The Late Philip J. Fry

The Late Philip J. Fry

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"The Late Philip J. Fry" is the seventh episode of the sixth season
Futurama (season 6)
Futurama sixth production season originally aired on Comedy Central from June 24, 2010 to September 8, 2011 and consisted of 26 episodes. The season marks the change of networks from Fox to Comedy Central.David X...

 of the animated series
Television program
A television program , also called television show, is a segment of content which is intended to be broadcast on television. It may be a one-time production or part of a periodically recurring series...

 Futurama
Futurama
Futurama is an American animated science fiction sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J...

. It originally aired on Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

 on July 29, 2010. In the episode, Fry
Philip J. Fry
Philip J. Fry, known simply as Fry, is a fictional character, the main protagonist of the animated science fiction sitcom Futurama. He is voiced by Billy West using a version of his own voice as he sounded when he was 25.-Character overview:...

 attempts to make it on time to a birthday dinner date for Leela. He is sidetracked by Professor Farnsworth
Hubert J. Farnsworth
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, or simply The Professor, is a fictional character in the American animated television series Futurama. He is voiced by Billy West using a combination of impressions of Burgess Meredith and Frank Morgan. Farnsworth is the proprietor of the Planet Express delivery...

 and Bender, who force him to test out the Professor's time machine
Time Machine
A time machine is a fictional/hypothetical device used to achieve time travel. The term may also refer to:-Novels and films:* The Time Machine, an 1895 novel by H. G...

, which only goes into the future. After overshooting and thus going forward to the year 10,000 AD, they must keep traveling forward in time until a backwards time machine has been invented.

The episode was written by Lewis Morton
Lewis Morton
Lewis Morton is an American television writer. He has written for several shows, including Saturday Night Live , NewsRadio and Futurama. He worked as a producer for Undeclared, but never authored any episodes...

 and directed by Peter Avanzino
Peter Avanzino
Peter Avanzino is an American animation director. He has directed several episodes of Futurama, and currently serves as supervising director on the 6th season of the series. He has also directed episodes of Drawn Together, Duckman, The Wild Thornberrys, Sit Down, Shut Up, and The Ren and Stimpy Show...

. From June 16 to June 23, as part of its "Countdown to Futurama" event, Comedy Central Insider, Comedy Central's news outlet, released various preview materials for the episode, including a storyboard of the time machine and character designs for the aged Planet Express crew. The episode was met with positive reviews from critics and won an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 for Outstanding Animated Program
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour)
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program is a Creative Arts Emmy Award which is given annually to an animated series which is judged to have been the best...

 in 2011
63rd Primetime Emmy Awards
The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in primetime television programming from June 1, 2010 until May 31, 2011, was held on September 18, 2011, at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Fox televised the ceremony within the United States. Actress Jane Lynch hosted...

.

Plot


Leela and Fry's growing relationship is marred by Fry's constant tardiness. After arriving late for work and standing her up at her birthday lunch date, Fry is determined to make it up to Leela by skipping a party hosted by Hedonismbot and meeting Leela for a birthday dinner date at "Cavern on the Green
Tavern on the Green
Tavern on the Green was a privately owned American cuisine restaurant located in Central Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, in New York City. It remained in operation from 1934 to 2009 under various owners...

", a fancy restaurant situated in a deep cave with naturally occurring stalagmites. As Fry prepares to leave for the date, the Professor
Hubert J. Farnsworth
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, or simply The Professor, is a fictional character in the American animated television series Futurama. He is voiced by Billy West using a combination of impressions of Burgess Meredith and Frank Morgan. Farnsworth is the proprietor of the Planet Express delivery...

 penalizes him for his tardiness at work by forcing him to try out his newly invented one-way time machine
Time Machine
A time machine is a fictional/hypothetical device used to achieve time travel. The term may also refer to:-Novels and films:* The Time Machine, an 1895 novel by H. G...

. The machine is only able to travel to the future (to prevent changing the past and the creation of paradoxes), and the Professor wishes to test it out by moving one minute forward in time. As the Professor, Bender, and Fry prepare to test out the machine, Fry records a message in a video birthday card for Leela, apologizing for being one minute late and explaining the situation. As he is about to finish, the Professor accidentally pulls the lever too far, sending them forward into the year 10,000 AD. During the trip, Fry loses the card in the time stream
Time stream
Time Stream is the normal passage or flow of time and its historical developments, within a given dimension of reality. The concept of the time stream, and the ability to travel within and around it, are the fundamentals of a genre of science fiction....

