Transcript:Commentary:Mars University

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Transcript of commentary for
"Mars University"
Transcribed bySvip
Commentary participants
  • Note: One question mark in bold (?) means that the speaker was not identified by the transcriber.
  • Note: Three question marks (???) means that the word in proximity to the question marks is a suggested word, but not necessarily correctly identified, or if there is no word near the question mark (a space away is not near), then no suggested word was provided.

David X. Cohen: Everything hovers in the future. We made reference in episode in season 2 to the fact that the technology for the wheel had been lost. Because we thought we had been pretty consistent in making things hover and then someone came up with a list of about ten thousand things with wheels that we had accidentally left in the show.

J. Stewart Burns: Was that someone on the Internet or someone here?

DXC: Both.

[Opening sequences comes up; music is remixed.]

DXC: Oh listen to this.

Matt Groening: This is the remix theme, we were gonna remix the theme every week and then listened to this one and decided never to do it again.

DXC: It actually sounds pretty good, if you have a good quality TV stereo system, but it didn't transmit that well on the air. It lost a lot of the dynamic range, so it doesn't sound as good on actual broadcast as we thought it would.

MG: Hi everybody, this is Matt Groening.

JSB: Stewart Burns, writer.

Billy West: Billy West, voice over person.

Bret Haaland: Bret Haaland, director.

Gregg Vanzo: And Gregg Vanzo, supervising director.

DXC: David Cohen, executive producer person.

Rich Moore: And Rich Moore, supervising director.

JSB: So look, we're on Mars already, this is pretty fast, this episode.

BH: Ah, by the way, the reason Mars is yellow instead of red, was so that we wouldn't have Fry disappear with his red hair and jacket.

JSB: You mean the sky.

BH: The sky, yeah

BW: I've never seen juxtaposition of that many– that kind of colour, like orange and purple and green. Beautiful.

BH: I know it's weird, you never see that in animation. Like, you can make this guy any colour, I know it's supposed to be blue, but it looks fine to me.

DXC: Marilyn vos Savant reference on the library there. Highest IQ in the world.

?: And yet...

JSB: Here's the A-story.

DXC: That's Billy West, fraternity head.

RM: This is pretty tricky working out, the secret hand shake.

GV: We added that effect digitly to just top it off there.

DXC: Stewart Burns always tries to write stuff about chess, every time you give that guy a pen, and there's a chess game going.

JSB: We had like four chess joke, I think. Maybe one that made it to air.

DXC: Can we even begin to list all of the college movies we ripped off in this episode? Certainly not Animal House, that one– we steered clear of that.

?: What about The Program?

DXC: Revenge of the Nerds, that one we also steered clear of.

JSB: I like the thing that we stuck with classics for the most parts, though.

RM: Homer and Bart in the background there.

GV: I think that there is some rule that The Simpsons should never be on the show except as objects.

MG: Well, the idea is that this– The Simpsons are fictitious characters.

GV: Right right.

MG: And Futurama's real.

GV: Feels more real.

MG: No, one of the debates we had– we're trying to different the show from The Simpsons, how many fingers to give the characters, I remember in an early version they had five fingers. ???affing???, it looked weird.

BW: Breaking the law of animation hands.

JSB: Just on a timing note, in this particular episode I choose to make the timing quicker and snappier, so things pop a little bit than some of the other episodes.

DXC: Like the way Amy flew in?

JSB: Exactly.

DXC: That joke actually came out of a sketch I wrote a long time ago, just a writing sample, that was about the two volume alien phone book; Volume One: A-Y and Volume Two: Z.

?: This is totally a homage to John Belushi here.

JSB: That's a great thing about Animal House. You have a bunch of robots doing it, and you don't even need extra jokes. It just–

RM: Just do the same stuff.

JSB: They are like icing on the cake.

GV: We had to redo the camera move several time to get the fade out to the computer right.

DXC: Yet another ad for Macintosh. I am still waiting for my free Macintosh to show up.

?: You didn't get yours?

DXC: Snooty House. We worked hard on that name.

JSB: I think that came in five seconds and then we actually ditched it an hour to actually trying to beat that once.

DXC: This is the kind of episode, where the first thing you think of is the best thing. The thing you think an hour on is not gonna fit in quite as well.

JSB: I think the robots' names came in about 15 seconds. Not much of story for where the names came from.

?: This my favourite part of the show; the monkey.

MG: The original design of the monkey was much more realistic and the monkey was really creepy looking. So we changed it.

BH: It's true, the monkey went through this strange metamorphoses, at one point it had some pretty large fangs and nostrils and everything. Large pupils, which I– I don't think we do that anymore. Keep the pupils small.

