The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings
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"The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" is the seventy-second episode of Futurama, the eighteenth and last of the fourth production season, the sixteenth and last of the fifth broadcast season and the finale of the original run. It aired on 10 August, 2003, on Fox. It guest-stars Dan Castellaneta as the Robot Devil. Fry makes a deal with the Robot Devil so he can become a skilful musician and win Leela's heart.
Act I: "Mr. Bender, I simply cannot teach your child!"
Fry is desperately trying to learn to play the Holophonor, as he once almost won Leela's heart with it. He begs Bender to come and attend his Holophonor recital, and Bender graciously agrees. However, Fry is still very inexperienced, turning his recital into a disaster. This leaves Fry depressed because he can imagine great music, but is not capable of playing it. Just then, Leela tells him that she has a soft spot for men with creative musical talent, like her ex-boyfiend, Sean, and his saxophone. Bender suggests that Fry should cut a deal with the Robot Devil in order to learn to play the Holophonor. Fry agrees and they travel to Robot Hell and confront the Robot Devil, who tells Fry that he has "stupid fingers", which can't even master a belt buckle. He suggests that Fry takes a pair of robot hands to replace them, and leads them to a big wheel of fortune called "Wheel of Robots", containing every robot in existence's name. The wheel lands on the Robot Devil (positioned next to Bender's), who reluctantly replaces his hands with Fry's.
Act II: "I'm back from Hell, and I've got the Robot Devil's hands!"
With his new hands, Fry easily masters the holophonor and soon becomes a star. He even makes his own records and plays in public at Hovercar-negie Hall. Leela is genuinely touched by the beauty of his music. The Robot Devil is desperately trying to get his hands back, but Fry refuses to give them back. Meanwhile, Hedonism Bot asks Fry to write an opera for him, and Fry agrees, provided that he can write it about Leela. He begins his work, and Leela is very impressed by his creative talent, but Fry doesn't want her to hear the opera until it's done. Meanwhile, the Robot Devil cuts a deal with Bender, installing on him a stadium air horn, taking his crotch plate in return. This allows Bender to fulfill his wish of being more annoying. Bender tries out his new function on the first person he sees, Leela. The blast is so loud, she is deafened, the night before Fry's big concert. This is just what the Robot Devil had hoped for--a bargaining chip to use against Fry in return for his hands. Bender tries to use his catchphrase, but realizes that he just traded his "shiny metal ass" to the Robot Devil.
Act III: "Please don't stop playing, Fry. I want to hear how it ends."
Fry's opera, Leela: Orphan of the Stars, has its grand premiere in the Metropolitan House of Opera, attended by a huge audience. As she still can't hear, Leela begs the Planet Express crew not to tell Fry that she is deaf, because she fears it would break his heart, so Amy uses Emotion Flashcards to show Leela what she is supposed to feel when Fry sees her. The first act, dealing with Leela's past, is a great success. During the intermission, Leela decides that she would give anything to hear the rest, which plays right into the Robot Devil's plans. He agrees to grant her new ears in exchange for her hand, which she accepts, and is given Calculon's ears. The Robot Devil tells her that he will come back for the hand at a later time because the intermission is about to end and he does not want her to be late for the rest of the opera. During the second act, portraying Fry's deal with the Robot Devil, the real Robot Devil makes a personal appearance on the stage, confronts Fry and demands his hands back, or he will take Leela's promised hand—in marriage. Fry is desperate, as his skill with the holophonor (and his ability to impress Leela) lies in his new, robotic hands. Without them, he will not be able to complete the opera he wrote to win her heart. In the end, he decides to give up the hands so that Leela may go free. Left with his old hands, he is unable to play with any amount of skill, and the opera is a flop causing the entire audience to leave angry and disappointed. Just as Fry is about to sadly leave the empty stage with his holophonor, he hears Leela in the distance as she says Please don't stop playing Fry. I want to hear how it ends. He then turns and sees Leela as the only person left in the audience, smiling. Fry, happy to see she has remained, sits down and finishes by managing to play a simple but sweet tune, and the holophonor creates crudely drawn versions of Fry and Leela which kiss and hold hands before walking off into the distance, together.
- On the spinning wheel used by the Robot Devil to select the robot who will trade hands with Fry, the names seen are those of actual robots who have appeared in the series. (See below for the full list.) Some of them have no or only one hand, suggesting that the Robot Devil had ways of cheating.
