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November 25, 2014

Futurama: I, Roommate

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 18th 2006 8:19PM
Futurama: I, Roommate(S01E03) So, now we've seen how Fry gets to the year 3000, and we've met the Planet Express crew. Now's the time to tell some stories.

There were a bunch of interesting tidbits from the DVD commentary to this episode. One was the admission from Matt Groening that the storytelling in Futurama was more linear than it was on his other show, The Simpsons, mostly due to the fact that there's so much going on in the background of a typical Futurama epsiode. Well, with all due respect to Groening's genius, duh. I've always equated the storytelling on Futurama to what the early years of The Simpsons were like before the pop-culture asides and other wackiness started to dominate. This episode, where Fry and Bender become rommates, is a perfect example of the show's storytelling prowess; an episode like this would have been told completely differently on The Simpsons, or at least on the show from it's third season onward.

Another ineresting tidbit from the DVD was the fact that Fox, in their infinite wisdom, wanted an episode that was more down-to-earth instead of out in space. The result was this episode, which is a winner despite the contradictory notes the network gave Groening, David Cohen and the writers.

We learn a lot in "I, Roommate". For instance, we learn why Bender has to drink all the time, as we learn in this week's edition of...

Billy West's Take: The fact that's even more of a stunner to people with a board up their ass that are all upright about everything is that he (Bender) has to continue to drink to stay sober. (When I told him that they established this pretty early on, he replied:) The only thing they really did away with (from early on) was the suicide booth. That was a little tough for the network to swallow. A little too dark. It is funny, but it's like suicide is considered a subject you don't even want to fool with, not in cartoons.

How do we figure out Bender's "condition"? Because when Fry kicks him out of their new apartment because his thought transmissions interfere with their cool new satellite TV, Bender goes "on the wagon". He stops drinking and ends up lurching around New New York, leaking fluid and sporting a thick layer of "five o'clock rust." To solve the problem, Bender lurches back into the apartment and cuts off his antenna, or as he calls it,"Little Bender," and flicks it out the window. But Fry agrees to move back to Bender's closet-like space in the Robot Arms Apartments. It was very funny when the two cops help Fry, Leela, and Bender search in the grass for the antenna. When the human cop finds the appendage, he holds it out with disgust, and both make fun of how small it is. Classic.

A question for the readers: When the gang is over at Bender's and Fry's new place, Zoidberg serves Hermes some small lobster claws. As Hermes eats them, he tells Zoidberg how tasty they are. "Thank you, I made them myself," says Zoidberg, causing Hemes to spit out his food. For some reason, I don't get this joke. Is Hermes grossed out because the claws came from Zoidberg's body... somewhere? Not sure.

More tidbits: This is the first appearance of Calculon, who stars in the hit soap "All My Circuits". David Cohen got Bender's apartment number (which is shown in binary code) from the ASCII table (ah, the Futurama folks revel in their geekiness, don't they?). And this episode has the first of what turns out to be many unflattering references to New Jersey.

(The only reason why I mention it is because I have to defend my state. But it is a funny moment, as the apartment is listed as  "deceptively" perfect in the paper, only because it's "technically" in New Jersey.)

Oh, of course, there's the final reveal. I'll go back to Mr. West, who seemed to like that part of the episode. I'll present it as an excerpt from my interview with him, when I mentioned the name of the episode to him:

BW: That was a good one. That I liked a lot. Especially the fact that you find out that Bender's apartment is a closet within an apartment. It's a giant space that he doesn't know what to do with it. I mean, that was just great. That killed me.

(As Fry) "Skin flakes?" And I can't figure out, what is that all about?

JK: What, the skin flakes?

BW: Yeah.

JK: I guess that was kind of dust, maybe.

BW: Oh, ok. (laughs)

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Gene

My vote for best line: "Look, I don't know what you're doing in here with the robot and the lobster and the Chinese girl..."

June 19 2006 at 9:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kerry

Actually, the best line is "kill all humans . . . kill all humans . . . hey baby, wanna kill all humans?"
But, yeah, the bathroom give-and-take is pretty classic, too. And Amy slipping on the tiny banana peel.

June 19 2006 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RAB

das_klaun, is it surprising that Zoidberg would invite his friends to eat his body when we consider this:

http://www.astro.ubc.ca/~jonben/images/blog/avatars/38.html

June 19 2006 at 1:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
RAB

A couple of later episodes do include suicide booths, so it wasn't like they were retroactively dropped from continuity or anything like that. And I don't see what's not to get about Zoidberg's claws or Fry's skin flakes...

June 18 2006 at 11:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Das_Klaun

About your question: yeah, the lobster claws were part of Zoidberg's body. I say, that's a good friend, who gives you part of himself to eat.

Wasn't this also the first appearance of the Offscreen Gay Guy? It's been a while since I saw this great ep, but I seem to remember an exaggeratedly swishy complaint from offscreen when the TV went out.

June 18 2006 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eppyjerk

You forgot the best quote:
Fry: Where's the bathroom?
Bender: The what-room?
F: The bathroom.
B: The bath-what?
F: The bathroom.
B: The what-what?

June 18 2006 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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