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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.6 - Simpsorama





Well, if this isn't the season of crossovers! For someone who griped endlessly about "A Star is Burns" because of its crossover with The Critic, Matt Groening seems awfully beholden to his corporate superiors these days. But no matter - let's enjoy this animation combination for what it is. Some of you probably watched this season's crossover with Family Guy, a lark one could describe as amusing but not exactly groundbreaking. Now, welcome to the Simpsons-Futurama crossover, which roughly eight of you have been anticipating for over a decade.

We get a very short intro, with just an amended Futurama logo. "Simpsorama: A Show Out of Ideas Teams Up With a Show Out of Episodes." At least they're honest. There's also a couch gag, where the couch turns into - that robot guy. Okay, I've never actually seen any episodes of Futurama, except for maybe the occasional glimpse while flipping channels. Google to the rescue!

Anyway, the Simpsons flip out that their couch is a robot, except Homer, who likes the metallic massage. Also, I'm pleased to announce that the robot's name is Bender. This show is totally future Breakfast Club, right? Right?

The school's building a time capsule, to be opened in the 31st century. Every kid in Bart's class adds an item, and I see they've changed the story about Nelson's dad again. Also, have they not replaced Mrs Krabappel yet? Are these kids getting any education whatsoever these days? I'm a little concerned for this town's future, just saying.

Bart contributes a half-eaten sandwich (which he has spat in), and the capsule is buried in a pit of nuclear ooze. That night, an electrical storm hits Springfield, messing with the television and dropping strange things on Evergreen Terrace. "Remember when this country didn't suck? Because I don't," says Bart, mistaking the item for space junk and reflecting the increasing cynicism of the past twenty-five years. Seriously, there was a time when this show was considered edgy, you guys.

Later, they hear strange noises coming from downstairs, and go to investigate. Or rather, Homer sends his son down as bait. Naturally, it turns out to be Bender the robot, who immediately wears out his welcome by drinking Homer's Duff. Bart is currently tied to the ceiling (long story), so they play Tether Boy with him for a while, then Bender actually gets down to explaining who he is. Homer immediately takes him to Moe's, where he cons everyone into thinking he's buying rounds with "hypercredits". This is followed by a trip to the Bowl-A-Rama, which proves that not even robots can consistently hit a strike. However, we don't actually learn how he got there...

Bart and Lisa comment on how much Bender's design resembles Homer's. Meta usually annoys me, but I'll allow it considering the circumstances. Lisa, still suspicious of his origins, takes him to Springfield Heights Institute of Technology to be inspected by Professor Frink. Unfortunately, Bender has conveniently forgotten his mission. The good professor manages to figure it out - after some quick unplugging and replugging, Bender reveals he has been sent to kill Homer Simpson. Shortly after, he transmits a butt-hologram (no, really) of Leela, who asks him whether he's killed Homer yet. You see, the world of Futurama has been overrun by "Life In Hell"-style bunnies, and they have deemed Homer responsible for the crisis. Somehow. Fry, Leela and the Professor encourage Bender to complete the mission, despite Lisa's pleas. Zoidberg tries to say something but is cut off, which I know is funny because TVTropes has named a trope after Zoidberg's unpopularity. I'm trying, guys.

The bunnies are reported to have Homer's DNA, and I do not want to know how the hell that happened. Facing imminent destruction, the rest of the Futurama crew decides to travel back to Springfield and finish what Bender can't seem to do. Frink and Lisa suggest finding an alternate solution to the bunny crisis, which the Professor accepts, and the rest of the characters are sent off with Homer and Bender to learn about the time period. So...just going to give up on that whole murder thing you travelled a thousand years for, eh? Right then.

The exploration mostly seems to consist of rationalizing "freemium games", so they return to the Simpson house pretty quickly. Marge and Leela consider each other to be freaks. Lisa and the two professors (who look remarkably similar) work on the solution while the Futurama professor explains how their time travel works. They are able to deduce that the DNA came from Homer and one other person, and now I really don't want to know what happened. It turns out the other DNA is Marge's, which is at least plausible, but we still have to figure out how a bunny got in there. Shudder.

The Professor concludes that neither Simpson parent has to be killed, but instead they'll have to get rid of the children, unless they can determine who is responsible for the rabbits. And yeah, I think we all need to know who was responsible for combining their gametes with a damn rabbit. A news bulletin from the future (again, delivered by butt-hologram) shows that the creatures are eating people, then transforming into dinosaur-like animals, who look just like Bart. I think it's safe to say that at this point, he really has gone too far.

Side note, guys - is this from the two lizard babies Bart raised once? Did he somehow telepathically transmit his DNA to them? Because that's the least terrifying explanation I can come up with.

Nah, it all comes back to the time capsule - Bart's spit in the sandwich combined with the rabbit's foot Milhouse contributed, which was then contaminated with nuclear waste. The time capsule was eventually opened, releasing bunny-dino creatures all over the city. (And by the way, is New New York built over Springfield? Because Wikipedia says it's at the same site as New York, which is clearly separate from Springfield, as demonstrated in that episode they stopped showing after 9/11. Come on, guys, a little consistency would help.) They decide to destroy the time capsule before the destruction can be wrought. Though it should be pointed out that the Futurama folks still want to kill Bart.

A butt-ogram comes from Amy Wong, who reports that the creatures are still on a rampage. Scruffy the janitor even commits suicide over it, mostly because they stole his moustache. The creatures go on to destroy the time portal, which logically should trap everyone in Springfield, but instead brings both sets of characters to New New York. Except for Maggie and Bender, who are left in Springfield to make a killing on all the horse races Bender knows. I cannot wait for that particular spin-off.

Homer proves an effective creature-killing machine, experienced as he is at strangling Bart. Marge is desperate to go back to the past, but the Professor can't help her until the generator is repaired. They decide to use Homer's experience as a nuclear power plant technician to fix it, which should strike terror into the hearts of anyone familiar with Homer's employment record. The robot couch (wait, that wasn't a parody of Bender?) arrives to see them through the creature-pocalypse. The only way to save themselves, according to the Professor, is to round up the creatures and shoot them into space. They set to work.

Despite knowing all the outcomes, Bender still manages to lose spectacularly at the track - mostly because he kills the horses when they fall behind. Lisa manages to distract the creatures by sending them off in search of Butterfinger bars (heh), whereupon they are packaged into a cube and shot into space. Bart mourns the death of his "children", but everyone else rejoices. The city is repaired and the Simpsons are sent home to evict Bender. Maggie is still in one piece, and has made a tidy sum off Bender's ill-gotten cash. He sends himself back to the future, but his body is left behind. Homer promptly sticks him in the basement next to the Christmas tree - though he does leave him a Duff for the long wait.

Meanwhile, the creatures colonize another planet, which is run by some aliens I vaguely recognize from that Futurama episode with the Ally McBeal parody. Fortunately, they prove to be a tasty alien snack, so they're served to Kang and Kodos for dinner - and thus our crossover is complete.

Over the end credits, we get a mash-up of the opening credits for both shows. Fun to look at, I'll admit.

So how did it measure up? I admit I'd be a much better judge if I knew Futurama a little more, but this is what you're stuck with. Overall, the jokes were okay, and the plot hung all right, even if it wasn't riveting. I do think that, like Family Guy's crossover this season, it relied a little too much on the novelty of seeing these characters interact, which is a problem when you don't understand the other show. It had its laughs, but could have gone further as a stand-alone. However, it was a fun exercise, and I expect fans of Futurama were very happy with it. Just - stop with the crossovers for another twenty-six seasons? Please?

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