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The Series Has Landed

July 3, 2012
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Original airdate: April 4, 1999

Written by Ken Keeler; Directed by Peter Avanzino

“The Series Has Landed” feels like the second part of a two-part pilot. It introduces more permanent characters, has the first instance of what will be the set-up in virtually every episode (the first Planet Express package delivery), and deals again with Fry’s adaptation to the future (“Admiral Crunch?”). The concept here is perfect: Fry, like many of us, has spent his whole life looking up at the moon, and is beyond thrilled to finally be able to go there. But in the year 3000 the moon is such an incredibly mundane thing it has its own pseudo-Disney amusement park and takes all of two seconds to get to. Indeed, the park is considered far more of an attraction than the boring rock that is the moon itself. It’s a nice dig at commercialism while at the same time fitting perfectly with the characters and world the show has created.

So first we finalize the set-up for the series. The Professor appoints Leela captain of the Planet Express ship as she has the advantage of not being an irresponsible moron. And then we meet the show’s three other permanent characters: the moronic, pathetic, lobster-alien ‘Dr.’ John Zoidberg, the ultra-officious Jamaican bureaucrat Hermes Conrad, and the firm’s klutzy, rich-girl, Asian-Martian intern Amy Wong. Each gets their own moment, but Zoidberg really gets to shine here, with his first appalling lack of understanding of human anatomy.

The crew (with Amy tagging along) make their first delivery to the moon, and of course, all but Leela (who wants at least one successful delivery) are up for just dumping/burning the package of claw crane game toys and enjoying the moon’s park. Amy and Fry make the delivery, but Amy loses the key’s in the process and spends the rest of the episode trying to win them back.

Largely unimpressed with the artificial nature of the park, Fry desires to see the real moon. Leela takes him on the park’s educational ride which proves wildly inaccurate. Fry breaks the ride’s “lunar-rover” off the track and drives off on to the moon’s outdoor surface, in search of the now long-lost Apollo landing site. The madness that follows is classic Futurama: Fry crashes the lunar rover, he and Leela begin to run out of oxygen and wind up on a moon farm where they’ll be trapped for the duration of the moon’s fortnight-long night, doing chores in exchange for oxygen. Bender, who has been kicked out of the park, arrives and has his way with the farmer’s three “beautiful robot daughters” (especially the legendary Crushinator).The three flee, stealing a lunar rover and some oxygen, with the farmer in hot pursuit.

After a fairly entertaining chase sequence, Fry and Leela discover the moon landing site, shelter there from the cold, and after a truly heartfelt speech from Fry, Leela realizes the moon’s true beauty. Bender, though, just had to go back for the Crushinator, but just before the farmer can kill him, Amy, having rescued the ship’s keys and become an expert with the winch, rescues them all.

Overall, a nice episode to watch in conjunction with the first, but it’s still finding it’s feet and this is far from the show’s best. There’s less exposition and so more room for the main three characters to breath and the episode tightens their relationship. Fry, the well-meaning idiot, Bender the womanizing crime-magnet, with Leela as the responsible and deep-down truly caring captain always saving them from certain doom.

Trivia and quotes

  • The episode’s premise is all the more hilarious given that they already went in to space in the previous episode. They did the full countdown and everything, Fry even said blast off. But he didn’t go to the moon I suppose.
  • In our first of the largely stand-alone, pre-title vignettes, the Professor has paid to have Planet Express’ advert aired during the Super Bowl. “Not on the same channel of course.”
  • One of the things I most love about this show is the (what I assume is intentional) use of technology in the future that was already basically obsolete in the present. The Professor’s advert is on a VHS.
  • And the advert itself is fantastic: from Mr. Horrible Gelatinous Blob, the not-so-CGI giant birds, to one of the best taglines for a delivery firm ever: “Our crew’s replaceable, your package isn’t.” Which of course explains the Professor’s totally non-existent care for his employees’ welfare: it’s part of his business model.
  • Sorry, We’re Open
  • “I like having her around because she has the same blood-type as me.”
  • A lot of love for Bender’s head’s very obvious distraction technique so that his body can steal Amy’s wallet. Though that’s about all it can do as it can’t even catch Bender’s head. “Ah to be young again, and also a robot.”
  • Amy tagging along on the delivery is pretty strange looking back. Most later episodes would just be Fry, Leela and Bender, or all of the main characters together. Having solely Amy tag along on a mission seems out of place, especially as all she does is lose the ship’s keys and then spends the rest of the episode trying to get them back from the claw crane. Not exactly the most exciting storyline… But she saves the day in the end and it’s the second episode, so whatever.
  • “Okay, if everyone’s finished being stupid/I had more, but you go ahead.”
  • First appearance of Sal, he’s soes lazies.
  • I’m With Stupid, On the Moon
  • And they introduce the long-running gag that magnets screw up Bender’s inhibition unit, making him sing folk songs. Because it’d be pretty crazy for a robot to want to be a folk singer, wouldn’t it? “I’ll shoot her with my raygun when she comes!”
  • Whalers of the Moon, a great parody of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and how annoying that song is.
  • I finally bothered looking up and thus understanding the Honeymooners joke. As Fry says, “Bang, Zoom, Straight to the Moon” was one of Ralph Kramden’s empty threats to beat his wife, not an expression of a desire for space travel.
  • Virtual Virtual Skeeball, Gender Neutral Pac-Person. Man they have fun with the video game references.
  • “I don’t see you with a fun-geneering degree”
  • “Hey, look what I won from a tourists pocket” and “Yeah, well, I’m gonna go build my own theme park. With blackjack, and hookers. In fact, forget the park.” – This is classic Bender, nice and understated.
  • “Hurry, before we freeze!/Wha do you mean “we”, mammal?”
  • Back on Earth, the Professor sees Fry and Leela fleeing for the dark side of the moon. He really ought to do something, but he is already in his pajamas. And so passes Farnsworth’s first catchphrase. RIP.
  • It’s only episode 2 and we’ve already had two genuinely emotional story resolutions. Fry’s earnest love of the moon and dream of being an astronaut is sweet but it’s never over sentimental and they always pack in the laughs. Fry’s infinite list of reasons as to why he was probably ill-suited to be an astronaut is great; especially that nobody would want to spend a week with him. (“A week would be a little much” – Katey Sagal is wonderfully sarcastic throughout this episode.)
  • And to wipe out any historical inaccuracies: “Lander returned to this site by the Historical Sticklers Society”.
  • “So Fry, was the real moon anything like the moon you used to dream about?/Eh, close enough.”
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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 12:26 am

    I didn’t mind Amy tagging along, as it helped establish her character early on. That is one issue I have with some of the new episodes though, that sometimes the whole staff will go out on a mission. Why?

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