Transcript:Commentary:I, Roommate

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Transcript of commentary for
"I, Roommate"
Transcribed bySvip
Commentary participants

Matt Groening: Hello everyone, and welcome back to another audio commentary of Futurama. This is Matt Groening.

Eric Horsted: I am Eric Horsted, writer and co-executive producer.

Billy West: This is Billy West, I do some of the voices on Futurama.

Bret Haaland: I'm Bret Haaland, a director.

Gregg Vanzo: I'm Gregg Vanzo, supervising director.

David X. Cohen: David Cohen, executive producer.

Rich Moore: And Rich Moore, supervising director with Gregg.

GV: Yeahp.

MG: This is the third episode in the series. And this is the series that– had a trouble beginning– with the Fox Network, who felt that the show was too outrageous and too much out of space. This was our attempt, the third episode, to bring the show back to Earth.

[Fry is pouring some Bachelor Chow.]

DXC: Bachelor Chow, Matt. One of your earliest ideas for the show, I believe.

MG: Well, I think that's a good idea– I always wanted to have Bachelor Chow right now and so– this was– Anyway, the network really– really was freaked out by the show, the suicide booths– and lobster creatures and Bender being so anti-social and so– yeah, this was our show to tone things down. This script was written specifically to their specifications. And their reaction, David?

DXC: "Worst. Episode. Ever."

MG: Yeah, they really– they really hated this script, and — sorry, Eric — and this was the point at which, we decided we wanted to the show that we wanted to do. Their notes made no sense anyway, they're completely contradictory. And so– we did what we wanted.

DXC: I've heard a lot of people say that they like this episode, 'cause it is a little more down to Earth and it made people care a little more and think about the characters and Fry and Bender.

EH: Yeah, have to admit, it was one of my favourite episodes. I like that.

GV: I basically had fun drawing Fry's butt.

RM: We all do.

DXC: So, Billy West, you're talking to yourself in this scene as Fry and the professor. Where did these voices come from?

BW: Well, you guys showed me the drawings originally, the model sheets of each character and he was like– you could tell he was dottering and rickety and I even acting him that way, and he's got a little Wizard of Oz in him and little this or that. When you fuss them...

DXC: It's funny, when we are in the studio, you do sort of take on the characteristics — physically — of the voice you're doing.

BW: I don't know if that's the way to do things, but I have always thrown myself — like totally — into it.

DXC: Why aren't you answering my questions in the voices of the characters?

BW: Can I do it again? [Professor voice] Well, the professor sounds like this. It is all rickety and he has a race of superhumans. [normal] And Fry—

RM: Too late; too late.

BW: Yeah, okay.

DXC: We all know what he sounds like!

[All My Circuits is on TV.]

BH: This is the first episode we get to see Calculon. Yeah, that's pretty exciting.

EH: Television history was made.

DXC: That's Maurice LaMarche as Calculon. He is always really funny, whenever he goes into that role.

BW: He's one of the greats, though.

[Fry and Bender are sitting in the sofa.]

GV: I– I had a rather peculiar perspective on this setup, I was trying to get a little bit of depth. And this one worked out a little better. In these early episodes, we are all trying to nail the characters as best as we can. Particularly Leela.

[Shot of Leela.]

DXC: Yeah, I can see she has changed a little bit since that picture.

[Fry is talking.]

BW: That Fry voice is 25-year old me. [laughter] No, I mean it really-- pretty much what I sounded like, I think, back then.

Hermes: [episode] We'll bill you for the couch.

DXC: That line, I remember, the astute viewer may have noticed that Hermes' lips were not moving at all there. I remember, "this seems kind of quiet", we wanted him to say something, but we had already exhausted our animation budget, so we just said, "yeah, whatever".

GV: Who's gonna notice?

[Fry and Bender are at the Food-o-Mat.]

BH: This was a very difficult sequence to draw, because of the rotating beverages and the number of Martini glasses and the cutting and the—

GV: And it comes in many other shows later on too.

