Welcome to Future Crime, where the computers use hand motions and the deaths don’t matter.
Fry (Billy West) is sent on a prank delivery to the cryogenics lab, something that he apparently has had happen dozens of times. He becomes depressed about his perpetual status as a delivery boy, but then he witnesses NNYPD officers Smitty and Url (West and John DiMaggio) bust Roberto (David Herman). This inspires him to quit Planet Express and enroll in the police academy. He ends up graduating and is partnered with Url. After working the streets for a while, Fry and Url are promoted to the Future Crimes Division by Chief O’Mannahan (Tress MacNeille). Meanwhile, Leela and Bender (DiMaggio and Katey Sagal) try to do the deliveries, but find each other too grating without Fry as a buffer.
In Future Crimes, Fry and Url are introduced to the cybernetic oracle, Pickles (Herman), a human-robot hybrid whose brain is programmed with the brain cells of all of humanity’s greatest detectives. Pickles’ mind can predict crimes before they happen, a la Minority Report. Fry helps prevent a murder, but then, when alone in the department, Fry sees a future vision of Bender burgling Hedonism Bot’s (Maurice LaMarche) cellar for a priceless bottle of liquor. During the vision, Fry shoots Bender. Trying to avoid this, Fry tells Bender not to do it, but ends up inspiring him to do the crime. Fry then sees what happens if he doesn’t shoot Bender: Bender shares the booze with the Planet Express crew, but they all die due to the potency of the alcohol, meaning if Fry doesn’t shoot him, everyone dies.
Bender does the heist as envisioned and Fry arrives, but Bender decides not to steal anything. Fry claims that he changed the future, only for Pickles to arrive and reveal that this was all a ploy to steal the liquor himself so that he could drink it and kill his human brain. Fry attempts to shoot Pickles, but that ends up hitting Bender. Pickles then shoots Fry and drinks the liquor, killing his brain. The Chief and Url reveal themselves and Fry and Bender show that they’re wearing protective vests. Fry had realized that Pickles was lying to him because Bender would never share alcohol. Fry is fired for warning Bender about the crime and heads back to Planet Express, where he is promoted to “executive delivery boy,” a meaningless title.
This episode is one of the better parodies in the series. It’s based on the story and movie Minority Report and manages to mock a number of the goofy things that were featured in that film, from the use of balls as a way to indicate pre-crime to the psychic floating in a bath to the weird hand-waving computers. Much like that movie, the end of this episode actually points out that most of pre-crime is pointless, because once someone becomes aware of the future, they can choose to change it, but the show does it in a ridiculous way. I always appreciate when the parody and the original prove the same themes.
The part that doesn’t age well, particularly as I write this during some nationwide riots against police in 2020, is how the episode makes jokes about the ease of getting through the police academy and the expectation of police violence. A particularly cringe-worthy line, at least at present, is when Url tells Fry not to stay up too late, because “We gotta lotta people to shoot tomorrow.” Yikes.
Overall, though, the episode makes me laugh. Some of the jokes are a little too dated, particularly the whole Avatar parody subplot, but you can enjoy the pre-crime story even if you don’t know Minority Report.
Look, it was always going to be the joke about Erwin Schrodinger going on a police chase. It’s the least subtle physics joke that the show ever made, because it focuses on the famous “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment, which supposedly invalidated the Copenhagen model of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger says that he has a cat, some poison, and a caesium atom, which means that the cat is in a superposition of alive and dead until you collapse the wave function. However, the reason I actually find it hilarious is because after the cat attacks Fry, URL looks in the box and says “there’s also a lotta drugs in there.” It’s that final touch of realism that makes the absurdity so much better for me.
See you next week, meatbags.
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