There's a reason for that; for the first time, there are more than a couple of stories going on at once, something that David Cohen acknowledged in the DVD commentary to this episode. You've got Leela using Fry to try and get away from Zapp Branigan, Amy using Fry to satisfy her parents, Hermes returning to his limboing roots, Zapp arrogantly steering the Titanic off course into a "swarm of comets," according to his first mate Kif, and Bender falling in love with the Countess de la Roca. Quite a bit for one episode; it's almost Seinfeld-ian in scope, which is something that the brain trust mentions in the commentary.
Oh, sure they go out to the mob planet Sicily 8, but we just see them go out and come back. But that scene is important, for plot forwarding purposes, and for one hell of a funny visual. More on that in a second.
Well, we don't know about item 3 for sure, but given it's environmental theme, it's not that much of a stretch.
BW: I loved it, because of the people made out of the water, it just looked so cool. It was a real killer; I loved that one. What a thing to say about an episode: "Well, he drinks the emperor."
JK: Well, that just says to me that with a Sci Fi cartoon, you can go in any direction you want.
BW: Right, but you notice that they have their roots in pure Sci Fi. Like drinking the emperor. That's like Ray Bradbury kind of stuff.
JK: Even though they have the crazy characters, they still try to root themselves in traditional Sci Fi literature.
BW: It just semed endless, what you could do.
"Endless". That's just about the perfect term for it.
We've already seen a few characters outside the Planet Express family -- Nibbler, Zapp, Kif, and Calculon -- and now we're introduced to Mom. Mom's a ruthless businesswoman who is trying to take over the world. Even though the picture she puts out to the public is the kindly old grandmother in a big hoop-skirted dress, she actually smokes, swears, chugs cream soda, and orders around her three sniveling hench-sons. Oh, and she also has it in for Fry.
(S01E05) Now that we all know that Futurama is coming back, I'm now watching these early episodes with even more zeal than I had before. Don't know why; I think it's the temptation of new episodes that's making me dissect the old ones, trying to catch all the in-jokes and details so I'm completely up to speed in time for the 2008 re-premiere.
This episode is full of little references that brought out the computer geek in me, which, judging by the commentary on the DVD, was what it did for the show's braintrust.
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.
And we can thank Craig Ferguson for it.
When Katey Sagal visited The Late Late Show the other day, she told Craig that the show is coming back to Comedy Central in 2008 for at least 13 episodes (I was watching that appearance, too. Must have slept through that part). Don Kaplan of the New York Post confirmed this; his sources told him that all the primary voice actors signed new deals this week. Also according to the article, FOX may have the option to air the new episodes, but probably won't. The new episodes will also come out on DVD after they air.
I just have one reaction: Huzzah!
[thanks to Alex of BuzzerBlog for the tip.]
(UPDATE: John DiMaggio (Bender) confrims the story even more below. And yes, it's really him.)
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.
If you've watched any cartoon on TV in the last fifteen years, chances are you've heard Billy West's voice. West is one of the premier voice actors working today, and during those fifteen years, he's used his versatile voice to create new characters -- and resuurect old ones -- all over the television and movie landscape. From Shaggy to Bugs Bunny to Woody Woodpecker to the Cherios Honey Bee to the Red M&M, the 54-year old West has put his imprint on all of them. But most people know him from two classic cartoon series: On Ren & Stmpy, he did the voices of both main characters (he picked up Ren after creator John Kricfalusi was fired after the first season), and on Futurama he did the voices of Philip Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. John Zoidberg, and Zapp Brannigan, among others.
In this wide-ranging interview, conducted by phone on May 31, Billy and I talked about his history with John K., the way he went about creating some of his Futurama characters, his early-'90s role on "The Howard Stern Show", and the influx of celebrity voices in current cartoon movies (let's just say he's against it). We also went over all the Futurama Season One episodes in the 90-minute (!) interview, which you will see in my Retro Squad coverage of the show. He was even nice enough to do a Futurama / R&S -themed intro for our APB podcast, which we used to open podcast #13 last week. Needless to say, Billy West is a mensch.
When I talked to Billy West about this episode, where our intrepid trio go to the moon for their first delivery run, the first thing he mentioned was how great the character of Craterface was. "It was played by Tress MacNeille, and I just blew a gut when I heard that. I couldn't believe how funny it was." And I tried to remember Craterface in the episode, which I had just seen the day before the interview, and I couldn't.
Do not adjust your web browser. You are now entering the Retro Squad, where we are reviewing past episodes of your favorite shows, in order, every week.
(S01E01) First, some good news for Futurama fans: last week, I conducted a lengthy interview with Billy West, where, among other things, I was able to get his thoughts on the vast majority of Season One episodes. What I plan to do is to intersperse those thoughts (some are a sentence or two, others are a bit more in-depth) into my Retro Squad reviews of Season One.
West did have some thoughts about the series pilot, but I think I'll leave those for the general interview, which will likely be posted sometime this week (we spoke for 90 minutes, so I'm not looking forward to transcribing that monster). So I'll just give my thoughts; yes, I know, I'm not Billy, but you'll just have to wait for him. Nyah.
Starting this coming Sunday, we're going to take you back in time just a little bit. Remember all of those great shows that are no longer airing, either from being cancelled or ending long runs and taking a bow? Or maybe you remember the first seasons of shows still on the air? Of course you do; it's what makes you one of the millions of fans of these cult-classic shows. Well, we're going to bring them back to you, one episode at a time, every week. Read on for the exciting details.
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