All posts by jgoyne6897

Time Machine and Futurama

In H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”, we followed a time traveler that went into the future and observed the changing of the Earth and its species and eventually even to what appeared to be the end of the Earth. Well in July of 2010, Futurama released an episode largely inspired by Wells’ famous work. Futurama is a television series created by Matt Groening in 1999. The show takes place in the year 3000 where the main character Phillip J. Fry, usually referred to simply as Fry, has been unfrozen from a cryogenic sleep he entered in 2000.  The episode is titled “The Late Phillip J. Fry” and won the 2011 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.

The episode can be considered in three different acts. In the first act Fry, the lazy delivery boy, arrives late to work. His boss, The Professor, heckles him for his chronic lateness, asking why he can’t be on time like the rest of his employees. Fry points out that his girlfriend, Leela, is not at work on time. It turns out that Fry was supposed to be meeting Leela for her birthday lunch and he is now late to that as well. Fry promises to make it up to Leela by taking her out to a fancy restaurant that night. He purchases a record your own birthday card and is headed out the door when The Professor stops him. Fry must help The Professor test his new time machine as punishment for being late. The time machine is built to only travel forward in order to avoid altering history. Fry, his robot roommate Bender, and The Professor enter the time machine which The Professor intends to test by moving forward one minute in time. Of course the episode would hold no comedic merit if that were to happen. The Professor trips and pushes the lever forward sending them hurtling through time. By the time they stop they can stop the machine they find themselves in the year 10,000 AD in the ruins of New York.

Fry begins to fret over missing his date with Leela, but The Professor kindly reminds him that everybody they knew has been dead for years. The trio are unimpressed with this stage of the future and after talking to a group of cavemen they decide to continue forward in time in search of a civilization that has invented a backwards traveling time machine to return home. They scan through a few thousand years of little consequence before the show cuts away. When we rejoin them they are in the year 5 million AD. This is the part of the episode that directly parallels with “The time Machine.” Bender, Fry, and the Professor are greeted by a race of enlightened, purple-skinned humanoids that now inhabit Earth; these are the Eloi. Meanwhile below ground paralleling the Murlocs are the Dumblocks.. They ask the humanoids if they have invented a backwards-traveling time machine. They say no, but if they focus their mental efforts toward the problem, they should be to create one within five yearsThe trio jumps forward five years to find the Dumblocks have risen up and slaughtered the entire surface population. This is Futurama giving us a very plausible glimpse into the Future of the Eloi and Murlocs from “The Time Machine.” For all their smarts the surface dwellers always seemed on the brink of falling to the subterranean people.

The three jump all the way to the year one billion to find the scorched remnants of the Earth. Fry returns to the cave where he was supposed to meet Leela for dinner on her birthday eons ago. Surprisingly he finds a note left for him. Apparently the voice recorded birthday card had fallen out of the time machine and found Leela in the past. Comforted by his note from Leela, Fry returns to The Professor and suggests the kick back and watch the Universe end.

To their amazement they observe the universe end, only to see the big bang occur and universe reform. They conclude that time is cyclical and rejoin their old lives in the present.

This episode can be applied to “The Time Machine” beyond the explicit murloc/dumblock uprising. Much of the imagery that is shown as the trio head to the end of the world is very similar to those described in the book. At the end of “The Time Traveler” the main character is takes a trip forward, but has not yet returned. A multitude of things could have occurred to him. It is possible that his time machine could have its backwards lever broken and he was left with a machine like the Professor’s. In this case perhaps the Time Traveler followed a similar path as Futurama, but his universe had linear time that ended and took him with it.

Overall this is one of the best episodes of Futurama I have seen and I thought it was an interesting watch after reading “The Time Machine.”

Yivo and T’Gatoi

Futurama is an off the wall animated comedy series set in the year 3000 that follows the spaceship crew of a delivery company “Planet Express.” In the straight to DVD special “The Beast with a Billion Backs,” creators had a feature length time frame to work with and develop a story with deeper content than the typical thirty minute television episodes. “The Beast with a Billion Backs” follows a previous episode where there has been a tear in the universe. Fry, the main character of the series, is dealing with loneliness on a delivery and finds himself on the other side of the tear where he meets an alien tentacle. Fry returns to Earth along with the tentacle that is now attached to his neck, claiming the tentacle is love and all should join with the tentacle. With time most on earth accept the tentacle…until Leela (a member of the Planet Express crew) exposes the tentacles as reproductive organs. The owner of the tentacles, named Yivo, is an alien the size of a planet that admits to his intentions of using everybody on Earth for reproductive purposes, but claims he wants a second chance. What started as reproduction had turned to love. Yivo dates everybody on Earth and eventually asks them to marry him and come join him in his universe.

