Forty Percent Leadbelly
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|Season 7 episode|
Broadcast season 10 episode
|Forty Percent Leadbelly|
|Written by||Ken Keeler|
|Directed by||Stephen Sandoval|
|Title caption||Any Resemblance To Actual Future Is Purely Coincidental|
|First air date||3 July 2013|
|Title reference||A running gag and the late American musician Lead Belly|
|Opening cartoon||"Makin' 'Em Move"|
"Forty Percent Leadbelly" is the one hundred and twenty-eighth episode of Futurama, the fourteenth of the seventh production season and the fourth of the tenth broadcast season. It aired on 3 July 2013, on Comedy Central. At a maximum-security prison, Bender meets a famous folk singer and attempts to make a copy of his precious guitar.
Act I: "Don't come back 'til you've lived a life worth singin' about!"
The Planet Express Discount Prisoner Transfer crew are transferring Dr. Brutaloff, a super villan with Freddy Kruger-style finger-knives, to 11-Worth Variable-Security Prison. A Han Solo-style block of frozen carbonite encases Brutaloff. Conveying this cargo to its final destination, Bender spies Silicon Red, "the universe's greatest folk singer" at the prisoner discharge office, retrieving his belongings and preparing to depart. Bender suddenly remembers his "lifelong dream of being a folk singer" and abandons Fry to chase down Silicon Red. As soon as Bender leaves, Brutaloff escapes from the carbonite, beats Fry up, and freezes Fry back into the carbonite up to his neck.
Bender catches up to Silicon Red and takes a picture of Red's guitar, with the intention of using a 3-D printer to create a perfect duplicate. With this duplicate, Bender believes he will be a "famous folk singer". Dr. Beeler finds the image of the duplicated guitar in Bender's file system. He then turns a crank in Bender's compartment of mystery that causes Bender's components to wirelessly transmit the image to the printer. Bender can next be found walking around Planet Express wearing a flannel shirt and playing his duplicated guitar.
Fry, mostly encased in carbonite after being attacked by Dr. Brutaloff, begins at this point to make periodic sarcastic comments to complain of Bender's mistreatment of him at the prison.
When the crew tell Bender that he doesn't know enough about folk music to be successful, he explains his analysis of "every folk song in the universe": bad-hearted woman cheats on her good man with a rambler. Bender uses this as a formula for creating his own folk songs. He crashes a performance by Silicon Red and performs one of his songs while Red is distracted, billing himself as "Ramblin' Rodriguez". The audience hates it, and Red explains that Bender's song is insincere. He sends Bender away and says, "Don't come back 'til you've lived a life worth singin' about!"
Act II: "I've never worked on anything all the livelong day, let alone a railroad."
Fry is still making biting comments about Bender's abandonment, as when Leela echoes Silicon Red: "You can't write a real folk song about experiences you haven't had." Fry interjects, "You should write a song about a heartless robot who leaves his best friend to be murdered!" Bender continues to ignore him, and Fry becomes increasingly agitated. Bender follows Zoidberg's suggestion to go work on "the railroad" in order to have the experiences necessary to be a folk singer. In the Rusty Rail, a bar on "the wrong side of the tracks," Bender meets Big Caboose, "a steel-drivin' man workin' the Trans-Universal line." Bender sees Big Caboose, who actually a robot, not a man, as exactly the kind of exciting personality that can be used in a good folk song. Caboose protests that he is nothing special.
As Caboose introduces Bender to his colorful acquaintances, Bender takes notes so he can use these people as characters in his song. At the work site, Bender's job is to lead the singing of the laborers and drink cocktails. After living this grueling life for a while, he begins to create his song. By the time Fry and Leela arrive at Bender's railroad camp to deliver explosives, Bender's song includes the main character, the Jezebel, and the rambler whom she runs to. Fry is still angry at Bender, and when he makes a mean comment, Bender adds a verse for him. It tells how Bender needs help to escape the angry Caboose, but Fry, still holding a grudge, sends him away. Fry gives credit where credit is due, responding, "You have accurately portrayed the nature of my grievance."
