Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Futurama Episode That Wouldn't Make Sense To Modern Fans

"Futurama" has to be one of the most unique examples of a sitcom to ever exist. The series, which was the brainchild of "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, follows the exploits of a pizza delivery boy who, after accidentally cryogenically freezing himself in 1999, awakens in the year 3000 and joins an eccentric planetary delivery crew. With that setting, the show obviously makes an effort to playfully predict the future, but at the same time, lampoons the trends and figures of the time it would be airing. 

So, as can be imagined for a series that aired between 1999 and 2013 (along with the upcoming 2023 revival of the series), there's a vast catalog of material that the show references. And while a lot of the show manages to still hit its mark today, there are some episodes that arguably took their reference humor a bit too far to the point of potentially confusing modern audiences.

Saturday Morning Fun Pit is a weird one

Season 10, Episode 6, "Saturday Morning Fun Pit," is one of those episodes that play with the typical series formula. Taking chance with episodes like this can be a hit or miss for sitcoms. Sadly, it arguably misses in this case.

The episode sees Richard Nixon enjoying Saturday morning cartoons that feature the "Futurama" gang. The three segments parody various cartoons from different eras. The first is "Bendee Boo and the Mystery Crew." The segment sees them investigate the connection between George Takei's kabuki theater and a cloning lab being used by the Harlem Globetrotters to train for their next game (by going against five clones of NBA legend Larry Bird). It is revealed that Takei was trying to halt the game to bring attention to his theater. 

The second segment, birthed from a riot where the mob complains cartoons aren't educational, is titled "Purpleberry Pond." It sees the gang as adorable characters that live in a happy purple land. When an orange character named Lord Loquat arrives, they learn the value of not judging others. They also preach healthy eating, despite every variety of cereal they advertise being loaded with sugar. 

The final segment, "G.I. Zapp," is another one that the mob demands be changed for being too violent. The segment sees the crew, led by Zapp Brannigan, engage in a violent battle that Nixon attempts to edit live with a special device in his office. He changes the characters from mercenaries to "patriotic peacekeepers" and alters dialogue such as "We're gonna blow them straight to He—CHURCH!" Ultimately, he gives up and cuts to a PSA. While all in good fun, the episode has gone on to be an infamous one amongst fans for one big reason in particular.

These references may go over most fans' heads

A review from The A.V. Club reads, "'Saturday Morning Fun Pit' settles into an unimaginative groove...It's inconceivable to compare an episode of Futurama to the films of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer ('Epic Movie,' 'Meet The Spartans,' please stop), but the three segments here succumb to that benighted genre's misguided idea that simply making reference to something that's come before constitutes a joke." 

While "Futurama" thrives on satire, very rarely does it dive into parody. A Reddit thread started by a now-deleted user asked why people dislike the episode. u/maxkmiller commented, "What I don't like about these kinds of episodes is that the humor goes into trying to make an effective parody rather than the usual witty style of the show. They end up being not very funny, and pretty bland."

The dated references didn't help either. u/nukem996 questioned Nixon's editing, asking, "I didn't get why he was doing the voice over. Was it a reference to something?" The "G.I. Zapp" and "Purpleberry Pond" sections lampoon watch groups from the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Angered by these shows' overtly commercial or violent nature, they helped put in stricter regulations for children's television (via Saturday Evening Post). Similarly, the "Bendee Boo" segment features laugh tracks, animation mistakes, and celebrity guests. This parodies "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!," which used laugh tracks and cheaper animation techniques. It also parodies "The New Scooby-Doo Movies," which featured celebrity guest stars, including the Harlem Globetrotters (via IMDb).

It makes sense that a team of people working on an animated show would be passionate about cartoons. And while that passion truly shows in their loving parodies of these series, it sadly doesn't translate to modern audiences as intended.