Fry and the Slurm Factory

Slurms

Whammy-Wham-Wham-Wazzle! Grab a can of Slurm and head on down to the planet Wormulon, contest winners! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wretch. This episode truly has it all!

Not only did I get this column out on time, I actually wrote it a day early and sat on it. Take that, people who don’t believe on me due to ample evidence that I am not good at posting regularly! This was intended to be the final episode of the first season of the show, but as previously discussed, Fox had other ideas, instead making it the fourth episode of their aired version of season two.

Episode: S1E13 | Aired: November 14 1999

Director: Ron Hughart | Writer: Lewis Morton

Opening Title Gag: ‘Live From Omicron Persei 8′

Title

We open with Fry and Bender watching television. Meta. Who else should surf onto their screens but the original party worm, Slurms McKenzie? It turns out the gang’s favourite soft drink that is no way a parody of SURGE is running a promotional contest to visit the Slurm factory on planet Wormulon, with a golden bottle cap in one random can.

Win a Trip

Wait… a bottle cap… inside a can… What kind of farce is this?! Any chance the protagonists of this cartoon are going to win said contest? Certainly not in the first three minutes they’re not. But not for Fry’s lack of trying, knocking back can after can, demonstrating a remarkable capacity for consumption of liquid, something that will DEFINITELY be relevant way down the line.

Meanwhile, Bender doesn’t feel very well, and with a temperature of 900 degrees, I’m not surprised. While Zoidberg’s best medical assistance offers minimal insight into what’s wrong with Bender, Leela hears something rattling inside him after he coughs. Rather than simply open him back up, The Professor chooses this moment to debut his revolutionary invention: The F-Ray aka an X-Ray that can see through metal.

Watch

So Bender’s downfall was his own greed, with Amy’s stolen watch playing havoc with his innards. Who would have thunk it? From the obvious to the legitimately unbelievable, The Professor entrusts Fry and Bender with locking up the F-Ray. Now if you had possession of a device that could see through any object in the known universe, what would be the first thing you pointed it at? If you said your best friend’s crotch you win the no-prize. Yes, Fry is now infertile thanks to the intense radiation the device omits. That’s 100% canon. No babies for Fry. Ever. Under any circumstances…

The second thing Bender points it at? Hermaphrobot.

Hermaphrobot

Tremendous.

Far too many minutes later Fry finally realises they can use the F-Ray to cheat and see inside cans of Slurm. 90,000 cans later, they declare the device broken as they have only won hats, jackets, a motorbike, a jet ski and an enormous case of Slurm. Giving up, Fry quenches his thirst with a can from their fridge… only to choke on the winning bottle cap they’ve been searching for all day. If only he’d read the rules of comedy!

That’s right, against all odds, Fry won the contest and is off to Planet Wormulon to party with Slurms McKenzie and take a tour of the Slurm Factory. Welcomed by the charming Willy Wonka Glurmo, the gang get their first clue that not everything is sunshine and rainbows, as Slurms is revealed to be paid to party night and day lest he be fired. Good thing he’s the Original Party Worm! But enough of him, let’s get into the Slurm Factory, shall we?

Boat

Ain’t she beautiful? The tour gets underway on the boat Bender so excitedly pointed out, with Glurmo pointing out the Grunka-Lunkas making Slurm using over 900 ingredients. That simply cannot be cost efficient. When a secret ingredient is mentioned the group are naturally curious, with Bender irritating Glurmo with his repeated interrogation, leading to a perfect example of Dumb Fry.

Why?

Amidst hilariously specific and clumsy songs from the Grunka-Lunkas and yet more questions about the secret ingredient, armed guards and a special door, Fry becomes incredibly thirsty, but much like the source material the episode is parodied from, he is not allowed to imbibe from the river. Naturally, he ignores this rule and sneaks to the back of the boat to lean over the edge to try and get a sip. Leela catches him at it and attempts to stop him, but the ever defiant Fry dives in, requiring Leela to jump in after him when it’s revealed Fry can’t swim. I don’t know if that character detail ever comes up again but I have made a note of it and so should you.

Leela saves Fry momentarily but the distraction of Bender joining them out of peer pressure results in all three being sucked down a whirlpool, emerging in some sort of underground cavern that looks nothing like the factory as they’ve been shown it so far. Furthermore Bender observes the Slurm river simply pours down into a sewer below.

Not slurm

As if they needed more evidence something is wrong, the trio discover two doors marked ‘Real Factory’ and ‘Fake Factory’, with the latter of course being the guarded door from earlier. Delving deeper into the mystery, they stumble upon the source of the secret and in fact only ingredient of Slurm: an enormous worm.

Slurm

Grosssssss. After a brief, futile escape attempt that brings them right back to the secret ingredient room, Fry, Bender and Leela are captured and subjected to cruel and unusual torture. Bender is strapped to a conveyor belt that will convert him into cans. Leela is submerged in a purple substance that will transform her into a worm queen that will output inferior Slurm as part of a New Coke marketing scam.

Queen

As for Fry… is simply handed a spoon and sat down in front of an enormous trough of Slurm. Good thing he doesn’t care for Slurm… Oh wait.

Indeed, Fry can’t stop drinking Slurm, seemingly condemning Bender and Leela to their fates. Fortunately he gets his shit together just long enough to drag the trough over to the mechanism that frees Leela, who in turn rescues Bender. Thank goodness the queen didn’t deign to place one of the many, many worms and Grunka-Lunkas on guard.

