpass it. And one of the few (The Daily Show, my favorite show) has been on since before Futurama even hit the airwaves. The competition here is pretty slim, even with there actually being lots of great shows on the air nowdays.
Futurama is still a reasonably
clever show. The Daily Show was never a “clever” show so much as a cult of personality for people who want to tell themselves that they
Futurama hit the air with a blend of nerd/geek jokes, science-fiction tropes, and jabs at both futurists and the casual lunacy of the 20th Century that we all accepted as normal. It was new, it was funny, and it was pretty damn smart. References to science fiction (some of it fairly obscure), real-world science, and insane flights of fancy were all over the place. Usually, these felt like they all belonged together in the same world. As I’ve said before, elsewhere, they had a certain internal logic. There was a consistency tying things together – even when things got wildly outlandish, there was a sense of it being grounded by a framework comprised of what might be possible
and what we know works in the real world
. Not “whatever the writers can pull out of their ass”. The rule of thumb was that if it was within the realms of possibility in established science fiction universes like Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, etc… then we could expect to see it in Futurama.
Now, the rule of thumb seems to be that if it’s within the realms of possibility on Fairly Oddparents, then we can expect to see it in Futurama. Oh, it’s still got some of the science-fiction trappings and a little good old fashioned technobabble to try and pull it all together, but it’s like a lot less effort went into thinking around the corners of the plot like it used to.
Remember when Fry visited a planet full of water aliens and became the emperor of their planet by drinking the previous ruler? Even without any actual science, and operating purely on Fridge Logic, the episode still manages to be smart and funny. Now re-imagine it based on the way that episodes seem to work these days. There would be a few less-than-oblique sex jokes, a fair whack more toilet humour, and the resolution of the episode would likely be either Fry’s miraculous separation from the emperor at the end by means left unexplained or some sort of hideously painful mutlilation. I can see them deciding to bleed Fry to death, and then return his dessicated corpse to Earth for revival offscreen. It would be an order of magnitude less satisfying.
The internal reason exists. It's 1947. Therefore the date readout has become something more period-appropriate. It makes no sense as to why it would even need to do that (especially as the rest of the ship doesn't need to), but it's done the same thing as the corn (which has become "less popped than ever", despite it being unlikely to have existed in that state in 1947). Sure, it makes little sense. But it does follow internal logic, and it's funny. Those are the two things that make it forgivable, and allow me to enjoy them.
That's not an internal reason. It's just a joke. Same as every other continuity or logical "error" they've made that you've complained about. Again, whether you like it or find it funny is a matter of individual taste. But the fact remains that they are still jokes, and in still in the spirit of something like that. There isn't a feasible explanation for the calendar changing that way just because they travel in time. And that is precisely the reason that it's funny.
-sigh- It’s a joke that has illogic behind it which is consistent with the rest of the show. It fits, somehow, in the Futuramaverse. There’s no feasible
explanation but there is a connection
there. It’s internally consistent. If you don’t get that, then you probably think that the various diseases and mutilations suffered by the crew in TTOTZ were hilarious rather than just dumb.
Simply saying "oh, that was a joke" is not an explanation for the logic behind it. [Bender’s composition] is still technically an "error" regardless of whether it's a purposeful one (if I remember correctly, they originally made an honest-to-god mistake, but decided to roll with it in later episodes because it was funny). The same is true of many of the things people are complaining about now. They are illogical on purpose. That's the joke behind them. Every Futurama episode has jokes that are illogical on purpose, going back to the very beginning of the show.
Bender’s composition was picked up on at the table read stage, and it was decided to use it as a running joke way before the script was even finalised. Commentaries and interviews with the production staff have established that.
Illogic is one thing. It sometimes serves a purpose. It doesn’t have to be ironclad or hard to disprove so much as it has to be funny. Illogic also should sit within a certain tolerance. The stuff from earlier episodes works because it’s funny, and it doesn’t require a huge leap or even a logical disconnect. It’s like the “maths equation” that “proves” women are evil. There’s internal logic that it runs on. Compare that to saying that cardboard boxes are out to get you and providing no false logical link between the two statements. One of those is a joke, the other one is just insanity for the sake of insanity. It’s not funny so much as pseudorandom.
Which is much of the difference between Futurama and Family Guy, or even Futurama and Looney Tunes.
Zoidberg’s parents were dealt with in this post
. As for Bender’s control over his body, it came up in the very next episode. Since most of the first season’s strokes were sketched out at the same time as the pilot and the scripts were already drafted by the time that was animated, it’s pretty clear that it had all been taken into account. Sure, it’s played as a joke. But it’s used fairly consistently from thereon out through the original run of episodes.
Not that I don't have problems with episodes sometimes, but they're usually based on character motivation, story structure, etc. Things that are more universal in television. Complaining about continuity or scientific logic extensively is actually missing the point of this series.
I feel more like you're
missing the point. Y’know, it’s not even “scientific logic” I had been complaining about so much as the difference between something being worth the joke and something being downright ridiculous. Like a robot melting because it consumed spicy human skin. That’s just stupid. I’d have been perfectly happy if, for example, the robot had found Hermes too hot for his taste and been incapacitated by it, giving the police time to arrive or one of the other characters time to react and save the day. Melting was… over the top. More than was needed. It was sloppy writing that ran on Luney Tunes logic rather than something we’d have seen in Futurama when it first aired.
Continuity, I feel used to be important to Futurama. Had it not already established itself as intelligent programming with a consistent set of rules and a pretty definite cause-and-effect timeline going on, the chances are that I wouldn’t care. But since it was one of the early indicators of high quality and it’s now slipping rather drastically, I feel it’s quite legitimate to complain about that. Without it being “missing the point”.