This week TV viewers said goodbye to the sci-fi comedy extravaganza Futurama. Cancelled by Fox in 2003 before being brought back by Comedy Central in 2008, fans of the show have the painful experience of saying farewell twice to a much beloved, yet underrated show. In the wake of the finale, let's look back at the episodes that turned casual watchers into devout fans.
"Jurassic Bark"Over a decade after this episode aired for the first time, fans of the show are still reaching out for their tissue boxes. The episode tells the story of how Fry rediscovers the fossilized remains of his dog back when was still living in the 20th Century. The episode's infamous ending, which is arguably one of the saddest conclusions to any TV episode ever, shows just how capable Futurama can be at tugging at your heartstrings. Even if you consider yourself the manliest of the manly men (or women), you will use every facial muscle to fight back those tears.
"Roswell That Ends Well"
Time travel, grandfather paradoxes, and doing the "nasty in the pasty" are central to the plot of this episode that essentially sets up a whole slew of other storylines that have become part of the Futurama mythology. The episode is a perfect showcase of how Futurama balances gut-wrenching humor, emotional content, scientific hodgepodge, and geeky topics in a paltry 21-minute episode.
"The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings"While this week's final episode marked a fitting and conclusive decrescendo to the series, Futurama would have left on a perfectly high note if it had originally ended with "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" back in 2003. Fry, Leela, and Bender strike a deal with the Robot Devil and it all ends with a well-orchestrated opera which has every major character singing their lines. The episode left with a bittersweet moment as Fry and Leela's relationship took a step forward, leaving fans wondering what will happen next… until five years later.
"Luck of the Fryish"
How the writers of Futurama can pen episodes that can make grown men cry tears of laughter for most of the show, yet reduce them an emotional wreck by the ending is beyond comprehension. Watching Fry blindly embark on a quest to retrieve his lucky "seven-leafed" clover is cleverly conceived, switching between the past and the present to hilariously illustrate how badly Fry's luck has turned for the worse. But it's only until the very end when the truth is finally revealed that the show sucker punches you in the gut with a very emotional family moment.
"War Is the H-Word"Where to begin with an episodes riddled with such comedic high points? First, the crew of the Planet Express go to war with the "Brain Balls" (aptly named because they have a lot of brains, and a lot of chutzpah). Second, the show deftly pays homage to M.A.S.H., Starship Troopers, and Stripes. Then, they play with Zapp Brannigan's sexuality when he becomes attracted to a cross-dressing Leela. But the episode's memorable moment has to be Zapp's David Letterman-esque countdown of Bender's Top 10 Most Utterly Used Words.
"Anthology of Interest II"
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Futurama's second attempt of compiling a trio of short stories showed just how creative the writers can be with pop culture references. "I, Meatbag" is an obvious nod to Isaac Asimov and ponders what would life be like if Bender were human. The robot's hedonistic tendencies is comedic gold, as well as his disturbingly glorious end. "Raiders of the Lost Arcade" taps into the video game culture of the '80s as Fry imagines what life would be like if it were more like game of Space Invaders. Lastly, "Wizzin'" is a straight-up parody of The Wizard of Oz and shows what it would be like if Leela found her home.
"Amazon Women in the Mood"It's amazing how a simple half-hour show can have such a sprawling plot. The episode starts with Kif and Zapp Brannigan attempting to set a double date with Amy and Leela, and ends up with most of the Planet Express crew trapped in a planet inhabited by giant Amazon women who just need a little love. Zapp's channeling William Shatner while singing karaoke, the guys laughing at the idea that women's basketball is better than men's basketball, and watching the simultaneous pained and ecstatic faces of Zapp and Fry at the prospect of death by "snu snu" are just a few highlights in an episode brimming with funny moments.
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The celebrated filmmaker's comedy/drama landed Paul Laverty the Best Writer Award at the annual British Academy Scotland Awards, the Scottish branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
Newcomer Paul Brannigan took home the Best Actor prize for his leading role, which he landed after telling writer Laverty about his own battle with addiction and opened up about the time he spent in a young offenders' institution.
Gregor Fisher won best TV Actor for sitcom Rab C. Nesbitt, while Up There was hailed Best Feature Film at the Glasgow event.
Funnyman Billy Connolly was also acknowledged for his career achievements with the Outstanding Contribution to Television and Film accolade.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.