- The grumpy snail is in every holophonor piece Fry plays, except the opera, and is also featured on the advertisement for Fry's record.
- The final line in the episode took a while to record due to Katey Sagal's involvement with the TV series 8 Simple Rules.
- Dan Castellaneta returns as the Robot Devil, and also plays the slug advertising Fry's album.
- When the show went on hiatus in April 2002, the Futurama crew made this episode to work as both a season and series finale, as it would give them a 50/50 chance to get renewed.
- Fry, Leela, Bender, Professor Farnsworth and Richard Nixon are the only characters to appear in both this episode and "Space Pilot 3000".
- Writer Ken Keeler was nominated for an Emmy in 2004 (for Outstanding Music and Lyrics) for the song "I Want My Hands Back".
- Preacherbot mentions the power vested in him "by the state of New New York". Up until this point, it had never been mentioned if the state's name had changed along with the city's, although it was marked as such in "Bendin' in the Wind".
- This is the only time the big screen in the opening sequence shows a picture of the opening sequence itself, repeating itself endlessly.
- The sign of the Holophonor teacher bears the subtitle Taking the fun out of music for over 20 years.
- Fry and Bender ride Segways to get to the recital.
- Amy is using Emotion Flashcards featuring the Poster Guy to tell the deafened Leela what she is supposed to feel during the opera.
- The contract Leela has signed is headed Standard Diabolical Exchange Agreement.
- At the end of the episode, just as Leela says "I want to know how it ends", she no longer has Calculon's ears (you need to zoom). In the DVD film Bender's Big Score, she no longer has the ears either, and Calculon doesn't appear. This is often considered a retcon. It is more likely however, that just as Leela's loss of eyesight in "Bender Gets Made" was temporary, so too was her loss of hearing in this episode. It is also possible that her hearing was simply fixed after the Opera.
- During the sequence where the Robot Devil gives Fry his hands, there are at least three frames where both he and Fry have robot hands. However, this is hardly noticeable at regular playing speed.
- Zoidberg's quote "Your music's bad and you should feel bad!" inspired an Internet meme similar to the Fry meme following the formula: "Your x is bad and you should feel bad", which was used in two promos for season 7 of Futurama: "ALL NEW FUTURAMA IS GOOD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL GOOD" and "YOUR PROMO IS BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD".
- The opening subtitle with "See You On Some Other Channel" hinted that FOX had cancelled Futurama, and that the show would air in syndication on Adult Swim, but this is the last episode Adult Swim aired on 31 December, 2007 before their rights expired. Once Comedy Central started airing it, the subtitle became twice true, due to CC reviving the series in 2010.
- When the scene first switches to Robot Hell and we see the Robot Devil practicing music with his minions, they are playing a short variation of the song "Robot Hell", from "Hell Is Other Robots".
- This is the final episode where the music is recorded using a full orchestra. From Bender's Big Score onward, all music would be synthesized to save money.
- The episode ends without resolving how Bender got his crotch plate back, a subject re-examined in "Assie Come Home".
- During the advertisement for Fry’s record he switches between having normal and robot hands.
- Tinny Tim holds up a newspaper twice, which has the title "New York Post", rather than "New New York Post" as would be expected.
- Even though New York has been destroyed and New New York exists in the 31st century, it is possible that the New York Post survived without changing its title. Despite this, in "Attack of the Killer App", Scoop Chang clearly says he is reporter for the New New York Post. Which either confirms the goof or indicates the paper finally updated its name in between the two episodes.
- When the Robot Devil first comes to get his hands back, Fry is standing with his hands in his pockets, and then in the next shot, his hands are out of his pockets, but no time has passed to allow for Fry to take his hands out.
- There was a deleted scene between the two shots where Fry takes his hands out to make a gesture.
- In "Parasites Lost" Leela had indicated that only a couple people in the universe could use the Holophonor and that they weren't very good at it. Here, we see a large number of children being taught to play it and at least one of them is shown to have skill with it.
- At the end of this episode, the Robot Devil had almost married Leela. But in "Proposition Infinity", it is revealed that robosexual marriage is illegal.
- Maybe Reverend Lionel Preacherbot believes that the rules on Earth don't apply in Robot Hell.
- Robosexuality is stated to be illegal in terms of the law, but the Temple of Robotology never explicitly states that the religion prohibits it. Reverend Lionel Preacherbot may have been about to break the law, but there is no indication that he was about to break any religious rule.