DXC: And you mean, by number of Martini glasses that made it difficult, you mean the number that was on your desk, when you—

[They laugh.]

BW?: There are– are subliminal things you put in a scene like this or am I imaging things?

GV: Oh, no, no.

BW?: This wasn't one of them.

GV: Too many late hours to have any extra time...

RM: ...To get clever.

EH: It's a good looking cake.

BW: I have to say Bender is the greatest character, to me he was like the breakout character, because he was– he could get away with doing all the stuff that you are not supposed to see on TV, because he's a robot. Smoking and drinking, debauchery.

[Bender is showing Fry his apartment.]

DXC: I'm not gonna go into the formal to this question, but the nerdiest computer-iest viewers might wanna look up Bender's apartment number in the ASCII-chart. That's right, you heard me.

BH: This was probably the best shot to describe how small Bender's apartment was-- the aerial downshot.

MG: You know, it's really hard in animation to do a confined space, and this– that's really good.

Bender: [episode; sleep talking] Kill all humans.

DXC: First use of "kill all humans", perhaps?

EH: And not the last.

DXC: This conversation always sticks in my mind as one of the most memorable early sequences.

Fry: [episode] Where is your bathroom?

Bender: [episode] What-room?

Fry: [episode] Where's your bathroom?

Bender: [episode] Bath-what?

Fry: [episode] Bathroom!

Bender: [episode] What-what?

BW: Little nuances, little body language. Details.

[Bender is whistling inside that Planet Express building.]

RM: On the studio, we called that "snappy whistling".

BW: Yeah, but how's able to whistle? Is there like a whistle-chip in there or somewhere?

GV: This is some of the early drawings of the Planet Express ship, we didn't have any 3D to work off, so we– we faked a lot of this.

DXC: You're gonna redo it though, right?

GV: Yes, sir!

RM: Yeah, this'll never be on the DVD.

MG: Things I like about this is the story telling is a little more linear than on The Simpsons, and I think we decided to do that early on, because the setting is so fantastic, and– science-fiction-y, that– we really tried to tell a story straight through, and I think it really helped the show's lifespan.

[Close up of Leela.]

GV: Oh, this is a bad drawing. [laughter]

BW: There's enough distractions, you know, to keep you away from noticing.

[Fry is laughing with Bender.]

RM: Fry's stomach!

BW: Yeah, exactly.

RM: I think we see more of Fry's stomach in this show than any other episode.

EH: Watch Fry's belly grow throughout this episode.

BH: And this guy's belly is sticking out, also.

[They are in the underwater apartment.]

BW: Is the residence guy John DiMaggio too?

DXC: Yeah, that's John DiMaggio.

BW: And he's also the voice of Bender?

DXC: Yeah, the "apartment manager" here, actually.

BW: He does a great slob, you know.

RM: Yeah, I've seen it!

BH: This is my favourite background coming up.

[In Escher's Relativity apartment.]

BW: Wow...

DXC: Inspired by?

EH: Escher.

DXC: Escher?

ALL: M.C. Escher.

DXC: Or "Esckey" as we call him.

Landlord: [episode] No catch. Although we are technically in New Jersey.

MG: Woah-

EH: Never prouder.

DXC: The New Jersey bashing begins, resuming in episode 9, probably a few other ones here and there. Episode 8, also. I think we were the first to come up with the idea with bashing New Jersey, right?

BH: Yeah, absolutely.

Hattie: [episode] Dr Mbutu collected this crap while he was exploring – what you call it? – universe.

BH: I love Hattie, she's a great character.

BW: Oh, Tress MacNeille, yeah.

BH: With the lazy eye.

BW: That cast on her face.

BH: Even her cleavage line is wrinkly.

[The Odd Couple inspired montage.]

BW: Nice touch with the music. Earlier, that was little musical interlude that sounded retro-y like on Bewitched or one of those shows.

DXC: Christopher Tyng, our composer, really has come up with a lot of great music for the series.

MG: Can I admit something? I have never seen The Odd Couple. Really, I haven't.

