Tonight’s Tacoma FD begins with Andy, Ike, and the captain responding to a call from dispatch. Unfortunately, nobody knows how to get to the destination even with their experience driving through the city or all their fancy gadgets and navigation systems. In the end, another group are called in since they’re taking so long.
Because of the technological mishap from the opening, the station is selected to beta test new technology to streamline the firefighting process and make their lives easier. It’s an impressive package including fitness wristbands, an Alexa-type system called Inferna, and even some robots including a small one for vacuuming and a mobile vending machine.
Though initially embraced, little by little Inferna makes peculiar decisions that gets on everyone’s nerves and they question if its actions are due to glitches or if it is sentient. The episode of Tacoma FD is a typical man versus machine storyline but with more hilarity. There are simple jokes about adjusting the system’s voice to a celebrity and making it say nonsensical phrases. The humor becomes a little dark when Granny and Lucy are victims of its racism and misogyny. Eddie even has a bleak vision of what happens at another station with the tech that serves as a shocking and believable fake out.
Steve Lemme imbues Eddie with complete old man energy. He has a cartoon hate for Inferna and is steadfast in his ways of not adopting the robot overlords. It’s amusing to see him go back and forth with the system and it does get some good ones in. My favorite is how it pronounces his last name as Penis-i.
Another source of great entertainment from the episode of Tacoma FD is the doomed relationship between Terry and Snak-A-Ton. The automaton has some odd but creative snack combinations that of course the chief would love. When it’s time for the humans to fight back, there are some pretty silly methods to negate and outsmart the technology. In addition, it’s so heartbreaking when McConky has to take care of his new friend. But the ending does leave the door open for the mobile vending machine to return. I just wished Snak-A-Ton didn’t look so antiquated.
“Rise of the Machines” is a funny tale of humans struggling with technology and is unafraid to go into some dark, but still comical places.
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