This episode parallels quite nicely with Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild”. One interpretation of the Terran and Tlic relationship is that of slave and owner; the Terran being used solely for their reproductive success. Similarly, Yivo seemed an alien threat posed to use all of earth for his reproduction. Given time Yivo became attached emotionally and by the time the humans were enlightened to the fact Yivo did not want to force anything upon them and just wanted to be together with them. While the Terran may have been taken in by the Tlic initially for their great potential and use in successful Tlic reproduction, I believe the Tlic and Terran became a more mutualistic symbiotic relationship. While the Tlic reproductive process is brutal we see very real emotional attachments develop between the Tlic mothers and the Terran carriers. One of the most exemplary of these is when the one word we hear Lomas say is the name of his Tlic; this in addition to Tlic’s concern and pressing need to get to her Terran as she arrives despite her sickness.  At the end of the story Gan and T’Gatoi became closely emotionally bonded just as Yivo did in the episode of Futurama. Yivo asked the humans for marriage and Gan and T’Gatoi have a relationship that seems at least as strong and complex as a marriage.

Convent of Kinks

In The Convent of Pleasure two of the central characters, Lady Happy and the princess, show illustrate a tale of deception and the strange nature of romantic desire. At first when the princess first arrives in the play we think little of it, she appears to be just another woman of royalty who seeks to live away from the societal infrastructure of of men. Perhaps an oddity of her behavior is that she pledged a deep fealty to Lady Happy in a way that demeaned the once princess to a servant role, but this was an easily permissible action given the inherent oddities of the convent. In the section of the play where the members of the convent are putting on a their own plays is when we first may begin to think there is something amiss with the princess. In each scene she is cast into the masculine role. There are other hints along the way, but ultimately it is revealed that this princess was in fact a prince who had snuck into the convent. Yet after this is revealed we hear little from Lady Happy and the convent comes to a quiet end.

The Kinks’ 1970 hit song “Lola” tells a similar tale of destruction, but with slightly different gender assignments that change the entirety of the reaction upon revelation. The story begins in a club down in Soho where the singer meets a mysterious woman, Lola, who asks him for a dance. Like The Convent of Pleasure the is no reason to believe anything is strange about this situation. Yet as the story continues some oddities about Lola. The singer is squeezed so tight in an embrace that “nearly broke my spine” and at one point Lola “picked me up and sat me on her knee”. These actions are not necessarily the most becoming of a feminine character, but yet the singer still says “when I looked in her eyes well I almost fell for my Lola.” Then shit hits the fan and we get the signature line of the song, “Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man, But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man, And so is Lola.” And that is how the song ends, tapering off with repeated refrains of the name Lola.

The endings to both the song and the play are similar because we are given no clear resolution as to the relationship and feelings of the couples in question. Both protagonists (Lady Happy and singer) were happy with their relationship before the revelation that their love interest was of the other sex and in some regard I think we are meant to believe that their relationships continue afterwards showing that their feelings succeeded beyond the bias of gender.

Somebody to Love

Can anybody find me, somebody to love?

So begins one of Queen’s most famous anthems. In his conversation with Frankenstien, the monster speaks of how he has thought that same thought. All the monster has wanted was to love and be loved, be a part of the human world and have at least one.

The first verse of Queen’s song “Each morning I get up I die a little ; Can barely stand on my feet; Take a look in the mirror and cry; Lord what you’re doing to me; I have spent all my years in believing you; But I just can’t get no relief, Lord!” Upon hearing the monster’s conversation with Franenstein this song jumped to my mind as it echos the same feelings. The monster spoke of how he was disgusted with the image of himself whenever he came across it. For the monster Frankenstein is his sort of Lord. Frankenstien was his creator and the monster be believes that if anybody can aid him in an escape from loneliness it would be his lord, his creator, Frankenstein. 

The monster was granted a life and everything that goes with it by Frankenstein’s experiment. What the monster struggles most with is a loneliness that he attributes to his physical appearance, something for which Frankenstein is to blame. In their conversation the monster entreats Frankenstein to create another, a companion, a mate with whom he could spend time and friendship with. The monster’s existence must be something maddening. To observe from the outside, seeing the beauty of happy comanionship, but shunned whenever he is seen by others. His request to Frankenstein is in earnest in order to end his hellish isolation, but Frankenstein is caught in his own mental anguish which proves to make him an unresponsive and somewhat uncaring God/creator.  “I just gotta get out of this prison cell; Someday I’m gonna be free, Lord!” That is all both Frankenstein and the monster wants, to be free from the prison cell of isolation that they have been stuck in for years.