Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles
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|Season 4 episode|
Broadcast season 5 episode
|Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles|
|Written by||Jeff Westbrook|
|Directed by||Bret Haaland|
|Title caption||Now interactive! Joystick controls Fry's left ear|
|First air date||30 March, 2003|
|Title reference||The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise|
|Opening cartoon||Moonlight for Two|
"Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" is the sixty-third episode of Futurama, the ninth of the fourth production season and the seventh of the fifth broadcast season. It aired on 30 March, 2003, on Fox. The Planet Express crew is exposed to a substance that causes everyone to revert to teenagers... and the Professor's attempt to correct the problem only makes thing worse.
Act I: "We've talked it over and everybody thinks you're too old"
When his pet gargoyle Pazuzu escapes from the Planet Express lab, Professor Farnsworth sets off to hunt down the errant monster with Fry, Leela and Bender in tow. The Professor exhibits the typical behaviour of the elderly, including driving extremely slowly, and being very forgetful - forgetting, even, the purpose of their journey. He visits a Florida diner to catch the early bird dinner special, where the waitress, Wanda, tells him his "angry crotchety grandpa" discount card has expired, despite it being good for a lifetime. After the Professor's nuclear-powered teeth cause mayhem in the diner, the crew decide that he is too old and needs to be youthasized. They take him to the The Bubbling Geezer spa where Heather, a Neptunian, is assigned as his personal youthasizer. When Heather's initial treatments bringing about no change, the Professor is directed to bathe in age-reducing tar. Bender overdoes the pumping of the whirlpool function of the tar pit and everyone gets covered in tar. The Professor, previously at a biological age of 161, is now aged 53 again, and the crew members have reverted to their teenage years (Fry is 14). Zoidberg even reverts to a larval, codfish-like form.
Act II: "Shut up and go live with your parents!"
While the Professor tries to restore their normal ages, the crew have to adjust to their teenage selves - mostly by acting very childishly. Leela chooses to live with her parents to experience the childhood she never had. Her parents agree to this, though Leela has to ask them to be strict, to give her the full teen experience. Amy's parents are less pleased, however, as they fear they will have to wait longer for a grandchild. Fry and Leela go out on a date and win a race through the sewers against Moose and Mandy, but end up damaging the Martin Luther Thing Jr. High School.
Meanwhile, the Professor thinks he has thought of a way to restore their correct ages - a genetically engeneered oil-eating bacterium that should destroy the tar still stuck to their DNA (in Bender's case, his RNA, "robonucleic acid"). Leela refuses the treatment, as she wants to continue living out her teenage years with her parents. The rest of the crew enter the Bacterial Spew Chamber for controlled infection with the bacteria. The plan, however, backfires: though the tar is broken down, the chronitons within it are now roaming free inside the crew's bodies, making them younger by the minute. The Professor is now 37 years old, and Amy is only eight. Zoidberg is a trilobite and then turns into a clam. They all now face a fate worse than death: pre-life... and then death.
Act III: "He always had to be the center of attention!"
Zoidberg is now a long thin creature sucking the Professor's blood. While the Professor is desperately thinking of a way to stop the youthing process, Leela (who is still a teen as she didn't take the treatment) takes care of the crew members - all around four or five years old and Zoidberg now an urchin- at her parents' home. While reading them a story, she stumbles on the tale of the Fountain of Aging. She informs the Professor, who agrees that it may really exist. The Professor-now in his 20s picks them up. The whole crew flies to an extremely old solar system, the professor is now about 14 too while the rest of the crew are toddlers, where they locate the Fountain. The professor is now a preteen while the rest of the crew are babies. The youthasized crew, except the Professor, have now reverted to their embryonic stage, except for Bender, who turns into a box with the parts inside and then of whom all that is left is a CD with Bending Robot Blueprints. One of Zoidberg's-now a coral with his siblings attached brothers falls into the Fountain and gets caught in its current, and the crew watches as he ages rapidly and crumbles to dust. The Professor, now around three years old, enters the Fountain holding the others. The current is too strong, however, and the Professor loses his grip, releasing everyone into the whirlpool's current. As the crew are pulled towards the center of the fountain, Leela decides to sacrifice her only chance of growing up with her parents and jumps in to rescue them, tied to a safety rope. Leela manages to retrieve everyone - now all roughly their correct ages again - except the Professor, who is still caught in the vortex. At the last minute the Professor is saved, however, by Pazuzu: an act for which Farnsworth grants him his freedom, and he is shown in Notre Dame in Paris afterwards recounting the story to his son.
