’31st Century Fox’
In the penultimate episode of Futurama season 7, Bender becomes the target of a foxhunt after saving a robotic fox from certain death.
On their return home from another delivery, the Planet Express crew take a trip to the garment district to get new uniforms; their old uniforms were damaged by a gigantic moth known as “Mothzilla”. The crew try on numerous different uniforms – from storm trooper to Star Trek – but they eventually find what they are looking for. Bender on the other hand discovers a fox hunting uniform, and decides to participate in the highly controversial sport.
Bender, along with several other minor characters like Mayor Poopenmeyer and Judge Whitey, partake in a foxhunt. The hunt is led by the Huntmaster (played by Sir Patrick Stewart).
Leela is against the hunt on moral grounds, but as soon as she finds out that they are hunting robo-foxes, she turns a blind eye to the event. Meanwhile, Bender is furious when he finds out that hundreds of robot foxes are being slaughtered against their will. To stop the needless killing of robot animals, Bender sets up B.A.R.F (Bender’s Animal Robot Front). B.A.R.F isn’t very successful, so Bender, Fry and Leela steal the fox. Fry and Leela take the fox back to the Planet Express building, while Bender stays in the cage in an act of protest.
Without the Fox, the Huntmaster chooses to carry on with the sport by hunting Bender. Back at Planet Express, the robot fox wreaks havoc on the building. The crew become increasingly angry with it and they decide to kill it. Fortunately for the fox, it is able to escape and return to its habitat. Back in its natural surroundings, the fox saves Bender from the Huntmaster by killing him. Upon his death, Fry, Leela and Bender learn the truth about the Huntmaster – he was a robot.
As you can imagine, 31st Century Fox contains an abundance of fox related puns. The Professor changes his beloved catchphrase to “Fox News” and one or two characters mention the phrase “Out-Foxed”. These puns were very amusing, but they seem to be the only source of comedy in the episode.
It was nice to see a celebrity guest star in Futurama, seeing as The Simpsons has a guest star nearly every week. Patrick Stewart was perfect for the role of the Huntmaster – a stereotypical British man with a passion for fox hunting. Sir Patrick dominates the episode with his charming mannerisms and dominant voice. If it hadn’t been for him, then this episode could have been a real disaster.
The main focus of 31st Century Fox is the narrative, but an ending reminiscent of The Butterjunk Effect really let the episode down. With this episode, the writers haven’t managed to get the balance right. If it had been overtly funny, then maybe the poor narrative resolution would’ve been acceptable. A bad ending damages the overall perception of the episode, because it makes it seem pointless and irrelevant.
On a more positive note, next week’s season finale is a special episode – similar to a Treehouse of Horror – with three different stories involving many different Futurama characters. Hopefully it will be full of brilliant jokes and visual gags due to the fact that narrative structure kind of goes out the window with a special episode of a cartoon series.