War Is the H-Word
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|Season 2 episode|
Broadcast season 3 episode
|War Is the H-Word|
|Written by||Eric Horsted|
|Directed by||Ron Hughart|
|Title caption||Touch eyeballs to screen for cheap laser surgery|
|First air date||26 November, 2000|
|Title reference||General Sherman's words "War Is Hell"|
|Opening cartoon||Felix the Cat in "Neptune Nonsense"|
|Special guest(s)||Todd Susman|
"War Is the H-Word" is the thirtieth episode of Futurama, the seventeenth of the second production season and the second of the third broadcast season. It aired on 26 November, 2000, on Fox. It guest-stars Todd Susman as a public address announcer. Fry and Bender are enrolled into the army and are forced into a battle against the Spheroids.
Act I: "War were declared"
Fry and Bender are visiting a 7¹¹ where they see an army sergeant get a 5% military discount. After being denied a similar discount because they are not in the military, Fry and Bender sign up, intending to quit after using the discount. Unfortunately, they are thwarted by the outbreak of war - they are stuck in the army. The crew accompany them to South Street Spaceport where the Nimbus, under the command of Zapp Brannigan, is made ready for the expedition. Leela wants to enlist, but Zapp refuses as the military has a strict men-only policy. The ship leaves for Spheron 1, the target of the operation, although no specific reason for the conflict becomes apparent. While the recruits go through their training, one is surpassing all the others: a purple-haired and purple-bearded man who always wears goggles, known as Lee Lemon. Zapp is instantly interested in him for reasons unclear to himself. The Nimbus reaches its destination, and the soldiers are unloaded onto the surface.
Act II: "The enemy - they're balls!"
It turns out that the enemy are enormous crowds of living balls who attack the Earthican troops by bouncing up and down on them. The soldiers defend themselves and inflict casualties with the enemy, Fry excels by an act of cowardice through which they are overrun. As a bomb is rolling into the Earthican lines, Bender throws himself onto the bomb so it detonates harmlessly inside his chest cabinet. The wounded are brought to a field hospital that has an air of M*A*S*H around it, Zoidberg is part of the surgical team and having his differences with iHawk. Zapp Brannigan makes Fry Kif's assistant for his cowardice. Meanwhile Bender is not too well, but Richard Nixon's head orders him fixed as he has some plans with him. Once Bender is whole again, he is sent on a mission of peace to the enemy leaders, the Brain Balls, and with him goes Earth's top peace negotiator, Henry Kissinger's Head. However, in the shower Fry and Lee Lemon overhear Zapp and Nixon planning to blow up the whole planet with a bomb hidden inside Bender, which is activated by Zapp with a remote control as Bender and Kissinger are already negotiating with the Brain Balls.
Act III: "Make Bender happy or he blows up the planet!"
The Earth troops are preparing to leave the planet, but Lee Lemon wants to know when the bomb will explode. It turns out it is voice-activated, and will trigger when Bender says the word that is on the first place of his Top Ten of most-used words: ASS. Lee Lemon and Fry steal a chopper to save Bender, but Zapp Brannigan tries to stop them. Lemon beats him up (giving him a black eye) and reveals himself to be Leela. She pilots the stolen chopper to the place of the negotiations, where she pushes Fry out of the vehicle so he can land and save Bender. Fry is just in time to prevent Bender from saying the A-word so he won't blow them all to the H-word. Bender promptly uses the new situation to put the screws on the Brain Balls, who give in to Earths demands in order to prevent Bender from blowing up the whole planet. The balls leave Spheron 1, the war is over. Back at Planet Express, the Professor and Zoidberg are unable to remove the bomb, so they reset the word that triggers it - a word from the list of words Bender almost never uses. Bender is curious to know what word it is, but the crew think it is better if he doesn't know. Bender, however, is now set on finding out the word, and as he finds it, the bomb goes off. (The word was "antiquing".)
- The episode’s original East Coast airing was interrupted by coverage of the results of the Florida recount in the 2000 Presidential Election. Unfortunately, the interruption came a minute before the very end of the episode, right before the audience was to learn Bender’s fate after supposedly triggering the bomb on Earth.