DXC: You haven't? Then we also made up that cigar joke that you're seeing.


MG: No, I noticed that everybody was howling with laughter at the animatic, so I assumed that this was a dead on parody.

BH: Well, not exactly.

[Bender crushes a chair.]

DXC: Who was it– I remember someone being very upset that that nice chair was getting squashed. Does anyone remember who that was? One of the designers, I think.

GV: Tom Gammel?

DXC: Oh Tom Gammel, one of the writers. So he appreciated furniture, he really didn't like seeing it crushed like that.

RM: Noo–

BH: I don't understand, it's a nice chair. Come on!

RM: The beautiful drawing of a beautiful chair.

BH: Perfectly good chair!

MG: Well, by that logic...

RM: The whole thing doesn't make sense.

[Fry is standing in front of the door, welcoming the others.]

GV: I notice Fry is fairly thin there, he'll get quite a bit thicker later on.

BH: Oh yeah.

EH: Oh the early days.

DXC: There is an image that's kind of vivid in my mind.

[Amy falls.]

GV: We pulled frames on that, because we wanted really fast and violent.

Professor: [episode] Zevulon the Great. He's teriyaki style.

DXC: Zavulon is a reference to my college roommate, Zef. How's it going, Zef?

[Fry is fixing the TV.]

BH: Okay, Fry's belly is a little bigger.

RM: In one night...

[TV goes on and off as Bender leaves and enter.]

DXC: The viewer gets a lot of chances to figure out what's going on in this sequences going...

BW: Bummer...

DXC: One little goof we made in the history of the series, is involving LöBrau beer, because when Fry first got frozen, in 1999, he had a LöBrau beer in his hand, but when he woke up, he has often subsequently seen drinking LöBrau beer. I guess might not be a mistake, it just survived for a thousand years. One of the carefully planned things in the series was the success of LöBrau beer.

BW: The recipe has been in our family for several generations.

[Hattie is trying to find the source of the interference.]

MG: Buster Keaton said in an interview, that the audience loves a slow thinker.

BW: And it applies to almost everybody in the scene.

Lady: [episode] They're on my phone too.

Bender: [episode; on phone] That lady's got a huge ass.

DXC: That's great.

BH: My favourite line right there.

DXC: So, Eric Horsted, you should this script to a bounce of school children the other day — this is true– this is true — as a little inspirational talk how you can get a career writing. How did this "ass" part go over?

EH: It actually hasn't happened yet. It's happening on Friday.

DXC: How do you envision it will go over?

EH: I think there will be lots of giggling and appreciation of the fine achievement in writing that's occurred here.

BW: What style of animation is this? I know that there are traditional like cell drawing, hand painted stuff.

GV: Aoh, well. Does anyone know?

BW: This is like a different– this is like a departure from all that stuff, isn't it?

GV: Well, yeah, do hand drawing, and then there is digital painting in this show, as opposed to The Simpsons.

BW: Yeah, that's what I meant like hand painted cells and that, but those have been pretty much replaced?

GV: Ah, yeah, pretty much. It's almost the same process, but it's all digital now, also.

DXC: So the initial drawings are by hand, but the colouring by computer? That's a good summary?

GV: Yeah, exactly. There you go. And then we have the additional of the all the 3D elements, that we do there. The more realistic elements, which are not in this show too much, though. In other episode.

[Leela is talking to Fry in the door way, wearing her green jacket.]

BH: This is one of the– earlier jackets that Leela had, I think all tend to favour her pilot jacket a little more, in a later episodes.

BW: Kinda looks like a little petty coat.

[Bender enters his empty apartment.]

DXC: The shadow there. How comes the light in front of him, and the shadow in front of him?

BH: That's the future for you.

BW: Could have been a brighter ball behind him somewhere.

[Bender zooms in on Fry's skin flakes.]

DXC: This was tricky, I remember. Show these microscopic things, and thank God for Bender's focus out eyes.

GV: This is just difficult to pull out for drunk Bender.

