If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be
that we're all Ok...
And not to worry, 'cause worry is wasteful,
and useless in times like these.
I won't be made useless.
I won't be idle with despair.
I will gather myself around my faith;
For light does the darkness most fear...
My hands, are small, I know,
but they're not yours, they are my own,
but they're not yours, they are my own, and,
I am never broken...
Yeah. My current lament. Fitting, eh? Most of this ought to be going in the review thread, I know, but you guys here have more of a tendency to run with and analyze things, so here I am.
Anyway... BBS. Bender's Big Score. Controversy, indeed. Blatant violations of our deepest faiths have occurred. Let's tackle this one step at a time, shall we? This is the first time I've ever seriously commented on a new release, so wish me luck in obtaining completeness, coherency, and comprehensibility.
Continuity is currently a big gripe among fans now, it seems, so I'll start with my thoughts on that. To begin with, case in point for shippers: TDHAIP. Now, to tell the truth, I'm not really surprised about the unceremonious blowoff. After all, the delightful part of this particular episode was it's ambiguity: Either the series was over, and whatever you wanted to happen
could did happen; or two, the series ain't over and it could be resumed right where it left off. It was decided to resume. (Albeit not entirely where they left off...) And come to think of it, is there any way this episode could have been meaningfully acknowledged? Any way that doesn't end up with Leela portrayed as Ralph Snart most vehemently believes? It is entirely possible to do so, of course (I'll explain later on here), but Futurama does have a few standards to hold up to, primarily, it's unfortunate classification as a 'comedy' and not 'drama'.
Other episodes in which apparent continuity violations are evidently worth of dissatisfaction are WoF and JB. Both are neglectable, as far as I'm concerned. When I saw JB for the first time, it never occurred to me that Seymour had actually died then. In fact, it seemed glaringly obvious to me that he hadn't died yet, because he fossilized differently. BBS is explainable by selective editing, I say. (Ignoring the events of January 1st, I am.) As for WoF, the main concern seems to revolve around Nibbler in the cryogenics lab. No biggie. All the scenes in the tube room occurred thirty minutes after Fry was frozen, and this is verified by the on-screen text.
LoTF (and CW to some extent) is where the majority of my disconcertment lies, and because of this, numerous threads of conjecture and speculation have just spewed forth from my encephalon. To start with, the majority of this episode has been overwritten by the newly inaugurated into canon BBS. I say this because it is evidenced by Bender's trip nineteen seconds into the past that past events can in fact be changed using the time code. Also evidenced on numerous occasions is that paradox-resulting effects needn't be preceded by a cause. This throws Seymour's death and the destruction of New York in dubious acknowledgeablity, however, neither is of much personal encumbrance to me. What is of personal encumbrance to me is that the writers took no time at all to explain how past events could simply be erased, especially when the convoluted nature of time travel is brought into consideration. The thought in turn leads me to wonder about the nature of flashbacks. What are flashbacks? Flashbacks pre-BBS will show Fry vanishing from his family's life, and the effects of that. Post-BBS flashbacks will show Fry living with his family for ten years, before setting off on a boat to the North Pole, and returning two years later. Therefore, the timeline must have changed. But how does a timeline change? If we were to graph this (which I may do at some point), we would have to add a fifth dimension to account for it.
In fact, I'll do this. With adjectives, not pixels. A thought experiment examining the nature of flashbacks and the time code...
Suppose I decided to record a film about the life of Xanthor, Planet Express's chief eunuch and philosopher. I jump into my paradox-neutral time-travel ship, the TARDIZ, and wheeze on back to 3003, where Xanthor is smoking his pipe and watching 'Raiders of the Lost Arcade' on the What-If Machine. Now, as Farnsworth turns to ask Xanthor whether he would like to axe the machine a question, I gesture to him across the laboratory so that no one will see me. He raises one eyebrow, slightly annoyed at losing his one chance to say a line the entire series, and as the camera cuts away, stands up and walks over to meet me, the rest of the crew oblivious.
