Captain's Blog pt. 10: Where No Fan Has Gone Before

I've always liked Futurama, but I'm not overly familiar with it. I've seen maybe a dozen or so of its 127 episodes (and counting? I think it's still officially an "in production" show after its revival on Comedy Central, but I'm not sure.) So, I'm by no means an expert.

Ditto for the comic. I've always wanted to learn more about Bongo Comics. Does it turn a profit, or is it so well-subsidized by the massive profit margin of The Simpsons franchise that it can publish whatever it wants, regardless? I imagine a little bit of both. Market considerations are probably less important for Bongo than they are for, say, IDW or Dark Horse, but I doubt it'd still be kicking after all this time if it was hemorrhaging cash.
The night this episode originally aired (April 2, 2002) I was at my parents' house doing a load of laundry. I mention / remember this not because it's particularly interesting, but because while I was waiting for my clothes to dry I turned on the TV and said "Oh, Futurama's coming on, why not..." having no idea that night's episode was both a Trek homage and featured most of the original cast. Imagine my delight and surprise.

David A. Goodman was a co-producer for Enterprise and wrote a few episodes, as well.
Incidentally, this "Werewolf Dog" idea cracks me up.
The episode opens with a "Shatner's Log," read by the man himself, as he and fellow cast members Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Deforest Kelley (deceased at the time of this episode's production but appearing as one of the heads-in-jars) and George Takei, face a court martial, with the "honorably sexy Zapp Brannigan presiding."

Zapp (and his long-suffering sidekick, Kip) is a recurring character on Futurama. He suffers from "sexlexia," a "disturbingly erotic disorder." Also, a published author (Zapp Brannigan's Big Book of War.) I'm not sure on this, but are those white boots a reference to Magnus, Robot Fighter?
The plot: the TOS cast and the crew of the Planet Express are on trial for having set foot on the forbidden planet, Omega 3. You're probably familiar enough with the Futurama concept for me not to mention it but just in case: (from its wiki) "The series follows the adventures of a late-20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, who, after being unwittingly cryogenically frozen for one thousand years, finds employment at Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery company in the retro-futuristic 31st century." In the interim centuries, we discover, Trek has become illegal. Mention of it is forbidden, and all of the original episodes were banished to the remote planet Omega 3. 

Upon learning of this, Fry enlists the aid of Leonard Nimoy from the Frozen Head Museum, and they travel to the forbidden planet, where they discover the original cast members are alive and well, "guests" of Melllvar, an energy lifeform resembling any of the generic energy lifeforms from TOS and the galaxy's "ultimate Trek fan." Eventually, Fry, Bender and Leela are pitted against the original cast in combat, but they end up joining forces to escape the planet. Melllvar gives chase, but Fry convinces him to let them go, get a life, and stop making an ancient TV show be the center of its existence.

Oh myyy...
Any time the original cast re-unites is a treat.
And they're given a fun script to work with here, so it's a double treat.
Shatner tears open his shirt in anticipation of battle.
The episode packs in quite a few visual homages to TOS:

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, as well.

James Doohan flatly refused to appear in this episode (the commentary track mentions his answer via his agent was "No way." Click.) So, we are introduced to the character of "Welshie." 

"We did some musical reunion specials in the 2200s," Nichelle Nichols explains, "but the guy who played Scotty had trouble yodeling."
He doesn't last long.
At episode's end, both "Charlie X" and "The Squire of Gothos" are referenced, as Melllvar's Mom appears to tell him to stop playing with his "collectibles" and come to dinner.

"All this time, we thought he was a powerful super-being. Yet he was just a child."
"He's not a child! He's thirty-four!"
During Shatner's rendition of Eminem's "The Real Slim Shady," Koenig says, "How can you do a spoken-word version of a rap song?" to which Melllvar replies "He... found a way." Amen.
Jonathan Frakes also appears as himself in this episode, for this fun gag at the Head Museum:

"Yes! Front row."
If you've never seen it, it's quite a lot of fun. I imagine your mileage will vary depending on how amusing you find either the Futurama set-up or TOS references/ in-jokes. I'll leave you with two of the images from the montage that details Trek's being outlawed from Planet Earth...

...and this bit from the Futurama wiki:

"While Melllvar should have 86 tapes- 79 episodes, 6 movies and "that blooper reel where the door doesn't close all the way," the cart is holding only 85 tapes. But:

- The blooper reel could be an extra on one of the episode or movie tapes.
- Mellvar may have gotten rid of the blooper reel as he seems to want to think the show is perfect.
- Whoever sat down and counted the tapes on the cart should really take up a hobby of some sort." 

Galaxy Quest

1 comment:

  1. I feel like a bad geek for not having seen more "Futurama," but I have seen this episode -- and it is gold.