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Futurama: Parasites Lost (2001)
The peak of the series
Everything that happens in the first couple seasons of this series culminates to this episode. From the first episode, Space Pilot 3000, we recognize the potential of Fry and Leela, and throughout the early seasons, we see near kisses (the Titanic Episode and the X-mas episode) as well as a hint at Fry's affection (War is the H-word), but we never actually see Fry proclaim his undying love for her.
Well, this is the episode Fry-Leela fans have waited years to see. Bender fans probably won't enjoy this episode that much, but that's their loss. The episode is hilarious, but has some great romantic moments as well. The scene with the Holophonar is gorgeously animated, and the ending is moderately touching. It has it all.
This episode is the turning point in the series. Before this point, all romance between Fry and Leela is strictly taboo. After this point, it's all out in the open. It's a great episode, and possibly the most important plot point in the series.
Futurama: The Luck of the Fryrish (2001)
Possibly the best episode in the series
Very rarely do we ever go into a character's past, but whenever we do, it's a rewarding experience. This episode managed to be touching without losing the comedy that makes Futurama Futurama.
The episode is very well put together with scenes from Fry's 20th century life interspersed throughout the 31st century setting. We follow Fry growing up with his older brother Yancy, and the struggles he endured.
What makes this episode great is that, really for the first time in the series, the viewer finally gets a feeling for who Fry was and who Fry is. The episode gives Fry another dimension, especially in the ending. We have a better understanding of what Fry's home life was like, and why Fry was thrilled to be in the future with a fresh start in the first place.
The episode also proceeds such that the viewer can't actually guess how the episode will resolve. We spend the entire episode believing in one reality, and then at the end of the episode, the true reality throws us off, and gives a feeling of warmth and heart that makes Futurama different from every other cartoon out there.
Everything about this episode is good.
More than just a cartoon
For those of you going into Futurama expecting it to be a show built on laugh-out-loud gags and mindless comedic acts like most cartoons currently running on television, be prepared to be disappointed. When I first started watching Futurama on DVD, I didn't find it nearly as funny as I expected. But after watching several episodes, I realized that Futurama isn't all about comedy, it's about everything.
Admittedly, the comedic style in Futurama takes a little getting used to. Much of the humor is based on the personalities and interactions of the characters, which a first-time Futurama watcher would not quite understand. In order to fully enjoy Futurama for its brilliant humor, one has to get a feel for the characters. Also, the humor in Futurama is much more subtle than the humor in other shows like Family Guy and South Park. And much more creative.
However, this show has so much more than comedy. Immediately after the first episode, I started caring for the characters. The characters are multi-dimensional, capable of emoting all sorts of feelings and emotions that most other sitcom characters fall short of. Some of the most touching moments I've ever seen on TV, and even in Movies, have come from Futurama. Fry, Leela, and even Bender have become very real to me. Fry, although an idiot, isn't your typical sitcom stupid male-lead one-dimensional dullard. Leela, although a bombshell, isn't your typical ditsy one-dimensional sitcom female. Bender, although a ruthless drunk, also occasionally proves to beat the stereotype of his role (however much less so than the other two characters). Even the peripheral characters like the Professor and Zoidberg prove to be relatable. On top of comedy, there's tragedy, romance, suspense, and heart-warming goodness.
Another thing Futurama has is an unusually cohesive storyline. Even if the writers were making it up as they went, many Futurama episodes tie into each other quite nicely such that several episodes can serve as sequels to previous episodes. Also, there is a gradual development in characters and relationships, most evident in Fry and Leela. The first episode in the series could very well be the beginning of a movie, and the very last episode in the series could very well be the final part of that same movie. Of course, there are episodes in the middle that have no relevance to the overall thematic progression of the series, but generally, as a series, it's very cohesive with only slight slip-ups.
The artwork is also amazing for a cartoon.
Futurama is more than just a sci-fi comedy cartoon. It has heart and purpose. Three weeks ago, I had never seen a single episode. Now, it's an obsession.
Recommended Episodes: Luck of the Fryrish (tear-jerker), Jurassic Bark (tear-jerker), The Sting (heart-warming), Xmas Episode I (funny and heart-warming), Parasites Lost (funny and heart-warming), and... oh wait... all of them.