.

Finding the year 10,000 AD to be a five times over post-apocalyptic
Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction
Apocalyptic fiction is a sub-genre of science fiction that is concerned with the end of civilization due to a potentially existential catastrophe such as nuclear warfare, pandemic, extraterrestrial attack, impact event, cybernetic revolt, technological singularity, dysgenics, supernatural...

 dissolution, they then decide that their only hope of returning to the 31st century is to continue forward in time until they reach a period in which a backwards time machine has been invented. In the 31st century, Leela leaves the cavern, thinking Fry had gone to Hedonismbot's party. A nuclear accident at the party kills all but Hedonismbot himself; the rest of the crew therefore assume that the missing trio had been there and are now dead.

Fry, Bender, and the Professor travel forward through time, encountering numerous periods of Earth civilization, including a dystopian war between machines and humans
Cybernetic revolt
Cybernetic revolt or robot uprising is a scenario in which an artificial intelligence decide that humans are a threat , are inferior, or are oppressors and try to destroy or to enslave them potentially leading to...

, where the humans are outnumbered. Though Bender is happy to stay, the team moves forward to the year Fifty Million, a utopia of beautiful and scantily clad women who have developed backwards time travel technology. They are happy to offer it to the team, but Bender sends them forward in time, still angered by their decision to leave the machine war dystopia. They are forced to continue their search, arriving in the year One Billion, only to find the Earth barren and all life extinct. Fry wanders off and discovers a message left in stalagmites on the floor of what was Cavern on the Green.

Meanwhile, Leela - seen in the years 3030 and 3050 - has taken over Planet Express and turned it into a successful company, but still harbors some nostalgia and hurt toward Fry for standing her up before his "death". The lost birthday card emerges from the time stream in 3050 and reveals that Fry did not abandon her after all. Realizing the truth, she goes to the empty Cavern on the Green, damaging the ceiling in a way that will create the message Fry sees a billion years later. It states that although their time together was brief, it was the best time of her life.

Having lost their opportunity to return home, Fry, Bender, and the Professor resign themselves to going to the end of time. After the last existing proton decay
Proton decay
In particle physics, proton decay is a hypothetical form of radioactive decay in which the proton decays into lighter subatomic particles, such as a neutral pion and a positron...

s, they are amazed to discover that the universe behaves as a Big Bounce
Big Bounce
The Big Bounce is a theoretical scientific model of the formation of the known universe. It is implied by the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe.- Expansion and contraction...

; after collapsing, it undergoes another Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

, endlessly and cyclically destroying and replicating the same universe and its exact events, instead of having unique inhabitants and history (Farnsworth at one point stops the time machine just to shoot Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

). They realize that they can continue forward in time and eventually reach the moment that they left in the new copy of the universe. This is an example of the Poincaré recurrence theorem
Poincaré recurrence theorem
In mathematics, the Poincaré recurrence theorem states that certain systems will, after a sufficiently long time, return to a state very close to the initial state. The Poincaré recurrence time is the length of time elapsed until the recurrence. The result applies to physical systems in which...

.

Their first attempt to return to the time where they departed resulted in them overshooting, and needing to go through time again. The Professor attempts to kill Hitler once again, but misses and kills Eleanor Roosevelt
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was the First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She supported the New Deal policies of her husband, distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and became an advocate for civil rights. After her husband's death in 1945, Roosevelt continued to be an international...

 instead.

Upon their second attempt, they manage to cycle back to just mere moments before they left. However, this universe is ten feet below the previous one, so they end up crushing their duplicates from this universe as the duplicates prepare to enter the time machine, killing them and avoiding a time travel paradox. Fry rushes to meet Leela, making it to their date on time. After dinner, Leela and Fry stand on a bridge, overlooking the river (while Bender quietly buries their duplicates below it) and Fry apologizes for losing his birthday card to her. She tells him that it is okay, because what she will always remember is their time together.

