||This article may contain original research. (May 2011)|
|Episode no.||Season two
|Directed by||Peter Avanzino|
|Written by||David X. Cohen|
|Original air date||December 19, 1999|
|Opening caption||"Based On A True Story"|
|Opening cartoon||Elmer Fudd in "Fresh Hare" (1942)|
|Season two episodes|
"Xmas Story" is the fourth episode in the second production season of Futurama. It originally aired as the eighth episode in the second broadcast season in North America on December 19, 1999. The episode was written by David X. Cohen and directed by Peter Avanzino. John Goodman guest stars in this episode as Robot Santa. The plot of the episode focuses on the first Xmas that Fry spends in the future.
While on a ski trip, Fry begins to feel nostalgic for 20th century Christmases. To cheer him up, the rest of the Planet Express staff decide to decorate for what is now called Xmas, which includes cutting down an "Xmas tree" (which are now palm trees, since pine trees are extinct). Meanwhile, at the ski resort, Bender has a verbal sparring match with the head comedian Conan O'Brien.
Fry decides to venture into the city to buy Leela a present as she has not felt happy about Xmas since she was an orphan. The others warn him to be back before sundown, or else he will be killed by a murderous robotic Santa Claus. In the year 2801, The Friendly Robot Company had made up a robotic version of St. Nick himself to determine who has been naughty and who has been nice. Unfortunately, due to a programming error, the jolly robotic saint soon turns into a mad murderer when his standards were set too high, and he will kill anyone who has been naughty (which by his standards is everyone except for Doctor Zoidberg) at sundown. Meanwhile, Bender befriends several homeless robots and goes on a robbery spree.
Fry buys Leela a parrot, which escapes. Leela heads out to rescue Fry before Robot Santa arrives. After pursuing the parrot to the top of a tall building, Fry is saved from plunging to his death by Leela. Unfortunately, Fry and Leela's safety is short-lived, as sundown finally comes and the robotic Santa Claus makes his appearance and attacks the two friends.
Fry and Leela take refuge in the Planet Express building after being saved by Bender and his homeless robot friends, but Santa breaks in through the chimney and claims that they "all have been very naughty for Xmas" (except for Doctor Zoidberg). Thanks to some quick thinking by Doctor Zoidberg, Santa is forced back into the chimney, where an explosion sends him and his mechanical reindeer tumbling into the stratosphere.
Everybody celebrates by singing "Santa Claus Is Gunning You Down". However, Santa promises that "I'll be back when you least expect it: NEXT XMAS!".
The plot for this episode was one of the first storylines that Matt Groening and Cohen came up with aside from the series pilot. They had the basic idea before they pitched the show to Fox although they did not develop the detailed plot until much later. The episode ended up being controversial although those involved with the show did not expect it to be. Fox was concerned that advertisers would find the episode too controversial for the time slot. When they made a second episode featuring Robot Santa it was delayed for nearly a year before being broadcast in a later time slot.
John Goodman guest stars in this episode as Robot Santa; however, he was unavailable to reprise the role in the later episode "A Tale of Two Santas". Conan O'Brien makes an appearance as his own head in a jar. In order to make a visual joke that O'Brien has a large head in real life the head was drawn sticking out the top of the jar. This choice caused many difficulties for the animators because it did not work with the animation layers typically used for other head-in-a-jar characters. Frank Welker voices Fry's parrot and created the annoying squawk used. The initial squawk he made was considered to be annoying but according to Cohen they had him continue to make the squawk more annoying until he had done nearly a hundred different parrot squawks.
In this episode Bender receives a card from the machine that built him, referring to him as "Son #1729", a reference to the Hardy–Ramanujan number. According to Ken Keeler, co-executive producer of the series, they could have chosen any number but chose to include an interesting one instead. Many of the maths and science jokes in the series found their way into Futurama in this way. Another small visual joke that was added was that the clock tower is shown at the end of the episode and the time on the clock is the same as the actual time that scene would have been shown in its original airing.
- The other Futurama Christmas episodes, also dealing with Robot Santa, are "A Tale of Two Santas" and "The Futurama Holiday Spectacular" (though Robot Santa is not voiced by John Goodman in these episodes).
- Robot Santa also appears in "Bender's Big Score".
- In this episode it is stated that global warming occurred but was cancelled out by nuclear winter. In "Crimes of the Hot", it is revealed that global warming is still around (and has been quelled by putting a large ice cube in the ocean ever since 2063), while in "A Big Piece of Garbage" the mayor calls global warming a hoax (just like secondhand smoke). Additionally, in "The Luck of the Fryrish", Fry remarks that his father "spent years turning [the storage room] into a bomb shelter", to which Leela replies, "and you guys never had a single nuclear war."
- Zoidberg claims to be cold-blooded (even though he shivers, which cold-blooded animals are unable to do), this fact caused the heat seeking missile to not attack the Decapodian oppression palace in the season four episode "A Taste of Freedom".
- Although it is stated by Professor Farnsworth that French is a dead language, a sign on a store reads "Joyeux Noëx," in Alienese, keeping with the theme of referring to Christmas as Xmas and also in "Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles", Pazuzu, The Professor's Gargoyle, speaks French.
- When the characters go to cut down Xmas trees, they only find palm trees. Fry asks why, and Professor responds by telling him that pine trees have been extinct, yet in the scene before, there were forests of pine trees (though these are most likely artificial and only there for skiiers, since they can be hidden and unhidden by spoken command).
Cultural references 
The gift exchange of combs references the short story "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry.
The children skating on the ice before Bender breaks it are a reference to the comic strip Peanuts.
Fry falling down the face of the clock is a reference to The Hudsucker Proxy.
Tinny Tim from the "shelter for down-and-out robots" is a reference to Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol.
- Cohen, David X. Futurama season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Xmas Story" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- ""Meet the X-man who keeps Futurama's future secure"". Sci Fi Weekly. October 30, 2000. Archived from the original on 2007-12-03. Retrieved 2007-06-18.
- Calder, Paul D. Futurama season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Xmas Story" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Greenwald, Sarah J (2007). "Klein's Beer: Futurama Comedy and Writers in the Classroom". PRIMUS: Problems, Resources and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies (Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC) XVII (1): 52–66. doi:10.1080/10511970601126894.
- Avanzino, Peter. Futurama season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Xmas Story" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
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