MG: Why, I didn't wanted to give him cartoon - you know - white eyeballs and the way they do it on– in—

?: The Simpsons.

MG: Yeah, well, you know, [voice] The Simpsons. So derisive. No, the way they do it on most- no, one thing I think is, I'm very proud of is that we resisted the highlights in the pupils or irises or any of that, still just dots on circles for their eyes.

?: Or no–

BW: Have we ever seen his eyes?

MG: No.

?: No no no.

BW: One day, can we see them?

MG: You don't want to.

BW: I know, either really shocking or really funny.

?: Well, Mom said they're beautiful.

MG: He's taken his glasses off, right, but we just never seen it.

DXC: He switched to his reading glasses once. Which were the same thing, but three times thicker.

DXC: There is technology which is available now. Yet we are selling it as a brilliant futuristic invention.

?: Colleges are little behind in technology usually.

DXC: This Billy West again.

BW: Like a John Houseman type character. What was the movie? TV show, paper chase.

DXC: The amazing thing about you, Billy, is these voices– if I wasn't in the room when you did them, I wouldn't know who did them. They don't seem to have a quality in common with each other. Some do, but some don't.

BW: I would really appreciate that, I made that like prime directive in my own way of thinking about the craft, as I really would try hard to differentiate characters. I mean, there are characters like Fry that are based on like where I would normally come from, but I wanted to find a whole bunch of others that had nothing to do with what I sounded like.

DXC: Just for anyone who does not know, some of the characters that Billy does on the show, not just for this episode, in general, Fry, the Professor, Dr Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan.

BW: [Brannigan] Brannigan! Hello, ladies.

DXC: What else? Richard Nixon, Smitty the policeman. Other ones?

BW: I'm trying to remember.

DXC: Those are the major ones. We usually throw him one or two miscellaneous ones in addition to his four or five starring roles in each episode.

BW: You know, the people who has the hardest job are regulars, but they have to do entirely different character every week. They have to come up with some kinda catchy voice. That's harder than having the roles that you are so familiar with and you constantly doing 'em. I mean, you have to be astronaut number 3, one week and carpenter number 8 and another one.

?: This is Maurice doing this voice, here.

DXC: This is Dave Herman.

?: Oh, this is Dave Herman, right.

?: He did Fatbot also. He got all the really fun parts.

DXC: Fatbot, that's another name we really worked on.

MG: I have to say, I found Fatbot annoying, why would you build a robot that was fat? Just didn't–

DXC: In the very earliest conception of this episode, Guenter was going to be the Professor's clone Cubert, and Cubert was gonna be Fry's roommate. That idea changed after about day.

?: That there phone number, how did you come up with that?

?: The lambda?

?: Yeah.

?: That was a desperate effort not to have a phone number that went 555-01-555.

DXC: That drawing on the wall was provided by David Shemevist, a physics at Caltech and it actually is a parody of a real type of particle physics diagram, which was careful constructed to sort of relate to a dog.

?: And it's sort of a faeces joke too if you really look at it.

DXC: Really combines the highest and lowest things in society.

BW: I always said this show had more layers than an onion and it truly does.

BH: This is a sequence that I worked very hard on, basically the show's animating career about– as a director, I have the option to do some of the animation myself or have it done here, and we really went to town with this monkey, I guess just 'cause I love animals– animating animals, including Fry here acting as an animal.

BW: Don't push me, I'll snap.

DXC: That was the introduction of Amy's parents there. Billy as Mr Wong, by the way. Lauren Tom as Amy's mother.

?: And an introduction of Geunter's parents.

BH: And notice the urine on the cage.

?: Oh my god.

DXC: I never notice that before.

?: I've gotten through now never having to see that, thanks.

?: That was fun to do.

RM: Always a favourite.

?: Originally we had pieces of faeces flying through the shot here.

?: Oh and hitting the wall.

BW: No, most of the animals on the show, the voices are done by Frank Welker.

DXC: That's correct.

BW: He's like the world's foremost authority, he can do like a chicken being chased by a steamroller.

DXC: Unbelievable, yeah. Now, he does dogs, cats, all of the things you'd expect, but then we got him in here to do a Tyrannosaurus or an alien slug or whatever it is, and he always has it dead on, somehow.

MG: And even when you're watching him do it, you cannot believe that it is coming out of a human.

BW: I know, it's so amazing. He's like– he has control over every chamber in his body.

MG: Yeah.

DXC: He does Santa's Little Helper on The Simpsons, also.

BW: And Nibbler on this show.

DXC: Nibbler, his biggest role in this show. He also does the speaking voice of Nibbler– oops, did I give something away? If you haven't seen the episodes down the line.

?: Get the third DVD season.

DXC: That hat is just like the hat the guy on Oz used to wear.

