Game of Tones
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|Season 7 episode|
Broadcast season 10 episode
|Game of Tones|
|Written by||Michael Rowe|
|Directed by||Edmund Fong|
|Title caption||IF UNABLE TO SEE THIS MESSAGE, TURN ON FUTURAMA NOW|
|First air date||14 August, 2013|
|Title reference||The TV series Game of Thrones|
|Special guest(s)||Sarah Silverman|
"Game of Tones" is the one hundred and thirty-seventh episode of Futurama, the twenty-third of the seventh production season and the tenth of the tenth broadcast season. It aired on 14 August, 2013, on Comedy Central. It guest-stars Sarah Silverman as Michelle, Tom Kenny as Fry's brother and Seth MacFarlane as Seymour. The crew journeys into Fry's dreams to seek the meaning of a mysterious alien melody.
Earth is slowly approached by a mysterious alien ship that repeatedly broadcasts four loud musical tones, which can be heard by everyone on the planet. At first, the music is merely an annoyance, but as the ship draws nearer, the booming tones begin to cause structural damage, and will eventually grow so loud that the vibrations will literally shake the planet apart. No one has any idea what the ship is trying to communicate; only Fry seems to recognize the alien melody, but his memory of hearing it is so vague that he cannot place it.
A scan of Fry's brain when he hears the melody reveals that it triggers his subconscious memories of 31 December, 1999, the night he was cryogenically frozen. In order to determine the source of the music and hopefully ward off the approaching alien ship, Fry is hooked up to a machine that will allow him to explore his memory of that day in detail. He is placed under sedation, and finds himself in a lucid dream, re-living the events of the day in question.
Fry is nostalgic about seeing his friends in 20th-century New York again, but his initial investigation proves unproductive; while he hears many sounds and noises, none of them is similar to the tones being broadcast by the alien ship. He notices a nearby strip club, and while he observes that he never actually visited it, it may nonetheless be worth looking into; however, when he opens the front door, nothing is inside except a vast, empty expanse. Because Fry never entered the building, he has no memories of what might be inside.
Fry eventually makes his way to his old house, which he remarks that he always hated... until he is warmly greeted by his dog, Seymour. He realizes that he didn't really hate everything about his old life, and may have merely convinced himself that he did in order to cope with finding himself trapped in the future. Fry enters his home and is reunited with his family, and is so happy to see them again that he spends most of the day reminiscing and helping them prepare for the New Year celebration instead of searching for the source of the alien music.
At dinner that evening, having enjoyed being able to spend one last day with his family, Fry realizes that he will never see any of them again, especially his mother, toward whom he has many tender sentiments that he never took the time to express. Just as he is about to speak with her, the doorbell rings, and Leela enters, having come into Fry's dream to urge him to complete his mission; time is running out, and the Earth will soon be destroyed if the secret of the alien melody cannot be found. Fry pleads with Leela for an opportunity to talk to his mother, as he will never see his real mother again, and speaking with this dream representation of her will be his only chance to find emotional closure. Leela relents, but every time Fry attempts to talk to his mother, he is interrupted as more members of the Planet Express crew (and Richard Nixon) enter the dream to spur him onward, eventually physically dragging him from the house. Fry tries to force his way back in, only to find that, like the strip club, the interior of the house has become a blank slate, because Fry never entered it again after leaving for work on the night he was frozen.
Bitter and defeated, Fry leads the crew to his shift at Panucci's Pizza, and from there, to the delivery at Applied Cryogenics that led to his being frozen. Along the way, the alien melody is never heard, and there are no clues as to its origin. With the day nearly over, Fry takes his place in front of the cryogenic tube, leaning back in his chair as the countdown to the New Year begins... and, in the final seconds as he falls back into the tube, he at last hears the four notes, followed by two additional, higher-pitched notes. Armed with this new information, Nixon leads the crew to a landing facility built to receive the alien craft. When it arrives and blasts out the four notes, Fry uses a keyboard to respond with the final two. The ship lands, and from it emerges... a Nibblonian, whom Nibbler calls "Digby".