Making haste for the exit, the Queen gives chase into the genuinely sign-posted Cave-In Area, forcing Slurms McKenzie to reveal his dark secret:

So tired

Ready to sacrifice himself to save the others, Slurms causes a cave in by turning his suspiciously antiquated stereo for the Year 3000, blocking off the Queen’s ability to reach them. Devastated, the Queen consoles herself by drinking Slurm directly from her own rear end. I took a picture and then felt sick and deleted it.

During the flight home The Professor reports their findings to some sort of government official who is prepared to pull Slurm from production, an outcome Fry simply cannot allow, despite knowing the terrible secret of how it’s made, and so he tricks The Professor into sounding crazy by saying things that are true.

Grandpa

Fry gets an awful lot of abuse for being stupid, and indeed I heap mountains of praise on the writers whenever they can astutely demonstrate how much of a moron he is, but every so often you can see the kind of cunning that would eventually lead to a super genius like Hubert Farnsworth. Slurm stays on the shelves, the crew party in Slurms McKenzie’s honour, and Fry drinks worm butt juice out of a hole in a robot’s butt. Cartoons!

* * *

Ranking

Cards on the table, I had mentally decided before even starting this episode that it was going to end up at number one. I LOVE the Slurm factory, particularly The Professor heckling the Grunka-Lunkas, but also Glurmo and Slurms McKenzie, and of course the gross reveal of the Slurm Queen is iconic. I also like any episode where some wacky new invention gets played around with, as Fry and Bender did with the F-Ray.

The characters all feel very familiar at this stage, which allows better execution of these kinds of gimmick episodes. The writers seem to have gotten over that nasty habit of running out of time and failing to stick the landing to boot. I believe this is also the fourth parody in a row which has probably contributed to the general rise in quality, but it’s not something they can ride out forever. I can’t hold that against this episode in a bubble though, so it’s narrowly going to edge out I, Roommate.

  1. Fry and the Slurm Factory
  2. I, Roommate
  3. A Big Ball of Garbage
  4. A Flight to Remember
  5. Mars University
  6. A Fishful of Dollars
  7. My Three Suns
  8. Space Pilot 3000
  9. Love’s Labours Lost In Space
  10. Hell Is Other Robots
  11. Episode 2: The Series Has Landed
  12. When Aliens Attack
  13. Fear of a Bot Planet

* * *

Best Joke

The Professor opening Bender’s door with his lab coat wrapped around his hand and then dragging Leela for checking his temperature by hand instead of with his built-in gauge is my kind of humour. I also adore it when he demands of Glurmo “Tell them I hate them” to the Grunka-Lunkas. Fry spitting out Slurm in disgust upon finding out the secret ingredient only to start drinking it again is also pretty good. But if you’ve met me then the chances are you’ve probably heard my annoying impression of this hall of fame Fry moment:

Damn Arms

* * *

Alien Language

It’s been a while since we last saw any Aliense signage but it’s back, babydoll! As always I’ve got your back in terms of translations (he says like he did the hard work of sitting down and deciphering this language back in 1999.)

Disclaimer

“The following species are ineligible: space wasps, space beavers, any other animal with the word space in front of it, space chickens, and the elusive yak-face.”

Chart

“No squinting, four eyes”

Hebrew

“Slurm… wait. This is actually Hebrew. Forget it.”

Bender’s Body Composition

Bender Bending Rodriguez makes many a claim about what he’s made of as a running joke throughout the show, originating here as he rebuffs Amy’s suggestion of homeopathic medicine like zinc, stating “I’m 40% zinc. Stay tuned.

40% Zinc

* * *

Audio Commentary

Hey! A fun commentary track! A good blend of people here sharing some interesting little tidbits and also just having fun. They’ll get a lot better than this but it’s an okay one.

  • Pamela Anderson of course recorded her few lines of dialogue as Dixie (one of Slurms’ babes) when she was in for ‘A Fishful of Dollars’.
  • The Elusive Yak-Face as mentioned in the alienese disclaimer is apparently an incredibly rare Star Wars figurine that David X. Cohen happens to own one of.
  • One of Fox’s censors felt the need to correct the most scientifically and mathematically qualified writing staff in television history (probably) that some X-Rays CAN see through SOME metal.
  • Hermaphrobot’s line “Why you so stupid, stupid?” is based on John DiMaggio saying that constantly at one point, annoying amusing the writers so much they wrote it in.
  • According to Johnny D, Billy West stared at a picture of Gene Wilder the entire time he recorded his Glurmo lines.
  • The size of the gap in Matt Groening’s movie knowledge continues to impress, as he revealed he has not seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and thus had no clue what the heck he was looking at when the artists sent over the designs for the Grunka Lunkas.
  • Amy being clumsy, such as tripping on some worm slime here, is due to Matt Groening wanting to have a female character get hit in the head a lot. That is an alarming desire to have, but Amy’s mishaps are funny so I guess it’s all okay? Also Lauren Tom’s recording during the fall is re-used constantly.

* * *

Voice Count

7 – Billy West (Fry, Professor, Zoidberg, Glurmo, Small Glurmo #1, Small Glurmo #2, Commissioner)

3 – John DiMaggio (Bender, Hermaphrobot, Grunka Lunka #2)

3 – Tress MacNeille (Slurm Queen, Monique, Babe)

2 – Phil LaMarr (Hermes, Grunka Lunka #1)

1 – Dave Herman (Slurms McKenzie)

1 – Maurice LaMarche (Calculon)

1 – Lauren Tom (Amy)

1 – Katey Sagal (Leela)

Special Guest Star: Pamela Anderson (Dixie)


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