Sunday, July 31, 2011

"All the Presidents' Heads" (S08E7): Futurama Episode Review

Call me an intellectual elitist, this week's episode of Futurama satisfied my brain's nerd receptors.  The episode was riddled with fake Futurama Science, references to American History and plenty of good old Futurama insanity, an instant classic.  A quick summary of the episode: While partying with the heads of the Presidents in the Head Museum, Professor Farnsworth finds out that his ancestor, David Farnsworth, was the bad apple of his family lineage.  Apparently David was a traitor to the American revolutionaries, so the Planet Express crew teleports back in time to make amends on behalf of this traitor.

"Intelligent humor" best describes "All the Presidents' Heads". A historical satire based in Pre-Independence Colonial America, the episode cracked some high-level jokes. For instance, let's take James Madison's liking for *elbows*; you had to know that the "Founding Fathers" were religiously conservative, even extreme perhaps when compared to modern day Presidents like Bill Clinton.  Several other historic references were made, but in Futurama style: The algea fish biting Abe Lincoln's trademark mole, the perversion of FDR's "We have nothing to fear but fear itself", Thomas Jefferson and Hermes bonding over growing hemp, the reference to the Alcohol Prohibition and George Washington's reputation for not telling lies, just to name a few....  I even had to look up the "Old North Church" reference on Wikipedia. At the end of the episode, the Planet Express crew via time travel tinkers with the Past yet again.  The result is an alternate World with David Farnsworth, who was deemed a traitor to the Founding Fathers, was instead portrayed as a decorated hero of the British Empire.  A profound message here- "History is written by the victors"- Winston Churchill.  Futurama teaching American History, if this isn't nerdaliscious, i don't know what is... Bravo!
Watch the episode for explanation.

Here's why i think this episode is an instant classic.  If you weren't paying attention during the Professor's explanation of his family tree, you missed some deranged logic. We are brought back to episode 4 of Season 1, "Love's Labour Lost in Space" where Professor Farnsworth debriefs the crew over Vergon 6 in a very curious meeting. If you didn't pay attention in that debriefing during the explanation of dark matter, the Professor got away with saying "...each pound of which ways over 10,000 pounds". Point being: you have to pay attention when you watch Futurama.

We also get a taste of that fake Futurama Science which I can't get enough of.  Still mostly a mystery, we discover that the "Jar Juice" that sustains the jar heads is based off of opium. I'm reminded of Gunther's electronium hat which produced "cognitive radiation" by harnessing the power of sunspots ("Mars University" Episode) or the algebra of the Futurama Globe trotters ("Time Keeps on Slipping"). Futurama Science is key when spoofing the sci-fi genre, this episode had plenty of it.

My favorite moment in this episode.
Other favorite moments and observations: Did you catch the subtle pun of using Calvin Coolidge's head jar as a cooler for beers? It was quite satisfying watching Ulysses Grant puke on George W. Bush and George Bush Senior, the highlight of the party at the Head Museum.  I thought it was clever how Comedy Central and MTV released the Head in a Jar iPhone App right before this episode. I also loved how Zapp Brannigan was featured in the advertisement of the app during commercial break.  The Andy Warhol appearance and references were sure to please the cultured fans of the Futurama crowd. And of course, the New Jersey bashing always makes the New Yorker in me happy (see quote below).

Favorite and notable episode quotes from "All the Presidents' Heads":
Opening Subtitle: "Apply Viewing Oil Now"

Professor Farnsworth: Ah yes, the Farnsworths boast a proud and distinguished lineage, no wormy fruit on this tree.
Amy: What about Fry, isn't he your distant Uncle?
Professor: Very distant! Not a true Farnsworth mind you, he's way over here on this filthy branch riddled with fungus and dung beetles.
Fry: What's with the 17 dung beetles? (Click here for further explanation)

Fry: Guess i better head over to my night job.
Leela: You have a night job?
Fry: Yup, it's exhausting, but i need the extra money to buy coffee so i can stay awake for my night job
Leela: ...but..?
Fry: Gotta go!

Warren Harding: and I want loose women, the kind that aren't afraid to show some ankle
James Madison: ::whispering::..or ELBOW!...
(Later...) James Madison: ::panting:: ..nice elbow action...

Rutherford B. Hayes to Fry: Oh boohoo, I'll lose my minimum wage job.

FDR: Listen hear young man, we have nothing to fear but running out of beer.

Fry: Where are we? Also, when are we?

Thomas Jefferson: The Yays have it, our nation's official joke state shall be New Jersey.

Professor: Where could Farnsworth have minted such a high quality fake?
Benjamin Franklin: Not here, but you know, i have a friend in Boston who's an expert silver smith, they could be connected.... there's only like 40 people who do anything around here.

Bender: You idiot, I'm not a cannon.... (BOOM!) Ah, I guess i am a cannon.

Paul Revere: One if by land, two if by sea.

Leela: (In British accent) I guess everything worked jolly all right eh gardener?
Bender: What's with your fruity accent Ducky? Buttocks, I've got it too!

Bender: (British accent) Say, how is it that we've got socialized medicine but me teeth still loo' like this?"
Bender poking fun at Socialism and Brits in general.


  1. This was a great episode!

  2. Indeed! I just downloaded from iTunes, classic.

  3. It's painfully obvious you missed the point of this episode! In fact, it was laughing at people LIKE you

    1. No. It wasn't. It was just historical parody. Got any proof for your claim?


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