It’s Leela’s birthday, and after standing her up at their lunch date, Fry promises Leela a birthday dinner to remember. But because he showed up late to work that morning (with no help from Bender), he’s forced to stay one minute late and help The Professor test his new one way time machine that only travels forward. But things go horribly wrong when the controls get stuck, sending Fry, Bender and The Professor hurtling forward in time and space with no conceivable way of returning home.

And with that, lets take a trip… Into the year 10,000.

Major developments: Actually, considering the events of the episodes, the major development is that Fry, The Professor and Bender are now in an alternate universe.

What worked: Like last week, the show has taken another step in the right direction. There was only one pop culture reference in this episode, and unlike last week’s Star Wars gag, the Planet of The Apes joke worked like a charm. As for the episode itself, it’s just flat out funny. Actually, the quick little gag at the end with The Professor killing Hitler gave me the biggest laugh out of any episode in the entire series. It was so funny. For the simple fact of its delivery.

At first I was wondering why The Professor would want to stop the time machine, but the second he picked up the plasma rifle, it all clicked. Then it was just a matter of waiting ten more seconds for the actual act of killing Hitler. Then as they continue to go forward, just as you think the time travel gag is over, they start right back up again. The final act of this episode grabs your funny bone and never lets ago. I loved every second of it. And apparently I’m not the only one. Show creator/producer Matt Groening considers this episode the best one of the season. It’s full of so much heart and soul. While it may not be as charming as last week’s episode, it’s right up there with some of the best. More proof that it’s not time to give up on Futurama just yet.

What didn’t: I had a lot of trouble trying to think of anything that didn’t work in this episode. But after spending a lot of time considering everything that occurred, I can safely say… There is NOTHING wrong in this episode. Every joke hits, every line was sweet, every emotion is true, every visual was eye popping, this episode is Futurama at its finest. If there is any complaint, it’s that it took this long for the show to regain this level of quality.

Final thoughts: An absolutely brilliant episode of Futurama. This combined with last week’s episode has restored my full confidence in the production team.

Episode: “The Late Philip J. Fry” (Season 6, Episode 7)

Airs: Comedy Central, Thursdays, 10pm

What’s next: Earth is invaded by a race of intelligent cats.

To read more of Merrill’s television reviews and to listen to his Idiot Boxers podcast with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.

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