Bender the were-car
|Episode no.||Season two
|Directed by||Susie Dietter|
|Written by||Ken Keeler|
|Original air date||November 5, 2000|
|Opening caption||"Smell-O-Vision Users Insert Nostril Tubes Now"|
|Opening cartoon||"Bold King Cole" (1936)|
|Season two episodes|
|List of all Futurama episodes|
As part of his late uncle Vladimir's last will, Bender has to spend a night in his family's sinister old castle near Thermostadt, the capital of the Robo-Hungarian Empire. However, the castle's holographic "robot ghosts" cause him to flee out into the night, where he is promptly run over by a mysterious car that "creeps (or crept) on the ground on four rubbery feet, like a wolf." (Wheeled propulsion has long ago faded from the population's collective memory, as seen in previous episodes.)
After returning to New New York, Bender begins to experience nightmares and blackouts, and starts to believe that the car has followed him home. In the city, mysterious tire tracks are discovered at places where Bender has been. Worried, he seeks "professional help" from a coin-operated Gypsy Bot machine. It informs him that he was run over by a "werecar," the robotic equivalent of a werewolf, and has thus become one himself. He is cursed to keep running people over and eventually kill his best friend, Fry. The only thing that can lift the curse is to destroy the original werecar.
That night, Bender indeed turns into a sedan that resembles the 1971 Lincoln from the movie The Car and goes after Leela. This angers Fry, who takes this as a sign that Bender does not consider him to be his best friend after all.
After narrowly surviving Bender's nocturnal rampage, the crew returns to the village near Uncle Vladimir's castle. From there, they follow a trail of various bizarre werecars (e.g. the "abominable snowmobile"), until they ultimately find the original werecar: Project Satan, a demonic car built a thousand years earlier from parts of the "most evil cars in history" (such as Hitler's Mercedes and the Manson Family's Volkswagen transporter).
In the final act, Bender once again transforms, and this time goes after Fry, to the latter's immense joy. A climactic fight (which quotes extensively from John Carpenter's Christine) ensues between Leela, Fry, Bender-car and Project Satan, Project Satan accidentally drives into a large furnace, destroying himself and lifting the curse.
The episode ends with Bender violently strangling Fry for taking his last beer, signaling their friendship has returned to normal—or what passes for it between them.
In Doug Pratt's DVD Pratt noted that this episode had an "extremely witty plot turn".
- The factory where Project Satan was initiated is called Anti-Chrysler, a humorous portmanteau of Antichrist and the car company, Chrysler.
- The eerie sound that is heard in the castle is the default startup tune for Windows 98. Also when the Gypsy's reading the book about the Were-car the book also says Windows 98.
- One of the robot ghosts chasing Bender is the Microsoft Windows logo. Another is a flying toaster.
- The town of Thermostadt is a pun on Thermostat, a device used to adjust the temperature in many homes, using the common German suffix "-stadt" or "town." Note that a thermostat, which can sense its environment and make changes to it, is often used as an example of an extremely primitive robot.
- One of the tombstones in the castle cemetery reads "The Red LeBaron", a punning reference to the Red Baron and the Chrysler LeBaron, foreshadowing the were-car plot.
- Uncle Vladimir's spoiled son Tandy is named for the Tandy Corporation (now the RadioShack Corporation). On his torso is written "Euro-TRaSh-80", a reference to Tandy's TRS-80 personal computer, nicknamed the "Trash-80".
- When the will is read, the line for Tandy is a parody of a line from the famous Volkswagen commercial "Funeral."
- The painting with the moving eyes is that of "Commodore LXIV", referring to the Commodore 64 personal computer.
- Calculon's claim that he was all of "history's greatest acting robots" is a subtle reference to the immortal Mr. Flint from the Star Trek episode "Requiem for Methuselah". David X. Cohen confirms this Star Trek reference in the DVD commentary.
- Calculon claims that he was once David Duchovny.
- The impound lot in which Bender wakes up has the slogan "The Happiest Place on Earth", a reference to Disneyland.
- Fry draws attention to himself shouting "I'm a blind pedestrian, 20 points!" refers to Death Race 2000 (and its successors, i.e. Carmageddon).
- Project Satan refers to "Ed Begley, Jr.'s electric motor, the most evil propulsion system ever conceived!" Begley is known for his environmentalism and support for hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius, and owned a General Motors EV1.
- At one point, Doctor Zoidberg attempts to sell Mary Kay products to his co-workers.
- The castle that once belonged to Bender's uncle is located in the former Robo-Hungarian Empire, a reference to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
- Calculon says that the most evil parts of the most evil people's cars were used to build Project Satan, like the steering wheel from Adolf Hitler's staff car and the left turn signal of Charles Manson's VW. He also mentions the windshield wipers from KITT from the series Knight Rider, to which Fry says "Knight Rider wasn't evil!". Calculon responds "His windshield wipers were! It didn't come up much on the show, though."
Horror film references
- The line spoken by a Thermostadt villager, "Mumbo, perhaps. Jumbo, perhaps not," is a parody of a line from the 1934 horror film The Black Cat: "Supernatural, perhaps. Baloney, perhaps not."
- While staying in Vladimir's castle, Bender sees the binary number 0101100101 (357 in decimal) on the wall, but is only alarmed when he sees the reflection in the mirror, resulting in 1010011010, which is the binary representation of 666, the Number of the Beast. The fact that it is only coherent in the mirror is a reference to the famous "Redrum" phrase occurring in The Shining (the leading zero in the unreflected version makes no sense for arbitrary width binary numbers; even Bender points this out by saying it was gibberish).
- The scene where the horse-drawn carriage is moving along the cliffs towards the castle is very similar to a scene in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- The villager who takes them to the castle remarks "I will go this far and no further" similar to the 1931 film Dracula. They are, in fact, at the doors to the castle.
- The transformation sequence, though a standard aspect of werewolf stories, appears quite similar to the well-known transformation in An American Werewolf in London. As well Bender waking up in the impound lot references the protagonist waking up in the zoo, unaware of what transpired during the night.
- The car that hits Bender is a 1958 Plymouth Fury, just like the one from Christine.
- The car that Bender turns into looks a lot like the car from "The Car".
- When Bender is chased by holograms that free themselves from the paintings on the walls, they chant, "Join us." This may be a reference to The Evil Dead.
- Pratt, Douglas. Doug Pratt's DVD: Movies, Television, Music, Art, Adult, and More!. p. 474.
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