Digby identifies himself as Nibbler's personal chauffeur, and explains that on 31 December, 1999, he accompanied Nibbler on his mission to have Fry frozen so that he could later destroy the Infosphere. While observing Nibbler, Digby realized that he forgot to lock their spaceship, and did so remotely with a key fob, producing the four distinctive musical tones that Fry heard as he fell into the cryogenic tube (the two additional notes being caused by the ship's security system acknowledging the signal). Following the successful completion of their mission, Digby and Nibbler visited a local pub to participate in the New Year's festivities; the two of them became severely drunk, forgot where they parked their ship, and lost the keys down a storm drain, forcing them to take a cab back to their base on Vergon 6. Digby then retrieved a spare set of keys, and has been traveling from one planet to another, broadcasting the security signal in an attempt to locate the "company car". Fry leads them to the roof of the Applied Cryogenics building, where the Nibblonian ship still rests, ransacked and rusty after a millennium of neglect. It is still space-worthy, however, and after Digby uses it to fly away, Nibbler remarks that Fry has once more done the Nibblonians a great service, and that they owe him a gift. Reflecting upon his mother, Fry laments that they cannot give him the one thing he really wants.
That night, while asleep, Fry has a dream about his mother, and once more expresses his desire to speak with her. When a television sportscaster announces the results of the 2000 Rose Bowl, Fry is confused; since that game took place after he was frozen, it should be impossible for him to know the results. Nibbler appears, and reveals that this is not actually Fry's dream; it is one of his mother's, and is the gift that Nibbler spoke of. Fry asks if it is really her, and she replies that it is, telling him that she has dreamed of him often since his disappearance. When she asks him what he would like to talk about, he wordlessly embraces her with tears in his eyes. Back in the 21st century, Fry's mother dreams of her son with a smile on her face.
In the animatic, the montage of Fry spending time with his family was longer, and the song "1999" played over it.
By 8 August, Comedy Central had released a two-minute preview clip featuring the crew trying to discover the source of the melody.
Promotional picture of Nibbler with another Nibblonian, known as Digby.
- Michael Rowe, the writer of the episode, has also written for Family Guy. In the commentary for "The Six Million Dollar Mon", he introduces himself as Seth MacFarlane, and then says "wrong show". "Game of Tones" is Seth MacFarlane's second appearance on Futurama.
- Fry was also stuck on an inclined table in "Cold Warriors", which also featured Fry's family. In addition, the digits in the production code for "Cold Warriors" add up to the same amount as the digits in the production code for this episode.
- The professor also calls Fry a dope in the twenty-third episode of the sixth production season, "All the Presidents' Heads".
- After the Eiffel Tower bends, a French man says "this never happens, I swear!", a very obvious erection joke.
- The episode shares multiple similarities with the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. A mysterious ship arrives, sending a strange melody to communicate, which, however, damages the planet, and the main characters have to travel back in time (in this episode through dreams).
- Nibbler says "bye-bye keys", which a toddler Bart Simpson says in the Simpsons episode "Lisa's First Word".
- The song that plays at the end of the episode is "Manchild", by the Eels, from the 1996 album Beautiful Freak.
- An image of the blank interior of Fry's house, featuring Bender and Fry, is used on the extras menu for Volume 8. The piece of music that plays when Fry sees the neighbourhood strip club is used on the main menu for the first disc.
- Click here to see cultural mentions made in this episode.
- The episode's title is a reference to the TV series Game of Thrones.
- Shazam is a reference to the music-identification service of the same name.
- Seymour sitting on the couch along with the rest of the Fry family and holding a martini is a reference to Family Guy's Brian Griffin, who is also voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
- The rugby-stadium scene is likely a reference to the classic computer game Robots.
- There are several references to the 2010 film Inception. From the very act of getting into a dream, to the fact that, if Fry dies in the dream, he wakes up, the time proportion being different (inverted in Futurama) between the real world and the dream, the crew members connected to the dream machine, the shots of the world shaking due to the dream's collapse and the slow motion and music used as Fry is falling into the cryo-tube.
- The scene where the crew communicates with the alien ship via sound and lights on a billboard is reminiscent of the climax from the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. A location similar to Devils Tower is also seen in the background.
- The final scene is a reference to the ending of the 2001 film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, where the protagonist gets to live one last experience with his mother based on memories.
- Bender's "let's go already" song is from "Proposition Infinity".
- Bender previously wore a diaper in "The Tip of the Zoidberg".
- The episode revisits the cold opening of "Space Pilot 3000".
- Nibbler tells Fry that he has once more done the Nibblonians a great service. This is a reference to "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" and "The Why of Fry", in which Fry saves the world and the universe, respectively.
