Fear of a Bot Planet
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|Season 1 episode|
|Fear of a Bot Planet|
|Title caption||Featuring Gratuitous Alien Nudity|
|First air date||20 April, 1999|
|Title reference||The album Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy|
|Opening cartoon||Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny in "A Corny Concerto"|
"Fear of a Bot Planet" is the fifth episode of Futurama, the fifth of the first production season and the fifth of the first broadcast season. It aired on 20 April, 1999, on Fox. The Planet Express crew is sent to Chapek 9, a planet filled with human-hating robots, Bender immediately likes the place, being tired of his friends' opinion of him as nothing more than an item.
Act I: "You humans are so scared of a little robot competition!"
Fry, Leela, Farnsworth, Bender and Zoidberg are at a Blernsball game. Fry is confused about the game rules, such as the ball attached to a thread. They start talking about great players, and Bender brings up Wireless Joe Jackson, of the now-defunct Robot League. Bender drops his beer bottle only to find a robot cleaning up the mess; he becomes enraged due to the fact that robots are used as cleaners and not allowed to play—let alone manage—in blernsball. They argue about whether it's right to exclude literal blern-hitting machines from the human league. Hermes then calls them back to the office for a mission to Chapek 9, "a world inhabited by radical robot separatists … where humans are killed on sight" and that offers a less-than-friendly welcome to humanoid aliens. Bender tries to get out of work, citing the robot holiday of Robanukah. Bender, being asked to actually do something for the first time since working at Planet Express, cries discrimination. They make him go anyway, and he is captured by the native robots after he is unmasked as someone who has had contact with humans.
Act II: "Death to humans!!!"
Fry and Leela disguise themselves as robots and venture onto the planet to try and rescue Bender. They fool the external guards into believing that they like large, properly organized data files, though a lesser degree of approval would have been gleaned had they argued for the value of a flower as an ideal gift. However, Leela accidentally blows their cover by sneezing (after Fry's need for a washroom arouses some suspicion), and they are chased by the planet's Anti Human Patrol, who force them to take refuge in a movie theatre. The movie, It Came from Planet Earth, is a cheesy horror film about a human who breathes fire and eats robots. After the movie, the robots gather for their daily human hunt, where Fry and Leela finally locate Bender—who is an honored guest rather than imprisoned. Bender walks to the stage, where he declares his intention to destroy all humans.
Act III: "Got you, you murderous flesh piles!"
After advertising his spoken-word album, the human hunt begins in earnest, which allows Leela and Fry to talk to Bender, who has crept away to read decomposing pornography. Bender tells them he wants to stay, but that they should leave. All three are caught when one of Bender's followers comes in on him to tell him of the album's stunning success; Bender pretends to have been in the process of capturing Leela and Fry. They are given a mock trial for the crime of being human. Leela points out to their accusers that she has one eye and therefore must be non-human, but she and Fry are still sentenced by the Computer Judge to perform tedious calculations and spot-weld automobiles, in return for the performance of these slavish tasks by robots on Earth. When convicted, they are taken before a council of Robot Elders who decide Fry and Leela must be killed. The Elders instruct Bender to kill them himself. He refuses, and they then turn on all of them. In an unusual display of cunning, Fry helps them escape by threatening to breathe fire on the Elders. This works only because the Robot Elders cannot recall whether fire-breathing is an actual human attribute or one they had fabricated for propaganda purposes. While the crew are lifted up to the ship, the robots try to capture them by climbing onto each other's shoulders, but Bender saves Leela and Fry by dropping the package in the topmost one's hands, which he had forgotten to drop off when he was first captured. It turns out to be a box of desperately-needed lug nuts, and the robots cheer and break off their pursuit. Back on the ship, they all celebrate Robanukah, which Bender admits he made up to get out of work.
- The Robot Mayor says "that makes 146 thousand unsuccessful hunts in a row," suggesting that the robots have been on Chapek 9 for exactly 400 years if they only do one hunt a day. One of the Robot Elders says that the Robot Elders were hand-carved from meteorites over four centuries ago.
- This assumes that the years on Chapek 9 are roughly the same length as Earth years, and ignores Leap Years. However, a failure to realize that their calendar was nearly 37 weeks off as a result of a rigid adherence to schedule would be entirely in character for the robots of Chapek 9.
- The robots on Chapek 9 appear to be using the human clock system, although it is possible that their number of hours is sexagesimal (base 60) or that it is a completely different system.
- The episode aired exactly 110 years after Adolf Hitler, known for his extreme xenophobia, was born.
- Ironically, this episode aired on the day after the Columbine High School massacre.
- The episode contains the first reference to Leela being a Human and not an Alien.
The names listed in Leela's scoring card are:
- Click here to see cultural mentions made in this episode.
