Futurama Season 7 Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by The Grinch Doctor, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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  2. Unwrapped

    Unwrapped Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Wow. Morbo is awesome. :lol: Here's the big version of the Marvel pic.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    "Free Will Hunting" was perhaps the best episode of the season so far. As usual, it plays fast and loose with Bender's nature, abilities, and history; after all, didn't Bender overcome his programming and gain free will when he was electrocuted in the pilot episode? It also embraces Small-Universe Syndrome more than ever by making Farnsworth the programmer of all robots, although I suppose there's some precedent for that in earlier Mom episodes. But it's in service to a story with a nice philosophical angle to it, a solid SF-type plot using the show's robot character as a vehicle for talking allegorically about questions of human nature.

    And really, it's not like the episode ever actually confirmed that Bender lacked free will. If anything, it did the opposite; despite what everyone said about him lacking free will, he was clearly making decisions throughout even when he believed he couldn't. And the nature of Farnsworth's device, the impossibility of knowing whether it was turned on or off, was something of a symbol for the question of free will in general.

    Nice to see the "Robot Homeworld" again too. We haven't seen it since "Fear of a Bot Planet" way back in season one. A lot of the material was just rehashed gags -- Silence! But there was enough new stuff to make it interesting.
     
  4. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    I'd say the ep showed that robots DO have free will they just think they don't.

    I always remember the robot villager from the Honking saying "I choose to believe what I was programmed to believe!" :lol:
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is pretty much what the episode implied throughout. This wasn't a story about whether robots have free will, it was a story about how Bender was affected by his belief that he didn't have free will.

    My view on the subject, if I may wax philosophical for a bit, is that free will isn't a yes-or-no question, that there's no such thing as absolute free will or absolute lack of it. There are simply different levels of constraints upon our degrees of freedom, and those constraints change in different contexts. For instance, if I'm in an open field, I have the freedom to choose where I want to move anywhere I want in two dimensions, but very little freedom to choose how I move in the third. However, if I then fall off a cliff, my freedom to choose my direction of motion becomes immensely more constrained. Similarly, a person living as part of a society has more constraints on personal freedom than a person living alone on a desert island, because that person is constrained by the need to consider other people's rights and entitlements. So it's a balance of different freedoms that places some constraints on all of them.

    On a psychological or neurological level, our free will is constrained by our personalities, our beliefs, our inhibitions, our hangups. We might theoretically be free to make a choice in either of two ways, but our personalities might make it impossible for us to make one of those choices (for instance, there's no way I'd ever choose to become a beekeeper because I'm phobic about insects). Sometimes our own habits of thought trap us into consistently making a choice the same way over and over (for instance, always sabotaging relationships, always being too afraid to ask out a girl even when she's clearly interested, always choosing to get involved with an abusive man, etc.), and it may take a monumental effort to break those habits and reshape the constraints on our free will.

    So it's relative. We have some freedom of choice, but it's within various limits, some external, some internal. Bender has the freedom to choose whether or not he commits a crime, but as a matter of habit and inclination, he's going to choose to commit it, unless some other powerful constraint comes into play to compel him to choose otherwise. For instance, if he has to choose between committing a crime and letting Fry die, he'll probably wrestle with it for a while, but will ultimately have no choice but to save his best friend.

    And it's really no different for the rest of us. We call it programming where robots are concerned, but is it really so different from our own personalities, habits, and reflexes? Fry is programmed to be a doofus. Leela is programmed to be aggressive. Hermes is programmed to be a bureaucrat. Our actions and choices are shaped by who we are, by how our innate psychology and lifetime habits dictate our choices. Perhaps it's not so much a question of whether we have free will, but whether we choose to exert it. Most of us never really do, because we just unthinkingly follow our pre-existing inclinations and don't stop to question if there's another way. Exercising free will is about confronting our own "programming" and seeking to rise above it. And that's what Bender was doing here.

    And it's so refreshing to have another Futurama episode that inspires thoughtful discussion like this.
     
  6. Darth_Daver

    Darth_Daver Captain Captain

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    Was I the only one who woooohoooo'd at Leela and Fry in bed? :)
     
  7. Saul

    Saul Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Or they have programmed free will which is...eh...
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I didn't go that far, but yeah, that was a nice moment. I think any ambiguity about whether they're a couple is now decidedly in the past.
     
  9. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Fun ep, so what are the odds Bender will be in prison next ep? :D

    love the X-Men parody, especially Mom as the White Queen.
     
  10. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Really enjoyed this episode.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    This week's episode was a nice, strong character piece for Fry and the Professor, as we meet their long-lost relatives. It had a very touching conclusion, too.

    It was also nice to see Fry be not so much of an idiot slacker and show a little more competence and humanity.

    The part where they trashed the Matrix human-battery idea went on way too long, though.
     
  12. MadOnion

    MadOnion Lieutenant

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    I wish they would come up with some new story ideas rather than rehashing old ones. Seems like every episode this season is just taking old pieces and rearranging them.
     
  13. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    I love the Professor so I appreciated having an episode focusing on him and his past. Also I really loved that Near Death Star episode back in the day and I'm delighted they revisited it! I thought the Matrix gag was funny because I've defended that premise before (it's not about being efficient it's about punishing and enslaving humanity).

    My favorite bit was the reveal that the Professor was the evil mad genius older brother :lol:
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I should've seen that one coming. (Instead I was half-expecting it to turn out that the "older son" was named Ogden and had been adopted by a family named Wernstrom!!)

    But what does it say about the Farnsworths that they apparently had two estranged sons who never wanted to speak to them again? I mean, if they were on good terms with one of their sons, then they wouldn't have been confused about which one the Professor was.
     
  15. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    I really liked this one. The visit to the Near Death Star was fun, and the character stuff for Fry and the Professor was good.
     
  16. RJDonner&Blitzen

    RJDonner&Blitzen Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    I got a kick out of Matrix being the stupidest idea for a Science Fiction film ever. I guess by the 31st century all copies of Signs have been destroyed. :rommie:

    And I wonder if we'll ever hear from that homeless circus clown that Bender sent away....
     
  17. MadOnion

    MadOnion Lieutenant

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    It didn't sound like he sent him away. Probably sold his organs to that organ guy.
     
  18. RJDonner&Blitzen

    RJDonner&Blitzen Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Great. We can have an epic story arc where the Professor goes on a quest for all his parts and reassembles him.
     
  19. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Not to mention Core, the collective output of Emmerich and Bay, nuking the fridge, and most of everyhing SyFy's ever done (starting with their name change).

    Hmm, I just thought of a good avatar contest...
     
  20. JD

    JD Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, the way Bender was talking, I'm pretty sure the encounter didn't end well for The Professor's brother.