Futurama/Time Keeps on Slipping

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Time Keeps on Slipping
Time Keeps on Slipping
Season 3, Episode 14
Airdate May 6, 2001
Production Number 3ACV14
Writer(s) Ken Keeler
Director(s) Chris Louden
← 3x13
Bendin' in the Wind
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I Dated a Robot
FuturamaSeason Three

Time Keeps on Slipping is the fourteenth episode of the third season of Futurama, and the forty-second episode overall. The Globetrotters travel from planet to planet humilating their dominant species in basketball and their next target is Earth. In an attempt to save face, the Professor genetically engineers a team to beat them. But when the time stream starts jumping around, the two forces must unite to save the universe.

Guest Stars: Jeff Cesario (Marv Albert), Phil LaMarr (Hermes, Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate), Lauren Tom (Amy), David Herman ()


Plot Overview

It's a nice day at the park when terror strikes, an unusual spaceship comes down from the sky and lands, revealing the great menace of the basketball world—The Harlem Globetrotters. Their leader, Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate, challenges Earth to a basketball game and the only person to dare meet their challenge is the Professor with a team of atomic supermen. After the Professor genetically engineers the supermen, he sends Leela, Fry and Bender to gather chronotons to speed up their growth. At Madison Cube Garden, the Globetrotters mock and belittle the crowd but ultimately trail at the half. In the second half of the game, however, time starts to jump forward inexplicably. While the professor is explaining what's happening, Thorius accidentally kills Arachneon, forcing the Professor to put Fry in the game. Unfortunately, Fry is so bad at basketball that manages to make the team lose even though they're winning by 35 points with only a few seconds left. At the end of the game, the Professor realizes the gravity of the situation and that time will skip further and further ahead as time progresses.

Time continues to skip ahead and the Globetrotters have joined with the Professor to figure out how to reverse the time skips, but at this point they've come up with nothing. Bender starts to pester Bubblegum Tate at this point about becoming a Globetrotter. Another running theme throughout this episode is also quickly set up with Fry's even more constant attempts to get Leela to like him. Bubblegum and the Professor, meanwhile, come up with an idea to move stars in order to plug up the time leaking holes. Through a series of time jumps, they get government funding, a star moving machine and have it mounted to the Planet Express ship. The crew moves the stars to contain the nebula and everything seems alright... until another time jump where Fry and Leela are at the altar, getting married.

Fry and Leela quickly wind up divorced, leaving Fry desperate to figure out how he managed to make Leela love him. The Professor realizes that Bubblegum's algebra was all showboating that actually made the time skips worse and in isolated spots. The Globetrotters and the Professor come up with an idea to implode the nebula, thus sealing off the time leaks. The crew takes one of the Professor's doomsday devices onboard and the Globetrotters begin to leave. In one last ditch effort, Bender tries one more time to become one of them but is ultimately rejected for not being funky enough. At the nebula, the doomsday device is placed and Fry realizes that the thing he did win Leela's heart was making a message out of the stars themselves. But before Fry can show Leela the message, the device is detonated and the nebula was sucked into a black hole. The episode ends with the Harlem Globetrotters theme being whistled while Fry stares at the black hole.


Alien Language Sightings

  • No alien language letters appeared in this episode.



The Show

  • Opening Caption: For Proper Viewing, Take Red Pill Now
  • Atomic Super Names: The names of the mutants are Growtrium, Armo, Arachneon, Thorius and Lazar.
  • Harlem Globetrotters: The whistle at the very end of the episode was done by John Di Maggio.

Behind the Scenes

  • Alternate Title: This episode is also known as "Time's Up."
  • Original Casting: John Di Maggio remains indignant that he wasn't chosen to do the impression of Marv Albert in the basketball game because he believes that his impression is superior.
  • Fun With Censorship: During the nude conga line, the censors demanded that they move Amy or Leela's arm up a little to cover more cleavage. However, they had no problem with the seven unclothed asses.
  • Fun With Censorship: The censor would not allow Curly Joe to say "That motha," instead they had to change it to "that momma".
  • Smash Cuts: The technical term for the type of comedy most often used where it's setup followed by an immediate punchline is called "smash cuts."
  • Cut Line: Bubblegum's exit line was originally, "We're off to Antari to wipe the court with their sorry Antarian asses."
  • Original Story: The original story for this episode (even before the Globetrotter idea was introduced) involved Fry falling in love with a girl he absolutely could not contact. This idea was inspired by a writer named Henry Stephen Keeler, who wrote "Strange Romance," which was about a man falling in love with a woman he sees with a telescope, but later realizes that he's seeing something that occurred 10,000 years before.

Allusions and References

  • Time Keeps on Slipping: The title of the episode is a reference to the Steve Miller song "Fly Like An Eagle".
  • A Clockwork Orange: The music that plays when the Globetrotters exit their ship is not directly from "A Clockwork Orange", but is rather the famous Globetrotter theme in a style similar to the music found in the movie.
  • Bobby Knight: When the Professor throws his chair during the game, it's meant to be a reference to Coach Bobby Knight who is famous for his short temper.

Memorable Moments

  • The basketball game of the Globetrotters vs. the Mutant Supermen.
  • Bender slowly walking out the door whistling the Globetrotters theme.
  • Fry watching his message implode.


  • Leela: Here you go. Hot off the nebula.
    Prof. Farnsworth: None too soon. While you were gone the Trotters held a news conference to announce that I was a jive sucker.
  • Marv Albert: And that's the half, with the Supermen up 48-42. Surprisingly dull, so far. Bubblegum, the Trotters are down by six. Reactions?
    Bubblegum Tate: It was always our plan to trail at the half. Thus deepening Earth's eventual humiliation. Also: What game were the refs watching?
  • Leela: The thing is, Fry is very sweet, but he's so immature. I love his boyish charm, but I hate his childishness.
    Zoidberg: So he's not perfect. You don't want to end up old and lonely like Zoidberg! (Sobs, then regains composure) You were saying?
  • Leela: How did you do it? Drugs in the champagne? Hypnosis?
    Fry: No! Drugs are for losers, and hypnosis is for losers with big, weird eyebrows.
  • Zoidberg: Don't be so hard on yourself, Fry. You lost the woman of your dreams, but you still have Zoidberg. You all still have Zoidberg!
  • Kid: Stupid senior citizens. Why should we have to pay for their social security benefits?
    [Time skips and the kids turn into old men.]
    Old Man: I deserve free money!


  • Overall Grade: A+ with 1 reviews
  • Review Breakdown: A+: 1 A: 0 A-: 0 B+: 0 B: 0 B-: 0 C+: 0 C: 0 C-: 0 D: 0 F: 0
This episode is one of Futurama's best. It exemplifies the show's knack for combining humor with drama, a defining factor that wouldn't exist without Futurama's cast of sympathetic protagonists. The jokes are all spot-on, and the plot is, at heart, a classic space opera.
Adolf Hepburn 20:56, 30 Aug 2005 (PDT)