Transcript:Commentary:The Series Has Landed

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Transcript of commentary for
"The Series Has Landed"
Transcribed bySvip
Commentary participants


Farnsworth: [episode] I paid to have it aired during the Super Bowl.

David X. Cohen: When we wrote that line we had high hopes that we wouldn't be premièring right after the Super Bowl. However, we did not.

Ken Keeler: Every time I see this, I remember the remember the original cold opening we had for this featured the original Planet Express ship captain, Captain Cameron, who very quickly got angry with all the new crew members and then immediately died. But it was felt to be too dark.

Rich Moore: This is much cheerier. [laughter]

Peter Avanzino: I remember our original boards had the guys who got pulled into glob start dissolving, you saw their skeletons and we were asked to pull that back.

KK: This show was going to be much much darker.

John DiMaggio: I love it when Billy gets to talk to himself during scenes.

KK: The original ending of that, had him putting on a hat with a gigantic bird feather in it and walk away.

PA: A big pimp head.

 KK: Yes.

JD: Futurama.

 Matt Groening: So let's introduce ourselves, this is Matt Groening.

PA: I'm Peter Avanzino, I directed this.

KK: I'm Ken Keeler, the writer.

JD: I'm John DiMaggio, I play Bender and a bunch of other characters.

DXC: I'm David Cohen, executive producer.

RM: And I'm Rich Moore, the supervising director.

JD: Waaaoah! (Like a rock star.)

[Hermes enters Planet Express building.]

JD: Everybody's favourite Jamaican.

DXC: Interestingly, in the original script we wrote, Hermes was named Dexter, and he was not Jamaican.

JD: No?

DXC: So he wouldn't have been our favourite Jamaican if we had stuck by that. Matt Groening decided that he should be Jamaican.

JD: Horray.

PA?: Didn't we actually get tracks where he didn't have an accent?

DXC: Yes, we recorded several episodes after that...

PA: Lot of people are introduced in this show.

KK: That was the tough part about this scene, that was introducing three of the minor characters very quickly.

PA: Not that minor.

[Bender belches.]

JD: Real belch! [there is a giggle] And I, I would–, I unfortunately cleared many rooms in my days as Bender.

RM: Could you do one now?

[JD belches]

MG: Oh jezz.

JD: There you go.

MG: I think that's a first one for an audio commentary.

JD: I think that is. That's a lot of swallowed air.

[The professor and Fry are at Dr. Zoidberg's office.]

MG: Is this the introduction of Dr Zoidberg? David, this was your idea.

DXC: Part of the inspiration for the name at least, Dr Zoidberg, was a video game I spend most of my high school years working on for the Apple II, which was called Zoid. So Zoidberg is an homage to that wasted three year period.

MG: But where did the idea for the character come from?

DXC: The idea for the character was to make him a sort of a reverse of Bones McCoy on Star Trek, who was a human who often had to treat aliens like Mr. Spock, and I was thinking if I were Mr. Spock, I really would not want someone from a different species operating on me. So we decided we would have this doctor who did not understand human anatomy operating on our guys.

JD: You know, Billy's inspiration for the voice came from Len Jacobi [*It was really Lou Jacobi*] character actor who used to do commercials for Alpine Lay Swiss. [imitating professor voice] Because I care about you and you and you.

[Amy is going over the cleaning pen on Bender's body.]

KK: I believe this is the first time Bender's head came off.

DXC: Until I just watched this right now, I forgot that Amy was an engineering student.

JD: Lauren Tom.

DXC: Hey, coming up here is a hilarious improvisation by John DiMaggio as Bender, which really helped solidify this character's chances in our minds.

JD: You just let me scat, that's the best part. I get to doo-ba-doo-ba-doo-da-di-doo.

KK: The line was "ad lib-singing".

RM: That's good writing.

MG: We had a lot of auditions for the part of Bender. Just about everybody who came in auditioned for Bender even if they were auditioning for other parts. And we could not figure out what the robot should sound like and you nailed it. That's the voice you did. That was great.

DXC: John, I auditioned for Bender, are you aware of that?

