Futurama: S01E08: A Big Piece of Garbage
It’s the professor’s turn to shine in this one. I know they need to give you some insight into the peripheral characters, but I like the ones later about Zoidberg and Hermes better. If you have a sensitive stomach, the gagging the actors do in this episode will drive you to the brink. There are some visually stunning scenes of the garbage ball and it’s movement through the atmosphere. Don’t miss the subtle Simpson’s reference in chapter 4.
Good news everyone! The professor comes in to tell the crew they have a delivery to Ebola 9 the next day. Hermes is curious as to why it has to wait until then. The professor explains that he wants them all alive for the Academy of Inventors’ annual symposium that evening. He is certain he will win an award for his latest invention. Behold . . . the death clock! If you put your finger in it, it tells you how long you have left to live. What a cheery little device!
At the ceremony, they clash with a former student of the professor’s named Ogden Werstrom. He holds a hundred-year-old grudge against the professor for giving him an A-minus and has sworn revenge. Ron Popeil’s head, the inventor of the technology to keep heads alive in jars, hosts the event. I enjoyed that they made Ron Popeil the inventor of the head in a jar technology; it seems to fit. For those not familiar, he’s the president of Ronco, and has brought many useful and useless products alike to us over the decades. He’s noted for saying, “But wait, there’s more!, all over late night TV.” He calls Werstrom up on stage first to present his reverse scuba suit, to much acclaim. As he leaves the stage, Wernstrom stops by to taunt the professor about least year’s lame entry: the death clock. Scrambling while others are making their presentations, the professor doodles plans for a smelloscope on a stained cocktail napkin. He feels people might want smell heavenly bodies as well as see them. His presentation doesn’t go well; he’s laughed off the stage. Werstrom wins the academy prize and considers his revenge complete as the professor leaves in complete dejection.
Back at Planet Express, the professor is still feeling old and useless until Fry gives him an ass-backwards pep talk. Despite Fry’s ineptitude, the professor vows to build his smelloscope. Fry, Bender and Leela come running at the professor’s cry of, “Eureka!” He shows them the scope, having forgotten he built it last year. He demonstrates its use for Fry, leaving him to sniff around a bit. Fry is discovering the secret scents of the universe when he happens upon an overpowering gagging stench. Billy West said he could barely keep his lunch down on this one. The professor checks behind him and Leela sniffs as well, figuring out the smell is moving.
Some internet research leads the professor to believe the smell is a giant ball of garbage. The fact that even educational information on the internet is a plot for porn is hilarious! New New York shot the ball into space in 2052 when they ran out of landfill room. Leela is agog at the wastefulness of the 20th century. EVERYTHING is recycled now, including food. Fry is pretty disgusted by that one. I sympathize. They take their findings to the mayor, who calls in his scientific advisor, Wernstrom. He doubts the professor’s findings, but has to relent when a transmission from Neptune (more lovely gagging) describes the passage of the garbage asteroid. The professor outlines his plan to plant a bomb in a strategic area and dissipate the garbage ball. Fry, Bender and Leela are dispatched to perform the mission but fail when they discover the timer on the bomb was installed upside down.
It’s too late for another try and the professor gets the brunt of the public’s enmity for his screw-up. He once again feels worthless and Werstrom uses this chance to vow he’ll save the day, but just renegotiates his contract and splits. The professor believes that another ball of material the same size, density and consistency of the garbage ball could be launched to divert the original ball into the sun. He can’t think of what to make the ball out of until Fry suggests another ball of garbage. Fry teaches the entire city the finer points of littering and garbage production begins with a vengeance for the first time in 500 years. In a snap, they have another ball of garbage to rocket off. The plan is successful! Fry is touted as a hero and the professor winds up with Wernstrom’s academy prize. Wernstrom vows revenge anew, even if it takes another hundred years. Leela asks what happens if the new garbage ball returns like the old one did. No one cares because it won’t happen in their lifetime. That’s the 20th century spirit!
I’d rate this one a solid 7 out of 10.
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Futurama reviews are © 2006, 2007 Chrystal Litchford.
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