Friday, 16 November 2018

WHO REVIEW: 11-6 - "Demons of the Punjab"

"Demons of the Punjab" is, by far, the strongest episode of the season so far. The only episode to rival it is "Rosa," and there's a clear indication that this new version of Doctor Who is strongest when presenting historical, socially aware stories rather than escapist adventures. More cynically, I might point out that these two episodes are the ones with the least involvement from showrunner Chris Chibnall. "Rosa" was co-written by Malorie Blackman, while this has a sole writing credit for Vinay Patel. On the other hand, the episode feels very much a part of the new Who; while there has been quite a variety of stories in just these six episodes, series eleven still feels consistently part of one vision for the programme. Chibnall has stated he's using the open writing room approach to brainstorm ideas, and while this episode seems very much the work of Patel, others doubtless had influence.

Some have questioned why the two writers of colour this season have written scripts specifically concerned with their racial backgrounds. Patel, at least, is on record stating that this is very much the story he wanted to tell. This is surely not a shock, to anyone except the most parochial viewers. The Partition of India is one of the most significant events in the history of the world, one that continues to have repercussions for people in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) and the United Kingdom. The rights and wrongs of the British Empire and its actions worldwide are far too big a subject to go into here, but the Partition is a singular event that triggered astonishing violence. It was, of course, intended to prevent conflict, but human nature is far more aggressive and complicated than that and the idea that drawing a line through a map would somehow leave a community happily divided is tragically flawed.

Such world-changing events are impossible to really comprehend by individuals, so stories like this - seeing the effects on people's lives, on their families - let's us understand it in personal terms. I have friends who's parents and grandparents experienced very similar events to Prem and Umbreen, with the border line drawn right through villages, splitting communities down the middle. What's surprising about Patel's script is that it doesn't give much time to the British Empire's responsibility here. There's the odd line about Englishmen not being very welcome, but it's not followed up, and there's the Doctor's slightly ill thought out line about the Viceroy Mountbatten. Overall, though, the British responsibility for the crisis is overlooked in favour of placing the responsibility for the violence on those who became radicalised. Which is not wrong, by any means, as the responsibility for violence lies at the hands of those who perform it, but all such situations exist in context. As well as the British officials, there were Hindu nationalists and an influential Pakistan Movement calling for a two-nation system. It's complicated, and, like with "Rosa," this is just too big a subject to examine properly in a fifty minute TV show.

Which is not to say it isn't worthwhile. It's frustrating how little most people in Britain know about an event that is a significant part of our history, not least because of the large numbers of Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani people, and their immediate descendants, who live here. I only know a little myself, although the episode has encouraged me to read into the events more. I imagine the episode will prompt others to learn more about it too.

So, while the subject is a worthwhile one, it would be wasted on an episode that was poorly scripted and realised. Fortunately, this is easily the strongest script of the season so far, and the performances are, for the most part, very strong. The weak line, unfortunately, is Amita Suman, who is captivatingly beautiful but sadly very wooden in her acting with some poor delivery, which is a problem when her character demands so much screentime. Fortunately, both Shane Zaza as her husband Prem, and Hamza Jeetooa as his radicalised brother Manish are more than capable of carrying their share of the episode. Zaza in particular commands real sympathy and charisma.

The regular cast are as good as ever, and it seems like every episode I point out just how brilliant Bradley Walsh is, particularly in the heartbreaking moment he consoles Prem, knowing what awaits him. Tosin Cole doesn't get very much to do this episode, and Ryan is suffering from the same problem as Yaz did earlier in the season; there just isn't enough story to go around for this many regulars to have much focus each episode. This is, of course, Yaz's episode, and Mandip Gill holds it admirably, but there's still the frustrating sense that we don't really know her character. While this episode and "Arachnids of the UK" gave her much needed focus, she exists almost entirely in relation to her family.

Jodie Whitaker is effortlessly charming as the Doctor, especially the hen party when she revels in being included in things like henna painting, and things she never got do when she was a man. Her sense of powerlessness is palpable as events play out, and there's a lot to be said for an approach to historical stories that don't involve famous and influential figures. There's no moral or scientific argument that history must be maintained, no fixed points in time or immutable chronology. The Doctor and her companions are simply in no position to affect the grand sweep of events here, and any direct intervention in Prem's fate would almost certainly negate Yaz's existence. There's nothing they can do but accept that he will die and that the family's story will continue. The Doctor's lack of direct impact has been a talking point this season, but it's exactly what this episode needs (nonetheless, I hope she has the chance to show what's she's capable of before the year is out).

