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The Science of Romance: Solving the Timeskips in Futurama's "Time Keeps On Slipping"

About half of the Noise to Signal crew is at Dimension Jump XIII, being supremely nerdy. The other half is at home being supremely nerdy. I reside in the latter camp, and so here is my latest explorative essay, and my first during my tenure at Noise to Signal.

So settle in. Unzip your fly. And enjoy my needlessly-analytical essay on the Futurama episode "Time Keeps On Slipping."

Vintage Bubblegum.

On its surface, Futurama appears to be a science-fiction-oriented comedy program, but it doesn't take long for a viewer to realize that the driving force behind the show is not the science-fiction at all, but the interaction between characters.

It may take place in the year 3000 (or thereabouts). Its main character may have spent one thousand years in cryrogenic hibernation. His closest friends may be robots and mutants and crab-like alien creatures. But at its heart, Futurama is a show about people--people doing people things--that just happens to take place in the next millennium.

For evidence of this, one doesn't have to look much further than the development of the major characters. Trace practically any of them from the show's first episodes to its last and you'll find that they've evolved far beyond their initial gimmicky roots.

Dr. Zoidberg, for example, was effectively a one-joke character early in the show: he was of a different species than his patients. And...that was about it. The humor stemmed from the fact that he did not understand the anatomy of those he was hired to treat. But as the show evolved so did Zoidberg, and he began to take on further dimensions. He was now destitute, and accepted neither by the alien culture around him nor the Decapod culture from which he came. He was unloved and yearned for attention, connection, and companionship of any kind...all of which is, emotionally, very human.

Another example is Bender, who may have started the show as "the robot" in the group, but as quickly as episode three ("I, Roommate") we see the character already evolving beyond this. We see that he has feelings that can be hurt, we see that he is capable of feeling remorse (and even depression) and we see that he has the very human desire to "make things right" after a spat. In fact, from this point on, Bender is only really a robot in two ways: his appearance, and when "roboticness" is demanded for the purposes of a joke. The fact that he's mechanical functions only as a plot-point, and not at all as an indication of personality.

Perhaps the most literal "humanizing" of an outlandish character would be Leela, who was introduced to us as a one-eyed alien, marooned on Earth with no real sense of where she came from, who her parents were, or if there was anyone else like her in the universe. In fact, several episodes deal with Leela's curiosity on these points and they always see her looking outward, into space, for the answers. In "Leela's Homeworld," however, we find this alien character legitimately humanized, as she has her history rewritten to show that she is from Earth after all, the offspring of two mutants who abandoned her so that she might have a better opportunity in life than they had...once again, a very human sentiment.

So what do we learn from this? Well, we learn that whatever their origins as characters, and however outlandish its plots, Futurama, over time, came to establish itself as being a very "grounded" program, and one that relied--at heart--more on the strength of its characters than on the complexity of its apparent science-fiction leanings.

But that's only on the whole, right? Surely this can't be said of the episodes that are overtly science-fiction stories. Such as "Time Keeps On Slipping," with its plentiful scientific (and philosophical) ponderings, its futuristic devices and situations, its doomsday plot and technological scrambling to get it under control...considering just how much screentime is devoted to the problem of the timeskips, character dynamic must take somewhat of a back seat. Right?

If you believe that, I'm about to hold a press conference to announce that you're a "jive sucka." Because, you see, if Futurama humanizes its outlandish science-fiction characters, why wouldn't it do the same for its science-fiction plots?

Ye gods, Bubblegum!

This Chronological Wang Dang Doodle
The first--and most obvious--step in solving what's actually happening in this episode is to take a look at its structure.

"Time Keeps On Slipping" stands out, aesthetically, from the other episodes of Futurama thanks to the employment of "timeskips."

The timeskips are a temporal anomaly in which everything lurches forward in time anywhere from a few seconds to a few months, or possibly even years.

This means, for the characters, that they find themselves shoved forward in time with no memory of what might have happened to get them there.

For the viewer, this means something slightly different: they never see the action between skips, which are presented as though lengths of film have been snipped out of the episode.