- Bender’s Top Ten Most Frequently Uttered Words in full:
- 10. Chump
- 9. Chumpette
- 8. Yours
- 7. Up
- 6. Pimpmobile (changed to "Of course" in the UK airings when aired before watershed)
- 5. Bite
- 4. My
- 3. Shiny
- 2. Daffodil
- 1. Ass
- Bender's actual top 10 words based on transcript are:
- 1: bender (104)
- 2: fry (85)
- 3: robot(s) (81)
- 4: human(s) (52)
- 5: whoa (50)
- 6: love (47)
- 7: god (!42!)
- 8: ass (39)
- 9: old (38)
- 10: kill (30)
- Bender says every one of these words at least once in the episode.
- Bender believes his least frequently uttered words to be:
- 8. Please
- 7. Thanks
- 6. Sorry
- 5. Funderful
- 4. Non-alcoholic
- 3. Compassion
- 2. Shrimp-Toast
- 1. Antiquing
- At the end, Bender says “I’m all right,” but the captions say “Hootenanny?”. The Region 2 DVD shows the correct words.
- At the beginning of the episode, Fry is shown looking at these gum brands, contemplating which to buy:
- Spider Yum, a reference to the urban legend that Bubble Yum brand gum contained spider eggs.
- Hubble Bubble, a cross reference between the Hubble Telescope and Dubble Bubble Gum, plus a possible reference to Hubba Bubba.
- Liquid Nitrogum, a parody on liquid nitrogen.
- Big Pink, a parody of Big Red. Fry chooses this because it is the only gum with the breath freshening power of ham. And, according to Bender, it "pinkens your teeth while you chew."
- Oozy F___, a parody of Juicy Fruit.
- This is the second episode in which the words "ding dong" are mentioned in the same room as Nixon, the first being "A Head in the Polls".
- The recruiting poster outside the recruitment centre says "Join the Army - What are you, chicken? Buk buk buk". Inside we see a poster of a flag-draped coffin labeled "Employee of the Month".
- The army's men-only policy is accentuated by propaganda posters, slogan Round hips sink ships, a reference to World War II posters saying Loose lips sink ships warning against possible German agents.
- Zapp states the army is men only but other times before and after this episode, female soldiers can be seen. It is is likely this policy was only for a brief time.
- On the hull of the Nimbus a poster says "Buy bonds - sell stocks".
- Outside the officers' club stands a sign that reads "We don't know but we've been told our beer on tap is mighty cold", a parody of common military cadence calls that begin, "I don't know, but I've been told..." In addition, this may be a direct parody of a cadence call from the film Full Metal Jacket, that goes "I don't know, but I've been told Eskimo pussy is mighty cold."
- The Earthicans used positron shooters against the Spheroids.
- When the soldiers are charging their positron shooters, the melody "Pop Goes the Weasel" is played in a fast tempo.
- The bomb is set to go off when Bender "unwittingly speaks a certain word". However, at the end of the episode Bender is conscious of the words he is guessing. This would imply that the bomb didn't go off, Earth wasn't destroyed and the bomb is still inside Bender ready to detonate the moment he says the trigger word.
- The word 'up' is positioned at number 7, a reference to the soda '7-Up'
Fry: Oooh, Big Pink - the only gum with the breath freshening power of ham!
Bender: And it pinkens your teeth while you chew!
Bender: This is the worst kind of discrimination, the kind against me!
Clerk: Alright, look, our policy is: If for any reason you're not completely satisfied... I hate you.
Fry: [After getting kicked out of the convenience store.] Paying full price for gum?! That dog won't hunt monsignor!
Zapp Brannigan: Alas, after a series of deadly blunders caused by distracting low-cut fatigues and lots of harmless pinching, the Army decided women weren't fit for service. Not when I’m in charge.
Zapp Brannigan: Men, you're lucky men. Soon you'll all be fighting for your planet. Many of you will be dying for your planet. A few of you will be forced through a fine mesh screen for your planet. They'll be the luckiest of all.
Bender: Great. We're gonna die.
Fry: And this ham gum is all bones!
Fry: Uh, just so we'll know - who's the enemy?
