Planet Express Ship

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Planet Express Ship
Futurama character
Planet Express Ship
The Planet Express Ship, flying through New New York.
First appearance "Space Pilot 3000"
Last appearance "Simpsorama" (The Simpsons episode)
Voiced by Maurice LaMarche
Sigourney Weaver
Information
Significant other(s) Bender Bending Rodriguez (ex-boyfriend)
Armaments Laser cannons
Torpedoes
Propulsion Dark matter engines
Power Dark matter reactor
Whale Oil

The Planet Express Ship is a fictional spaceship in the animated series Futurama, which bears the official designation U.S.S. Planet Express Ship. The ship was designed and built by Professor Hubert Farnsworth and is the sole delivery ship of Planet Express, a delivery service owned by the Professor. The ship is typically treated as an inanimate object, though Bender refers to the ship's autopilot as "him" (and laments being defeated in a martini-drinking contest by same) in "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back". The later episode "Love and Rocket" shows the ship to have an artificial intelligence, voiced originally by Maurice LaMarche and then (after installation of "new improved ship's personality software" including "adjustable voice") by special guest Sigourney Weaver.

Production[edit]

The Planet Express Ship is usually rendered in highly stylized 3D along with many of Futurama's other special effects. This was done to give the ship a "convincing dimensionality" as it moves through space. Futurama's creator Matt Groening consulted with Syd Mead ("visual futurist" for Blade Runner) when working on the designs, but like many of Groening's other characters, the ship maintains its pronounced overbite and is easily identifiable as an element of a Matt Groening comic.[1]

Personality[edit]

In the episode "Love and Rocket" the Planet Express Ship is equipped with a personality unit which allows it to speak and interact with the crew. The ship is voiced by Sigourney Weaver in what executive producer David X. Cohen described as "a pretty abstract role."[2] During the episode the Planet Express Ship and Bender begin dating. This situation presented many challenges for the production staff, particularly a difficulty in portraying emotions between the two beings because they were so different in size. Even with this concern, Cohen jokes that Weaver's performance as a spaceship was "moving."[2] Much of the episode, including the ship's eventual desire to kill the crew, is a spoof of 2001: A Space Odyssey with the Planet Express Ship taking on the role of HAL 9000.[3]

Crew[edit]

Leela is the captain and pilot of the ship. Although Leela has only one eye, and therefore no depth perception, the sheer distance between objects in space makes human-level depth perception of limited use. Fry and Bender serve as crewmembers. Fry's official position is delivery boy, and he also operates the ship's laser cannon in combat.[4] Bender was originally the ship's cook, despite the lethality of his dishes, and is occasionally seen performing various odd jobs.

Hermes and Amy can both fly the ship,[5][6] though they do not usually accompany the crew on missions. Although Fry flies the ship with no problems (albeit wildly) in "The Cryonic Woman" episode, he later flies it with some difficulty in "Amazon Women in the Mood" and "Birdbot of Ice-Catraz" (where Bender demonstrates his own questionable piloting skills while under the effects of a sobriety binge); by the time of "Time Keeps On Slippin'", Fry can (once again) fly the ship with a reasonable degree of skill. In the second episode "The Series Has Landed," Amy Wong flies the ship without problem.

Dr Zoidberg serves as the ship's doctor and, on occasion, the ship steward. He occasionally joins the crew on missions but not on a regular basis. Professor Farnsworth flies the ship in the episode "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles" and "Into the Wild Green Yonder." In "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles," Farnsworth flies the ship to find his lost pet gargoyle, Pazuzu. However, in stereotypical senior citizen style, he flies the ship at only 35 MPH, blocks lanes in space traffic, and turns the ship's "high beams" on, destroying a navigation sign and Deep Space Nine.

Ship Features[edit]

As the Professor prefers to send the crew on dangerous missions in favor of higher profit margins, the ship is well armed and quite fast. The ship is capable of travel faster than the current speed of light, by shifting the entire universe [7] The ship can actually travel at 97% of the new light speed.[8] Its speed also makes it an efficient courier, a round trip to the edge of the universe and many other activities were accomplished during a "morning off" in "I Dated a Robot". In "The Series Has Landed," a journey from Earth to the moon takes under two seconds.

In addition to its speed, the Planet Express Ship is very durable. In the episode "The Deep South," the ship is dragged underwater and survives being subjected to hundreds of atmospheres of water pressure, despite being rated for "between zero and one" atmosphere, according to the professor. Additionally, the ship has survived numerous crashes that ostensibly would have destroyed similar aircraft, but the ship usually sustains only quickly-repaired dents. It is unclear whether all vehicles in Futurama have this durability or if it is a special property of that particular ship. It also uses a Dark Matter Engine, which, instead of moving the ship, just "moves the universe around the ship."[7] Certain episodes indicate that the ship has an automobile-style manual transmission.

The current ship is not the first Planet Express Ship, as at least one was lost with its crew on a mission to collect space honey.[9] The current ship is first seen in "Space Pilot 3000," where the current crew signs on. It is unknown if the ship was previously crewed but it is implied that the professor's previous crew died with the loss of the previous ship in the space bee hive and no intervening members are ever mentioned. Other versions of the ship include a miniature one used to travel inside of Fry's body to counter an infection of worms.[10]

Design[edit]

The Planet Express Ship's laser cannon is a heavy-duty, rapidly firing weapon, and is the ship's primary method of defense.

