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"Where No Fan Has Gone Before" is the eleventh episode of the fourth season of the animated series Futurama. It originally aired in the United Statesmarker on April 21, 2002. Along with "The Why of Fry", it is one of only two episodes that does not feature Professor Farnsworth.

Plot

Bender, Leela and Fry, along with most of the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series, are court-martialed by Zapp Brannigan, who has the group recount the events that led to the court-martial for traveling to the forbidden planet Omega 3.

It is explained to Fry that Star Trek is forbidden in the future; after the show became a worldwide religion, all of its fans were killed during the Star Trek Wars and the tapes sent to a forbidden planet. Fry runs to the Head Museum to talk to Leonard Nimoy's Head. Nimoy's head tries to deny knowledge of the show, but realizes he can't escape the Star Trek craze and recounts to Fry how the rest of the cast left Earth.

Fry, Leela, Bender and Nimoy's head journey to the forbidden planet where they crash and find several original sets from Star Trek and most of the original cast, complete with their bodies and eternal youth. James Doohan, the actor who portrayed Scotty, had been replaced sometime in the 2200's by an actor named Welshy. A large energy being named Melllvar reveals himself and explains that he became an obsessed Star Trek fan after watching the tapes over and over again. Melllvar gives Nimoy a body, and orders the actors and the Planet Express crew to participate in a Star Trek convention until all time stops. Welshy is killed in a show of force to force their obedience. While Melllvar forces the cast to perform his fan script, Bender, Leela and Fry escape in the Planet Express ship. Fry convinces the crew to mount an attack on Melllvar to save the actors, only to have Melllvar destroy the ship's engine as he drags it back to the planet.

After seeing the crew's attempt to defeat him, Melllvar wonders if the Planet Express crew are more worthy of his adoration; he decides to settle the question with a battle to the death. After several minutes of fighting (with the exception of Leela and Shatner, who end up making out on a cliff instead of battling), Melllvar's mother appears and makes him come home for supper. While he is gone, the two groups combine the engine of the cast's ship with the body of the Planet Express ship to escape. In order to lose enough weight to lift off, the cast jettison their bodies. Melllvar soon follows the crew into space with his own spaceship (a Klingon battlecruiser). The Planet Express ship is then boarded by Brannigan, who starts the court-martial. At this point, Leela points out that during the course of the court-martial, Melllvar is continuing to chase them.

Everyone hurries back to the control room, where they still try to escape from Melllvar. Fry convinces Melllvar that he can't spend his whole time watching Star Trek, and Melllvar eventually agrees to end the chase and "get a life." The crew returns, with the tapes in hand, to Earth. The cast finally agrees to leave, deciding that living with "one really annoying Star Trek fan" was not worth the great things they received.

Production

The writer for this episode, David A. Goodman, states in the DVD audio commentary that making this episode was a "dream come true" for many members of the crew including himself. Pat Shinagawa, who directed the episode also states that there was a certain amount of jealousy that she had gotten to do this episode whereas Matt Groening states that while he is a fan of the Star Trek franchise he has never seen an episode of the original series all the way through, but he has seen the first movie.

All of the living members of the original Star Trek cast agreed to appear in the episode with the exception of James Doohan, whose agent replied with "No way." Because of this, the episode's working title was jokingly named "We got everybody but Scotty" and the character Montgomery Scott was replaced with "Welshy". DeForest Kelley was physically portrayed in the episode, but had no lines, due to his death in 1999. Goodman also notes that this episode may be the reason he later began writing for Star Trek: Enterprise.

Multiple designs for the energy being were considered for this episode; however, the final version was decided upon due to a desire to keep the design simple. Despite this effort, Shinagawa still notes that the final design for Melllvar is more sophisticated than some energy beings featured in the original series.

Star Trek references

This episode contains a large number of story elements that are references to episodes of Star Trek. For example, the idea of a near-omnipotent antagonist whose mother comes to collect him is from "The Squire of Gothos". Melllvar's giant green hand is a reference to Apollo's hand in "Who Mourns for Adonais?". Bender's self-destruct sequence is the same as that of the Enterprise, as seen in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

There are several direct references to individual episodes in dialogue. When Fry references an episode where Spock got "high on spores and smacked Kirk around", he is talking about "This Side of Paradise". When Nichelle Nichols mentions being heroic in kissing William Shatner in the third season, she is referring to "Plato's Stepchildren". (This, often cited as the first interracial kiss on television was indeed seen as a controversial by NBC executives, although Nichols' tone in the Futurama episode implies that her heroism was not in kissing someone of a different race, but in kissing Shatner.) The Nazi Planet episode mentioned is "Patterns of Force". The episodes referred to by Fry and Melllvar in which higher powers make the crew compete for their own amusement are "Arena", "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "Spectre of the Gun", "The Savage Curtain", and "Day of the Dove". When Melllvar says, "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend", he is quoting "Balance of Terror". Nichelle Nichols's fan dance can be seen in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Walter Koenig says "nuclear wessels" in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

In the DVD audio commentary, the writer of this episode notes his pride in having included a large number of in-dialogue references to the original series, particularly those items which he claims "the people on the internet" had not found on their own. He noted that in "Shatner's Log", a play on the legendary captain's log, the line "The impossible has happened" is the same line given in the opening log in the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before". William Shatner's line at the end, "Let's get the hell out of here," is also used in the episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". In the flashback scene the line said by Scotty at the end of "The Trouble With Tribbles", "they were no tribble at all", is read by the Trekdom priest. William Shatner's comment to Leela that "There's no right way to hit a woman" is from the episode "Charlie X".

In addition to story elements and dialogue, there are several visual references to Star Trek episodes. The sets seen on the planet when the Planet Express crew arrive are from "Spectre of the Gun", "Bread and Circuses", "The Gamesters of Triskelion", "Patterns of Force", "The Ultimate Computer" and "The City on the Edge of Forever". The chair used when the crew are testifying before Zapp Brannigan is the chair used by Captain Pike in "The Menagerie". The machine gun found by Bender is from "A Piece of the Action". When repairing the ship, Bender is seen in a Jeffries Tube. The ship used to bring the Star Trek cast to Melllvar's planet has warp nacelles. The end credits contain stills from the show, which is how Star Trek's credits were edited; they end in a still of Kif's head in the same style as one of Balok from "The Corbomite Maneuver" that was used at the end of the credits for many Star Trek episodes.

The head of Jonathan Frakes, a member of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, briefly appears. As Leonard Nimoy's head is removed from the shelf, Frakes' head moves forwards, where he exclaims, "Yes! Front row!"

The videotapes of the 79 Star Trek episodes and first six films are fired onto Omega III from an Eagle from the sci-fi series Space: 1999.

Broadcast and reception

Although the episode was not the last episode produced for season four, it was used as the season finale for the fourth broadcast season. The episode was then nominated for a Nebula Award in 2004 for best script. IGN.com ranked the episode as number ten in their list of the "Top 25 Futurama Episodes" in 2006. The Futon Critic ranked the episode number 44 in its list of the top 50 television episodes of 2002. The popularity of this episode combined with the large volume of Star Trek references has made this episode a touchstone among Trekkies. This episode, along with "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles", has been called one of the great moments of the fourth season.

See also



References

  1. As opposed to the Star Wars Trek, the "vast migration of Star Wars fans"
  2. Cook, Lucius (April 26, 2004). Hey Sexy Mama, Wanna Kill All Humans?: Looking Backwards at Futurama, The Greatest SF Show You've Never Seen. Locus Online. Retrieved on July 2, 2007.


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