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Futurama episode
"Roswell That Ends Well"
Futurama ep51.jpg
The Spaceship that landed in Roswell, New Mexico turns out to be Bender.
Episode no. 51
Prod. code 3ACV19
Airdate December 9, 2001
Writer(s) J. Stewart Burns
Director Rich Moore
Opening subtitle Fun For The Whole Family (except Grandma and Grandpa)
Opening cartoon "Congo Jazz"
Season 3
January 2001 – December 2002
  1. Amazon Women in the Mood
  2. Parasites Lost
  3. A Tale of Two Santas
  4. The Luck of the Fryrish
  5. The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz
  6. Bendless Love
  7. The Day the Earth Stood Stupid
  8. That's Lobstertainment!
  9. The Cyber House Rules
  10. Where the Buggalo Roam
  11. Insane in the Mainframe
  12. The Route of All Evil
  13. Bendin' in the Wind
  14. Time Keeps On Slippin'
  15. I Dated a Robot
  16. A Leela of Her Own
  17. A Pharaoh to Remember
  18. Anthology of Interest II
  19. Roswell That Ends Well
  20. Godfellas
  21. Future Stock
  22. The 30% Iron Chef
List of all Futurama episodes...

"Roswell That Ends Well" is the nineteenth episode of the third production season of the TV show Futurama. This episode, which won an Emmy Award, originally aired on December 9, 2001 as the season premiere of broadcast season four. It was written by J. Stewart Burns and directed by Rich Moore. The episode centers around an accidental time travel event that results in the main characters participating in the Roswell UFO Incident in 1947.[1]

Contents

Plot

As the crew watches a supernova from point-blank range, Fry puts a non-microwaveable metal "Iffy Pop" container into the ship's microwave. This causes a reaction between the microwave radiation and the "gravitons and graviolis" from the supernova that sends the ship to 1947. On their return to Earth, the crew finds a complete lack of a Global Positioning System, causing them to crash-land in Roswell, New Mexico. Refusing to wear a seatbelt like the rest of the crew, Bender flies out of the front of the ship upon crash-landing and is smashed to pieces. The crew and Bender's disembodied head go to seek out a way to return, leaving Zoidberg behind to pick up the pieces. Zoidberg is captured by the U.S. military and taken to Roswell Air Base for experimentation. Assuming the pieces are the remnants of a flying saucer, the military "reconstructs" Bender's body as such.

Meanwhile, the microwave needed to return to the future has been destroyed and replacements have not been invented yet. A microwave antenna from the army base would work, but Professor Farnsworth warns against using it; they must preserve causality or risk changing history and doing damage to the future. While disguised as a soldier, Fry visits his grandfather, Enos, who is stationed at the base and engaged to Fry's grandmother. Near-accidents cause Fry to become obsessed with protecting Enos from possible harm as Fry will cease to exist if he is killed. Desperate to keep Enos safe from possible harm, Fry inadvertently brings about Enos' death by leaving him in a house which, unknown to Fry, is located in the middle of a nuclear weapon testing range.

Despite Enos being immediately incinerated, Fry still exists. He encounters and consoles his would-be grandmother Mildred. She propositions Fry, who deduces that since he is alive, Mildred must not have been his grandmother, and the two end up having sex. When the rest of the group finds him, Farnsworth insists that Mildred is indeed Fry's grandmother. Fry realizes that he is now his own grandfather and panics. Farnsworth gives up on noninterference, as they are running out of time to get back to the future; Fry has already severely changed history, so what they do cannot matter.

The crew storms Roswell Air Base and steals the microwave dish. Fry and Leela rescue Zoidberg from an alien autopsy while the Professor grabs Bender's body. Bender's head falls off the ship and is left behind in 1947. Back in the 31st century, Fry laments the loss of Bender, until he realizes that his head must still be where it landed in New Mexico. The crew returns to Roswell's ruins with a metal detector where they find Bender's head, none the worse for wear, and reattach it to his still-mangled, hovering, "UFO" body.