Bender is just adding the verse where his main character begins his quest to avenge himself on the rambler when Caboose bursts in and eagerly introduces Bender to his new fiancee. She flings herself at Bender as soon as Caboose leaves the room. Bender and the fiancee have sex, which inspires him to add another verse to his song. Foreshadowing later developments, the fiancee reveals that her name is Jezebel. Bender sees this as a lucky coincidence, not realizing its significance.
While Fry and Leela hang out at Fry's house, Caboose, who was last seen near the railroad camp far from Earth, bursts in the door with a shotgun in his hands saying that he is here to shoot Bender down for sleeping with Jezebel. At this point, Fry and Leela realize that Bender's song is also playing out in real life. Back at camp, Bender has the idea for his hero to run over the rambler with a train, rather than shooting him. When Bender has this thought, his transmitter sends a train image from Bender's file system to the 3-D printer, and the printer begins to fabricate a train. Just as Bender is saying goodbye to Jezebel, Big Caboose crashes through the wall in the train from the printer and tells Bender that he has come to run him down.
Act III: "That steel-driving moron killed a duplicate instead of me."
Caboose follows as Bender flees all the way to Earth, all the way to the apartment he shares with Fry. He bangs on the door and begs to be let in, but Fry mocks him, reminding him of the verse he had added to the song for Fry. Bender flees to Planet Express with Caboose not far behind. He finds Fry, Leela, and Farnsworth trying to locate him. Bender is confused to see Fry, given that Fry had just mocked him at their apartment in his underwear, but decides to put off thinking about it. Leela explains that his song is coming true, and Bender finally realizes that he is transmitting his thoughts to the 3-D printer, resulting in duplicates even of people, such as the duplicate Fry who mocked Bender at their apartment.
After some brief trouble with a band of giant octopuses, Leela realizes that Bender can "write his way out of" the problem. Fearing for Bender's safety, Leela suggests that Bender make up any old ending that saves him from Caboose. Bender refuses on the grounds of artistic integrity, as he still wishes to create "the best folk song in the universe". Just as he begins to add the next verse to his song, Caboose appears in his train and runs Bender down. At Bender's memorial service, it is revealed that this is not really Bender, but a duplicate fabricated by the 3-D printer. The real Bender arrives and sings the rest of his song, explaining that during the octopus trouble, he made a duplicate of himself with a fatal weakness that the real Bender doesn't have: artistic integrity. Bender and Silicon Red decide to sell out, and they are last seen performing a rap concert.
On 27 January 2012, assistant director Aimee Steinberger commented that she could not go to the FOX-lot screening of the first full-color animation for "7ACV01" due to her work on this episode. On 14 February 2012, she said that the animatic for the episode was "done" and would be screened "[on the next day] at the FOX lot". On the next day, she stated that she thought that it had gone "pretty well".
As late as 8 January 2013, it was revealed that the title "Forty Percent Leadbelly", which had been, in February 2012, added to the Copyright Catalog and said by show writer Eric Rogers to be the title of something "supergood", was the episode's title.
On 12 April 2013, a preview clip for the episode was released during a HuffPost Live interview with Futurama writer Patric Verrone, showing Bender using the help of Dr. Ben Beeler to bring a guitar image stored in his file system into reality by use of a large 3D printer, the Make-O-Matic. The air date for the second half of season 7 was also revealed.
Dr. Beeler joins Bender inside of his file system.
- This is the only episode of the tenth broadcast season not to be featured in the Vulture preview clip.
- The episode's title caption is similar to that of "The Route of All Evil".
- Dr. Ben Beeler is named after Futurama writer Ken Keeler, who wrote this episode. Dr. Beeler also appeared in another episode written by Keeler, "Overclockwise", but he did not speak.
- Part of the code in the guitar's formula for mass production reads "thankMakerBot". According to the commentary, the Make-O-Matic was modelled after a 3D printer that the Futurama crew had in the office, which Patric Verrone bought from New York's MakerBot Industries.
- Bender's porn drive has a memory size of 100,000 terabytes and his main drive has the memory size of only 1 terabyte.
- This episode confirms Dandy Jim's name, which was first used in a Volume Three menu.
- When Bender and Jezebel begin making out, a train goes into a tunnel, a metaphor for sexual penetration.