JD: Really?

DXC: It's true. In a moment of desperation after about three hundred other auditions, several people told me I sounded like a robot, so I figured I would audition, but the second I sat down in the chair and was told to talk in my normal voice, I forgot how to do it.

MG: You're doing it really well now.

[Fry and Leela sitting in the cockpit blasting off to the moon.]

MG: Oh, this is a good visual one

KK: Beautiful shot.

JD: Zarr!

PA: It's really hard to convince the 3D artists that I wanted to get from inside the building to the moon in less than 3 seconds.

MG: There's no centrifugal force in animation, thank God.

DXC: I just love the way the moon– the shots of the moon looking this also, it's like, I never saw the moon look so beautiful in animation. It had just enough detail on the craters and it looks kind of– it has kind of the beauty of the real moon, but the simplicity of Matt's drawing style at the same time.

PA: Was that Amy's first... like weird phrase?

DXC: I believe it was.

Bender: [episode] Let's just burn it and said we dumped it in the sewer.

DXC: Hey, John, have you noticed that Bender's voice has changed a bit over the years?

JD: Yes, I do. Little liberties taken here and there.

DXC: Some of the people, also, the Professor certainly.

RM: The ever changing hall way outside the cockpit door.

PA: There's a guy who has a website on that– blueprints of the ship and he gets mad at us all the time and how...

RM...: We drive him nuts!

PA: ...it fluctuates.

KK: We used to talk about whether we should have a very organised plan for the ship and the build, but then we just gave up.

PA: One of the artists the other day asked me which way the stars would be going outside of Bender's window and "I don't know."

RM: Up!

PA: Yeah...

[Fry and Amy enters the depot with Sal.]

JD and KK: Sal!

JD: [Sal's voice] Hey, how you doin'? Wee-wa-wee--

KK: This was Sal. But it was before he added an S to all his words.

JD: Yeah.

DXC: Even to this day. Sal occupies so many blue collar jobs, even now we have debates in the– among the writers whether there are a lot of clones of Sal or whether he just moves from job to job frequently.

JD: This is Tress MacNeille coming up. One of the best.

[Craterface attempts to talk Bender into giving up his beer.]

KK: A reference to A Trip to the Moon, 1906, Georges Méliès if I'm not mistaken.

MG: Have you ever seen the whole movie?

KK: I think I have.

MG: It's really good. It's really good. It doesn't end with the rocket in the eye. It keeps going.

KK: It does for me.

[Fry puts a magnet on Bender and he begins singing "Blowin' in the Wind".]

JD: Oh, this is the introduction of the folksinging.

DXC: That's right. And Bender's kryptonite; magnets. That was hilarious animation. I love it.

KK: It astonishes me that we were able to get the rights to "Blowin' in the Wind", but not we wanted "If Had a Hammer" later. We were not able to get that.

JD: [he groans] Pete Seeger. Is that who it is?

KK: I don't know. Mr Seeger was a fine, upstairs gentleman.

JD: Hey what did that say behind him in the alien language?

DXC: Alien language; "tasty human burgers".

JD: I get to talk to myself here. Hooray, I'm like Billy West!

[The crew is watching the Gophy Gopher Revue.]

KK: Ah, the gopher jokes!

DXC: This scene used to be about 20 minutes long.

RM: It was the whole show.

DXC: It ended up being four seconds long. But it is still pretty funny.

KK: I think we spend probably 8 or 10 hours writing a whole bunch of gopher jokes.

PA: I know, we got about three different versions.

MG: I think that's actually gonna be one of the little suppliments. Some of these cut Gopher jokes. And we'll find out why they were cut!

MG: What is amazing to me – what episode number is this? Two? – how good the animation is this early in the life of the series and how close it is to the way the show looks now.

DXC: Leela's nose has changed a bit, I noticed though. How do you animators explain that?

RM: Err– a p?

PA: I thought I got it right.

DXC: Everyone else since then—

RM: We're drawing it a little shorter now—

MG: In the original design of the– the show, nobody who could really draw wanted to draw her nose that big.

