We’re back, baby! Again! Futurama season 11’s premiere episode, “The Impossible Stream,” was written by Patric M. Verrone and directed by Peter Avanzino.
New New York City, Earth. The universe is frozen in time. A final entry of lab notes by Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (Billy West) recounts the events of Futurama season 10’s finale, “Meanwhile.” As Farnsworth recalls, he tunneled through time to locate an aged Philip J. Fry (West) and Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal). With their consent, he reset the timeline to the point before time was frozen.
Fry and Leela are returned to their younger selves. Meanwhile, the rest of the universe unfreezes. Amy Wong (Lauren Tom), Bender Bending Rodriguez (John DiMaggio), Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr), and Doctor John Zoidberg (West) are all restored. However, they are cognizant that something strange has transpired. And Bender’s beer has spoiled.
Back at the Planet Express building, Farnsworth announces his Oil of Omicron wrinkle cream has arrived. He further observes that they seem to have survived a massive temporal disruption. Whether or not the crew has gotten older or younger is unknown. However, the atomic pin-up calendar pegs the date as Thursday, July 24, 3023.
Farnsworth’s head explodes. But this isn’t because of the date, it’s due to the science of explosive botulism. Meanwhile, Fry realizes he’s spent twenty-three years in the future after his arrival in Futurama’s 1999 debut episode, “Space Pilot 3000.” Fry says he has achieved nothing in the time since he was frozen. He resolves to set himself a goal. Bender laughs, but Leela is determined to support Fry’s dreams.
Leela suggests they give Fry peace and quiet while he determines what his goal will be. Instead, Bender turns on Everybody Loves Hypnotoad. This inspires Fry to make a pledge to watch every TV show ever made. Leela sighs with disgust. Bender points out that there is “a mighty deep diaper of content” to wade through. He scans through a TV listing guide that includes programming like Melllvar Place, Star Trek: The Original Reboot, and Family Gorn.
Nevertheless, Fry is determined. He signs up for the fourth most popular streaming service, Fulu. He sets his age at 1000+ (technically correct). And he’s still using the same password: 1077, the price of a cheese pizza and a soda at Pannucci’s Pizza circa 1999. Amy asks if Leela will stop him, but Leela doesn’t want to crush his dreams. And when she tries to get Hermes to do it, he’s unwilling to undertake her “girlfriend duty.”
TV Party Tonight
Fortunately, a lifetime of laziness has given Fry a head start. He’s already watched (and hate-watched) plenty of shows, including Stranger Fonts, Smelly in Paris, and How I Met Your Smizmar. Amy offers to set Leela up with Zapp. But Leela continues to support Fry’s goal.
Fry starts with The Scary Mirror. It’s a lot like The Scary Door but parodies a totally different show: Dark Mirror, which is different from The Twilight Zone. The story follows a Tesswad driver who somehow swaps places with his A.I. virtual assistant, Sneery. While Sneery mocks him, she also crashes the Tesswad into the Impassible Burger. Amy says it makes you think, so Fry switches to The Great Neptunian Bam-Off, followed by the Humorbot 5.0: Stand-Up Special.
Soon, all Fry has left to stream is the final season of All My Circuits. Bender asks for clarification, since (like all the best shows), it was canceled two or three times. (“Loserama,” observes Amy.) Fry says the final final season, from a decade earlier. Bender notes this constitutes more than 13,000 episodes. Fry sobs as he gives up his dreams.
But Leela says it might be possible using “binging” technology. This horrifies the others. Amy explains that it now means strapping into “binging goggles” that drill directly into the visual cortex. Farnsworth begins to warn Fry against using the goggles. However, the goggles are already drilling into Fry’s cortex.
In the PlanEx break room, the crew prepares Fry for his binge. This involves wearing a Still Suit and sitting in the Professor’s Binge-O-Lounger. Fry bids Leela farewell and begins binging. After an advertisement for Honey Bunches of Springs (fatal to humans), the episode begins. Calculon (Maurice LaMarche) confronts Monique (Tress MacNeille) as she makes out with Boxy Robot.
As Fry binges, the months pass. By April 3024 he’s been streaming for months without a break. His bowel functions are normal. However, a brain scan reveals his brain waves now match the television signal. He’s lost touch with reality. If he runs out of episodes, his consciousness will be severed. Leela feels some (but not total) amount of responsibility for Fry’s condition.
Amy suggests a new season of All My Circuits, as new episodes could prolong Fry’s life. But it’s been off the air for a decade. Bender says shows don’t come back after that long a duration on broadcast or cable. So Farnsworth suggests Fulu. “They’ll bring any old crap back,” he notes.
Leela suggests rebooting All My Circuits as a streaming series. Zoidberg suggests writing letters and a viral hashtag campaign. But Leela says they should utilize the more effective strategy of punching someone. Soon the PlanEx ship lands at Fulu. Leela punches the polite security guard on the way in the door.
