Futurama’s time travel, deconstructed
From Robert Chambers/Kurt Vonnegut-like suicide booths to Robot Arms Apartments (lifted from the prophetic second part of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl), Futurama has embedded allusions to speculative fiction all over its world.
The show absorbs a lot of great sci-fi lore and spits out excellent, silly and original science fiction of its own.
Now that the sixth season of Futurama is almost half-way over (Yay, 100 episodes! — as Hermes Conrad said “That’s almost 10 a year!”), it’s time to celebrate with a little time-travel fun. In episode seven of this season Fry, Bender, and Professor Farnsworth get trapped in a time machine that can only go forward in time.
Here’s a break-down of all the sci-fi references in their travels:
- 10,000: Post-apocalyptic, post-Planet of the Apes wasteland
- 105105: Third ice age people shoot laser guns while riding walruses. The snow people with laser guns are possibly taken from Phillip K. Dick’s Clans of the Alphane Moon mixed in with their own inside joke about Extreme Walrus Juice (Ride the Walrus!)
- In the year 252525: Reference to the futuristic song “In the year 2525…” by prog rock duo Zager & Evans, which this song directly parodies.
- 351120: This Waterworld-type setting contains giant shrimp bears a striking resemblance to the sea monster in Godzilla vs The Sea Monster.
- 5,000,000: They reverse the Time Machine dynamics of the smart Morlock society living underground and the less intelligent Eloi society living above ground (H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, of course), calling the devolved underground dwellers the “Dumblocks” instead.
- 10,000,000: In this Terminator future the robots are taking over the world (again).
I gotta hand it to the show, though. With the ability to time travel, it would be so easy to do a clip show, and thanks to the writers’ better nature, they’re heading into the second half of Futurama’s sixth season without any such pitfalls that have come to plague The Simpsons.
Stay tuned for the episode Holiday Val-U-Pak, where Al Gore’s head hosts a seasonal version of an Athology of Interest-type 3-story episode (minus the What If Machine).