Production


"The Late Philip J. Fry" was written by Lewis Morton
Lewis Morton
Lewis Morton is an American television writer. He has written for several shows, including Saturday Night Live , NewsRadio and Futurama. He worked as a producer for Undeclared, but never authored any episodes...

 and directed by Peter Avanzino
Peter Avanzino
Peter Avanzino is an American animation director. He has directed several episodes of Futurama, and currently serves as supervising director on the 6th season of the series. He has also directed episodes of Drawn Together, Duckman, The Wild Thornberrys, Sit Down, Shut Up, and The Ren and Stimpy Show...

. The table reading for this episode took place on October 21, 2009. From June 16 to June 23, as part of its "Countdown to Futurama" event, Comedy Central Insider, Comedy Central's news outlet, released various preview materials for the episode, including a storyboard of the time machine and character designs for the aged Planet Express crew. Comedy Central also released a preview clip of the episode online on July 23, featuring Fry's tardiness to the initial lunch date with Leela.

Cultural references


The episode contains many cultural references, particularly to time-travel related fiction, including Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes (1968 film)
Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The film stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly and Linda Harrison...

, The Terminator
The Terminator
The Terminator is a 1984 science fiction action film directed by James Cameron, co-written by Cameron and William Wisher Jr., and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was produced by Hemdale Film Corporation and distributed by Orion Pictures, and filmed in Los...

, H.G. Wells' famous novel The Time Machine
The Time Machine
The Time Machine is a science fiction novella by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 for the first time and later adapted into at least two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions, and a large number of comic book adaptations. It indirectly inspired many more works of fiction...

, and Olaf Stapledon
Olaf Stapledon
William Olaf Stapledon was a British philosopher and author of several influential works of science fiction.-Life:...

's classic future-history novel Last and First Men
Last and First Men
Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future is a "future history" science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. A work of unprecedented scale in the genre, it describes the history of humanity from the present onwards across two billion years and eighteen...

. Farnsworth takes advantage of the time travel to kill Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, a classic temporal paradox
Hitler's murder paradox
The Hitler's murder paradox is a common trope of time travel fiction, where a character with access to time travel technology attempts to go back in time and murder Adolf Hitler before his rise to power in Germany, expecting to prevent World War II and The Holocaust from happening...

. When the Professor asks the year ten million soldier about the machine revolt, the soldier's response, "We built them to make our lives easier, but they rebelled," is taken from the intro text to Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica (2004 TV series)
Battlestar Galactica is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore as a re-imagining of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica television series created by Glen A. Larson...

. The sound of the time machine is that of the Enterprise
USS Enterprise (NCC-1701)
The USS Enterprise, NCC-1701, is a fictional starship in the Star Trek media franchise. The original Star Trek series depicts her crew's mission "to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before" under the command of Captain James...

in Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek: The Original Series
Star Trek is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry, produced by Desilu Productions . Star Trek was telecast on NBC from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969...

. A parody of the 1969 Zager & Evans song "In the Year 2525
In the Year 2525
"In the Year 2525 " is a hit song from 1969 by American pop-rock duo Zager and Evans. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks commencing July 12, 1969. The song was written by Rick Evans in 1964 and originally released on a small regional record label in 1968...

" accompanies the scenes of Fry, the Professor, and Bender traveling through the various eras of the future. The episode has also been interpreted as a light homage to Douglas Adams
Douglas Adams
Douglas Noel Adams was an English writer and dramatist. He is best known as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime, a television...

' series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a science fiction comedy series created by Douglas Adams. Originally a radio comedy broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978, it was later adapted to other formats, and over several years it gradually became an international multi-media phenomenon...

, particularly a scene in which Fry, Bender, and the Professor "casually drink beer and watch the end of the universe." Depictions of the past also include several callbacks
Callback (comedy)
A callback, in terms of comedy, is a joke which refers to one previously told in the set. The second joke is often presented in a different context than the one which was used in the initial joke. Callbacks are usually used at or near the end of a set, as the aim is to create the biggest laugh at...

 to events in previous Futurama episodes.

Broadcast and reception


"The Late Philip J. Fry" originally aired on July 29, 2010 on Comedy Central
Comedy Central
Comedy Central is an American cable television and satellite television channel that carries comedy programming, both original and syndicated....

