14 June 2010

The Long Halloween: Flag Day

Here again is our year-long look at the greatest Television Holiday Specials. Rules are, one holiday a month, one show a year. Today is Flag Day, one of the most Holy of all the High Holidays in this nation. Nothing says "I Love You," "You're Beautiful," or "Let's Get Drunk!" like a good Flag Day Celebration. As for Television Specials, I couldn't really find anything, but here's the next best thing: Upholding the same general principles we have "A Taste of Freedom" (S4;E5) from Futurama.

Yes, this partly in Russian. Okay, mostly in Russian, you can watch two minutes of the American version (and then buy the whole thing if you really want to) here. You should be able to get the just of it.

While the episode is technically showcasing the celebration of the ficticious "Freedom Day," the episode's themes are easily applied to Flag Day. Flag Day is basically a day to honour a nation's colours (in this nation that nation is America. How wonderful) and what those colours represent. "A Taste of Freedom" is a thorough examination of the meaning of flags.

The episode focuses mainly on smelly foreigner Dr. John Zoidberg, fish-monster from Decapod 10, who eats the Earthican Flag during a large mistaken celebration of freedom. It raises the old question of free speech and action that extends too far and threatens patriotism. As Zoidberg himself states later in the episode (while lighting a flag on fire in order to attract a heat-seeking missile towards the Mobile Oppression Palace...uh...just watch the episode somewhere), "Yes, I'm desecrating a flag, but to preserve the freedom it represents!" Thus while flags are important symbols, flags without genuine freedom and principles to back the symbols, are meaningless. In the end, both the Flag and the Planet's integrity are preserved not through blind jingoism, but through constructive action.

Futurama was an incredible show, certainly one of the best of the current Millennium. In ten days we'll see a slew of new episodes for the first time since 2003. In between that time there's been a slew of movies, some fantastic, some terrible. If anything, these movies should serve as a warm-up before the series dives again into a more episodic structure (although the individual movies were unfortunately episodic in their nature anyway). The short time spent between Family Guy's cancellation and rebirth greatly lowered the quality of that program, if the movies are any indication of Futurama's progress, rather than consistent greatness the season will seem more hit or miss.

Then again, the only way to find out is to wait until the Season drops June 24. Let's see what you got, Comedy Central.

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