BW: Was it a bowler?

DXC: This is Tress MacNeille as Guenter, really funny performance.

MG: Where did the name Guenter come from?

JSB: That was actually my college roommate. Oh, it has no similarity at all to Geunter, but it seemed like a good name for a monkey. Then all of—

DXC: It seemed like a good name for annoying roommate– a monkey, a monkey!

JSB: That joke– the great thing about that joke, you have to go back and check, he never has a glass. He comes in without a glass, I had to specifically tell Brat, like no glass. It has to come out of nowhere.

?: I like the fact that Fry is worse at drawing bananas than the monkey.

JSB: In an early- all my other college roommates were on a little floor plan when they show the desktop. Just so they wouldn't feel left out.

BW: I love these takes on everybody.

DXC: I was just thinking to myself, "why is Fry laughing at what just happened?" And that's Billy laughing to the microphone.

BW: [in Fry's voice] Look, I told you before, don't push me or I'll snap.

DXC: There is a nice little story happening with the exterior shot of that sign on the dorm. You just watched those. Dorm goes to seed, then a goat eats it. That's a good story in my book.

?: We like Seinfeld, we have so many stories.

BW: Take it to second level.

?: Where did we rip this off from? I dunno where this came from, actually.

DXC: Let's see, the Nerds had a swimming pool thing, but it wasn't exactly a regatta.

?: Something like a regatta sounds very ??? to me.

DXC: We stole it from something, I remember.

?: I'm sure I ever went to a regatta in college.

GV: This was technically difficult to do, because we had to keep these guys floating up and down the entire time, every single scene we had to digitally float these guys on oxylarypages???.

RM: Which I am sure carried through, stay??? up all night.

?: Can't you just move the film a little up and down when you're holding the camera over it?

?: That's similar.

?: A little ??? joke there.

GV: And this was many layers of levels drawn again and again and again.

BW: Wow.

?: I love that joke.

DXC: The most vigorous moment in the Professor's history, there.

?: Oh, this is when he's starting to become pretty cruel.

JSB: That joke, I never knew if that was the best joke in the script or the worst joke, actually.

DXC: Such a fine line.

MG: Didn't that joke continue, in there– the first version?

?: Past the elephant?

MG: Wasn't there a lot of things that fell out of the tree? A lot– a lot of inappropriate things flying out of the tree.

?: There might have been a couple more, but I think we were just debating whether we should go the extra step with the elephant.

?: This is a– called a repeat pan, where you just draw the background and you repeat it on floating pegs to create speed.

?: Lots of water effects. That's a match cut.

DXC: Used that ski as an excuse to cut there. Very sneaky of you.

RM: I totally noticed.

?: One of the tricks we use.

?: Motivated by nothing.

?: That's the best joke.

DXC: This was probably tricky to write, for we wanted Guenter to save the day, yet you can't think it all.

MG: I love Fry's reaction to the hat. Coming up, even though he's gonna die.

DXC: A little ad lib by Tress MacNeille. It's funny.

DXC: This we definitely spend a lot of time thinking of the logic of this would work or not.

BH: That. We had to act that out with real vines.

?: I don't see why not.

DXC: How many liquorish vines did it take to instruct that seen?

BH: For a little gummy bear to get stuck on the tree.

?: I love the way that Fry is always ready to laugh again.

?: Aw man!

?: Enough with that.

DXC: You should never get too over confident in a cartoon. They come up in so swift.

?: Just to make it clear he's gonna eat him, but not actually say it.

BW: That's dark, man. That's really dark.

?: Those business guys had it coming.

DXC: That's the simplest drawing I ever saw on Futurama, that guy in the background with the little squikly beard; Comicbook Guy beard.

?: Ugh, this took forever.

BH: This guy dancing used not to be Fry, but we liked him so much, so we make him Fry.

DXC: Bret did all the work on this, "wait! That should be Fry, it's so good! So do it again, Bret."

BH: I did such a good job, yeah. Do more work.

RM: And change the monkey too.

BH: Yeah, coming up next is a version where the monkey is completely different.

DXC: Oh, Dean Vernon is named after the guy who played the Dean in Animal House, right? It was– what's his name? John Vernon.

?: I remember Bret had tonnes of printouts– video printouts of John Vernon on his desk while making this.

MG: Ah, it's a good episode. We gotta bring the monkey back.

DXC: He would have graduated from business school by now. MBA.

?: Hermes' helper.

?: He could be like– yeah, an apprentice.

BW: Didn't he become the president of a network or something?

?: Oh that's right.

BW: You think he would leave that to come to the future again?

?: That's not always a long term job.

MG: Yeah, it lasts about a year. Maybe two.

BW: Right.

?: He's got his own production company now.