Why the Doctor is so easily persuaded to take Yaz back into her personal history, in spite of the obvious dangers, is another question. For those who ship the Doctor and Yaz, it's worth remembering that the last time the Doctor did something like that, it was because he fancied Rose and lost all judgment. Whether it means anything like that now remains to be seen.

The aliens of the week, the Thijarans, are both very effective and essentially unnecessary. I suppose we're just not going to see pure historicals anymore, but even more so than "Rosa," this is an episode that could have worked perfectly well without any other time travellers or sci-fi elements beyond Team TARDIS. Nonetheless, they are excellently realised, easily the most visually effective monsters of the season so far. Making them physically monstrous but actually rather pleasant is a nice touch, and I like how the two aliens were both voiced and physically portrayed by women, which when combined the masculine, alien Shredder look, adds to the unearthly quality. On the other hand, their mission to observe the forgotten dead, while noble and effectively portrayed, is very similar to the Testimony and their actions in the most recent Christmas special.

If anything, the fact that the Thijarans, while being both simultaneously effective yet surplus to requirements, shows how well Doctor Who could pull off a return to the purely historical adventure. "Demons of the Punjab" shows that this is where the series' newest iteration's strengths lie.

Play Segun Akinola's haunting Punjabi-inspired arrangement of the Doctor Who theme.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

TREK REVIEW: "Calypso" (Short Treks 2)

As much as I found to enjoy with "Runaway," this is so far beyond in terms of quality and content it scarcely seems to be part of the same series. A two-hander set centuries after Discovery, yet still strongly linked to the primary series, "Calypso" benefits from some excellent acting, stylish direction and a compact and effective script.

"Calypso," takes its name from a nymph in Greek mythology, who kept Odysseus captive for seven years, and so our protagonist is likewise kept captive by an otherworldly being. Aldis Hodge plays a lost traveller, who, while never revealing his true name, goes by the moniker Craft for the duration of the episode. Drifting in a (snazzily designed) one-man escape ship, he is rescued by the drifting, desolate USS Discovery. There's a strange irony in Hodge's character taking the name "Craft," given that it is Annabelle Wallis who is actually playing one. The mysterious, disembodied voice of Zora claims to have evolved herself over the centuries, and it seems that the Discovery's shipboard computer has developed sentience, and a distinct personality, since being abandoned.

What follows is a rather beautiful love story between man and machine, as Zora looks after Craft and they provide company for each other in the wilderness between stars. Craft has already been introduced to archaic film material in his escape vessel, stolen from his enemies in a war zone - the V'draysh seem to have a predilection for historical material, and the ship was stuck running Betty Boop cartoons. For her part, Zora has access to a full film catalogue, but enchants Craft with her favourite: Funny Face, the Fred Astaire/Audrey Hepburn musical (released in 1957, which should be precisely 300 years before the second season of Discovery). Like with the inclusion of recognisable popular music in Discovery and the reboot films, it's good to have Trek including vintage material that isn't just Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and opera.

Craft is a very closed, stoic sort of man, while Zora lacks a physical presence, yet the actors maintain a real chemistry. (Peaky Blinders' Annabellle Wallis gives Zora an English note of class that makes her seem very much like Gideon from Legends of Tomorrow.) As much as they come to care for each other, though, Zora is still keeping Craft captive. Even considering how much she's evolved, she's still a computer and is apparently constrained by her last order, to maintain her position, and so can't take him back home to Alcor 4, but her keeping him on the ship and not allowing his use of the shuttle is motivated purely by her loneliness. For his part, Craft is also lonely, but he has a wife and child back home (although, given how long he's been away at war, she's very likely assumed he's died and has moved on).

Nonetheless, in one beautiful scene where Zora manifests as a holographic avatar, the two share a dance, and their feelings come out, before Craft storms off in a fit of guilt. Finally, she lets him go, in a rather heartbreaking final scene.