This is a unique way of presenting the show, and it certainly does serve the purpose of making it stand out. But it's more than just a gimmick: it's a major plot device. "Time Keeps On Slipping" devotes nearly its entire runtime to sorting out the problem of the timeskips...a mission which, if it ends in failure, will spell doom for us all:

Prof. Farnsworth: At this rate by Tuesday it'll be Thursday, by Wednesday it'll be August, and by Thursday it'll be the end of existence as we know it.

With so much at stake it's up to science (represented by Professor Farnsworth and the brilliant faculty of Globetrotter University) to devise a solution.

Oh, there's also a romantic subplot for Fry and Leela, and a subsubplot about Bender wanting to join the Harlem Globetrotters, but since they can't be nearly as important we'll deal with them separately.

Cool your jets, hotshot.

What does a guy have to do?
It is my argument in this essay that the timeskips are not exactly the chronological disturbance that Farnsworth and the Globetrotters perceive them to be. I believe fully that they are actually being caused by Fry...or, more specifically, the strong feelings Fry has for Leela.

But wait...that'd actually make Fry and Leela the main plot, right?

Well, yes. Consider the fact that the episode both begins and ends not with any sort of scientific problems or ponderings, but with Fry's attempts to woo Leela. Think whatever you will about the plot in between; the episode is bookended with two significant attempts at romance.

We begin with Fry trying to persuade Leela to join him for a romantic ride on some "swan boats," and we end with the realization of his grand gesture: writing her a love note with the stars themselves.

So what am I saying? The episode itself exists as a bridge between the two events?

Not exactly. What I am saying is that the events of the episode (specifically the timeskips) are symptomatic of what's happening within Fry between the two events, and are not attributable to the disturbance in the Tempus Nebula that Farnsworth and the Globetrotters believe is responsible.

Of course, this requires some justification, so let's run down some specifics.

Stop showboating, you atomic hotdog.

I'll take you on, you airballing bozos.
Farnsworth responds to the Globetrotters' basketball challenge by sending his crew to the Tempus Nebula to gather chronitons. With chronitons he will be able to speed the growth of his team of mutant atomic supermen ("Mere atomic superboys, really...") in time for the game.

In fact, the rapid growth of the atomic supermen is the first time we see the chronitons in action, speeding time in this case for the purpose of accelerating growth. But Farnsworth's basketball team is not the first thing exposed to the chronitons...

Fry: Come on Leela, why won't you go out with me? We both know there's something there.

Fry's emotions for Leela are expressed among (and therefore exposed to) the chronitons in the Tempus Nebula, and though there is no immediate result of this, the later events of the episode will establish that something, indeed, happened here: Fry has sown the seeds for the timeskips.

I don't know why I thought this would help.

What's causing it? Is it my outfit?
Proof is found in the fact that the timeskips follow a definite pattern.

They typically occur on the cusp of anticipation. That is to say that an idea is suggested, the skip occurs, and the result of that idea is already in full swing. What's lost is nearly always the causal circumstance that leads up to that idea being fulfilled (or denied, as the case may be).

Furthermore, the timeskips most frequently occur where Fry and Leela are concerned discussing their feelings (or lack of feelings) for each other. And one step further: the timeskips almost never occur outside of Fry's presence.

Yet the characters in the show don't seem to realize this pattern...they are more caught up in the scientific aspect of things, and not in the greater thematic design.

In fact, they are so caught up in explaining (and solving) the problem scientifically that they aren't even concerned with making sense.

Bubblegum:I think we got ourselves an excess of chronitons in the subatomic interstices.
Prof. Farnsworth: Yes I see, Something involving that many big words could easily destabilize time itself.

Their reasoning is not at all rational, as the episode suggests, because their initial plan to gravitationally divert chronitons fails. Bubblegum Tate attempts to shrug off his failure by claiming that "a real Globetrotter saves the real algebra for the final minutes."

Yet it is never made clear whether or not the Professor or the Globetrotters are equipped to solve the problem. In the above quotation, Bubblegum hides behind scientific nonsense, and Farnsworth allows it. Later in the show Bender asks to have the situation explained to him and Bubblegum "does so" by pelting him with basketballs.

Not much in the way of explanation...are the Globetrotters just "showboating" as Farnsworth suggests? Is Farnsworth himself ill-equipped to tackle the situation at hand?

It certainly seems so. Yet, by the end of the show, the timeskips have stopped. But so has something else: Fry's romantic delusions.