[The robot comedian appears.]

PA: We should say that is supposed to be Jackie Gleason. For people who don't recognise him.

JD: Maurice LaMarche is the voice of Jackie Gleason.

[Sal empties the cargo]

PA: I love working in the future, because in the script it just said he was emptying that box in, so we came up with that belt-thing.

KK: Nice background joke there, Mortal Kooperation.

DXC: Yeah, also Gender Neutral Pac-Person. Another video game there.

RM: And there is so much debate on the Internet if she is actually speaking something in Chinese.

JD: She is speaking something in Chinese. In a later episode, she taught me how to say something. I had to repeat her. I would had to– [Chinese]. That's what it was. I can't remember what it meant. But it wasn't anything dirty, I know that. It was like, "oh, I'll punch you in the mouth".

DXC: We won't be able to sell this in China after you just said that.

JD: Yeah, I know.

DXC: What did you just say about Mao?!

PA: This whalers on the moon song was in my head for the last three years. It finally went away, and now it's back.

KK: I actually remember, we wanted to have like end like really, really, with all the air coming out of it, no energy at all. And when we were getting Katie sing, she kept putting a better tune on and we made her do much of duller versions.

DXC: That little quiet "yee-haa" was little extra joke added by our editor, Paul Calder.

[Fry and Leela are driving on the lunar surface.]

MG: I like the non-syncronised bouncer, that's really cool.

[Bender talks to Amy]

JD: Wow, it really has changed.

RM: It's very different.

JD: It really has changed. I just realised how much. You know, I guess that's just because you start to watch it, you know. I mean, I'm a fan of the show, myself, I mean, I don't get to see them till they are on the air. I think that has something to do with it.

DXC: All the voices have– they've honed in a little bit on the what was the funniest aspects that they started, they all had it in the beginning, I think they all definitely got sharpened up.

PA: There used to be a really good scene in there, where Bender was hiding out in the whaler's on the moon ride.

KK: I think that was when he hit on the woman?

PA: Hitting on the saucy wench robot.

DXC: I love that overhead shot a second ago, by the way. It's a beautiful shot.

[The farmer is talking.]

DXC: More Billy West.

JD: More Billy West talking to himself.

Farmer: [episode] Who borry?!

JD: Borry!

RM: He's our colour stylist!

JD: And that was written in the script as well. I remember that, that was written "borry".

DXC: In the time that we wrote this episode we would have debates of four and five hours about is it too unrealistic to have this yokel on the moon and that kinda thing. We were really not that sure, whether we could something this goofy.

MG: What always bothered me was that he had a shotgun in a glass dome.

KK: That's in Total Recall. That's in Total Recall. The thing I remember was that we counter-balanced it by having him speak very realistically about how long day and night were on the moon.

MG: Wait are you using Total Recall as a standard of reality?

KK: As far as I know, it is.

DXC: I know Fox got a letter of complaint about the scientific inaccuracies in this show, including that the line between dark side of the moon and the light side of the moon was moving. And the teacher– it was a science teacher who wrote in saying, how dare we misinform America's youth. Little did she
know that this episode was written by Doctor Ken Keeler, Ph.D. and that we actually did a fairly good job with the realism of the day and night moving and the length of the day and stuff like that. Some things are accurate.

MG: Ken Keeler wrote a letter attacking himself, I think actually. Wasn't there a long– didn't you have a debate, almost with yourself about the light and how fast it can travel..?

KK: I remember we took a long time to calculate that, whether or not it could be plausible that it could be moving that fast; what latitude on the moon they'd had to be at and–

PA: I remember you– I looked it into myself, and then you told me where the moon would really be; I mean where the Earth would be.

KK: Yeah, the crescent of the Earth and the shape and the orientation, and so forth.

PA: Which we got to final loving looking shot out the window, we couldn't do it where it would really be, because it would be directly above them.

KK: It's the kind of thing we would never worry about now.

RM: We've come a long way.

PA: When you're watching farmers chasing them.

JD: Everybody jump.

KK: And I believe, the single least realistic thing in the entire episode is right here.

