Ahh Futurama, the satirical show from the 30th century. Futurama is a great television show with wonderful animation, fantastic writing, and an exemplary cast of voice talent. The show is arguably at its best when it’s taking something familiar from the present and giving us a wild futuristic take on it. One such example is the season two episode “Xmas Story” where we see what Christmas has come to in the year 3000.
The episode opens with the Planet Express crew taking a ski holiday and Fry is frustrated by all of the changes that have occurred in the thousand years he was frozen. This causes him to reminisce fondly on Christmas, which causes confusion as no one knows what Christmas is but they soon figure out that Fry means Xmas. Xmas in the year 3000 is a horrible event due to man creating a robot Santa over a hundred years ago which was defective and determined everyone was naughty. Now every year this robot Santa goes on a rampage and slaughters anyone dumb enough to be out on the streets. Fry is disheartened by what has happened to his favorite holiday, but at least the gift-giving still remains part of the tradition. He sets out to get Leela a present, and settles on a parrot that gets away. By staying out and trying to recapture his gift he ends up attracting the attention of Santa. Leela goes out to save him and the two have to elude Santa if they hope to stay alive.
There’s a twisted sort of ending put on the episode, where they all sing a bastardized version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and the Professor takes off his clothes. The episode is full of one-liners consistent with the best of Futurama. There’s a recurring gag about the Professor mocking 20th century notions of modesty (hence the nudity mentioned above) and lots of Xmas puns repurposed for the 30th century version of the holiday. John Goodman guest stars as Robot Santa and provides a nice menacing voice for the robotic terror. There’s also a B plot featuring Bender posing as a homeless robot for free booze. He’s able to round-up a posse of homeless robots, including Tinny Tim, and they go on a robbing spree. It’s a typical Bender plot and also typically funny.
“Xmas Story” is a classic Futurama episode at this point, considering it’s over fifteen years old now. It’s probably the best holiday themed episode the show ever did, and it produced some good ones. Re-runs of Futurama air frequently on Comedy Central and “Xmas Story” will probably be featured this year as Comedy Central is pretty good at rolling out their various Christmas specials as the holiday approaches. If not, then it can be found on the season two DVD set of Futurama.