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July 24, 2014

Futurama: Love's Labours Lost In Space

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 25th 2006 8:35PM
Futurama: Love's Labours Lost In Space(S01E04) There's so much packed into this episode, it's hard to figure out where to begin. First, we have the Planet Express crew's first trip to another planet. Then we are introduced to both Zapp Brannigan and Kif Kroker. Finally, we see little Nibbler for the first time, who is introduced as a dumb, so-ugly-he's-cute alien with a voracious appetite and the ability to crap out rocket fuel. But all Futurama fans know Nibbler will play a much larger role later on.

Here's a quickie plot summary: The crew go on a humanitarian mission to Vergon 6, which is about to collapse since its core of dark matter has been over-mined. On the way, the crew runs into Zapp Brannigan and his ship. Zapp is your typical Kirk-esque starship captain, only clumsier and lonlier. He tries to seduce a lonely Leela, who gives him pity sex. He almost has to rescue them from the planet, but Nibbler saves them with his poop.

For some reason, I have a particular soft spot for Kif. Poor guy. He's got to take orders from a buffoon like Zapp, even though he knows he's much smarter and competent than his boss (Huh. Sounds like half the bosses I've ever had). Every sigh and eye-roll that Kif does in this episode elicited a huge laugh from me, especially when he had to follow the pants-less Zapp up the ladder to the observation deck.

Oh, this reminds me of what Billy West said when I asked if Zapp is supposed to be like Captain Kirk. He talks about Zapp and Kif in this week's edition of...

Billy West's Take: No, it's like William Shatner in charge of the Enterprise, not Captain Kirk. That's kind of what the idea was. You picture, you know, Shatner running around the Enterprise.

(When I asked him about who does Kif's voice, Billy goes ga-ga a bit): That was Maurice LaMarche, who's one of the voice gods. It was a great voice, and I remember when they were trying to formulate it, and Mo tried a few things. And all of a sudden he got into this Vincent Price thing, except without the machinations and the hand wringing and the "I'll get you" attitude to it, more like the
Edward Scissorhands Vincent Price, except really put out. Because he's (Kif's) always put out all the time. Sighing, like "how long do I have to endure?" He's like this long suffering victim of Zapp Brannigan's nonsense.

Of course, the Shatner thing makes sense, and Matt Groening and David Cohen confirm this in the DVD commentary for the episode. Cohen also alludes to the fact that he quit the week this episode was written (by then-freelancer Brian Kelley), mainly due to exhaustion, but comes back five days later.

More funny tidbits from the episode: the names of the animals the crew tries to save (only to be eaten by Nibbler later on), the horse that looked like Leela (and Fry's confusion of who to capture), and Zapp's hovering heart-shaped bed.

Oh, and there's that ball of light that hits on Leela at the beginning of the episode. It has this voice that's hoarse, two-toned and machine-like, but it's all Billy West. But as a Howard Stern fan, the voice sounded eerily familiar to me. Ah, I'll just let Billy tell you how he did it, in an excerpt from my interview with him:

BW: There was this ball of light character, and this ball of light was this energy ball, but it had like a human entity. And it was a loser. It wanted to go out with girls, and he'd go up and ask a girl for a date and she'd go "Are you kidding?", and he'd go (in a hoarse high-pitched machine-ish monotone): "You may walk away now, but someday, my phone will riiiing." You'd think it was a machine that did it. (voice again) "But noooo." (laughs)

JK: It does sound a little like Jackie Martling.

BW: Well, that was the inspiration, because Jackie's voice sounded like a ball of light.

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John

care for more sham-pagan?

August 15 2006 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott Weinberg

I think this is the episode where Zapp says "...sexfully." And that's hilarious.

June 26 2006 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joel

Billy West talked about the whole Zapp/Phil Hartman thing in the interview I did with him:

http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/06/15/billy-west-the-tv-squad-interview/

June 26 2006 at 11:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
B

Zapp was originally going to be voiced by Phil Hartman, and I understand that Billy West's voice is a respectful play on how Phil would have done it.

June 26 2006 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Trevor

It'll be great to see new episodes of the series. I'm sorry we have to wait so long...

June 26 2006 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bruce Bromley

Wasn't Zapp Brannigan supposed to be voiced by Phil Hartman at one time. I seem to remember there being some sort of connection. After Phil's murder the character became a bit of a homage to him.

June 26 2006 at 2:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MosquitoControl

The steam pipe is one of the best gags of the series, and why I think Fry is the funniest of the bunch.

June 25 2006 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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