Moderately-priced domestic non-vintage champagne!

Off you go, apparently.
The rhetoric of the scientists in this episode leaves us with a tenuous (at best) understanding of the situation at hand, and an unlikely conclusion. But they are the only ones explaining the situation to us, and if we can't trust what we've been told, how can we know what really happened?

With the exception of the initial skips (which occur during the basketball game) every one of the timeskips hinges upon anticipation...and anticipation is exactly what Fry is feeling where Leela is concerned. He will try everything to bring them together, and it's the waiting between attempts that is cut out during the skips.

Nearly all of the timeskips (including at least one at the basketball game) are in direct relation to the anticipation of a positive result in Fry's seduction of Leela, and even where they are not there is still a sense of uncertainty that is cut during the skip; if ever a character doubts a result, the timeskip brings him to it. Once again, it is the anticipation that is removed...and Fry is nearly always present when this occurs. Is Fry, subconsciously, causing the timeskips?

Fry's attempted wooing of Leela in the Tempus Nebula may well have exposed his sense of romantic anticipation to the chronitons, which, as we see, have the power to speed time "as necessary." In the case of the supermen Farnsworth needed them to age and grow quickly. In the case of Fry's anticipation, the chronitons push him forward in time to see the results of his actions and ideas.

It is very metaphorical in a romantic sense, because Fry's desire for gratification with Leela is so intense that his exposure to the chronitons allows him skip right over the waiting. He is in command of the situation, even if he is unaware of it; the timeskips occur when Fry's anxieties are at their peak. Just as the chronitons responded to need for growth in the supermen, they respond to Fry's need for relief from anxiety.

Compare the stress levels immediately before the timeskips to the stress levels immediately following; they are always significantly lowered, owing to a resolution that has been reached. Uncertainty is out the window: there's no time for it.

The timeskips are external manifestations of Fry's internal romantic dilemma. This is why the scientific plan fails and the timeskips continue; Fry is still resolved to see things through with Leela, and the chronitons are still responding to that, regardless of what the scientists have tried to do with their gravity pump.

There is a hint of this given midway through the episode, when Fry constructs a "time proof shelter" for only he and Leela. It's actually just a seductively decorated room, but the dialogue that follows is very telling:

Leela: How exactly will this protect us from time jumps?

Fry: Because when we're together in here, baby, time will stand still.

And this may actually be true. If Fry did convince Leela to stay with him in the shelter, and if he did succeed in seducing her, the chronitons would have no further reason to speed things along...and the timeskips could be stopped at last. It's closure for Fry's emotions that we need here, not scientific reasoning.

But what about the end of the show? The doomsday device detonated by the Planet Express crew seems to resolve the timeskips once and for all, right?

Right, but something else happens as a result of the implosion that is more likely responsible for the cessation of skips.

The creation of the black hole that Farnsworth and the Globetrotters believe will solve the problem also destroys Fry's grand romantic gesture to Leela, which leaves him utterly despondent and hopeless--literally without hope.

Fry: Did you see it? Did you see it?
Bender: The explosion?
Fry: No, not the explosion!
Leela: Then what?
Fry: Nothing.

The episode ends with Fry, lost in his own sorrow, staring emptily into space, where only a moment ago was the one thing that would win Leela's heart. Fry's desolation has set in; he no longer believes that he can succeed. There is nothing left for the chronitons to do. And that is why the timeskips stop.


Too late, hotplate.
"Time Keeps On Slipping" also contains many hints outside of the main story that the science-fiction element is not what the episode is really about. In fact, there is a very early microcosm for the theme when the Globetrotter ship lands. As everybody in the park flees the landing site, fearing themselves in mortal danger, one man halts his retreat to circle the topless Amy, ogling her.

In this short comic moment, we have a capsulated version of the episode: there is a very real danger, but, for the participants, it's love that's more important (or, in this case, lust...the frequent low-literary parallel for love) and success will be judged on those grounds, not on the grounds of survival.

We also have Marv Albert commentating on the basketball game, downplaying the science-fiction aspects of the show in what is probably an intentional move on the part of the writers to hint to the viewer that maybe they are not what is special about this episode after all.

But the most important reminder of what this episode is actually about is Bender, lovable Bender, who "falls" for the Globetrotters in the same way Fry has fallen for Leela. He spends the episode attempting to woo them, wanting to be with them, trying to convince them that they'd be right for each other. But, like Fry, his hopes are ultimately dashed.