- The Professor implicitly refers to Bender's "robonucleic acid" ("RNA"). In reality, "RNA" means "ribonucleic acid".
- The book Leela reads the stories from is "A Child's Garden of Space Legends", featuring a child screaming as he's being eaten (headfirst) by a lizard-like alien.
- The stories from the book include "Snow-White Dwarf and the Seven Red Dwarfs", "Charlotte's Tholian Web" and "The Fountain of Aging".
- The poster behind Leela in her bedroom is from the "Mu-Teen Magazine", it shows "Tentacle Chachi" and "Four-Legged Chachi".
- El Chupanibre appears during the sewer race with the airboats. He can be seen in the background next to the theater that says "Fiddler Way Below the Roof". This must mean that he is still alive and he got out of the sub-sewers. You can tell he is alive and not a statue because his eyes move.
- "Fiddler Way Below the Roof" on the theater during the sewer race with the airboats is rated five stars and is given the review of "Crap!" because it is about a story in the sewers, not because it was bad.
- When they are being given the oil-eating bacteria, the chamber coughs out the bacteria, and Dr. Zoidberg says that he is no doctor but he thinks "this machine guy" could use a lozenge. A lozenge is a type of cough pill.
Randy: Hey Grandpa, move your wrinkly old keister!
Professor: [3 seconds later.] Shut up!
Professor: But I like being old. I don't have to talk to my parents, no one asks me to help move their stuff, I don't need to understand today's "edgy" TV sitcoms.
Professor: Pazuzu, you ungrateful gargoyle! I put you through college, and this is how you repay me?!
Professor: [Gasping.] Fifty-three years old? Oh, now I'll need a fake ID to rent ultra-porn!
Amy: [sobs] I'm gonna stay in my room!
Leo Wong: Stay in room? You so fat, you gonna stay all around room!
Leela: I know, everyone pretend a goblin ate your tongues, and I'll read you a story.
Professor: Still, they called the tooth fairy a legend, and now he's head of the FBI!
Bender: When I grow up, I wanna be a steam shovel!
Professor: With my last breath, I curse Zoidberg!
Professor: [muffled] Give me back my floppy face!
Professor: Hello, Mavis! Surprised to see me back again so soon?
Wanda: Mavis is dead.
Morris: Let's all have some tequila to celebrate!
Leela: Dad, I'm underage!
Morris: Oh, right. Here's a silly straw!
- The title of the episode is a spoof of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a series of comic books made most famous by its animated adaptations from 1987, 2003 and 2012.
- The Professor destroys Deep Space 9 with the 'high beams' of the Planet Express Ship.
- The oil eating bacteria is based on Namco's Pac-Man,  which was previously referenced in "Anthology of Interest II".
- The race was inspired by Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace's Podracers.
- Pazuzu could be named after a god in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, the king of the demons of the wind.
- Pazuzu is also the name of the demon in The Exorcist, who was (supposedly) the same demon.
- Pazuzu also appears in Jacques Tardi's graphic novel "Le démon de la Tour Eiffel" (The Eiffel Tower demon). Which would explain why Pazuzu speaks to his son with a French accent in front of the Eiffel Tower in this episode final scene.
- "Fiddler Way Below the Roof" is a reference to the highly acclaimed broadway play "Fiddler on the Roof".
- Moose and Mandy could be based on a couple from the classic Archie comics. Archie's Moose goes by the same name and has a similar appearance and manner. Mandy could be a reference to his girlfriend, Midge. This might also mean that Fry corresponds to Archie, due to his red hair, and Leela to Betty (or Veronica).
- While en route to the Fountain of Aging, Professor Farthsworth's custard-bowl haircut changes between shots from being all orange, to orange with dark brown sides, to all orange again.
- Professor Farnsworth was wrong. Leela could simply relive her childhood by going back to the spa and perform the accident on purpose.
- He could have been exaggerating. Plus after seeing the issues caused by all that, it may not be a good idea.
- Although Fry, Amy and Hermes are different ages as adults, they all de-age at the same pace.
- They may have been exposed to different amounts of tar; if you watch as the gang crawls up and out of the tar pit, you see that someone has to swim all the way across the tar and is the last one out. This could be Hermes, but it's hard to tell him apart from Amy due to the way their hair looks while covered in tar.
- Additionally, it's possible that Hermes is still slightly older; when the gang is standing together and the Professor says "You've all reverted to your childhood forms", Hermes appears to be the tallest. However, he could have just been a taller 14-year-old, and this doesn't explain why he reverts to his fetal form at the same time as everyone else. At any other point in the childhood cycle, it would still be possible that Hermes is a bit older than the others.
