Futurama takes place in the year 3000. The main characters Fry, Bender the Robot, Leela, Amy and Zoidberg work at a spaceship delivery service, called Planet Express, which is owned by the crotchety genius Professor Farnsworth. The professor’s arch nemesis is Mom who is the head of earth’s one major corporation, Mom’s. The characters also have run-ins with the government and military, the Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP). The main source of fuel throughout the series up until the episode “Bender’s Game” is dark matter. Of course this series, which was created by the same creators as the Simpsons, is utterly ridiculous, focuses mainly on parody and completely disregards the rules of physics and narrative continuity. However, Futurama does provide a humorous look at various environmental causes including energy use.
Loves Labours Lost in Space
The episode begins with the Professor giving the crew an explanation of their next mission. He wants them to travel to Vergon 6, which was once filled with dark matter. The dark matter has been mined out of the planet leaving it hollow, as capitalism has run amuck by this point in time and environmentalism apparently did not stick.
Planet Express is sent on a mission to rescue the animals of Vergon 6 before the planet implodes. On the way to the planet, Leela, Fry and Bender run into Zapp Brannigan, one of the most famous captains in the Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP). Leela asks Brannigan for help in rescuing the animals but he refuses, citing Brannigan’s Law, which forbids the interference with underdeveloped planets such as Vergon 6 (*cough, the prime directive). Leela tells him that it was a DOOP mining crew that created the problem in the first place therefore the planet has already been interfered with, but Brannigan refuses to listen. Brannigan places the crew under arrest to prevent them from reaching the planet, but he lets them go after Leela begrudgingly has sex with him.
The Planet Express crew is able to round up all of the animals before the planet implodes but they encounter a tiny and adorable creature that was not on their list. Leela becomes enamored with the animal and names it Nibbler. The crew places Nibbler in the cargo hold with the rest of the animals but while the crew is off doing other business Nibbler devours all of the animals in the hold. Leela tries to take off from the planet but realizes that Bender has forgotten to put fuel in the tank, leaving them stuck. However, the crew discovers that Nibbler has pooped as a result of his feast and that poop is composed entirely of dark matter, which they use to fly safely back to Planet Express. Nibbler’s poop is what fuels the Planet Express ship on the rest of their journeys until dark matter is rendered inert by the events in “Bender’s Game.”
This episode is supposed to parody the human consumption of energy by displaying it in extreme terms. There is no way that human beings would mine a planet so much that it became completely hollow, even if it were physically possible. But the episode uses humor to point out that over-mining is a common problem that government constantly sweeps under the rug.
Energy narrative characteristics found in this episode: life= energy, environmental degradation and destruction, corporate ruthlessness, political oppression, nomadic existence.