I begin interviewing Xanthor about the major events in his life. However, he offers to show me instead. Sure thing, I reply, and set off towards the TARDIZ. Xanthor, however, has an advanced distrust in new-fangled contraptions, and tells me that he'll meet me there. I'm a tad confused, but I agree. As I close the door to my ship, I hear him muttering a certain string on binary under his breath.
I appear during the year 2950, in the Planet Express attic room. A few seconds afterwards, a huge green sphere pops into existence beside me. Out pops Xanthor. This was the day I was hired at Planet Express, he says. We walk out onto the balcony and look downward. Sure enough, a younger Xanthor is walking across the sidewalk. As he passes the front doors of the building, we hear the Professor cry out, "Hey you! Old guy! You're hired!" Xanthor gives a little smirk as his past self enters the building. We chat for a little while, before Xanthor tells me he's suddenly had an idea, and to meet him in the year 3015. I enter the TARDIZ once again as he sets of down the road towards Applied Cryogenics.
I head forward to 3015. There, we use the Professor's newly-invented 'What-Was' Machine to gather all the material I need for my film without using time travel. After congratulating Xanthor one last time on this ingenious plan, we shake hands and say our farewells. As I enter my ship, he begins reciting his time code. However, at the exact moment the time sphere appears, one of Fry and Leela's numerous children runs into the room, catching Xanthor off-guard. His limp beginning to act up again, he stumbles backward into the TARDIZ, inadvertently pulling the time sphere with him. There is a flash of light, and once again, we find ourselves in the year 2950.
But this time we appear on the Planet Express balcony. The TARDIZ begins to slant over the edge, and as if in slow motion, tips over the railing and crashes sickeningly onto the sidewalk below. At that moment, the younger Xanthor on the street rounds the corner, sees it blocking the way, and decides to head in the opposite direction. I suddenly realize that as a result of this occurrence, Xanthor never got hired! As I begin to cogitate this paradox, Farnsworth runs out into the road, shooting wildly into the air, trying to laser whoever it was who dropped this blue intrusion upon his doorstep. Incidently, he catches our time-paradox duplicates, which instantly vaporize. Xanthor and I run into the attic room to wait out the Professor's memory. Then, suddenly it made sense to me!
Every time a paradox is created using the time code, the whole of the universe's timeline is moved forward a notch in the fifth dimension, just as the universe itself moves forward a notch in the forth dimension every time a second passes. Our time paradox duplicates came to their demise much in the same way as we would if regular four-dimensional time were to suddenly speed up abnormally. My machine, on the other hand, which is the physical embodiment of the literary flashback, moves with the timeline. Therefore, I am no longer able to see Xanthor getting hired again simply by using it, by traveling through four-dimensional time. In other words: The flashbacks that occur post-incident will not collimate with flashbacks pre-incident.
Anyway, Farnsworth eventually forgets what he's shooting at and goes indoors again. We sneak down to the street, climb into the TARDIZ and whisk off to the year 3007 to read the time code off Fry's butt, then back to 3002 to give it to Xanthor in the first place, and then a quick stop off in 1997 to watch the premiere of Titanic. I then drop him back where I first picked him up, and speed on down to 2007 to continue writing this post, in which I explain how my point with this example was to demonstrate how I can justify the rewriting of history which occurs during BBS. However, I am very disappointed that a time travel exoneration system so complex was embedded within a script who's nerdiest joke was 'I don't know whether you're waves or particles but you go down smooth'. (Although thumbs-up on the geekiest joke, 'It's so cold, I think my processor is running at peak efficiency'.)
Now, why exactly was history rewritten? Why now? Why did the writers purposely go to this extent? I have a theory, and it applies to the 'Ship as well. A reboot. An attempted reboot, I should say. A change in the flow of time, why, the upcoming movies and episodes now have a whole new platform upon which to base their plots without fear of rehashing the original series! (Which is every renewed and sequel series' ultimate worry, isn't it?) I don't yet see how they plan to go about doing this, but with three movies left to work with, maybe...