It's also important to note that although there are strong parallels between the Fry/Leela story and the Bender/Globetrotter story, the timeskips only occur when Fry is trying to romance Leela, and never when Bender is trying to romance the Globetrotters.

Why would this be, if the timeskips were indeed random? Surely they'd be just as likely to affect Bender's story as they would Fry's...yet they never do.

But think back to the Tempus is Fry who makes his feelings for Leela known...and it is his anticipation of fulfillment that the chronitons are reacting to. Bender's desire to join the Globetrotters has not yet been established, so he does not mention it...and therefore the chronitons cannot later affect it.

He attempts everything he can, right down to sewing his own uniform and making himself taller artificially, but Bubblegum cuts him down in much the same way Leela has been trying to cut Fry:

Bubblegum: Bender, you can talk trash. You can handle the ball. But look in your heart and ask yourself. Are you funky enough to be a Globetrotter? Are you?
Bender: Yes.
Bubblegum: Are you?
Bender: I mean, with time my funk level could...
Bubblegum: Are you?
Bender: No.
Bubblegum: Deal with it.

Both stories end in failure, and Bender offers some words of self-loathing wisdom:

Bender: What does it matter? I'll never be a Globetrotter. My life, and by extension everyone else's, is meaningless.

For Bender it has been established that his dream will remain unfulfilled, and that, for him, is closure. The only solace he can take in the situation is "blasting this quadrant of space into a hailstorm of flaming nothingness," which, consequently, also brings Fry to his own realization that Leela's affection will always be lost to him.

The final image we are left with is Fry staring emptily into space, but it is Bender's ominous whistling of Sweet Georgia Brown, the Globetrotters' theme song, that we hear. Both visually and aurally, we are left with the ghost of what could have been, and all too clear is the empty reality of what now will be.

Science fiction? No. It's just life.

About this entry


I forgot to thank Can't Get Enough Futurama for the screen grabs. I have.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 24, 2006 @ 5:46 pm

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It's a very good article - but Phil m'boy, I need to introduce you to some quality SF. You keep harping on the fact that the importance of the show is about the characters and not on SF but any decent writer knows, like William Faulkner said, that any decent work of fiction is about "the human heart in conflict with itself." Good SF takes those SF ideas and uses them in such an integral way that it affects how the characters behave in the story.

With that said, this is a fantastic article. I like how it highlights the difference, and contradiction, between "science" and "science fiction." Science says that the Universe is logical and should not respond to something as intangible as Fry's emotion; science fiction asks the question "what if?" and then explores the possibilities of how that concept may affect people.

By Austin Ross
September 24, 2006 @ 11:21 pm

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Good SF takes those SF ideas and uses them in such an integral way that it affects how the characters behave in the story.

I agree entirely. You are in a much better position to defend that statement than I am, but I do agree. The fact of the matter is, though, that people on the whole tend to look at sci fi and just dismiss it entirely, believing that--for whatever reason--the science fiction in the plot outweighs the reality in the characters.

So I kind of wanted to draw attention to that expectation just for the sake of tearing it down...which I'd like to think I manage to do, albeit only for the sake of one short episode of an animated series.

That said, I think you could probably expand your comment into a whole article, Austin...

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 24, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

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Note: Leela's history was never re-written. It has been static from episode one.

Other than that, a brilliant premise for the opportunity to quote some Futurama. Wrong, and getting wronger all the time, in its assertations that Futurama is not science fiction, but brilliant nonetheless.

September 25, 2006 @ 1:12 am

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>its assertations that Futurama is not science fiction

Well, I never claimed that it wasn't science-fiction...that'd be absurd. Just that science-fiction is not what drives the show.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 25, 2006 @ 1:31 am

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But thanks for the feedback. The members at seem to want more episodes dissected this way, so we'll see where I go from here.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 25, 2006 @ 1:36 am

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Personally, I think it would be a crime not to produce such dissections for all the "shippy" episodes, or even episodes like "Jurassic Bark" and "Luck of the Fryrish". And please accept my apologies. I mis-interpreted your closing remark as an assertation that Futurama was not SF, and that is why my "feedback" was not perhaps as glowing as it could have been.