In feel, "Calypso" is more like an episode of Black Mirror, or one of the better episodes of Electric Dreams, in spite of its shortened runtime and Trek universe trappings. The links to the main series are slim, but they're there and they raise all manner of questions. Zora says she's been alone for almost a thousand years, putting this in the middle of the 33rd century, almost certainly the furthest into the future the Star Trek franchise has ever taken us on TV. (Enterprise showed us one possible version of the future around AD 3000, and the previous record holder, the Voyager episode "Living Witness," was set 700 years after the rest of the series, around 3075. The final scene picked up "many years" after, so it might be beyond this point, but it's impossible to say.) There are little details that sketch in some of the background of Craft's universe. He's from a human colony, but the name of his enemy, V'Draysh, is clearly a corruption of Federation. Plus, they enjoy 20th century cartoons. It looks like by this time, there are two factions of humanity pit against each other. We also don't know what leads the Discovery to be abandoned in space, raising a mystery for the series' future.

Regardless of its Trek links, this is a classic sci-fi story, and I'm excited to see that the writer, Michael Chabon, is working on the upcoming Picard series. It's the strength of the actors that makes this episode soar, though. Even at only fifteen minutes long, this is one of the best Star Trek productions in years.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

REVIEW: Slaugherhouse Rulez

It's a strange one, this. The first film to come from Stolen Picture, the new production company created by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, Slaughterhouse Rulez is very much channelling the spirit of the Cornetto Trilogy. Shaun of the Dead came out a whole fourteen years ago and the belated third movie The World's End was back in 2013, and so a relaunch of the skewed universe of Pegg and Frost is perhaps overdue.

Except this isn't quite the same thing as the Cornetto films. Edgar Wright is not involved; Slaughterhouse Rulez is directed by Crispian Mills, formerly of Kula Shaker, who also co-wrote the script with Henry Fitzherbert. There are multiple shots that seem to deliberately reference well-remembered moments from the trilogy, but while Mills is a skilled director, he hasn't the sketchy flair of Wright. Credited as executive producers, Pegg and Frost's fingerprints are all over the script, but this no two-man adventure for the best buds. In fact, they barely interact during the run of the film.

No, this film belongs to the youngsters (I won't say kids, since the cast are mostly in their twenties, as is traditional for films set in schools). Set in the fictional country school of Slaughterhouse, named for its legendary founding by the slaughterer of a monstrous beast, this is a merciless send-up of the nightmare world of the British public school system, where children are sent by parents who either desperately want to better their standing, or simply have more money than familial love. It's a time honoured institution, where children are separated from their families and bullied mercilessly by their elders, earning the right to eventually bully the newbies should they survive into the Upper Sixth. At least Slaughterhouse admits girls, which is better than Eton College (although fagging officially no longer exists in modern public schools, and Eton employs a lot of female staff – Slaughterhouse only manages to have two women on its staff, one of whom has already quit and the other, the terrifying matron played by Jane Stanness, barely seems to qualify as human).

Young Don Wallace, played with considerable charm by Peaky Blinders' Finn Cole, is the unfortunate kid who gets drafted into Slaughterhouse by his well meaning mum (Jo Hartley). On the plus side, he shares a room with a decent chap named Willoughby Blake, played by the excellent Asa Butterfield (Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), and takes about ten minutes to fall madly in love with queen of the school Clemsie Lawrence (Hermione Corfield, terribly posh and all that). On the downside, he's sleeping in the bed of a boy who committed suicide, Willoughby insists on calling him Duckie, Clemsie is the definition of unattainable and the school corridors are stalked by the psychotic House God Clegg (Tim Rhys Harries – extremely posh, kind of sexy, utterly terrifying). Clegg wastes no time in making Don and Willoughby's lives a living hell. Don is the wrong sort of boy to be allowed into Slaughterhouse, while Willoughby dirties the school by being gay (public school life being at once intensely homoerotic and deeply homophobic, because only good straight boys can wank each other off).