Production

The writing team came up with the idea for this episode when they were planning the three plot lines for "Anthology of Interest II". As the idea developed they eventually had so much material for it that they broke it out as a separate episode.[2] The reason the concept was originally under consideration for the "What if..." scenario was that when Groening and Cohen originally created Futurama they decided there would not be any time travel; however they changed their mind and decided to go forward with the idea.[3] The writers did not want to create a situation that would leave fans wondering why the Planet Express crew could not simply travel through time on a regular basis. For this purpose they chose to have it occur during a supernova as that was deemed to be a suitably rare occurrence.[2] Futurama returned to the theme of time travel later in their first direct-to-video movie Futurama: Bender's Big Score, although the cause of time travel is different.

In this episode director Rich Moore used screen position and character movement to mimic the time travel aspects of the plot. In the planning stages it was decided that actions that played to screen left would represent events from the past or a setback to the plot. Likewise, screen right indicated progress or moving past their problems.[4]

Broadcast and reception

The episode won an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Animated Program (Programming Less Than One Hour) category in 2002,[5] marking Futurama's only win in this category. Rich Moore also won an Annie Award for "Directing in an Animated Television Production" in 2002[6] and in 2006 IGN ranked the episode as the sixth best Futurama episode.[7] In 2001 executive producer David X. Cohen noted that this was one of his favorite episodes of the series thus far.[8] Sci Fi Weekly gave the episode an "A" grade and noted that it was "a half hour of pure entertainment".[9] This episode is one of four featured in the Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection, marking it as one of Matt Groening's favorite episodes from the series.[10] Claudia Katz, producer of Futurama, has also stated that this is one of her three favorite episodes of the series.[11] Although the episode was well received by critics, it continued to do poorly in its time slot. The original airing was in 83rd place for the week with a 3.1 rating/5 share.[12]

Cultural references

TV critic Rob Owen perceived the episode to have touched upon many of the plot devices and themes commonly seen in time travel stories, most notably the Back to the Future movies.[1] The episode also shares much in common with the episode "Little Green Men" of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[13] The plot device of having Bender's head being lost for many years on Earth while the rest of the crew returns to their own time also alludes to "Time's Arrow", a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, and to the robot Marvin from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, who is left waiting for his masters for millions of years until the end of the Universe.

Much of Enos' character is taken from The Andy Griffith Show’s Gomer Pyle,[1] such as his accent and use of Pyle’s trademark “Gol-ly!”.[2]

After the crew lands on Earth in the past, Leela tells Zoidberg to "pick up the pieces" and everybody else to "take five" which refers to two jazz pieces.

References

  1. ^ a b c Rob Owen (2001-12-09). "Fox's 'Futurama' funny, freaky, fetching". http://www.post-gazette.com/tv/20011209owen.asp. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  2. ^ a b c Cohen, David X. (2003). Futurama season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Roswell That Ends Well". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  3. ^ Groening, Matt. (2003). Futurama season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Roswell That Ends Well". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  4. ^ Moore, Rich. (2003). Futurama season 3 Alternate DVD commentary for the episode "Roswell That Ends Well". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ Azrai, Ahmad (2004-10-31). "Farewell to the funny future". http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-14221036_ITM. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  6. ^ "30th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners". International Animated Film Society. 2002. http://www.annieawards.com/30thannieawardwinners.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-28. 
  7. ^ ""Top 25 Futurama Episodes"". http://tv.ign.com/articles/716/716663p2.html. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  8. ^ ""David X. Cohen boards the Planet Express to find meaning in Futurama"". Sci Fi Weekly. December 17, 2001. http://www.scifi.com/sfw/interviews/sfw7897.html. Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  9. ^ "Futurama Premiere". Sci Fi Weekly. December 3, 2001. http://www.scifi.com/sfw/screen/sfw7864.html. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  10. ^ Gord Lacey (2005-05-11). "Futurama — Do the Robot Dance!". http://www.tv.com/tracking/viewer.html?tid=5078&ref_id=249&ref_type=101&tag=story_list;title;8. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  11. ^ Scott Weinberg (2007-11-14). "Interview: 'Futurama' Movie(s) Producer(s) & Director(s)!". http://www.cinematical.com/2007/11/14/interview-futurama-movie-s-producer-s-and-director-s/. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  12. ^ "Futurama, Family Guy Not Fairing Well". 2001-12-12. http://news.awn.com/index.php?ltype=top&newsitem_no=6154. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  13. ^ Booker, M. Keith. Drawn to Television: Prime-Time Animation from The Flintstones to Family Guy. pp. 115–124. 

External links

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