- It could be Senator Hedonism Bot proposed the ban after this episode to prevent the Robot Devil from ruining any more of his commissioned operas by threatening to marry an audience member.
- The Robot Devil lives in New Jersey, where robosexual marriage may be legal.
- The Robot Devil may have just been pretending to marry Leela to trick Fry.
- It is later revealed that the Robot Devil has multiple back-up copies of his body in Robot Hell ("Ghost in the Machines"), so he could have just taken his old hands off of one of those.
- It is possible that he created the copies after this episode.
- Fry says "My hands, my horrible, human hands!", but Fry's hands were replaced during "I Dated a Robot".
- When Bender says "you may have to metaphorically make a deal with the devil. And by devil, I mean Robot Devil. And by metaphorically, I mean get your coat" to Fry, Fry is already wearing his coat.
Tinny Tim: Extra! Extra! Greatest opera of all time sucks!
Zoidberg: I'll take eight!
Bender: [Looking at signs that tell him to keep him out of Fry's room.] I choose to not understand these signs.
Bender: You know what always cheers me up? Laughing at other peoples misfortunes! [laughs]
Bender: Fry, if you don't take this offer right now, I will lose all respect for you and punch you.
Bender: [Watching the Wheel of Robots spin.] I got a hundred bucks on Rectal-Exam-Bot!
Hedonismbot: Courtesans and gentle fops, I bid you welcome to my opera. Let us cavort like the Greeks of old. You know the ones I mean.
Zoidberg: [As Fry enters the stage.] I watch TV with that guy!
Opera PA: Please take your seats for Act 2!
Hedonism Bot: But I'm not done vomiting! Ahahahaha!
Hedonismbot: [As the Robot Devil chops off Fry's hands.] Surgery in an opera? How wonderfully decadent! And I was just beginning to lose interest. Jombee, the chocolate icing! [Servant covers him in chocolate.] Oh! Oh my, yes!
Leela: [touching Fry's robot hands] Aah! They're so cold!
Robot Devil: [off screen] AND YET HELL IS SO HOT! [laughs] Can I have my hands back now?
Robot Devil: [whining] YOU'RE NOT NICE!
Hedonismbot: Less reality, more fantasy. Resume the opera!
Fry: But I can't play anymore!
Zoidberg: Yes you can! The music was in your heart, not your hands!
[Fry begins playing off-key and the audience starts booing.]
Zoidberg: Your music is bad and you should feel bad!
Hedonism Bot: A man writing an opera about a woman? [giggles] Oh, sirrah, how deliciously absurd!
Robot Devil: You can't just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!
Leela: Please don't stop playing, Fry. I want to hear how it ends.
Bender: I don't recall ever fighting Godzilla, but that is so what I would have done!
- This episode takes up the storyline of "Parasites Lost".
- Leela is seen eating a grilled Buggalo leg, a reference to "Where the Buggalo Roam".
- Fry's "stupid fingers" may be a result of his hands being replaced in "I Dated a Robot".
Characters on the wheel of robots
- Main article: Wheel of Robots
- Two people in the holophonor image jump over barrels as they walk upstairs, which is similar to the gameplay in Donkey Kong. This links the first episode ("Space Pilot 3000") and what was at the time of production the final episode of the series in that they both have a Donkey Kong reference.
- The idea of someone selling something to the devil for an artistic talent is similar to the 1937 short story The Devil and Daniel Webster.
- The name of the opera hall where Fry's opera debuts is MHOp (Metropolitan House of Opera), a reference to both IHOP (International House of Pancakes) restaurants and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.
- The plot may be based on Marlowe's Faust.
- The title of the opera could be based on the title of the book, Ami : L'Enfant des étoiles, a 1999 book which title, translated from French, means Ami : Child of the stars.
- Fry plays Für Elise composed by Ludwig Van Beethoven and also plays with an orchestra Boléro composed by Maurice Ravel.
- Bolt Rolands
- Dean Epsilon
- Debut: Djambi
- Debut: The Grumpy Snail
- Hedonism Bot
- Humorbot 5.0
- Mayor C. Randall Poopenmeyer
- Debut: Mrs. Mellinger
- Mom's sons
- Morgan Proctor
- The Preacherbot
- Professor Farnsworth
- Richard Nixon's head
- The Robot Devil
- Ron Whitey
- Tinny Tim
- Zapp Brannigan
- Voice Actors
- DVD Commentary
- Special Guest