Pegg plays Meredith Houseman, the terribly proper housemaster of Sparta, the specific prison of Don, Willoughby and Clegg, ageing cricketer and heart-broken ex-lover of former school nurse Audrey (appearing only on videophone and played by screen goddess Margot Robbie, a bit of a coup for Stolen Picture but chums with Pegg since Terminal). Martin Sheen is the school's headmaster, known by the boys as the Bat, for his florid swirling of his cape. Slaughterhouse Rulez could have been a perfectly good examination of the horrors of public school life, but is also a horror film and the most unsubtle environmentalist parable since Fern Gully. It's an outspoken anti-fracking script, which is absolutely correct of course, but god this is in your face. The Bat's connections and lust for extra cash and champagne lead him to inviting TerraFrack onto school grounds, led by an old Slaughterer played by Alex MacQueen (is it a coincidence that one of the actors to play the Master for Doctor Who is always accompanied by a theme involving four steady drumbeats?) A commune sets up camp in the woods in protest, led by Nick Frosts' ageing, drugged-up Slaughterhouse drop-out Woody, has little effect on operations, and before long, the lake is one fire and a gigantic sinkhole has opened up.
It's about halfway through the film that events lurch into horror mode, as demonic creatures living in caverns beneath the school escape to the overworld and begin noshing on students and teachers alike. The story becomes a race for survival, in which quite a lot of characters bite it, and while the focus is now on fear and desperation, these are actually the funniest scenes of the film. To be honest, the film as a whole isn't that strong as a comedy; there were no moments in the cinema when the audience broke out into a big laugh. It's more a film of little chuckles and sniggers than big belly laughs, but when hell breaks loose, the over-the-top massacre strikes a fine balance of horror and comedy. It's gory, but not too gory, so it stays on the right side of it. The monsters themselves are pretty well designed, although they'll never make it into the horror hall of fame: hairless hellhounds with huge, vicious teeth, sensibly kept mostly in the dark for maximum effect.
The romance between Don and Clemsy is nicely told, and once the horror begins, both their characters really come into their own: Don gets to be properly heroic, and Clemsy gets to be ballsy as hell. (It's always fun to hear a posh girl swearing, although Don can keep Clemsy; genius kickass chessmaster Kay (Isabella Laughland) is the girl for me.) It's Willoughby who's the heart of the story though, living with guilt and heartbreak and almost giving in.
Altogether, Slaughterhouse Rulez is a belting horror adventure, but a qualified success as a comedy. It might have benefited from being less obviously a descendant of the Cornetto films, but without the visibility of Pegg and Frost, would it have got the attention it deserves?

Friday, 9 November 2018

Superhero Shows Roundup: Supergirl season three

Suz and I have made a concerted effort to catch up with our comicbook TV viewing lately, particularly since the new season is now underway and we don't want to end up a year behind. That way lay spoilers and ruined punchlines. Being a fair bit behind and steamrollering through makes one-or-two episode reviews too much of a chore, so I've decided to give each series a quick overview.

Supergirl built on a promising and very entertaining first season with a second season that set out a clearer idea of what the show was. Although the legacy of Krypton and Kara's family was still part of the series' story, the second season had a wider focus on DC aliens and various character relationships.

Season three continues on that line, with the strongest elements remaining the core of the series. The series continues to be a boldly female-centred show, with the mix of heroes being somewhat skewed female in numbers but considerably so in terms of focus. It's no accident that this is a proudly emotional series, dealing with character relationships as much as alien infiltration and with emotional fallout as much as superpowered fisticuffs.

I surprised myself when I was thinking about the various main characters in this increasingly busy ensemble, in that the strongest character for me is Alex. Chyler Leigh has grown into her character brilliantly, giving a mature performance as a character physically tough and ballsy, yet also emotionally vulnerable and open. There's a strong line of development for Alex, as she deals with her newly accepted sexuality; her relationship with Maggie is her primary storyline in the first part of the season, but their different goals in life force them apart. I admire the writing for her character, in that she gets to act out certain destructive traits usually reserved for men: using alcohol and casual sex as a way to deal with heartbreak, but she also has the opportunity to move past these. (A quick one-nighter with Sara Lance in the "Earth-X" crossover sure helps, and got the shippers jumping about.)

However, Alex also gets to explore traditionally female traits, in particular her desire to become a mother (the very thing that causes the rift between her and Maggie). It's a strong character treatment that doesn't saddle her with just being "the butch one" or "the lesbian," but allows her a range of character elements and the chance to be a strong, flawed, interesting character. Over the course of the season, she gets to develop her emotional skills in a way that helps other characters as well.