[The crew jumps over a cliff filled with alligators.]

PA: What you mean?

RM: The way they jump; the gorge.

DXC: Matt Groening, you had objections to that early on. How do you feel in retrospect, the alligators with space helmets on?

MG: I– I was wrong. [laughter] No, it's really fun. I have this– thing about animals being realistic, and of course that's really funny.

PA: So they should have had space suits?

MG: So I didn't like banjos during the chase scene, that's what–

DXC: We kept editing them out.

MG: Yeah.

[Fry and Leela are running from the shadow.]

DXC: Actually this music right here is by Christopher Tyng, the composer, very nice homage to Pink Floyd, as soon as Fry mentions "Dark Side of the Moon", I always liked that.

[Farnsworth is looking at his crew through a telescope.]

DXC: And here's one of my favourite shots from early in history of the series, I always thought that was such a beautiful drawing of the telescope, this shading is so sophisticated compared to, again, compared to any other animated show I have seen before. I really was moved when I saw that.... the drawings.

PA: That professor joke, I thought was in recur a lot more often.

KK: We thought so too.

PA: Yeah. I miss it.

KK: Originally, they were going to find the original moon landing site, and I believe, Neil Armstrong's head for inexplicable reasons was going to be there. And he would help them flee from the farmer across the moon. But cooler heads prevailed.

[Fry steps in Armstrong's foot print]

MG: Fox didn't want us to do the Nike logo; free advertising for Nike. Or was it because they wanted to sell the ad to another shoe company?

DXC: They wanted to auction off the logo. Free advertising, beautiful music here as well.

DXC: Now, Ken Keeler, you will remember the huge problem and the logical error that we the writers made with this whole section of the show and only caught at the last minute.

KK: No, I recall us–

PA: I tell what it is.

KK: The sign?

DXC: Yes.

KK: I thought we caught that early on.

DXC: No, I think it was around the animatic.

KK: That's embarrassing.

MR: No, no- No we knew... what that the lander...

DXC: It wouldn't still be there, because blasted off—

PA: And the footprints wouldn't be there, because of the blast.

DXC: I can believe they—

KK: That's less clear.

DXC: We haven't gone back to check that out.

PA: The flag.

DXC: But just that the lander is there, yet it blasted off into space when they left the moon. We caught that fairly far down the line. And added a sign, which comes up in the background here to placate our nerdiest fans.

KK: But it didn't.

[The Earth's reflection is on Fry's helmet.]

JD: Nice little–

KK: Gorgeous shot.

JD: And the Earth, now that's beautiful.

Leela: [episode] [While looking at the Earth.] Fry, look!. It really is beautiful.

JD: Isn't it? I just said that!

KK: I remember this discussion with Peter, this has to be incredible beautiful! It must be beautiful!

DXC: Here comes one of the early 3D extravaganzas, this was also really amazing to see.

[Farmer arrives in his machine.]

PA: From here on, there's a lot of nice 3D.

KK: Really terrifying.

JD: I cried when I saw this. You know, the panting– the running and the panting, if you remove that, if you take that away out of context, it sounds kinda vulgar. [He pants as Bender.]

[A sticker sign behind Leela can be seen in the lander.]

DXC: There's the nerd sign.

MG: I watch that with my eyes closed.

[JD laughs.]

PA: We had to build Bender in 3D for this scene coming up.

JD: This is the coolest.

PA: The one where he starts singing.

[Bender is now attached to the magnet.]

JD: Aark. That's so cool.

JD: This is great.

PA: My sister suggested this. Beautiful.

RM: 3D Bender.

JD: Did they had to tune a guitar to that?

DXC: I think kinda lucked out. You were hoarse when you sung this, I remember.

JD: I don't know how many colds I've fought through during this– the course of this employment.

[Credits roll.]

MG: This is the nice thing about the DVD, you will actually be able to read the credits here.

Bender: [episode; singing] I'll be blasting all the humans in the world.

JD: Oh yeah, I'm pushing it right there. [imitates himself singing]

JD: One more time.