Just fantastic.

September 25, 2006 @ 2:16 am

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Fantastic article, Phil. I once considered wriitng something about conceptual, Charlie Kaufman-style films, or genre stuff like Buffy or Angel, often hit the most truthful emotional moments desipte arriving at them in the most unusual ways, but I couldn't be arsed. At all. Trying to write about Charlie Kaufman films is impossible

By Michael Lacey
September 25, 2006 @ 5:17 am

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>I mis-interpreted your closing remark as an assertation that Futurama was not SF, and that is why my "feedback" was not perhaps as glowing as it could have been.

No no, understood. There are a few moments of poor phrasing in there that could do with being cleaned up...I was referring to the situation at the end of the episode, and not Futurama (or even the episode) as a whole. THAT said, again, it could do with being cleaned up.

>Fantastic article, Phil.

Thank you. Much appreciated.

>I once considered wriitng something about conceptual, Charlie Kaufman-style films, or genre stuff like Buffy or Angel, often hit the most truthful emotional moments desipte arriving at them in the most unusual ways, but I couldn't be arsed.

See, the thing about essays like that...a huge portion of the fanbase would love to read them, but such a small number would want to write them.

I should know...I have the desire to write this stuff and, usually, I still don't bother.

So it's important to get it out. I have no idea of your writing habits, but I know with mine I can set aside maybe two hours (which includes rewatching the episode) and end up with a piece I'm actually quite proud of.

And I think it's worth it...because people like to see when sincere thought has gone into something they enjoy...especially if it's something that hasn't been satisfyingly explored before.

Is that enough of a peptalk for you? Get writing, boy.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 25, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

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Never watched it. Well, not properly. Seen episodes here and there, but it was usually on Ch4 when I was doing something else (probably sleeping when it was on in the mornings). I do remember thinking they'd ripped Dwarf somewhat with the original idea. I thought if an American Dwarf movie (or series, for that matter) was made it would be like this, obviously not animated though.

'An American Dwarf' would make a good title for a movie. Or 'All-American Dwarf'.

By performingmonkey
September 25, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

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What a load of twaddle. I can't think any of this was considered when they made the episode.

Sorry Phil, but although I understand what you're trying to say - I don't think so.

By Kirk
September 27, 2006 @ 2:13 pm

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A smarter man than me once said to me, in the midst of a discussion about whether there was any point to close textual readings and interpretations that as likely as not deviated from the writer's (in this case, Shakespeare's) original intention, that "just because the artist didn't paint the tree, doesn't mean you can't see it".

By Seb
September 27, 2006 @ 5:44 pm

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> I can't think any of this was considered when they made the episode.

Seb's addressed this succinctly enough, so all I can really do is throw my obvious support behind the sentiment. Artists create art. Art, by its very definition, transcends its ingredients. Otherwise...well, it's just a picture, innit? The fact that the author didn't have something in mind doesn't mean that a viewer, reader, listener, etc. has no right to pick up on it. Isn't that what makes art interesting? The fact that people do see things below the surface? Or do you prefer it when they slip on banana peels?

>I don't think so.

Fair enough, and you're welcome to say so. What I don't appreciate follows:

>What a load of twaddle.

Sorry big guy, but that's just rudeness, and there is no reason for it whatsoever. To spend a few hours writing something that you know will spark debate...that's reward in itself. I don't need everyone to agree. Hell, all I want people to do is think.

But to then be told it's a load of twaddle? By someone with obvious personal grudge?

Do me a favor and act somewhat human if you're going to comment on one of my posts. I don't believe it's out of line to make such a request. It's rude and unwarranted. And, no, I find nothing wrong with the fact that you disagree, and I'd welcome it if you had anything (at all) to add to the discussion.

But personal attacks on something I clearly invested a lot of time in writing? Forgive me if I ask you not to bother again next time.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 27, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

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I have no grudge against you. And whatever my relationship with NTS, I certainly have no personal grudge against you, obvious or otherwise. In fact, at DJ last weekend we discussed your previous Futurama article briefly, and I mentioned that I agreed with it - it is something I have read and referred to on more than one occasion.

What makes you think it's a personal attack? It is a load of twaddle. That's not rude, it's what I see as the truth. Never mind all this about trees. For example, you talk about Fry being the reason the time skips happen (to advance things with Leela). I don't think that's the point at all.