- Bender is wrong, "octopi" is not a true plural form of "octopus" and originates from a misconception on Latin pluralization rules.
- The Bender duplicate says that his audience deserves better than some crappy, formulaic ending. This may be a reference to the fact that Ken Keeler wrote the finale.
- Ramblin' Rodriguez's birth year is given as 2996. This may be Bender's "birth" year, making Bender 16 or 17 at the time of his "death", if the thousands of years he spent in the past are not counted.
Bender's file system
- MAIN DRIVE (C:)
SIZE: 1 Terabyte
- PORN DRIVE (XXX:)
SIZE: 100,000 Terabytes
- Click here to see cultural mentions made in this episode.
- The episode's plotline, involving Bender's folk songs becoming reality, is a riff on Philip K. Dick's short story, "What'll We Do with Ragland Park?", where the titular character is a folk singer whose songs, unbeknownst to him, become reality after he performs them.
- The episode's title is a reference to a running gag that has Bender claim to be 40% of something that keeps changing and the late American musician Lead Belly. In the game, Bender is 40% lead.
- The entrance to 11-Worth Variable-Security Prison is similar to the SPECTRE volcano base in the James Bond classic You Only Live Twice.
- Dr. Brutalov's finger knives may be a reference to the claws of the superhero Wolverine or the glove worn by the primary antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series, Freddy Krueger.
- When Bender declares that he will duplicate the guitar, Silicon Red states that "with all Salmonella and me been through, her sound is unique". This may be a reference to Stradivarius violins, as no modern copy has been able to truly replicate their "perfect" sound.
- On Bender's desktop, there is an image of a cat hanging on to a tree branch with "HANG IN THERE, DUMBASS" written on it, a reference to the "hang in there, Baby" poster.
- Fry is trapped in a block of carbonite, a reference to the Star Wars franchise. Han Solo was also trapped in carbonite in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
- T.G.I. Folky's is a reference to the restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday's.
- The name of Bender's song, "The Ballad of Me, Ramblin' Rodriguez", may be a reference to English musician Frank Turner's song "The Ballad of Me and My Friends". It's also a reference to Bender's catchphrase "me, Bender".
- The name Ramblin' Rodriguez may be a reference to one of the following.
- The ending song has the lyric "I'm the real Rodriguez, would you please stand up", which is based off the Eminem song "The Real Slim Shady".
- The Awesome Express uniforms, from "The Route of All Evil", appear once again.
- Bender's dream of being a folk singer was established in "The Series Has Landed", which was also written by Ken Keeler.
- Fry previously did karate in "Attack of the Killer App".
- Bender's address bar reads "C:\BENDER_2716057". 2716057 is Bender's serial number, established in "The Lesser of Two Evils".
- When Dr. Beeler accesses Bender's main drive in his file system, two folders can be seen within it, "Main Personality" and "Penguin Personality", a reference to when Bender was rebooted in penguin mode in "The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz".
- Funnily enough, his main personality file has a memory size of 3 MB, whereas his penguin personality has a memory size of 150 MB.
- A few penguins attend Bender's funeral later in the episode.
- The prism railroad previously appeared in "The 30% Iron Chef".
- The front door to Fry and Bender's apartment no longer contains the main cupboard for Bender, from "I, Roommate", at the opening. This means the main apartment is no longer just a "closet" and simply is the apartment (however, the cupboard is brought back in "Meanwhile").
- Leela refers to a phone as a cell phone telephone, as she and Bender did in Into the Wild Green Yonder.
- The funeral dresses that Leela and Amy wear are the ones from "The Sting".
- The Wong Hotel & Casino has got a strike through "Wong", possibly because the Martians took it over in "Viva Mars Vegas".
- Bender previously rapped during the end credits for "Free Will Hunting".
- When the ship lands at the prison, the crew is already at the door.
- The autopilot may have been on.
- Bender's main drive originally says it contains one terabyte, but, when Dr. Beeler opens it, its contents only add up to 153 megabytes.
- When everyone is at T.G.I. Folky's, Hermes doesn't have a pipe in the first shot but later on he does.
- In the scene where Bender is lying in bed with Jezebel, the left sleeve of his shirt isn't outlined.
