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Futurama/The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz
The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz is the ninth episode of the third season of Futurama, and the thirty-eighth episode overall. This is the environmental episode of the season, akin to The Problem With Popplers. Ultimately, the episode delivers a message about overpopulation of animals, oil-spills and introducing firearms into the hands of penguins.
At the top of the show, the Professor comes to the crew with the job of transporting a supertanker full of dark matter to another planet. When he reveals that the tanker's route is cutting dangerously close to a penguin preserve on Pluto, Leela backs out and joins the ring of protestors, who is run by one of the Phil Hendrie characters (Free Waterfall Senior). The professor names Bender as the new captain in Leela's absence and with Bender and Zoidberg in tow, the crew of the Planet Express ship begin their journey to the outer reaches of space. While the ship hitches up the tanker, the protesters encircle the ship in a peace ring. But they realize their efforts were pointless because space ships move in three dimensions. After their failure, the protesters retreat to Penguins Unlimited headquarters where Leela learns about being an environmentalist kook. Back at the ship, Fry is growing increasingly irritated at Bender's pompousness. The two have a falling out, which leads to Bender being unable to drink. Because of his unability to drink, Bender starts swirving out of control. He flys, upside down, onto a jagged iceberg which pierces all 6,000 hulls of the ship, spilling all of the dark matter.
In the aftermath of the dark matter spill, Bender has been put to work scrubbing penguins clean. Due to the incompetance of the guards, Bender manages to evade their gaze by putting a tuxedo and hiding in the crowd. Leela starts packing in the camp only to find Fry and Zoidberg playing video games because they were sent in for doing an unsatisfactory job and eating penguin eggs. When Fry learns that Bender is missing, he assumes the role of captain and goes off in search of his friend. While Fry searches, Bender escapes from the jaws of a whale, he reboots in penguin mode and begins to integrate into penguin society. Back at Penguins Unlimited, they've discovered that the penguins are reproducing at an extreme rate, leaving only one plan--penguin hunting.
Leela initially protests this sudden change in attitude from the environmentalists, but eventually sees their point of view and reluctantly takes up a gun to thin out the herd. She shoots blindly into the flock, accidentally shooting Bender, which causes him to reboot into human mode. He goes on to lead the penguins in a daring attack on the hunters, only to be turned on by the flock when he takes off his tuxedo. Bender and Leela are saved by Fry, who lands and accidentally kills the angry penguins by tilting the floating ice island in such a way that they all fall into a whale's mouth. The crew flys off towards Earth and it cuts back to Pluto where two penguins pick up guns and cock them.
Alien Language Sightings
- No alien words appear in the episode.
- Opening Caption: Now With Chucklelin
- Opening Animation: Before the "Created By" credit in the opening, a Coco the Clown cartoon is shown on the screen.
Behind the Scenes
- Environmental Media Award: The people behind the Environmental Media Awards sent the writers at Futurama a letter saying that they should enter this episode in the competition. Despite that, it wasn't even nominated for the award.
- Batman Music: When the penguins attack the hunters, the writer originally wanted to have the Penguin's theme music from Batman Returns play. Unfortunately, the rights were unattainable.
Allusions and References
- Birdman of Alcatraz: The title is a reference to the 1962 movie "Birdman of Alcatraz."
- Greenland Whale Fishers: The Irish drinking song that Bender sings is actually a traditional song. The writer of the show initially knew it as a Pogues song, but because it was actually traditional, they didn't have to pay any money for it.
- Chilly Willy: One of the protesters has a sign that says "Free Chilly Willy" on it. Chilly Willy is a cartoon penguin who appears on the box of a kid themed TV dinner.
- Bender giving Fry the nickname "Wiggles."
- Zoidberg ducking under the table to eat ravioli off the floor after Fry throws his food.
- Bender leading the charge of penguins against the hunters.
- Free Waterfall Senior's death and the appearance of his father, "Old Man Waterfall."
- Bender: Mr Fry. I like to give my first mate an informal nickname. From now on, you will be known as...Wiggles!
Fry: The hell I will! Have you even read the captain's handbook?
[Bender reads the Captain's Handbook by flipping through it]
Bender: I have now. And what's Peter Parrot's first rule of captaining?
Fry: Always respect the chain-o-command, captain.
- Leela: When you were planning this peace ring, didn't you realise spaceships can move in three dimensions?
Free Waterfall Sr: No, I did not.
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