I'm terrible for micro-analysing things, but to suggest things like the man running round Amy being a clue that the episode wasn't about SF is ridiculous. It was just funny. Should I suggest that because Amy slipped on a banana skin in I, Roommate, this has some meaning? I see it as "Amy is vain and clumsy. The banana skin was improbably small. I find this funny." It's there because it is funny - that's all.

Futurama, like a lot of good storytelling, relies on its characters. I agree on that. And a lot of the plots are based around that Fry/Leela or Fry/Bender backbone. Futurama was never meant as true sci-fi - Matt Groening liked drawing spaceships, and there are some cool things you can glue plots around in sci-fi.

It's like any sitcom - I hate it when people say "Oh, the characters are excellent". Well, yes, or course. If they weren't, you wouldn't watch it. Is Dad's Army about fighting in WWII, or Mainwaring, Jones and Wilson? Is the Office about working in an office or Dawn, Tim, Gareth and David? Is Red Dwarf about being three million years in space, or Rimmer and Lister?

And ultimately, is Futurama about a guy dumped in the future, or is it just again a useful way to explore the characters of Fry, Leela, Bender and the others?

All these good sitcoms are about the characters. The story is just there to make us laugh.

By Kirk
September 30, 2006 @ 3:24 am

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>It is a load of twaddle. That's not rude

Either you don't know what the word twaddle means (possible) or you don't know when you're insulting somebody (significantly less likely).

But from here you DO offer a basis for your argument. And I think you understand the different between popping up and saying, "Wow, that's a load of crap," and "I disagree, you haven't considered the following..."

>I'm terrible for micro-analysing things, but to suggest things like the man running round Amy being a clue that the episode wasn't about SF is ridiculous.

So is that interpretation of what I wrote: I made quite clear that it can be seen as a microcosm for the greater plot of the episode, which itself put romance before actual mortal danger. There are far greater clues that the Fry/Leela relationship is the core of the epiosode rather than the timeslips and I deal with those in turn. The man running around in the beginning was just an interesting parallel, and it fits the article. I didn't give it anymore weight in the argument than it needed....

>It's there because it is funny - that's all.

It's there because it's funny. Does that HAVE to be all? If funny was all that mattered, why is The Office held to such elevated status? Certainly not because it's the laugh-a-minute hard and fast comedy of ha has. There's more to it. Different shows have different writers. In the case of Futurma, there are different writers working on different episodes. Are they all going to have the same agenda? They all want to make you laugh, but is that all they want to do? Do they all want to make you laugh the same way?

>The story is just there to make us laugh.

I disagree. Haven't episodes of sitcoms ever made you laugh without thinking? Don't the ones that make you laugh AND think seem of a bit higher quality?

It's subjective, of course, but to say that all plots are written that way is a bit narrow-minded.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
September 30, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

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> why is The Office held to such elevated status?

Now that is a genuine mystery.

By Ian Symes
September 30, 2006 @ 7:37 pm

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Wow. I have to say, after reading the article in question, the episode played back in my mind definitely seems to be.. balanced. Previously I always thought that the (admittedly sweet) ending seemed to be tacked on the end of an episode about solving a scientific problem. Certainly while watching it the Fry/Leela plot I saw to be secondary, certainly not to be used to wrap the show up. But viewing the episode through their perspective.. it makes sense to me. While response is certainly of the responder's design, such that makes art what art is. I thank you for this article.

By watkinzez
October 06, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

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>I always thought that the (admittedly sweet) ending seemed to be tacked on the end of an episode about solving a scientific problem.

I remember the first time I saw this episode (on Adult Swim) they made a big fuss about what a great episode it was, how underrated, etc...and I was kind of in your boat by the episode's end. It just seemed like a sci-fi episode that was funny but contained two plots that were far too distant from each other.

Later on I came to like it quite a lot, but only very recently did the above theory present itself to me. And I don't think it's entirely that far-fetched...Ken Keeler's a talented enough writer (and he cares enough about the characters) to have invested a lot of thought into "balancing" the episode, as you say.

>While response is certainly of the responder's design, such that makes art what art is. I thank you for this article.

