"Saturday Morning Fun Pit," is another anthology episode, which makes it great. What makes it even greater is that Nixon is in control this time. I shouldn't yearn for a Nixon presidency, but the show makes an irresistible case for it.
Anthology episodes of Futurama are the jewels in the crown. They free the creators from story and plot and let them just do weird things with concepts that they know well and love greatly. "Naturama," which parodied nature documentaries, was last season's best episode. "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" takes a shot at old childrens' cartoons.
The show is framed by Richard Nixon's head, in the White House, watching cartoons and amending them at the request of pushy protesters. The first cartoon is a take-off on Scooby Doo, and it misses no opportunity to point out the incredibly cheap animation and the nonsensical stories of the original series. But it also gets the gags right, while putting its own spin on them. Best of all, it features the incomparable George Takei. (Who knew he would end up being the coolest original Star Trek cast member? I thought for sure it was going to be Nimoy.) The second cartoon shows off — in a Strawberry Shortcake way — the overt product placement of 1980s cartoons. The show and the commercials form one long absurdist advertisement for an overly sugared cereal of "purpleberries," with a few lines about friendship thrown in to please moralistic parents.
The last cartoon is GI Zapp, a violent show that Nixon has to edit on the fly. The result is Nixon's voice butting in, giving us lines like, "Launch the surface-to-air warning shot! That'll blow them straight to church!" As the pilot of a plane in distress crashes into a mountain, and we see a huge explosion, Nixon yells, "I'm off to Disneyland!" And when the last firefight includes things like soldiers taking a thrown hatchet to the chest, he yells, "Yay, I caught it!"
This last segment works best (No offense, George.) exactly because it features Nixon as the unapologetic supervillain he is. Ever since the election episode, when he crowed, "Computers may be twice as fast as they were in 1973 but your average voter is as drunk and stupid as ever. The only one who's changed is me. I've become bitter and, let's face it, crazy over the years. And once I'm swept into office, I'll sell our children's organs to zoos for meat and I'll go into people's houses at night and wreck up the place!" he's been one of my favorite characters. "Saturday Morning Fun Pit" is moment after precious moment of his greatness.
It starts when a general comes in and gives him the TV remote. Nixon says he'll award him the Purple Heart; the soldier points out that he wasn't wounded, and Nixon shoots him in the shoulder and drops him through a trap door before yelling happily, "Let's watch some cartooooooooons!" In between episodes he screams at hippies and bullies the headless Spiro Agnew. When he finally gives up on editing the GI Zapp cartoon and runs a PSA, it's of him and the headless Spiro Agnew stopping two kids from fighting over a ball, ripping the ball in half, and driving away, laughing as the children cry. There's something compelling about that bottomless well of petty evil. It's hypnotic. If there were any way Nixon would run again, I couldn't trust myself to do the right thing.