6.20 All the Presidents’ Heads
Criminy, blimey, knickers and bollocks? Isn’t anyone thinking of the children anymore? These are just some of the foul words you’ll hear but, hold on. It’s just another time travel-based episode from Futurama!
During a raucous party at Fry’s other place of work (the Head Museum, featuring a supreme collection of Head In A Jars), Professor Farnsworth discovers a new form of time travel after Zoidberg drinks some jar ruice of a former president.
This first trip takes the Lobster Man back to meet Andy Warhol, whilst Fry takes it on himself to lick another president’s head (not drink the jar juice, I note) and finds himself in the prohibition era. These journeys are due to the powdered opal within the liquid, but their effects don’t last long.
The Professor hatches a plan to mend the wrongdoings of his ancestor, David Farnsworth. This means loading up on the opal and licking the head of the “father of our country”, George Washington, and travelling back to a time when the Brits were in control (cue the use of the phrase “British bastards!”) and the letter “s” was printed as an “f” (cue numerous “fhit” gags).
There’s much fun to be had witnessing Farnsworth, Leela, Fry and Bender back in time, though the laughs may not be as hearty, as the story takes centre stage in a very pleasing way.
Knowingly, the gang are well aware of the paradoxical difficulties involved in time-based shenanigans, leading the Professor to tell Fry he’s really “screwed the granny” when his relative makes another time boo-boo (a reference to the wonderful 2001 episode, Roswell That Ends Well). This leads to America, as we currently know and ‘love’ her, to become more anglicised.
The final third of the episode does feature some terrific British gags, complete with accents (Fry, however, isn’t quite up to this task), typically British words (“scuffed kippers”) and references. Along with a neat Monty Python-esque animation, we’re presented with numerous delicious Doctor Who nods, including the more obvious use of the TARDIS (with Fourth Doctor), but the more keen-eyed will have noticed an Amelia Pond Head In A Jar (there’s even Torchwood‘s Owen Harper).
As a side note, and a terrifically pedantic one at that, the door noises in the new British America are still the Star Trek door swooshes. Surely a TARDIS groan and wheeze would have been more appropriate?
Time travel has been a rich source for Futurama, and again, doesn’t fail to entertain. And there’s some actual history in there for those not familiar with the likes of Paul Revere. One hopes this is not the end of their travels in the fourth dimension.