Toad to Perdition

Thanks to producer pal Nigel Smith for the loan of the Futurama DVD-movie thing, BENDER’S BIG SCORE! The first half hour is like an exceptionally good episode of the show, then there’s some plot-thickening stuff which turns out to be pretty satisfying but isn’t actually very funny. It never quite hits a sustainable feature-film rhythm, but it’s enjoyable throughout. The big laughs are at the start.

BUT — it has what must be one of the cheapest best DVD extras ever: an entire episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad. Essentially twenty minutes of staring amphibian, accompanied by terrifying electronic drone. With the occasional ad.

Certainly worth the rental price all by itself.

This post brought to you by the Hypnotoad. All glory to the Hypnotoad!

8 Responses to “Toad to Perdition”

  1. Samuel "got out of the wrong side of the bed today" DALE Says:

    Bender’s Big Score, does, like a lot of Futerama suffer from the attempts to deepen plot and develop character getting in the way of comedy! … When will people realise that IN A COMEDY, that stuff only works if it’s FUNNY too.

    Practically everywhere I go in TV LAND I find people falling over themselves to tell me, we only like watching / laugh at / enjoy the company of well rounded characters whose motives are clearly defined… Leaving aside the vast wealth of evidence to the contrary for a moment, (FATHER TED, BLACK BOOKS, DARK PLACE, THE MIGHT BOOSH) I can’t help but think these people must be having a very different experience of life to me… In real life, we don’t know why most people do what they do or think what they think, because they’ve been doing / thinking it for their entire lives before their brief moment of interaction with us. All the same, that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at / with a stranger we meet on a bus, or share an insight into the human condition with the UPS guy, and we certainly don’t doubt their validity as “CHARACTERS.” The key to creating fully rounded characters is not mindlessly explaining why a person does a thing, or what they had for breakfast, but to give them plausible human traits and use those as a CATALYST for the COMEDY / STORY.

    For example, Harold Steptoe hates his dad because he’s a filthy old man who holds him back, but he doesn’t have to EXPLAIN this to the audience with idiotic dialogue. It’s all conveyed through the way he behaves and the things that he does which, by and large, are very funny.

    TV Execs like to say things like, “DON’T SAY IT SHOW IT” but when it comes to comedy and characterisation in modern television as a whole, the exact opposite seems to be what they actually want.

    On a lighter note, most of Bender’s Big Score is great and the Beast with a Billion backs ain’t too bad either, let’s just hope the third film concentrates more on the gags and less on trying to pull our heart strings.

  2. As you know, I’m largely in agreement here. I mean, clear character motivation can be very good and useful in putting across a gag, so it’s not a bad thing in itself, people like to know what the characters are trying to do, etc, but it’s generally better if this can be expressed in comedy rather than exposition. The Futurama movie does err on the side of “I’ve learned a valuable lesson here,” at times. I think they’re so impressed with the boldness of shoehorning some feelgood emotion into something as broadly silly and caustically satiric, they get a little carried away.

    The trouble with execs is when they over-rely on bogus “principles” like “the character arc” rather than simply responding as an audience to the thing in front of them, be it script or show. “Do I enjoy this?” is a more important question to answer than “Does it have a character arc?” If the answer to the first question is “no” then your diagnostic tools may come in handy…

    You of course have a long history of creating stuff that execs SAY they enjoy, but reject because it doesn’t tick their spurious boxes.

  3. Samuel "got out of the wrong side of the bed today" DALE Says:

    Well, I think we both fall into that categrory somewhat, (of people saying they like what we do but rejecting it due to some unfathomable logic,) but even if that were not the case, it would still be true that Futerama is, for the most part, so sublimely funny that any attempt to deviate from it’s true nature can’t help but feel gratingly incongruous.

    The primary objective of any comedy should be to make people laugh, and if a show or film sacrifices that for anything it is, in my opinion, failing in it’s most basic function.

  4. I dig the poignant character stuff in Futurama. I have no memory for jokes (making the series endlessly rewatchable), so the episodes I remember are the sad/romantic ones about Fry’s brother and dog. Watched the second movie this week… better/funnier than the first.

  5. I just watched it, and enjoyed it a lot. I think the first half hour of the first film was the funniest of the lot, but this one sustained the laughs more.

    The first Toy Story is a brilliant example of how you can have poignant emotional stuff without stopping the comedy. Buzz discovering he’s a toy is really really funny (“Does not fly”) and also heartbreaking.

    The second Toy Story is a brilliant example os how you can, if you’re very good, stop the comedy and just wallow in sentiment and it can be brilliant. That song! Fiona goraned when it started, but thirty seconds later her face was SOAKING. Mine too. (Tears.)

  6. “When somebody….loved……me”

    Extremely traumatic!

    I agree with the feeling that the second Futurama film works better. For me the on again off again romance between Fry and Leela never really works since getting together would completely change the nature of the show (and maybe end it as it would Moonlighting or The X Files), so it is inevitable that the bulk of the show is dedicated to restoring everything to the status quo.

    I liked the way that there was some acknowledgement of this being impossible at the end of the second film!

    OK so going off to live with an alien/God thing was never going to work out long term either but at least they hadn’t gone back to that well quite so many times!

    When is Fry going to wake up to the idea that he and Bender should remain ‘confirmed batchelors’ with live-in girlfriends? Then we can move on to different plots!

  7. To me, the idea of an unfulfillable plot device has never seemed that bad. of course, David Bruce Banner is never going to find a way to quell the raging beast that dwells within him, because if he did there’d be no Hulk, and no show. But it’s a decent plot motor.
    In Futurama I don’t think it would necessarily harm things if Fry and Leela got together. They could always bust up again. It doesn’t seem like the central focus of the show, one way or another. But I guess Fry needs to feel like a loser, during his rare moments of self-awareness, that’s his character. Getting and then losing Leela fits in OK with that.

  8. […] to enumerate things he might represent, but his dumb, croaking face stares blankly at us (like Hypnotoad!) as if to dumbly insist that he’s just a frog. When he sings, a Jekyll/Hyde transformation […]

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