Immersing Myself in Star Trek: Part 2 – Blast You Futurama!!!

In continuation from a previous post, I have started to fill the gap in my nerd knowledge by watching Star Trek. Obviously I’m starting with The Original Series and will move on from there. There’s only one problem with watching these iconic episodes this far in my nerdy experiences……FUTURAMA. There have been a few times while watching I can’t help but laughing at something due to my love of Futurama.

The worst offender in my mind was when I got to the Star Trek episode “Amok Time.” In this episode Spock starts to exhibit irrational behavior and requests time off to return to his home planet of Vulcan. Spoiler Alert! (and to be honest if you haven’t watched either Futurama or Star Trek chances are you aren’t reading this anyway.) It turns out that Spock has a condition known as “Pon farr.” Now anyone who watches Futurama as much as I do knows that this sounds very similar to the episode “Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?” where the Planet Express crew finds Dr. Zoidberg acting much more aggressive than usual. Normally early on in any Star Trek episode when something goes wrong the audience is normally in the dark on the source of the problem. This is part of what makes the show so enjoyable. This is when I thought to myself “I wonder if Spock’s body is going through the same thing that Zoidberg’s did.” If this is the case then he needs to return to his home world to get laid.

That is where I thought the similarities might end, but as the episode continued I found that I was dead wrong. As I’m watching and there is discussion as to whether Spock’s betrothed T’Pring is able to challenge Spock for another man I started giggling even further. While the shows is trying to be dramatic about who Spock will go up against I’m sitting there thinking “It’s going to be Kirk. It’s going to be Kirk. It’s going to be Kirk.” Now for a lot of people this episode is iconic for the fact that Spock and Kirk having to fight, but I was so involved in my comparison with Futurama that this didn’t even cross my mind. Obviously the ending of the episodes differ slightly, as I’m sure that Spock was not going to cut off Kirk’s hands. I’m sure the purpose for the parody in Futurama was for the Star Trek fans to laugh about the familiarity. Never having watched the episode before just found it utterly entertaining on its own merits. Which is really what a good parody should be.

There are other instances that aren’t as bad as “Amok Time,” but I still noticed while watching. For example, in the Star Trek episode “The Apple” there is a barbaric looking group of people being ruled by a greater being on the planet named Vaal. While watching we see that Vaal is located in a cave that looks like this:

Which brings to mind the Futurama episode named “Amazon Women in the Mood” where we find a group of barbaric looking women being ruled by a greater being that is located in a cave that looks like this.

Once I saw the cave I knew that there must be some kind of computer in charge. Granted for most of the episodes in Star Trek it usually is either some sort of computer or an alien.

The latest episode that made me think of Futurama in terms of general plot was the episode “The Deadly Years.” This is an episode in which the landing party returns from the surface only to be rapidly aging. Futurama didn’t exactly copy this, but they did seem to put it in reverse with the episode “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles.” In this episode the crew is growing younger and younger.

I’m tickled pink by how much Futurama likes to parody classic sci-fi. The problem is when you watch Futurama these sorts of things look like they fit right in, so once you see the origin of the reference you can’t help but laugh. Best example:

The Brain Spawn

and the Gamemasters of Triskelion

There are other jokes that I knew about through past episodes but became funny when seen in real episodes. Like when Kirk rips his own shirt.

And any episode of Star Trek when Kirk fights.

This always tickled me in particular. The uniforms appear to be two separate shirts with the black being an undershirt, but when his uniform ripped you get this.

And this one has been referenced so many times, but I didn’t think about it until recently, but Flexo, Bender’s supposed evil twin.

Has facial hair and is therefore evil. Just like Spock in the episode “Mirror, Mirror.”

Lastly, watching the acting style of William Shatner playing Captain James Kirk I have nothing but flashbacks to a number of Futurama references. Obviously through Zapp Brannigan (who is Kirk’s equivalent in this show), but also through Calculon (who resembles Shatner himself.) If Captain Kirk were a real person and both shows were adaptations of his life I feel like Star Trek would be how Kirk sees himself. He is smart, quick to decision, good at hand-to-hand combat, cannot be defeated no matter the circumstance and most importantly the smoothest operator when it comes to women. On the other hand I see Futurama as depicting Kirk as he would actually be in real life. He would be full of himself, not seductive in the least bit, and quick to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. In summation not a great captain, but often gets the job done.

As for similarities with Calculon I found the second season of Star Trek started to show this more and more. This seemed to be the point where Shatner really started getting melodramatic. Mostly it was the constant pauses in the middle of his sentences, but even more so in a tense scene where it feels like he is acting so hard. This is the when all I can hear is Calculon from this particular scene (sorry the only clip I could find was only audio.)

I’m about half way done with The Original Series after which I have plenty more to discuss being a first time viewer. It’s interesting watching something for the first time being as old as I am when so many people grew up with this material. On the plus side I’ll notice a lot more than if I grew up with it. I’ll elaborate in greater detail once I finish the series itself.

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