- In the scene where Fry and Leela are watching TV in Fry and Bender's apartment, the shot depicting the television set is clearly the one used for the Planet Express employee lounge.
- Leela states that Big Caboose, Duplicate Fry, and Cookie are simply creations from Bender's song, but Bender met Big Caboose and Cookie before he wrote the song.
- She is referring to the Big Caboose that was in the apartment. She may also be saying that she met Cookie herself, sometime after Bender presumably wrote him into his song.
- Dr. Beeler says that a duplicate was created as a decoy in Star Trek: The Next Generation, but, in "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", Star Trek had been outlawed.
- Dr. Beeler could have found an illegal method of watching Star Trek.
Silicon Red: All your fancy technology will never be able to copy this guitar.
[Cut to a building with a sign reading TECHNOLOGY LAB. Inside, Bender has the rotating image of a guitar projecting from his eyes. He and Ben Beeler are looking at it.]
Ben Beeler: Using my fancy technology, I can make an exact copy of this guitar.
[Ben Beeler points to the copy.]
Bender: Tell me Dr. Beeler, will I need to threaten you?
Ben Beeler: Not at all! You see nowadays, we can take a unique and beautiful object, and easily reduce it to a formula for mass production! I call the process: science!
[A large 3D printer-like device called the Make-O-Matic begins to create a guitar downloaded from Bender's memory.]
Ben Beeler: By laying down layer after layer of nano plastic, it can turn your wildest dreams into ordinary reality!
Bender: Witchcraft! Sorcerer! Neat.
Bender: I failed at my life-long dream again. How can I be so bad at everything I try, and still be so great?
Fry: You know my favourite part of your song? The part where it ended.
- Dr. Ben Beeler
- Debut: Big Caboose
- Debut: Cookie
- Debut: Dr. Brutalov
- Dandy Jim
- Dr. Daniel Zenus' robot (cameo, 10:06)
- Professor Farnsworth
- Debut: Fast Frank Brogan
- Helper (cameo, 10:07)
- Humorbot 5.0 (cameo, 10:05)
- The Hypnotoad
- Debut: Jezebel
- The male nurse
- The Robot Chef (cameo, 9:00)
- Debut: Silicon Red
Characters at the funeral
- Debut: 11-Worth Variable-Security Prison
- Alabama (mentioned in speech only)
- Apartment 00100100
- New Hampshire (mentioned in speech only)
- Debut: Mississippi (mentioned in speech only)
- The Planet Express conference room
- The Planet Express employee lounge (goof)
- The Planet Express headquarters
- The Planet Express kitchen
- The prism railroad
- Robot Arms Apartments
- Debut: The Rusty Rail
- The technology lab
- The Temple of Robotology
- Debut: T.G.I. Folky's
- The Wong Hotel & Casino
Notes and references
- ^ Aimee Steinberger (27 January 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 27 January 2012.
- ^ Aimee Steinberger (27 January 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 27 January 2012.
- ^ Aimee Steinberger (14 February 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 15 February 2012.
- ^ Aimee Steinberger (15 February 2012). aimeekitty. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 16 February 2012.
- ^ Eric Rogers (08 January 2012). EricRogersLA. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 15 January 2012.
- ^ FoxFast: Futurama. (FoxFast.com.) Retrieved on 09 January 2013.
- ^ "Just Fan" (08 February 2012). "Futurama: Futurama News after 6ACV26 (Reincarnation)" (page 18). (PEEL.) Retrieved on 15 January 2013.
- ^ Eric Rogers (08 February 2012). Kitchelfilms. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 15 January 2013.
- ^ a b 'Futurama' Writer Shares Exclusive New Clip. (HuffPost Live.) 13 April 2013. Retrieved on 13 April 2013.
- ^ Special Features > Still Gallery on Volume Three, disc 4.
- ^ octopus - definition of octopus in English from the Oxford dictionary. (Oxford English Dictionary.) Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
- ^ Search Chambers - Free English Dictionary. (Chambers Dictionary.) Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
- ^ Definition of octopus. (Collins English Dictionary.) Retrieved on 13 July 2013.
- ^ Possibly a play on ".kp" and ".jpg".
- ^ A play on "3D" and ".pdf".