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Raging Bender

December 8, 2012

EP21Original airdate: February 27, 2000

Written by Lewis Morton; Directed by Ron Hughart

I know I’ve joked a couple of times about how I don’t remember an episode, but I really don’t remember this one. I honestly think I must have totally missed it on TV all these years; watching it now, I don’t think I was missing all that much. Perhaps it’s just me, but there’s nothing about pro-wrestling and Bender becoming a transvestite that screams exciting comedy to me. I stress “exciting” comedy because my main problem with this one was that it was just really boring. The plot reads like Scully-era Simpsons: character x becomes a famous y because of reason whatever. In this case, with the crew again doing no work and going to the movies, Bender’s usual jerkiness winds him up in a fight with another patron, which he inadvertently wins. The patron is revealed to be The Masked Unit, the champion of the Ultimate Robot Fighting League, whose commissioner then decides to hire Bender as a new participant. Just cos. Well actually it’s because he loves guys who pick fights in movie theatres, which is kinda funny, but really just plot contrivance.

Bender’s initial optimism about the URFL is quashed when he realizes how dangerous it is, but he is talked into participating anyway by… Leela. Yes, the most cautious, risk-averse member of the crew tells Bender he has to do it. Again, Fry does point this out, but his concerns are brushed aside as Leela recounts her old kung-fu teacher’s sexism stopping her from becoming champion. For some reason, she can live this dream through Bender’s entirely unrelated and sudden entrance into robot wrestling (“Leela’s right, I don’t want to end up a loser like her!”) Of course, URF is just a scam and all the fights are just choreographed, with the most popular robot, in this case Bender, always winning. So yeah, that’s basically it, not really much happening, I guess we’ll wrap up…

Oh wait, Bender’s approval ratings are falling, so he is told he must lose the next fight. He is also forced to change his persona to the ‘Gender Bender’, giving us our first taste of the unmitigated joy that is feminine Bender. Woo. I mean, it’s nowhere near as tedious as the episode where he becomes a woman, but still. Bender ignores the intended purpose of his new personality and, with Leela’s help fights the overpowered Destructor, whose very usage in battle has been ruled a war crime, because his trainer is her old kung-fu teacher. It’s revealed he is actually controlling Destructor remotely so Leela gets her revenge. Bender is crushed by Destructor so still loses.

I guess this might appeal to others more than me, people who properly understand and thus appreciate the parodies. Saying that, I have no idea what a baseball is and yet I think “Homer at the Bat” is hilarious. The same cannot be said here: this just comes across as a blandly incoherent 21 minutes of nothingness, with next to no decent lines (as the section below shows), and a plot which at its best is a moderately decent parody of something I don’t care about. This is easily one of the weakest of the entire series in my view.

Trivia and Quotes

  • Nothing particularly special in the opening, but Hermes’ misfortune with the Brain Slug (and the lack of care from the others, to the point that Bender actually puts it back after knocking it off) and the cinema bits are pretty decent, especially the black and white newsreel now being back in fashion (with a nice call back to Miss Vega 4’s Miss Universe triumph from two episodes back).
  • “A fight scene’s broken out at the special effects warehouse!” All My Circuits: The Movie is, as expected, great.
  • “From Mom’s Friendly Robot Company, in America’s heartland, Mexico.”
  • As a parody of professional wrestling, this is pretty well done, I guess. Billionaire Bot, the Foreigner and the Chain Smoker (with Bender immediately taking out a cigar after beating him) are all great unpopular opponents for Bender though and that’s easily the best part of the episode. But there’s nothing much else here.
  • “It’s one thing to win a fixed fight, there’s dignity in that, but to lose?”
  • Do people actually bet on wrestling? Or was that just a joke so they could just do boxing parodies? Whatever. Bender’s odds being 1000-0, meaning you get $1000 if you bet $0, is good, especially as nobody is even taking it.
  • George Foreman’s head plugging his new grill, which allows the scalding hot fat to be drained directly into his mouth… ok? This is pretty indicative of this episode’s scatological and largely forgettable style. But the ending is ok, with Leela getting her revenge and Fry’s brain slug starving to death and a literally flattened Bender in tremendous pain. Wait, can he feel pain? I guess it depends on the joke. Not that this one is anything special.
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. hughes permalink
    December 10, 2012 4:10 am

    I take it you’re really not a fan of crossdressing/transvestite jokes, judging from your views towards Gender Bender and the one trannie bot in “Slurm Factory.” What are your thoughts on “Neutopia,” then?

    I can’t wait to read your thoughts on “A Bicyclops Built for Two” come February!

    • December 10, 2012 7:21 am

      I just find cross-dressing cheap.

      And February? You mean August 2014, right?

  2. December 10, 2012 7:57 pm

    Great review!

    Also, this reminds me of the RHPS for some reason….. 🙂

  3. December 17, 2012 6:52 pm

    I’m not entirely sure how eating scalding hot grease is ‘scatological’ but you know, whatever man.

    • December 19, 2012 10:47 pm

      Hahaha. Oh dear, this is why I’m not going to be a professional writer. I was under the impression ‘scatological’ was just a fancy way of saying ‘random’. How wrong I was.

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