Birthed by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, who wanted to produce a show that parodied all things science fiction, Futurama broke free from the shackles of convention, which over the years has forced The Simpsons to jump the shark repeatedly. By creating a coterie of bizarre and hilarious mutant, alien and human characters living a thousand years in the future, Groening launched a show which successfully produced outrageous story lines week after week. Because of the futuristic veneer of the show, almost any situation seemed perfectly plausible. Happily, along the way, Futurama never lost it's ability to poke fun at current events and even past obsessions. This is demonstrated by the show's weekly soundtrack which featured guest appearances from such artists as Beck and the Beastie Boys. Here's a list of the top five best episodes from the show's original run, and the kick-ass songs each one employed to maximum comic, and heartfelt effect.
This episode features Harry Nilsson's 1969 track, “Everybody's Talkin.'” After blowing up the Democratic Order of Planet's headquarters, pompous space captain Zapp Brannigan is stripped of his uniform. In a scene that parodies the classic film Midnight Cowboy, Brannigan and his squishy alien sidekick, Kif Kroker, become gigolos on the streets of New New York:
After waking up a thousand years in the future, 20th century man Phillip J. Fry discovers the fossilized remains of his pet dog Seymour. Fry's boss, the curmudgeonly professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, offers to clone the four-legged critter using a process called “reverse fossilization.” But Fry decides that his former pet lived a happy life long after after Fry left the 20th century. He decides not to clone the pooch, and the viewer is left with a flashback montage of the poor fur ball waiting faithfully for Fry to return to the Pizza Parlor where they first met. As the sad strains of Connie Francis's voice singing “I Will Wait for You,” plays, the seasons change and Seymour rests his head on his paws and eventually closes his eyes. It's pathos at its finest:
Fry's luck runs out in the year 3000 and he longs for the days in the 20th century when he had his trusty seven-leaf clover. As it turns out, he hid the good luck charm back in the 20th century in the album cover of his Breakfast Club soundtrack. Upon finding a Web page that says Phillip J. Fry went on to achieve greatness in the 21st century because of a lucky clover, Fry assumes his brother Yancy stole his identity along with the clover and lived the life he should have lived. Determined to reclaim what was rightfully his, Fry and company decide to rob Yancy's grave who it turns out is buried in an orbiting cemetery. But when Fry unearths the body, he realizes it's not his brother, but rather a nephew named in Fry's honor. The episode ends with the Simple Minds' 1985 hit, “Don't You Forget About Me.” Despite the fact that Bender offers to smack the corpse up, the episode retains a sense of grace:
In this anthology episode, arcade icons from the planet Nintendoo 64 attack earth. Video game whiz Fry is the earth's only hope. Realizing the fate of civilization is in his hands, Fry declares with steely determination, “Alright. It's Saturday night, I have no date, a two-liter bottle of Shasta and my all-Rush mix tape. Let's rock!” The screen then reverberates with the epic opening chords of the 1981 Rush hit “Tom Sawyer.”
5. “The 30% Iron Chef”
Throughout the show's four seasons, sociopathic robot, Bender has had many dreams. But mainly, he yearns to become a world class chef. In this episode he becomes the apprentice of a washed up culinary genius named Helmut Spargle. In the requisite training montage, Bender peels hover potatoes using a light saber to the arena rock stylings of Joe “Bean” Esposito's “Your'e the Best.” This song was first featured during the final competition in the original Karate Kid film.