- Fry's alarm clock reads "09:01" thirty seconds after turning to nine o'clock.
- This may be due to the fact that the clock is part of a dream.
- The design of the radio-cranial dream injector in the second act is different from the design of the radio-cranial dream injector in the first and third acts. The animatic version of the design, however, is the same.
- Fry is saddened to relive the last time that he ever saw his family, but in "Space Pilot 3000", he seems thrilled at the notion all the people he ever knew were dead.
Hermes: But what are those aliens tryin' to ask us? What do the tones mean?
Professor Farnsworth: Isn't it obvious?
Hermes: Uh... No.
Professor Farnsworth: Drat! I was hoping it was.
Fry: Can you guys hear the professor too?
Fry's father: Yup.
Fry: Does that seem strange to you?
Fry's mother: Well, no. Not in a dream. Lotsa weird stuff could happen.
Seymour: Philip. Have you lost weight?
Leela: Sorry to disturb you all, but Fry needs to get going.
Fry's mother: I was just telling him that, Leela.
Fry: Mom? You know Leela?
Fry's mother: Nope.
Fry: The last thing I did was blow my noisemaker sarcastically, to underscore my deep disappointment with life.
- 20th-century kid
- Charles Constantine
- Debut: Digby
- Donkey Kong
- Fry's breakdancing crew
- Last clone of Agnew
- Mr. Panucci
- Mrs. Fry
- Noticeably F.A.T.
- Professor Farnsworth
- Randy Munchnik
- Richard Nixon's head
- Seymour Asses
- Debut: Shazam
- Yancy Fry Jr.
- Yancy Fry Sr.
- Apartment 00100100
- Applied Cryogenics
- Debut: Booby Tuesday's
- Eiffel Tower
- Fry's house
- Debut: Fry's old apartment
- Debut: Mount Shushmore
- O'Grady's Pub
- Panucci's Pizza
- Planet Express conference room
- Planet Express employee lounge
- Planet Express headquarters
- Planet Express lab
- Debut: Planet Z-7
- Robot Arms Apartments
- Vergon 6 (mentioned in speech only)
- "Bender is great!" (in animatic only)
- Charleston Chew (mentioned in speech only)
- Debut: Digby's new spaceship
- Debut: Digby's old spaceship
- Futurama (mentioned in text only, title caption)
- "Good news, everyone"
- I. C. Wiener (mentioned in speech and text only, 14:42)
- "Let's go already!"
- Debut: Long-range scanner
- Nibbler's shadow
- Debut: Radio-cranial dream injector
- Debut: Thoughtspike
- "Walking on Sunshine"
- ^ Eric Rogers (08 January 2012). EricRogersLA. (Twitter.) Retrieved on 17 January 2012.
- ^ FoxFast: Futurama. (FoxFast.com.) Retrieved on 17 January 2013.
- ^ Jesse David Fox (05 February 2013). Watch a Preview of Futurama’s Seventh Season. (Vulture.com.) Retrieved on 23 June 2013.
- ^ a b Dan Snierson (19 June 2013). "'Futurama': Seth MacFarlane to play.... -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 19 June 2013.
- ^ "DannyJC13" (09 July 2013). Futurama: Saturday Morning Fun Pit animatic. (PEEL.) Retrieved on 31 December 2013.
- ^ Animatic video. Retrieved on 16 August 2013.
- ^ I Too Was on Earth That Day - Video Clip. (Comedy Central.) Retrieved on 08 August 2013.
- ^ Countdown to Futurama: Fry Licking Seymour. (Comedy Central's Tumblr page.) 02 June 2013. Retrieved on 02 June 2013.
- ^ Countdown to Futurama: Nibblonian Ship. (Comedy Central's Tumblr page.) 03 June 2013. Retrieved on 07 August 2013.
- ^ Countdown to Futurama: Nibbler and Digby. (Comedy Central's Tumblr page.) 04 June 2013. Retrieved on 07 August 2013.
- ^ Michael Rowe (05 December 2013). Mike Rowe. (Facebook.) Retrieved on 11 December 2013.
- ^ Taryn Ryder (20 March 2013). Seth MacFarlane and ‘Game of Thrones’ Star Emilia Clarke Break Up. (Omg.yahoo.com.) Retrieved on 19 June 2013.