Shen it comes to Supergirl herself, there's actually a fair bit of negative development, which is just as interesting. The problem with Kryptonian superheroes is that they're often just too good to be engaging, but there's a fine balance somewhere between Superman as the Boy Scout of the universe and Superman cracking necks on the big screen. I like how they're make Kara an incredible hero but at the same time seriously flawed as a person. She's frequently hypocritical and often selfish, which makes her all the more human. Kara goes through a lot of difficult emotional stuff this season, with huge developments that should be tremendously positive knocking her for six. Mon-El comes back through a wonderfully contrived time travel narrative designed to introduce the Legion of Superheroes to the CW multiverse. Chris Wood is brilliant as the older, more mature, more responsible version of Mon-El, imbuing him with some real gravitas even when he's wearing that utterly silly inverse Superman costume. On the other end of things, Kara discovers Argo City, the sole remaining part of Krypton (unless Kandor shows up in a jar someday), tempted to give up her life on Earth and settle there with her family. It's tempting to say that the Argo period is over too quickly, given that this is such a huge deal for Kara, but frankly it's not a terribly interesting place and we're just eager for her to get back to Earth. (BTW, has anyone bothered to tell Superman about this?)

Supergirl is a real ensemble show, and everyone gets some decent exploration. Even James, who still doesn't convince as Guardian, is used much better this season. His relationship with Lena Luthor didn't convince me immediately, but it was well-written and performed, but his best moments were in episode 19, "The Fanatical," which sees him contemplate shedding his mask and facing the reality of being a black vigilante in the States. Obviously, this is material featured far more heavily in Black Lightning and Luke Cage, but it's important to appear here. People protesting that not every black character in TV should have to deal with a racist storyline miss the point: that every black person in America (and pretty much, the West), has to deal with racism during their lives. Obviously, they're not generally acting as super-vigilantes, but it's an effective way to illustrate how people's attitudes change when confronted with someone of a different race.

Without going into too much depth on every regular character, Lena walks a fine line between friend and confidante of Kara and potential villain, and no way do I believe she doesn't know Kara's Supergirl. Winn has his best season yet, bringing the best moments of sidekick comic relief through sheer enthusiasm, while showing real believable human vulnerability as the one vaguely normal person surrounded by aliens and soldiers. I'm stoked to see how he gets on as a member of the Legion, because Jeremy Jordan has been quietly brilliant this year. I'm still annoyed, though, that he and Cisco never got to meet and geek out together.

David Harewood has shown what a fine actor he can be when given some decent material. Given that Kara, Mon-El and J'onn have all lost their peoples, it's J'onn who really displays the aching loss of it. Reuniting him with his father, Myrrn, is a brilliant move, and is so much stronger emotionally than seeing Supergirl reunite with her mother on Argo. Thanks to a dignified and moving performance by Carl Lumbly, what could have been a mawkish storyline is incredibly affecting, as Myrrn suffers the Martian equivalent of Alzheimer's. Even with all the over-the-top sci-fi trappings, it's profoundly moving.

Unfortunately, the overarching storyline, of Reign and her sisters threatening to devastate the Earth, just isn't strong enough to sustain the season. Odette Annable is perfectly good in the role, and is very sympathetic and likable as Reign's alter ego, Sam, but Reign is such a dull, one note character it's hard to stay interested in her. The other two, Pestilence and what's-her-name, are even less interesting, and frankly it's a relief they don't last long. I understand it's important to have a villain capable of besting Supergirl and also to show the difference between the human side and the Worldkiller, but it ends up as a season of a villain with no personality.

Which is the only real negative in what's been a very strong season, for a series that has always had its strengths in the emotional storylines. Some more quick praise: for young Emma Tremblay as Sam's daughter Ruby, who is frankly quite brilliant; for the truly stunning Amy Jackson as Imra, and how fun is it to have Saturn Girl in the series; and lovely Jesse Rath as Brainiac-5, the 31st century android who, wonderfully, is going to stick around as Winn's replacement. (I still don't quite understand the Brainiac family tree, especially with the various continuities in play, especially as we've already met Brainiac-12, but nevermind. In the comics Brainy and Supergirl have a thing, which could be fun to see onscreen, if supremely unlikely.)