Zapp Brannigan: A valid question! We know nothing about their language, their history or what they look like. But we can assume this: they stand for everything we don't stand for. Also they told me you guys look like dorks!
Zapp Brannigan: [lee] Lemon, you're a man. You're a man's man. You're a man's man's man. And more importantly your hand, while strong and masculine, is soft as a velvet child.
Zapp Brannigan: Private Lee Lemon may well be the finest recruit I've seen in all my years of service. That young man fills me with hope. And some other emotions which are weird and deeply confusing.
Zapp Brannigan: As you all know, the key to victory is the element of surprise. Surprise! [Pushes button, the soldiers fall onto the surface of Spheron 1.]
Zapp Brannigan: [about Bender] This is the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it. I hereby order that in Bender's honour, he be melted down and made into a statue of himself.
Fry: [About to parachute down to rescue Bender.] OK, this is it. My best friend's life is at stake. I can finally prove I am not a coward. [hesitates] Will you push me?
Leela: I already did.
Henry Kissinger's head: Young man, you have the bravery of a hero. And breath as fresh as a summer ham.
Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth: Now, be careful, Fry. And if you kill anyone, make sure to eat their heart to gain their courage. Their rich, tasty courage.
Fry: We want to join because we, "love our planet". [sniggers]
Recruitment officer: Sign here, patriots, and I'll give you your discount cards.
Fry: Hey, just out of mere curiosity, we can use the discount cards to buy gum, then immediately quit the army, right?
Bender: You know, play you all for chumps.
Recruitment officer: Correct, there are no obligations. [Fry and Bender snigger.] Unless of course, war were declared. [siren sounds]
Fry: What was that?
Recruitment officer: War were declared.
Zoidberg: [performing surgery] Scalpel... blood bucket... priest... next patient.
- Click here to see cultural mentions made in this episode.
- The episode's title is a reference to General Sherman's words "War Is Hell".
- A sign outside the shop Fry and Bender are in at the start of the episode reads "Free bag of ice-9 with 6-pack", a reference to the substance ice-9, created by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel Cat’s Cradle.
- Zapp Brannigan briefs the troops in front of a large Earthican flag, a parody of the opening scene of the 1970 movie Patton.
- Zapp Brannigan tells Kif to send in a quip to Humor in Uniform, a regular article in "Reader's Digest"
- The Piñata scene parodies the scene where Obi-Wan Kenobi trains Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
- Bender is treated by a robot doctor named iHawk — a parody of Alan Alda’s Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce from M*A*S*H* (voiced by actor/impersonator Maurice LaMarche), and the Apple line of iProducts. At one point, the robot flips a switch from “irreverent” to “maudlin,” a reference to the duality of Alda’s character portrayal. Additionally, Todd Susman provides the voice of the P.A. announcer as he did in M*A*S*H.
- An extended M*A*S*H joke is played in the episode when Bender is evacuated to a mobile hospital. A “Suicide Is Painless” soundalike appears in the score, and many of the ensuing jokes are in M*A*S*H style. The alienese on the tent says *M*E*A*T, hence “mash meat.” Also, the first time that iHawk and Dr. Zoidberg are in the tent, it's a parody of Hawkeye fighting with Major Frank Burns: Zoidberg is Frank, the unnamed nurse is Major Margaret Houlihan, and iHawk is Hawkeye.
- Bender’s Top Ten Used Words list is a reference to David Letterman’s Top Ten.
- There are numerous references to the ball aliens as testicles: “These balls are making me testy!”; Brannigan is referring to the “Brain Balls” as having a lot of brains, and a lot of chutzpa (which he says while cupping his hand and raising it); the formerly mentioned newspaper headline, “Balls Thoroughly Licked”; and the plea for peace by Kissinger that "we have all seen too many body bags and ball sacks," are a few.
- The war on Spheron 1 and the equipment of the Earthican troops seems to be inspired by the movie Starship Troopers. Additionally, the Brain Balls are analogous to the Brain Bugs of Starship Troopers.
- Zapp Brannigan tells Lemon that he has a book on tape about life in ancient Greece, a likely reference to homosexuality in the militaries of ancient Greece.
Alien Language Sightings
Location: Hospital Tent
- The romance between Fry and Leela is explored in this episode.