5 of the Best Futurama Episodes

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In 1999, I was a senior in high school, looking toward my future. Everyone else was thinking about the future too, because that was the year of Y2K. For you folks who may not remember what Y2K was, let me fill you in. In 1999 everyone was freaking out because, it was thought that some computers may have trouble recognizing the two digit switch from (19)99 to (20)00. There were some who thought that this hiccup in our tech system would cause a world wide collapse*. My neighbor bought a generator just in case, and everyone on TV seemed to be predicting the end of civilization** or selling safeguards against it. This was also the same year that Futurama premiered, and never has a television show been so perfectly timed. As I watched the premiere episode, I felt like the writers of this show perfectly captured humanity’s  paranoia about and dependence on technology, a theme that will forever be relevant.

While The Simpsons gave us a look at family and community through the lens of humor, Futurama did the same for society. Everything about the world inhabited by Phillip J Fry and The Planet Express crew, though played for laughs, gives us thoughtful commentary on the world in which we live. And while some folks may view the show as a simple animated comedy, the writers of Futurama are some of the most intelligent and funny people in the world***. Seriously, they created a theorem based on group theory to explain a plot twist in an episode. The theory actually works****. If that’s not taking humor to the next level, I don’t know what is.

So, when the announcement was made last week week that Futurama’s 7th season would be its last (cancelled again?), fans felt a great disturbance in the force, as if millions of popplers cried out and were suddenly silenced. As a fan of Futurama, I wanted to take a look  back at the many episodes of this remarkable series and review a few of those that stood out.

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When Aliens Attack: In 1999, Fry disrupts the broadcast of an episode of ‘Single Female Lawyer’, thus canceling the transmission to a planet Omicron Persei 8, where the inhabitants are enraged at the show’s disruption. Wanting to get to the bottom of the transmission, they invade Earth, forcing the Planet Express crew to reenact the ending of the episode. The idea that Fry could be instrumental in almost destroying Earth one thousand years before the events of this episode, is hysterical to me. I also laugh whenever the Omicronians say “McNeal”.

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The Late Phillip J Fry: Tired of Fry’s constant lateness, Leela gives him one last chance to make it up to her. On his way to meet her for dinner, Fry is forced to help Professor Farnsworth with a time machine, which of course goes horribly awry, sending Fry, Bender and the Professor further and further into the future. Filled with thoughtful ruminations on relationships and the nature of time travel, this episode is a masterpiece.

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Godfellas: When Bender gets launched into space and collides with an asteroid, small humanoids begin growing on his front and back and worshiping (or denying) him as a god. Throughout the episode Bender is forced to deal with the responsibilities and drawbacks of intervening in the lives of others. The discussion Bender has with an entity who may or may not be God, is priceless.

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Jurassic Bark: After Fry finds his former dog, Seymour, fossilized and on display in a museum, Professor Farnsworth concludes that they may be able to clone the dog. The prospect of having Seymour return, drives a rift between Bender and Fry. This is one of the best episodes of television ever written and has one of the saddest endings I have ever seen. If you don’t get misty-eyed by the end of this episode, you may be a black-hearted monster.

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The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings: When Fry wants to impress Leela, he makes a deal with the Robot-Devil to trade hands so that he can be an expert holophonor musician. This episode perfectly recreates the structure and drama of an opera and has some of the best music created for the series. This episode has a heartfelt and adorable ending and was a brilliant finish to the series’ first cancellation.

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Runner Up – Amazon Women in the Mood: When I announced that I was writing an article about Futurama episodes, the Nerd Reactor staff all chimed in with their favorites. Without a doubt, ‘Amazon Women in the Mood’ was the most requested episode. After a horrible date between Kif and Amy, Zapp Brannigan crashes a restaurant ship into the planet Amazonia, where Kif, Zapp, Bender and Fry are captured and…um… ‘tortured’ by the planets tribal females. Keyword: snu-snu

So, these are mine, but what are your favorite episodes of Futurama?

* Our household had only recently gotten internet, so while the rest of the world was in ashes, hunting each other for gasoline, my hometown probably would have only been pushed back to 1912.

**The end of the world could have come and gone and I wouldn’t have cared. As the clock struck midnight, ushering my part of the globe into the year 2000, I was engaged in clumsy high school romance. It was wonderful.

***Using a substitution cypher, the show’s creators have developed 2 alien languages featured in Futurama’s world. 

****The Futurama Theorem is a real thing.

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Robert Walker
Robert Walker 152 posts

Rob Walker is a writer and filmmaker in Colorado, and is creator of the comedy web series Victorian Cut-out Theatre. He loves horror films and comic books (American Vampire, Jonah Hex, The Flash, Planetary). Rob has been a Sherlockian since the age of ten, is a Dark Tower junky and believes that Indiana Jones is the greatest cinematic hero ever created. You can follow him on twitter at: @timidwerewolf and see his other writings and videos at robwalkerfilms.com