Yeah, it's hope. Deal with it.
Speaking of hope, something I used to have a lot of concerning: The 'Ship. Well, what do you know, Kryten was right. The 'Ship has hit the fan. This fan, here. Me. I don't know if it's possible to have an allergic reaction to an emotional sequence, but if it is, I have. Personally, I believe the whole Fry/Leela dynamic was brought in way too soon. It's been two years since TDHAIP, why not leave us guessing? But then there would've been no Lars subplot and the movie would've been entirely different and I wouldn't be writing this sentence, let alone proofreading it. But, regardless, it occurred, and two years following the opera. I'm thinking that maybe the 'Ship was rebooted as well. Remember, any declarations of love during 'Orphan of the Stars' were undoubtedly subject to artistic interpretation on the part of Leela. (E.g., 'To win Leela's heart/With the holophoner's art'.) So Fry has his fifteen minutes of fame, loses it, and goes back to work Monday morning. Leela, of course, realizes how much effort he put into the overelaborated musical, and not realizing the romantic element of his motivation, falls into a deeper friendship with him.
A friendship so deep that he remains perfectly content to simply stand by her side. Until, of course, competition arises. Lars Phil-more. I mean, Lars Fillmore. Corny guy, at first. Then again, he could afford to be corny, couldn't he, since he knew his lines were going to work. But anyhow, now on to something I found highly substantial: Fry's Declaration of Love. Fry explicitly tells Amy (a fanfic parody if I ever saw one) that he loves Leela. Wow. I mean, wow. Fry has never been that forthright concerning the matter. Never. Even in TDHAIP, he said that playing the Holophoner made Leela 'like' him. Sounds like someone's made some cognitive progress... ('To win Leela's heart/With the holophoner's art'...)
As for Lars, I knew who he was the instant I saw him balancing that champagne glass. It became obvious to me right there that Leela was obviously missing something. And I could never really put my finger on what made her think Lars was more mature than Fry, besides the fact that she sees Fry differently. It's like... She has a mental block that prevents her from seeing him as anything but a friend. An annoying friend when he tries anything more. But when he appears physically unrecognizable in the form of an eligible bachelor, well, her mind runs ahead of her, doesn't it? And at the end, when she realizes who/what/how Lars is, it still doesn't occur to her. 'Lars is the only man I'll ever love', she said. What does she say after that? Of course! Hardly anything! So one of three things have either happened or will happen: One, she sees Lars as a different person than Fry, and things will go back to the way they were, Red Dwarf style; or two, her response will be held off until TBWBB. The third possibility is the frightening one (by which I mean Ralph Snart will have to be right in order to canonly vindicate it): Leela was underwritten. Underwritten by the writers. What the heck is she thinking at the funeral? Where are her emotions following this traumatic revelation? What is she hiding?
Maybe I should take up Leela/Bender shipping. They had a nice thing going during the roll call scene...
Ok, moving on, now it seems that my monologue is flowing towards the minor technicality of writing. Let's examine, shall I...
Nibbler talks! Oh boy! Since saving the universe from being torn apart seems to be a high priority on his list, this plot device seems acceptable to me. If the entire series is in fact being rebooted, making Nibbler free to talk permanently sounds like a fascinating idea, so long as an explanation is eventually given for him no longer needing to remain undercover. But there's one little flaw that was made during the executing of this scheme... Leela's reaction! Her poop-producing, frolicking, 'Dumbest Pet in Show' of seven years suddenly turns out to be the commander of a fleet of Kitten-class battle cruisers and all she says is a 'Nibbler? You can talk?' He knows more about space-time physics than the Professor and all that's said is... Well, nothing, really. That's all that follows, nothing. He can shoot lasers out of his third eye. Nothing? Eh. Eh eh eh.