Leela: [episode] Look at that five o'clock rust.

DXC: It's easy for us to write "five o'clock rust" in the script. It's easier than for you to draw.

[Bender is lying in the sofa.]

GV: We actually broke a rule here, as we actually never supposed to bend Bender's neck. But it looked kinda funny and sad and pathetic, so we did it anyway.

BW: It looks funny.

RM: We gotta abolish that rule.

Bender: [episode] You're not a robot or a man, so you wouldn't understand.

DXC: What's he getting at?

BW: The joke behind that is...

[Bender in foreground facing camera, with Leela behind him trying to convince him.]

GV: Originally, we had a little tick in Bender's eye, but that was too distracting. So we cut it.

EH: I love the sound effects on that fast running.

[Montage with Bender sober.]

BW: This always sticks in my mind, it's like The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland.

EH: Public library, that's great.

BW: That 3 o'clock in the morning lounge music...

[Bender is lying the gutter with owls around him.]

MG: Did people get that owls are nuisances in the future? We laid that in enough?

DXC: We started out laying it a lot, but...

BH: Actually, I met someone about a week ago, who was really into that.

MG: Really?

BH: Very excited about that.

DXC: Excellent.

MG: That rats are gone, but owls are everywhere.

BH: Owls are now the new pest.

BW: Well, then the new owls ate Fry's potpourri in his new digs in New New York?

DXC: Did that make it on the air? I don't think it made it on the air. I think we had to cut that for time.

BW: Wow, I remember reading it... how much time do you cut of a– an episode sometime?

EH: Often, entire sections.

BW: Stuff that's been animated?

GV: Entire painful sections...

DXC: We– as part of our deal with Rough Draft — Rought Draft people can correct me if I don't have it quite right, but I believe we get to get two minutes of animation beyond what will fit on TV. Is that right?

GV: Right, just about two minutes.

DXC: That's how much we cut out. However, we don't cut out two full minutes of stuff, for we will take out a little pause here and there or pull someone's dialogue over an exterior shot of the house. So, for example, we saw their house, then we cut inside and they started talking. Some times we will start over the exterior, that kind of thing to save time. We don't usually, really cut two full minutes out.

BH: And there is also entire speeding up of scenes or sections of the show, right?.

DXC: Yes, in emergency, we have the computer technology to actually speed up whole sections of the show. Very rarely used actually on this show. Simpsons uses it a little more. A painful thought is that for syndication, you have to cut out another minute or two. A lot of these stories are pretty complicated and gonna be very hard to edit down. We'll just apply the computer speed up though.

RM: Or don't syndicate it.

DXC: What would Billy– Billy, what would the professor sound like if we sped him up 50% or so?

BW: Well, it depends on how you do it, if you use the electronic gadget, you can have it in real time and the voice doesn't speed up.

DXC: Suppose we use the Billy West gadget.

RM: He wants you to do the voicing.

BW: I am being difficult!

DXC: I know.

BW: [sped up Professor voice] Good news, everyone.

MG: So basically, what we are saying is that if you are watching this in syndication, you are not getting the whole thing. We recommend buying this DVD. Thank you.

BW: Tell your friends, tell all your friends.

BH: If you have stolen the DVD, go back to the store and give them the money.

[URL holding Bender's antenna.]

DXC: I love the pose how he's holding that.

RM: Little repulsed.

[Bender reveals the "closet".]

BW: That was a great gag.

DXC: How close have we stuck with that design for their apartment? Have new doors and things appeared?

RM: Ah, they come and go. As we need them.

GV: Flexible little floor plan.

[Credits are rolling.]

EH: Everybody sing.

BW: This is the part that's always in a half-inch by half-inch on your screen– in the corner of your TV screen.

RM: I can read it!

DXC: This is the main thing you get when you buy the DVD.

BW: I know people who wait till the end of the show and they get a magnifying glass right near the TV set, and all they want to read is who did what.

MG: Animators?

DXC: Take that, animators!

RM: We suck...