. In its original American broadcast, "The Late Philip J. Fry" drew 100,000 more viewers from the previous week to 2.046 million viewers. It received a 1.3 rating/2% share in the Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

 and a 1.0 rating/3% share in the 18-49 demographic, up a tenth of a point from the previous week's episode
Lethal Inspection
"Lethal Inspection" is the sixth episode of the sixth season of the animated sitcom, Futurama, and originally aired on July 22, 2010 on Comedy Central. In the episode Bender learns that he suffers from a terminal manufacturing defect, effectively rendering him mortal...

.

Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club
The A.V. Club
The A.V. Club is an entertainment newspaper and website published by The Onion. Its features include reviews of new films, music, television, books, games and DVDs, as well as interviews and other regular offerings examining both new and classic media and other elements of pop culture. Unlike its...

 was enthusiastic about the episode, stating that the episode's jokes and humor were solid throughout. He was pleased that the relationship between Leela and Fry was "finally" addressed, also feeling that up until this episode, "[t]he writing on Leela hasn't been as solid this season." Praising the episode's full use of science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 and the smart structure of the episode, concluding, "It feels like we're back in the sweet spot here, mixing high and low comedy with sharp ideas, and a surprisingly uncynical sincerity. Everything old is new again, I guess, and that's a very good thing." Robert Canning of IGN
IGN
IGN is an entertainment website that focuses on video games, films, music and other media. IGN's main website comprises several specialty sites or "channels", each occupying a subdomain and covering a specific area of entertainment...

 gave the episode a 7.5 citing it as another example of Futurama's "smart takes" on time travel. He felt that "it showed that there's still a lot of thought going into plotting out these time trips", although he also stated that the episode did not have enough laughs. Merrill Bar of Film School Rejects praised the episode, describing it as "Every joke hits, every line was sweet, every emotion is true, every visual was eye popping, this episode is Futurama at its finest. If there is any complaint, it's that it took this long for the show to regain this level of quality." He concluded that, "This combined with last week’s episode
Lethal Inspection
"Lethal Inspection" is the sixth episode of the sixth season of the animated sitcom, Futurama, and originally aired on July 22, 2010 on Comedy Central. In the episode Bender learns that he suffers from a terminal manufacturing defect, effectively rendering him mortal...

 has restored my full confidence in the production team." Sean Gandert of Paste
Paste (magazine)
Paste is a monthly music and entertainment digital magazine published in the United States by Wolfgang's Vault. Its tagline is "Signs of Life in Music, Film and Culture."-History:...

 rated the episode a 9.4/10, and wrote: "'Late' was definitely the best episode of the season so far, and ranks with the best the show’s ever done. Nearly every episode of this season has been better than the last, and it looks like it's finally reached the peaks it's hit in the past. As of now, I think any doubt about the Futurama's reboot should be pretty damn well silenced."

Series creator Matt Groening
Matt Groening
Matthew Abram "Matt" Groening is an American cartoonist, screenwriter, and producer. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell as well as two successful television series, The Simpsons and Futurama....

 considers this episode his favorite episode of the season. On his Facebook account, Maurice LaMarche
Maurice LaMarche
Maurice LaMarche is an Emmy Award winning Canadian-American voice actor and former stand up comedian. He is best known for his voicework in Futurama as Kif Kroker, as Egon Spengler in The Real Ghostbusters, Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Big Bob Pataki in Hey...

 commented that he found this episode "[h]ilarious, touching, meaningful, philosophical, even metaphysical." He also felt that the episode would be a contender for an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

. The episode would go on to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (for Programming Less Than One Hour)
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour)
The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program is a Creative Arts Emmy Award which is given annually to an animated series which is judged to have been the best...

 at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards
63rd Primetime Emmy Awards
The 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in primetime television programming from June 1, 2010 until May 31, 2011, was held on September 18, 2011, at the Nokia Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles, California. Fox televised the ceremony within the United States. Actress Jane Lynch hosted...

 in 2011.

External links


See also

  • The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
    The Deconstruction of Falling Stars
    "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" is the final episode of the fourth season of the science-fiction television series Babylon 5. This was the final episode of Babylon 5 to air on PTEN.-Synopsis:...

  • The Accidental Time Machine
    The Accidental Time Machine
    The Accidental Time Machine is a science-fiction novel by Joe Haldeman that was published in 2007. The novel was a finalist for the Nebula Award in 2007, and the Locus Award in 2008.-Plot summary:...