Inside, three familiar Execubots are asking Leela to explain why she thinks she can punch her way into their suite. Leela asks if they remember All My Circuits. They do: “The one that got canceled three times?” Leela suggests new episodes. The Execubots pass. “All My Circuits reruns have a devoted robot fanbase, but they rarely buy anything from our advertisers,” one explains.
However, Fry has been buying the advertised products from within the Still Suit. This alters the opinion of the Execubots. Leela suggests they pick up All My Circuits for 20 episodes. Bender suggests an option for 20 more. “Maybe a movie,” adds Leela. The project is greenlit. Leela points out series star Calculon is dead. The Execubot states that everything is negotiable. In Robot Hell, New Jersey, the Robot Devil (Dan Castellaneta) receives a call from the Fulu Execubots. The Devil concedes to Calculon’s participation (at scale plus ten). Calculon is summarily loaded into the Resurrection Cannon.
Calculon arrives on the All My Circuits set and asks for his assistant. Bender volunteers, and as his first duty, accepts hot coffee expelled by Calculon. Leela receives a video call from Farnsworth on her Wrist LoJack-a-mater. He warns her that Fry has only two episodes left, and one is a clip show. Leela says it isn’t possible to produce an hour-long episode every hour forever, which is what would be necessary to sustain Fry’s life. But Farnsworth encourages her: “If Law and Order can do it, then so can you.”
Brought to You by: Slurm Zero
A commercial starring a desiccated Slurms MacKenzie (David Herman) advertises Slurm Zero before we return to filming on the All My Circuits set. Bender and Executive Producer Leela exchange a thumbs-up. Meanwhile, the rest of the PlanEx crew continues to bring Fry deliveries of products like “5-hour Battery Acid (Extra Strength).” Soon Farnsworth realizes Fry has upped his stream to 2x speed.
Farnsworth mirrors Fry’s view on the screen. A sped-up scene showing a love triangle involving Monique, Human Friend (DiMaggio) and Calculon is playing out. Farnsworth contacts Leela to inform her of the update. She suggests slowing the stream down. Farnsworth worries that, given the binge-state in which Fry’s brain is suspended, this could kill him. All My Circuits must be made at a faster rate in order to match Fry’s demand.
Leela says that’s impossible. However, Calculon states he’s the spokesman for fast acting. He demonstrates with an inscrutable fast recitation of Hamlet’s soliloquy. Meanwhile, the director concedes to directing at double speed for double pay. However, the pace has proven fatal for the writer’s room (which, like the She-Hulk‘s writer’s room, may include a Cody Ziglar variant… but this one also has Patric M. Verrone (himself) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s Head). Bender is hired as the show’s new writer. “Hello, Writer’s Guild,” he says as he gets to work.
All My Circuits commences its sped-up production. This causes the director to suffer a heart attack. With Fry’s life on the line, Leela says it’s all up to her as Executive Producer. On her second attempt, she manages to call “action” through the megaphone. A series of surreal scenes starring the All My Circuits actors ensues, punctuated by Leela’s frantic instructions.
Canceled Again, Naturally
Soon the Execubots arrive on set. They inform Leela that the show is canceled. Then they begin to personally strike the set. “How does a show get canceled this many times? By this many networks?” wonders Bender. Farnsworth contacts Leela. He tells Leela to kidnap the actors and get back to the PlanEx building. When they’ve arrived, Farnsworth explains that Fry’s down to the final episode. However, they may be able to gradually shift his focus from streaming back to reality.
As Fry watches the finale, they’ll have the actors simultaneously perform the scenes live. First, they ease Fry back to normal viewing speed. Scruffy the Janitor (Herman) provides the soundtrack. Then they gradually shift the opacity of Fry’s goggles. The scene shows the four All My Circuits leading characters attain a stable situation by entering into a consensual “Love Tetrahedron.” Unfortunately, Bender’s cigar lights a stick of dynamite being used as a prop.
In the aftermath of the ensuing explosion, the Still Suit is burning. Amy attempts to put it out with the battery acid. The suit and chair burn to ashes. Leela laments playing a part in Fry’s horrible downfall. However, Fry is still alive. He enters the break room and explains he got out of suit two days earlier. Leela promises she’ll never encourage Fry again.
Fry apologizes for not attaining his goal. He further elaborates that he tried, but the “writing and executive producing really went downhill in the end.” Bender remarks that he never went over time just before the executive producer credits appear.
Channel √2 News Special Report
Linda (MacNeille) and Morbo (LaMarche) interrupt the credits for a special report. They go live to the White House for the Presidential Summit on the dangers of streaming television. President Richard M. Nixon’s head (West) howls as he questions Fry. Fry says not to reboot a show “if the quality isn’t going to be there.” He further encourages viewers to “binge responsibly, the same way they smoke cigarettes or drink bleach.” Fry recommends binging ten episodes at a time: no more, and no less.
“But it’s not just the viewer’s responsibility. Any TV show that truly cares about its audience, that loves and respects them should – no, must – be canceled every few years. It’s simply the right thing to do.” Those present applaud Fry as he departs the stage.
New episodes of Futurama are available for streaming Mondays on Hulu.
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