"Love's Labours Lost in Space
" is the fourth episode in season one of Futurama
. It originally aired in North America
on April 13
. The episode was written by Brian Kelley
and directed by Brian Sheesley
. This episode introduces the recurring character Zapp Brannigan
when he attempts to prevent the Planet Express crew from completing their mission. It also introduces the character Nibbler
who Leela adopts as a pet.
After an unsuccessful date with a lizard-tongued man, Amy
and the others take Leela
to meet eligible bachelors at The Hip Joint, but Leela is unable to find anyone. Professor Farnsworth
sends the crew on a tax-deductible charity mission. The uninhabited planet Vergon 6 has been mined hollow for its dark matter, valuable as starship fuel, and is about to collapse, which would kill all of the animals. The crew is sent to recover two of each kind of animal native to the planet for breeding purposes à la Noah's Ark
Unfortunately, Vergon 6 has been declared restricted due to its undeveloped status under "Brannigan's Law". The Planet Express crew are held for questioning by legendary space captain Zapp Brannigan, who immediately attempts to seduce Leela. Leela initially rebuffs Brannigan, but after he cries about feeling lonely, she eventually succumbs to pity for the desperate fool. The next morning, she instantly regrets her decision after discovering that she slept with him.
The sexually-satisfied Brannigan allows the Planet Express crew to depart for Vergon 6, and the crew proceeds to collect the strange animals. While working on their checklist, they discover a small black creature with a third eye on a stalk attached to its head. Leela decides to rescue it as well and names it Nibbler, placing it in the cargo hold with the other animals. When Fry, Leela, and Bender return with the last animal, they discover that the mystery creature has devoured all the other animals.
The planet begins to collapse; and when the crew tries to escape, they discover that the ship is out of fuel. After admitting what happened the other night, Leela refuses to ask Zapp Brannigan for assistance, but she does to save her crew. Brannigan will help them if Nibbler is left behind, Leela refuses, and tells him off. With no hope of rescue, the crew wait for their inevitable deaths. The crew then discovers that Nibbler has defecated a small pellet of dark matter, which is enough fuel to enable the ship to escape the planet. The crew returns safely to Earth just as Vergon 6 implodes (contrary to the Professor, some of the animals survived and are living on the asteroids), and Brannigan utter obsession with Leela begins...
This episode marks the first appearance of Zapp Brannigan, voiced by Billy West
, and his underling Kif Kroker
, voiced by Maurice LaMarche
. The two will make appearances in many future episodes. Zapp mentions that he once tried to seduce a man that he thought was a woman. This same thing happens in a future episode
in which he goes on a date with a man dressed as a woman. In another episode
, he reveals an attraction for a supposedly male recruit named Lee Lemon, who is actually Leela in disguise. With this episode, a running gag
begins throughout the series which has Zapp (or Bender) constantly reminding Leela she slept with him.
Nibbler also makes his first appearance in this episode. Though in early episodes he is portrayed only as a lovable pet, in later episodes he is revealed to be an integral part of the plot, particularly the reason Fry came to the future. David X. Cohen has stated that since the pilot episode he had intended to show a larger conspiracy surrounding why Fry came to the future; Nibbler's introduction is one of the first steps to revealing this plot line. Nibbler's shadow can be seen when Fry's chair falls backward in the pilot.
The music played at The Hip Joint at the beginning is one of the pieces of music heard when Fry emerges onto a future street in Space Pilot 3000.
When the Zapp Brannigan role was originally cast it was to be played by Phil Hartman
. Due to Hartman's murder
by his wife prior to the show, the role was given to West. West has stated that he did imitate Hartman to a certain extent in his portrayal, along with modeling it after some "big, old-time dumb announcers" with whom Phil and himself had been fascinated.
Broadcast and reception
In 2006, IGN
listed this episode as number two in their list of the top 25 Futurama
episodes. They also named Zapp Brannigan as the best character of the series.
Vergon 6 was once full of dark matter deep under its crust. After all the dark matter was mined out, the planet was left hollow and in danger of implosion. The planet's atmosphere contains oxygen and was also capable of supporting life. Nibbler was stationed on this planet for about 1,000 years before being found by Leela. In addition, an entire collection of animals found nowhere else in the universe thrived there. On April 13, 3000 it imploded and was reduced to nothing but crust fragments. This was not a total disaster because, as Leela pointed out, some animals survived on the remaining asteroids. Apparently, there is no atmosphere or gravity on these asteroids. It is unclear whether Nibbler alone, or other Nibblonians were responsible for the huge amount of dark matter inside of the planet.