‘Viva Mars Vegas’
The latest episode of Futurama, Viva Mars Vegas, is a heist episode that sees the Planet Express crew (minus Zoidberg) travel to Mars to visit a casino owned by the Wong’s. On the way to Mars, they are nearly involved in car crash with the Robot Mafia who are on the run from the police after stealing eight million dollars. The Robot Mafia ditch the money and it ends up in the claws of Dr. Zoidberg.
After an altercation with Blind Joe, a native Martian who guards the Wong’s safe, the crew bump into Dr Zoidberg with $8 million. He turns 8 million into 288 million, and then 288 million into over 10 billion dollars, before losing it all in an instant. On his return to earth, a surprisingly high-spirited Zoidberg is greeted by the Robot Mafia, who want their money back. In a panic, Zoidberg squirts them with ink, and runs to the Planet Express crew for help.
Luckily for Zoidberg, The Professor is testing out a new laser that removes ink from human skin. Zoidberg is accidentally zapped by the laser, causing him to turn invisible. Able to hide from the Robot Mafia, everything seems to be going well for Zoidberg and the crew, until the robots decide to take over the Wong’s casino. Now broke and homeless, Amy comes up with an elaborate scheme to take back the Wong family fortune.
Viva Mars Vegas contains some really nice and very funny pop culture references. The morning after their trip to Mars, The Professor says “Dude, Where’s my Ship?” – an allusion to the 2000 American stoner comedy Dude, Where’s My Car?, whilst Fry has a huge tattoo on his face – a clear reference to The Hangover Part II. These references are funny because they’re relevant to both the narrative and the character situation. The tattoo on Fry’s face is needed so that The Professor can try out his new invention, and the ship crash is an amusing way of showing that the crew had an eventful night in Mars Vegas.
Other than these hilarious references, the episode wasn’t especially funny. After three or four weeks of a mixture between laugh-out-loud and conceptually funny jokes, I was a little bit disappointed with the lack of gags in this episode. Granted, the narrative is very strong – and probably one of the strongest that I’ve seen so far in the series – but this doesn’t really make up for the lack of jokes in the show.
Viva Mars Vegas is an episode in which Fry, Leela and Bender are second to characters like Amy, Zoidberg and the Robot Mafia. It was great to see the return of the Mafia, because they’re really effective. One of my favourite characters in the show is Clamps – a highly aggressive and sarcastic robot with one ambition – to clamp everything in sight! Unfortunately, we didn’t see that much of Clamps (or Francis X. Clampazzo as he is formally known) because the narrative was centred on Amy and Zoidberg, as well as the heist.
If Viva Mars Vegas had better visual gags combined with this strong narrative, it would’ve been a near perfect episode. But without quality gags and a sense of poignancy and sentimentality, Viva Mars Vegas seems to fall slightly flat. Watch out for the opening title sequence though – a sequence that is made by hand (and claw) and constructed from plastic, cardboard and model ships.