Well thank you. Your feedback is much appreciated.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
October 06, 2006 @ 10:23 pm

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> Ken Keeler's a talented enough writer (and he cares enough about the characters) to have invested a lot of thought into "balancing" the episode, as you say.

1. Thanks!

2. I and, I'm pretty sure, everybody else on the writing staff always thought that the main story was Fry & Leela, and that this was crystal-clear. It's puzzling to me that anyone who had seen the episode would ever think otherwise.

3. Neither I nor, I'm pretty sure, anyone else on the staff ever intended or imagined that Fry's emotions were in any sense whatsoever responsible for the time skips, or that anyone should think so.

By Ken Keeler
October 10, 2006 @ 10:41 pm

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Alright. Alright. Remain calm. Remain calm. Ken Keeler read my post. Remain calm. Remain calm.

It's. Not. Working...

By Philip J Reed, VSc
October 10, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

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>3. Neither I nor, I'm pretty sure, anyone else on the staff ever intended or imagined that Fry's emotions were in any sense whatsoever responsible for the time skips, or that anyone should think so.

Then I'm honored to have been able to show you the truth.

(Winky face, etc.)

By Philip J Reed, VSc
October 10, 2006 @ 11:02 pm

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I wonder if a high profile person would ever admit to googling themselves. Like does William Shatner ever google "William Shatner"? Man, I have a great idea now.

By jesse
October 19, 2006 @ 11:43 am

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Hey, nice article. I enjoyed reading it although I disagree with it's analysis and conclusion. I agree with Ken Keeler on this one and not because he wrote it but because I think he's right. :-)

By Chug a Bug
March 04, 2007 @ 4:23 pm

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Well, it's been pretty well established by scholars far beyond me (though I do agree with them) that the author of a work has the least amount of right to explain to others what it's actually about. Melville famously described Moby Dick, when asked, as being about "a whale." But you'd be hard pressed to find any literature professor (or student) that agrees with him.

That's not exactly a response to you directly; you've already stated--wisely--that you aren't just blindly agreeing with Ken Keeler because he wrote it, I just felt it was worth repeating.

I understand the difference in view and definitely appreciate the positive feedback in spite of the fact that you disagreed with my conclusion.

If you have anything specific you'd like to address, be my guest. I still WOULD like to do more episode dissections of Futurama, but it may be some time. I have a strong idea of where to go with my next one, but it's not quite "ready" to be written. Any feedback on this one will probably help with the next.

By Philip J Reed, VSc
March 04, 2007 @ 5:22 pm

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That is an extremely well thought out and written piece. I have be quite impressed to give feedback on anything. I even used CAPS!!!

I enjoy learning about the deeper/hidden side to art, and this grabbed my attention, you raise some really good points. Although whether or not I agree that Fry's emotions drive the time-skips, I'm not sure, only because I haven't seen the episode in a while. But I'll be paying far more attention next time. If the point of the essay was to provoke thought, mission accomplished. I have always felt that there something more to this episode, just wasn't sure what. I like the-guy-running-around-Amy-comparison, even though it seemed more of like a meaningless joke from the writers, the point was valid. And I always saw the whole Fry/Leela relatioship the main plot no matter what the episode. I was drawn to Futurama by the humor, (at age 12, when it premiered) but was sucked in almost immediatly by the characters.

To further what SpaceCase said, I'm thrilled to see that someone is looking deeper into Futurama. Not many have done so, you get a tip of my proverbial hat. It would be great to see more of the show broken down. "The Why of Fry", "X-mas Story", "Godfellas", and "the Devils Hands Are Idle Plythings" come to mind, but of course write on something that you can give justice.

On a side note, I'm a HUGE (emphasis is needed) Futurama fan, with just one critism. In the essay it sounds too much like all Fry wants to do is bed Leela "...because Fry’s desire for gratification with Leela is so intense..." You've probably watched enough of the show to know otherwise, and I know the main idea is the relationship between his emotions and the time-skips. The thing is I relate far too deeply with the themes of loneliness in Fry/Leela's characters than is healthy. So I couldn't let something like that go without comment.

Oh yeah, just so you know they're making four DVD Futurama movies, and Comedy Central will air them as episodes for a fifth season.

Needless to say, I'm bookmarking this site and will read more.

By jontet
March 15, 2007 @ 9:46 am

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