- The title is a reference to the Public Enemy album "Fear of a Black Planet".
- The story is based on a short story by Stanisław Lem in which a human crash-lands on a planet full of robots and disguises himself as one, only to find out eventually that all the robots are indeed humans in disguise.
- Wireless Joe Jackson is a reference to Shoeless Joe Jackson, a famous baseball player in the early 20th century.
- The planet Chapek 9 is named after Karel Čapek, who is credited with inventing the word "robot".
- Hermes shows up in the form of a hologram, much like Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
- A movie called Buffbot the Human Slayer is advertised on a Chapek 9 theatre marquee, referencing Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Just after Leela sneezes, a robot points and lets out a shriek. This is a reference to the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
- Bender's line "tote that space barge, lift that space bale" is modified and taken from the song "Ol' Man River" (minus the word "space" of course).
- "Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert!" and "Get the Humanoid" are both references to the video game Berzerk.
- The scene with the construction robots arranging blocks is a reference to the game Tetris.
- The sound the robots use to signal the start of the human hunt is the power on chord heard on Apple Macintosh computers.
- The conclusion of the robot movie It Came From Planet Earth! is similar to The War of the Worlds, in which the invading aliens are able to survive mankind's weapons only to eventually succumb to microbial infections.
- On Leela's Blernsball roster, the New New York Yankees list a player named Costanza. This is likely a reference to the 20th century sitcom Seinfeld, in which primary character George Costanza temporarily does office work for the New York Yankees.
Fry: So this planet is completely uninhabited?
Bender: [angry] No, it's inhabited by robots.
Fry: Oh! Kind of like a warehouse is inhabited by boxes!
Bender: Oh, so just because a robot wants to kill humans that makes him a 'Radical?'
Robot Mayor: Your Honor, I intend to demonstrate beyond 0.5% of a doubt that these humans before us are guilty of the crime of being humans. Come to think of it, I rest my case.
Judge: Thank you, Prosecutor. I will now consider the evidence. [He begins to consider. A blue bar moves across his screen.]
Fry: Hey, wait a minute! Isn't anyone gonna defend us?
Leela: Yeah! I mean, he might not have a case, but I'm genuinely not human.
Robot Mayor: Quiet, human!
Bender: Admit it, you all think robots are just machines built by humans to make their lives easier.
Fry: Well, aren't they?
Bender: I've never made anyone's life easier, and you know it!
Billboard at Chapek 9: "GOT MILK? THEN YOU'RE A HUMAN AND MUST BE KILLED"
Fry: Is the puppy mechanical in any way?
Guard-bot: No! It is the bad kind of puppy!
Leela: Try to stay with the crowd so no one notices how crummy you look.
Crummy Robot: Aww, that was uncalled for.
Fry: Oh my God! We have to go down and rescue him.
Leela: No we can't! They'll kill us on sight.
Fry: Well what are we going to do?
Leela: I don't know, I don't know. It's not an easy decision. If only I had two or three minutes to think about it.
[Futurama cuts to a commercial break.]
Fry: It's him. He's OK!
Bender: Death to humans!
Fry: Ahh! It's good to hear his voice!
Bender: Many said I was too extreme when I first called for the annihilation of the human species, as well as some of the more cunning monkeys. But after living on Earth I can tell you that I am, if anything, too merciful!
[The crowd cheers.]
Fry: My God! He's become evil. [Leela stares at him.] I mean eviler!
- When Bender is adding butter to his popcorn, a man in the background is missing his eyes.
- In one scene, the robot elder on the far left changes its eye and teeth color from red to yellow.
- Leela says there wasn't a Woolworths near to get a robot disguise, but Woolworths no longer exists.
- Although it is possible that Woolworths could return, or may refer to one of the still existing off-shoots or unrelated namesakes. For example, Woolworth's is Australia's largest supermarket chain.
- When Leela kicks over the robot offering Fry resin who identifies them as human, he lands with his yellow triangle down (his front, although his head is rotated backwards) when the patrol picks him up, he has flipped.
- When locked in the cage at the trial, Fry's handcuffs are layered outside the bars when he suggests calling technical support.
- When the "Robots at Work" Tetris scene is first introduced, we see 4 purple cubes, as in a square. However, after dropping the final piece, we only see three, with the one on the top right corner missing.
- Debut: Announcer (in-universe character)
- Debut: Anti-Human Patrol robots
- Debut: Computer Judge
- Debut: Crummy Robot
- Dr. Zoidberg
- Prof. Farnsworth
- Debut: Resin-offering robot
- Debut: Robot Builder
- Debut: Robot Elders
- Debut: Jimmy
- Debut: Robot General (in-universe character)
- Debut: Robot Human (in-universe character)
- Debut: Robot Mayor
- Debut: Rusty (in-universe character)
- Debut: Wendy (in-universe character)