Next, music. Lack of orchestra, I'm told. Sadly, it showed. The musical numbers, although perfectly placed in relation to the story, lack the traditional instrumental diversity I've come to expect. Mind you, they were hilarious, especially Santa's tap dancing and the whole Toy Shop Goes to War bit. Also, the Scott Walker accompaniment during Lars' journey to the future was close to being tantamount to LH's 'Baby Love Child' scene. Close, mind you. LH was more happy. Here I've still yet to figure out how I'm supposed to be feeling, although I have slight suspicions that Charles de Gaulle was inserted into the plot just for that gag.
Finally, to wrap up, a miscellany of miscellaneousness. The plot flowed at the speed of an episode, except it went on longer. I wonder if some people think it got old. The secondary characters were placed well, although there were a few groaners placed now and then. Great Leela/Bender
shipping comraderie in the beginning. Touching to see Santa as an ally. Oh, and the most realistic space battle I've seen ever since The Pirkinning. Al Gore had good placement (something I'd never thought I'd say.) Oh, the multifaceted nature of the time code! So far I've found three (four to be technical) symmetries in it, a binary count from one to six, Lars' name and a physical description of Leela ('one eye face').
Ooo, second thoughts! Post scripts! Speaking of the time code... How can simply saying it enable the sphere? A good bit of thought later, I've gotten an idea. All science fiction assumes that the universe actually takes up space, literally. Some stories like The Matrix describe how life is really a simulation. But still, in the end, the universe itself is real. But what if, in Futurama, the universe is in fact a massive computer program? Living creatures are the variables... The Nibblonians are the spyware blocker... The Galactic Entity is the CPU... And the time code is a makeshift hack. That's right, a hack! It takes the universe's machine code and twists it to do something that was not originally intended. Now, it's a very good hack, enabling paradox-correcting time travel, but it's still a hack, and if one little line of hexadecimal doesn't line up right during one particular occasion of it's use, the program crashes. I'm sure there are programmers here on PEEL who know what I'm talking about. And sure, this idea raises the question of 'What is this program running on', but in the end, isn't that identical to the current question of 'Where is the universe located'?
It's also interesting to note that if we allow for the Big Brain in WoF to have developed a Fry-specific version of the same type of time travel, it would explain why Nibbler's shadow only appears in the cryogenics lab during the first few seasons.
And now that I've brought this up again, I think I deserve a chance to speak of another few gripes I have. (Please don't hit me!)
One: Why time travel in the first film? Since that's the zenith of science fiction concepts, why not wait until the very end to bring it up? The reboot theory again? Because they have even more complex concepts ahead? Or have they fallen into the RTD syndrome, where they're gonna keep getting grander and grander until they hit the the inevitable stopping block and sink down into a flaming heap? I doubt this because the movies were written as one block and not separately, but we still can't tell, can we...
These last notes should really go in the Goof Thread, but then again, half of this post already doesn't belong here, so why not:
Why did Nibbler sneak away when the scammers started scrunging Fry? Did he know that the code existed?
Why was the Nimbus in orbit around Earth, yet in the next scene still approaching it?
Why were the pupils of the frozen auto-destructing Bender not red and square spirals in his final scene?
Why were Bender's pupils not red and square spirals when he was commenting on Fry's temporal escape in the shower room?
Why does Amy briefly have three arms on the Nude Beach Planet?
Why does Leela put her hand on Fry's butt when she's hiding behind him to stay away from the Nibblonian fleet?
Intellectual nourishment, hmm?
Poverty, stole your golden shoes...
It didn't steal your laughter.
And heartache came to visit me,
but I knew it wasn't ever after...
We will fight,
not out of spite;
For someone must stand up for what's right;
'Cause where there's a man who has no voice,
there ours shall go singing...
Experimenting with a new vaguely BBS-related siggy...