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I, Roommate

July 5, 2012

Original airdate: April 6th, 1999

Written by Eric Horsted; Directed by Bret Haaland

So Fry has friends and a job, all he needs is a place to live. Cue “I, Roommate”, where Fry and Bender decide to live together, cementing their buddy relationship. There’s a lot of good stuff and iconic Futurama imagery in this one as the world of New New York continues to be knitted together: the Robot Arms Appt., All My Circuits and more. But what this episode really shows is exactly why Bender became the show’s break out star, for better or worse. This is the first (partly) Bender-centric episode and, looking back on episodes 1 and 2, it’s exactly what I would want if I were a first-time viewer, because Bender has provided the best and most consistent humour of the series so far.

As the episode starts Fry’s residency of the Planet Express office has taken its toll: he’s somehow still late for work, his food waste is attracting owls, he’s tripled the water consumption by washing in the Emergency Chemical Burn Shower and he’s eaten the Professor’s mummified former Emperor beef jerky. It’s time for him to move out. Or in another, more accurate way, by dragged to the curb.

Bender’s apartment is, of course, the size of a small cupboard and while he’s happy Fry will get rid of its “wasted space”, it’s not exactly human-friendly. After a sleepless week on the floor (and enduring Bender’s constant dream-induced mutterings that he wants to kill all humans), Fry’s a wreck and Leela suggests the two find a bigger apartment. After an old colleague of the Professor’s is brutally killed, Fry and Bender move into his incredibly plush apartment, proceeding to destroy all his worldly possessions and turn the place into a pig-sty.

The two hold a house-warming party where they discover that Bender’s antenna is blocking the TV signal, ruining the long-awaited “Calculon’s Wedding” episode of All My Circuits. The other residents vote to evict Bender, but Fry opts to stay, much to Bender’s deep despondency. In fact, Bender’s so depressed he actually stops drinking. After some meddling from Leela, Fry realizes how much Bender actually cares. Bender returns with some bolt cutters, grudgingly chopping off his antenna (“Little Bender”) so the TV reception won’t be blocked, and the two reconcile. But Bender still can’t adjust to life without his antenna, so Fry gets it reattached and the two decide to move back into Bender’s old apartment. Because friendship is more important. But everything’s ok, because Bender reveals his apartment’s “closet” – which turns out to have been a huge, human-sized room all along. This reveal is classic, classic Futurama.

So, emotional Bender has been unleashed, never to truly go away. That’s not a complaint, it was an entirely obvious and necessary development in the show, and emotional Bender provides some of the show’s absolute highlights, but it’s interesting to note how early on Bender’s surface jerkishness was dropped (at least with regards to Fry). This isn’t an episode I’d put in any form of top-ten, but there’s some pretty good jokes, especially in the first act. It kinda trails off as the emotional parts kick-in, and doesn’t have much in the way of a complex plot (it was intentionally designed as a more standard, non-absurdist story so as to appease a confused Fox), but it solidly develops Fry and Bender’s friendship, and the ending more than makes up for any of its flaws.

Trivia and Quotes

  • Owls have replaced rats and pigeons as the principle vermin in the year 3000.
  • “As this shocking graph indicates, our water consumption has tripled in the last month. I notice Fry has been here for a month. So I’m appointing him head of a committee to find who’s responsible.” Hermes is easily the show’s most underrated character.
  • Fry uses the ship’s engines to dry his hair, leaving it with a healthily fluorescent orange radiation glow.
  • “Sheesh, 40,000 channels and only 150 of them have anything good on.”
  • The insanity that is All My Circuits is incredibly accurate, from the very little I’ve seen of US soaps.
  • “Kindly shut your noisehole” and “Hey, why is the TV getting smaller?”
  • The design of the Robot Arms Apts. is great, with the incredibly soulless exterior, and binary room numbers.
  • The reveal of Bender’s apartment, and the look on Fry’s face, is priceless. “Look pal, you’ve only got one set of clothes, and you’re not taking them off while I’m here.”
  • “I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of great memories of my old place. #beep# And now they’re gone.”
  • The house-hunting sequence is one of my favourites, the music and the MC Escher house are top notch, and the latter is a phenomenal design considering it’s just one joke. “I’m not sure we wanna pay for a dimension we’re not gonna use.” And then the “Suspiciously Fantastic Apartment”: “what’s the catch?/Oh, no catch, though we are technically in New Jersey./Not one place even remotely liveable.”
  • The horrific fate of Dr. Mobutu and his wife (“to shreds you say?”)
  • A nice twist of the standard Odd Couple parody (with its great theme tune). Fry and Bender couldn’t be less of an odd couple. “Fry, of all the friends I’ve had, you’re the first.”
  • The first appearance of Hattie, everyone’s favourite senile, grouchy old lady. (“Well, you heard the mob”.)
  • Bender’s longing to be Fry’s roommate means we’re three in three of truly sincere, emotional moments in this series. Pretty good for a show where a lobster doctor feeds people parts of his own body.
  • “We are gathered here to mourn the death of Calculon. Industrialist, private eye, friend./Mind if I give the eulogy?/Huh! Calculon! You’re alive!”
  • “I hate the people who love me and they hate me.”
  • Bender’s hangover from not drinking (as alcohol powers robots’ fuel cells) is a great twist on standard drunk tropes, including the oft-used “Drunken Montage” (the drunken staggering past a series of neon signs on a black background, which is originally from the film The Long Weekend). Great animation throughout as well.
  • “Wait, I want you to look me in the eye and promise you won’t get behind the wheel without some kind of alcoholic beverage in your hand.”
  • “I can’t just stand by and be silent about Bender anymore./Silent? You’ve been meddling for two solid weeks.”
  • I love Fry and Bender’s total (and very male) misunderstanding of the issue at their reconciliation.
  • “Bender, why don’t I just live in here?/In a closet? Oh humans.”
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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 1:06 am

    Even though it has been strongly implied to be abusive at times (“I know he was evil, and on more than one occasion he actually stole my blood,”) but I love the Fry/Bender relationship. Bender is hostile, deceitful and a general dick towards everyone, but the only person he actually cares for is Fry. Perhaps as gratitude for encouraging him to bend off protocol in the pilot, setting his life on a new path. Some of the most emotional moments of the show are from Bender, and given that he’s a violent sociopath, that’s saying something. In “Jurassic Bark,” I was more touched by Bender’s jealousy and redemption to Fry than the infamous ending.

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