In the season 7 finale of Futurama, Bender and the crew are reimagined as wild animals in a nature documentary called Wild Universe. The documentary is split into three different parts and it focuses on the mating rituals of three different species of animals.
Part one focuses on the salmon, and its journey from its stream, to the ocean, and back to the stream again. It’s essentially a Fry and Leela love story with fish, as the two meet in the ocean and want to go back to their stream to mate. However, they were born in different streams, and this creates a whole host of problems between them. Their problems aren’t helped by the ever present Zapp Brannigan fish, who tries to mate with the salmon Leela. In the end, Fry takes a big risk, and switches over to Leela’s swamp, so that he can fertilize her eggs.
Part two is set on the Galapagos Islands and centres around Hubert the lonely pinta island tortoise. Hubert is sad and lonely because he cannot find a female to mate with. He talks about a “hot young piece of shell” that he knew in the past, and his friends – the finches – decide to help him track her down. He eventually finds her and they successfully mate. Months later, their offspring are born, but unfortunately for Hubert, they are the tortoise versions of Igner, Larry and Walt – the three stooges of the Futurama universe.
The final part of the documentary is all about the elephant seal. Bender is the dominant male of the beach, with all of the females wanting to mate with him. Fry, Kif, The Professor and Hermes try to sneak their way in to mate with a female. Bender is wise to their attempts and tells them to “Stay away from [his] beaches”. Kif notices Amy, and pulls out all the stops to get her attention – he dives deep into the sea to get her some food. Bender finds out about this and the pair fight to the death. Kif is killed in battle by the king of the beach.
Naturama is narrated by Phil LaMarr in his best Morgan Freeman voice. The narration is similar to that of David Attenborough in his various nature programmes and documentaries. The content of the episode is great, and it’s good to see that characters still stick to their roles, and still have their own little idiosyncrasies. The Morbo fish in part one reports on the efforts of the salmon, and as he cannot jump, the salmon Hermes limbo’s his way to the stream. The episode is also full of puns – another play on the Professor’s “Good news everyone” catchphrase and very funny word play in general. The episode is also consistent in its references and adheres nicely to the overall series itself. In part one, a clear Lady and the Tramp intertextual reference adds to the poignancy of the Fry and Leela narrative.
Overall, season 7 of Futurama has been quite successful. We have had very funny and sentimental episodes, as well as some fairly average entries. Naturama was a really great way to wrap up the series, because it took us away from the same settings and situations, and put us somewhere completely different. Futurama season 7 will go down as one of the better seasons of the show due to the right mix of visual gags, jokes and a general feeling of sentimentality.