The front of the ship was intentionally designed to resemble an overbite, similar to many of Matt Groening's character designs.[11] It has tripodal landing gear, the front one doubling as a stair, and the two rear ones notable for large traction pads, in the style of Leela's boots. The hull is roughly teardrop-shaped with three fins at the rear. A laser cannon turret is situated on the top side. Torpedo tubes are located to either side of the forward landing gear. The tubes also house the "primary lasers." The cargo bay has a bomb bay-style loading door on the bottom of the ship. Cargo too large for the cargo bay is either tethered to the top of the hull, or towed. The dark matter engines are at the rear on a gymbal, and steering is achieved through directional thrust. Supposedly the engines achieve 200% fuel efficiency (apparently violating the law of conservation of mass) by moving the entire universe around the ship, rather than moving the ship itself, a parody/homage to the "warp drive" technology of Star Trek,[7] i.e. an Alcubierre Drive. The ship is painted a light-green color, specified as "Electric Mucus" in Bender's Game (the previous ship was dark gray, as seen trapped in a space bee hive in The Sting) and has the Planet Express logo painted on the main fin.

The series's writers acknowledge in the Season 1 DVD commentary that the interior design of the Planet Express Ship is not really consistent from episode to episode. They cited a fansite they once found which was devoted to trying to develop a definitive schematic of the ship's interior, an attempt which ended in frustration. While certain rooms such as the cargo bay remain more or less the same, corridors shift position and the location of rooms relative to each other is never truly consistent. However, in the commentary the writers point out that most obviously, the design of the "bridge" of the ship drastically shifts between episodes.

Modifications[edit]

The ship is occasionally modified to fit the purposes of the plot. In all cases the ship is returned to normal before the next episode.

  • In "The Deep South," the crew had to replace the engines with a giant fish tailfin since the engines would not work underwater. Part of these repairs were made by papier mache.
  • In "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" both the Planet Express Ship and a ship belonging to the cast of the original Star Trek series crashed on a forbidden planet. The Planet Express Ship had non-functioning engines but working life support, while the Trek cast's ship had functional engine but no life support. The Planet Express Ship was modified using the engines of the Trek cast's ship and was able to escape the planet. The latter ship's engines, bearing a visual similarity to Star Trek-style warp nacelles, gave the Planet Express Ship a rear profile similar to that of the original Starship Enterprise, and several establishing shots in this episode present the Planet Express Ship in similar fashion to stock footage of the Enterprise from classic Trek episodes.
  • In "The Route of All Evil," Cubert Farnsworth and Dwight Conrad have the ship repainted bright red with flame decals when they take over the Planet Express business and make it a newspaper delivery service. It is also presumably renamed the "Awesome Express Ship" to reflect the company title change. We also find out that there is a net launcher in the cargo bay for catching giraffes, as well as a rapid-fire newspaper cannon in the port torpedo launcher.
  • After dark matter, and thus dark matter engines, are made useless at the end of the film Bender's Game, dozens of Nibblonians are harnessed to the front of the ship with a chicken dangling in front of them, and they drag the ship on the ground as a means of propulsion. During the next movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder, the ship's new fuel is revealed to be whale oil.
  • In "Neutopia" When the company was going bankrupt, they turned Planet Express into an airline and modified the ship to look like an airplane.
  • In "Möbius Dick", the ship used solar sails after the titular space whale bit off the engine and devoured the statue (taking a part of the ship with it). Also, the original Planet Express ship is seen.
  • In Bender's Game the hood ornament is stolen and Bender says "That punk stole our hood ornament, now no one will know we have the LX Package!" Shortly after when they stop to refuel an unnamed character asks "Whatsa matters, youse couldn'ts afford the LX Package?" Implying that it is a mass-produced ship despite the fact that it is stated in the TV series to have been built by Farnsworth and, except for its various incarnations owned by the professor, none like it are seen during the series.
  • In "2-D Blacktop," "Bessy," as the Professor had just finished naming her, is junked, then restored and converted by the Professor (in a single night) into a hot-rod street-racer capable of performing a maneuver called 'Dimensional Drift' that inadvertently sends the crew into the second dimension.

Merchandising[edit]

The Planet Express Ship was featured as an action figure in a set by Moore Collectibles along with Fry, Leela and Bender. The set was listed as an "A+ pick" in Sci Fi Weekly and the Planet Express ship was noted as "the finest piece in the set." Features include a folding front landing gear and retractable rear landing struts along with a gun turret. Also included with the ship were two alien creatures and a crate full of tentacled beings.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gallery: Behind the Scenes of Futurama". 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  2. ^ a b Huddleston, Kathie (2001-12-17). "David X. Cohen Boards the Planet Express to Find Meaning in Futurama". Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  3. ^ Cohen, David X (2003). Futurama season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Love and Rocket" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  4. ^ "Bender Gets Made". Futurama.
  5. ^ "The Farnsworth Parabox". Futurama.
  6. ^ "Episode Two: The Series Has Landed". Futurama.
  7. ^ a b c "A Clone Of My Own". Futurama.
  8. ^ "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles". Futurama.
  9. ^ "The Sting". Futurama.
  10. ^ "Parasites Lost". Futurama.
  11. ^ Gage, Simon (9 March 2012). "Matt Groening: I could easily fill up my entire life just working on Futurama". Metro. Retrieved 10 March 2012. If you look at the rocket ship, even that has an overbite. That was an intentional design. 
  12. ^ Huxter, Sean (2001-06-11). "Matt Groening's futuristic follies inspire four of the coolest collectibles of the year 3000". Archived from the original on 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 

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