- When Farnsworth steps in the fountain, Fry and Amy's skin colors are switched.
- In this episode, Zoidberg has different life phases that change with age. However, in "A Taste of Freedom", Zoidberg simply gets smaller as he gets younger.
- The younger Zoidberg shown then must have been done with the multiple stages.
- Inez Wong laments that, with her daughter's age reversed, she, "will never have a grandchild now!", even though she already has grandchildren from the episode, "Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch". It is possible they still simply do not accept him.
- She could have simply forgotten them, the same way she forgot that she and Leo were the one's who introduced Kif to Amy in the first place. Or, she may have not considered them to be her true grandchildren, either because she disapproved of Kif, or because Amy didn't give birth to them, or because Amy isn't the genetic mother (only the Smizmar), or because they aren't human. Or because they are tadpoles.
- In the episode, Leela says that the Ship can reach 99% light speed. However, in "A Clone of My Own", it is said that it can go faster than the speed of light by moving the universe itself.
- Maybe she didn't remember.
- It is actually said that scientists increased the speed of light. The Ship can't go faster than the current speed of light, only the original.
- If the Professor has a machine that analyzes people's true ages, then why did he lie about being 150 on "A Clone of My Own"?
- Either (a) he's vain enough to lie about his true age, or (b) the machine wasn't introduced until this episode premiered.
- Actually the machine seems to belong to Heather, as she is the person seen first using it in the episode.
- Either (a) he's vain enough to lie about his true age, or (b) the machine wasn't introduced until this episode premiered.
- Wanda's comment that Professor Farnsworth's discount card is expired, despite the fact that it should be good for a lifetime, may be an allusion to the law put forward in "A Clone of My Own". Farnsworth is 161, meaning he should have died (his lifetime expired) one year ago.
- In this episode, Zoidberg goes through larval stages, but in "A Taste of Freedom" he is seen as a Humanoid child.
- It is possible that after the slug stage, Decapodians become a Humanoid child that will eventually grow into adult size.
- In this episode, Bender has a growing factor (being built small and advance in height & appearance as he ages) unlike "Bendless Love", where he was built the same way he is now.
- It is possible that Bender's RNA is affected in this way by the tar but that naturally he does not age. Other Robot children have been shown before thus it is conceivable that while Bender was built as he is now his RNA allows him to have a childhood form (imagine cloning a Human adult, the clone is in adult form but its DNA is able to exist in a childhood state even if it never has done).
- Another likely explanation would be that the younger versions of him were previous models of Bending Units that his personality inhabited, but it kept on getting rebuilt and upgraded. The newest version of him could have been built four years prior to "Bendless Love".
- In the commentary for the episode, it is remarked that no one can see what is going on while Bender is being assembled. A child form for Bender also fits in with the revelations from "Lethal Inspection".
- The chronitons that affect the Planet Express crew are the same ones used to grow the Mutant Atomic Supermen as seen in "Time Keeps on Slippin'".
- After saving everyone from the fountain of aging Leela responds "I think i'm a couple years younger" then Amy responds that she is too, indicating that Leela and Amy are actually 2 years younger then they should be. Meaning Now, Leela is 36 instead of 38, and Amy would be 30 instead of 32.
- Amy's response could have been a lie to get away with now saying she's younger than she really is.
- Curious Pussycat makes its second appearance.
- Pazuzu speaks French, even though in "A Clone of My Own" Professor Farnsworth referred to French as an "incomprehensible, dead language" and the French people in "Space Pilot 3000" spoke English.
- A dead language just means no more words can be added to it, like Latin (though according to Futurama's internal logic, it also means a language that no one speaks anymore). And the gargoyle and his son look as if they've been around since the days when French was a living tongue, so that also would explain why they know French, despite that it's not a commonly spoken language in the 31st century.
- Even if French is a largely unspoken language, certain small phrases (such as "bonne nuit") may persist, just as Latin phrases (such as "et cetera") persist in modern English.
- Dwight Conrad
- El Chupanibre
- Professor Farnsworth
- Debut: Farnsworth's tennis instructor (mentioned in speech only)
- Debut: Heather
- LaBarbara Conrad
- Debut: Moose and Mandy
- Debut: Pazuzu
- Debut: Pazuzu's son
- Randy Munchnik
- Debut: Wanda
- Voice Actors
- DVD Commentary
- ^ See also General Colin Pac-Man.