One of the more consistent, arguably tiresome, threads of Supergirl is Kara's absolute refusal to kill, even when her enemies are threatening to annihilate the entire population of the Earth. It's one of those arguments that could go on forever, of course, although I'd say that the devastation caused when she finally kills Reign is more an argument that they should have killed her sooner, rather than when she was at full destructive power. In any case, due to a nifty bit of time travel that would make Christopher Reeve proud, Kara creates a much more pleasant outcome, but as we know, that sort of thing has consequences.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

WHO REVIEW: 11-5 - "The Tsuranga Conundrum"

Halfway through the season, and we have what is the most divisive episode so far amongst fans, with many decrying it as absolute rubbish and the worst episode since the return of Doctor Who in 2005. While there's certainly no argument that "The Tsuranga Conundrum" is ever going to be counted among the series' classics, it's hardly the stinker that some are making it out to be. It's solidly a filler episode, and one that's a damned sight better than last week's effort. It doesn't set out to do anything more than provide fifty minutes entertaining diversion on a Sunday night, and on that count it's a great success.
There's the case for ambition, of course, and aside from "Rosa," we've had nothing so far this year that's really tried to push the envelope. But come on, this is episode five; at this stage in the golden year of Christopher Eccleston, we'd just had two episodes of farting green monsters. Of course, that was then followed up by "Dalek," a stone-cold classic, and I guess the question is whether we'd prefer a decently entertaining and consistent season or a wildly inconsistent one with huge ups and downs.

Those who didn't like this episode probably just didn't appreciate the scatty, less-than-serious tone. If "Arachnids in the UK" looked very much like what Doctor Who would have looked like as an outsourced 90s production, clumsy eco-message and all, then this is a live action version of the Doctor Who Weekly comic strip. Fans of said strip are comparing the oddly-named P'ting to the comics villain Beep the Meep, but the voracious omnivore is a clear steal of Nibbler from Futurama (only without the ability to poo dark matter, so far as we know). That's an entirely consistent set of inspirations, since both DWW and Futurama were light-hearted sci-fi romps with the occasional bit of more serious material thrown in to up the stakes and make us care about the characters. Complaining that the Pting is too cute to take seriously as a threat is missing the joke and the jeopardy, and Doctor Who is hardly the first sci-fi production to use a cutesie alien as a surprise threat.

Then there's the B-plot, with musical actor Jack Shalloo playing Yoss, a pregnant man almost ready to pop. Half the overly vocal internet are taking this as transphobic, the other half as pushing trans issues on viewers. I sincerely doubt that Chibnall had any message at all that he wanted to convey here (and if I'm wrong and he did, given his commitment to diversity so far this year I'd favour him being pro-trans); it's another well-worn sci-fi joke that primarily exists to give Ryan and Graham something to do while the ladies save the day. There's something appealing about having female soldiers and doctors saving the ship while the men fret about childbirth, but really, the pregnant man trope is a sci-fi staple joke that's appeared in everything from Enterprise to Red Dwarf to the Schwarzenegger favourite Junior (certainly, to my mind, his third best film).

There's some oddities in the Doctor's character here. It's deeply strange to see her hero-worshipping General Cicero; the Doctor is generally anti-military until he gets to know soldiers on a personal level, although the boasting about also being in the Big Book of Heroes (or whatever it was called) is completely true to form. Having her join in on the prayer at the end is a surprising move as well, since the Doctor has generally shunned such things. It's also interesting to have her more physically damaged by the sonic mine at the beginning of the episode; all those extra organs clearly being a weakness in some cases. (The fact that the Doctor sets off the mine and has no way to disarm it or get her companions to safety is another example, after her initial accidental deep space diving session with them, that she's worryingly careless about very, very dangerous situations.)

There are some elements that seemed to have been dropped halfway through: Ronan the android, in particularly, seems to be set up to either stop the Pting or die nobly battling it (being the only character at risk from a creature that only east inorganic material), but his redemption moment never comes and he just sort of becomes surplus to requirements. Ryan and Yaz almost seem to be so as well, memorably stopping for the clumsiest character moment ever and having a long chat right in the middle of a crisis, the episode crashing to a halt as a consequence.

Still, this is an episode where a couple of "Chibnall, FFS" moments don't detract from the overall fun. A perfectly enjoyable middle episode, before what promises to be something more serious next week.

Weird Science: Why hide a bomb under the antimatter engine as a failsafe? You've got an antimatter generator, that is a bomb! Just turn off the containment field or whatever and the ship will be blown to kingdom come.

Title Tattle: We probably should have expected a Futurama riff when we saw the episode was seemingly named after Turanga Leela.