There’s no denying that Futurama has always been one of the smartest shows on TV, and the writers decided to take that to a whole new level in this past Thursday’s episode, titled “The Prisoner of Benda.”
In the episode, Professor Farnsworth unveils a new invention of his which allows anyone to switch mind and body with another. It begins with Amy and Farnsworth innocently swapping bodies for personal reasons, but they soon learn that they aren’t able to swap back. By the end of the episode, all the Planet Express crew, friends and acquaintances, and even robo-utensils have used the machine, and no one is in the correct body. To get everything back to normal calls for the assistance of the brilliant minds from the Globetrotter Homeworld and some crafty mathematical equations.
Click on over for more and to see a clip from the episode showing off some of the mind-switching madness now!
Considering this is a cartoon and a comedy, writers of the episode could have easily just offered up a bunch of gibberish math consisting of random important-looking symbols. Instead, writer Ken Keeler, who also has a PhD in mathematics, decided to not only craft a brand new mathematical theorem, but also PROVE it in a truly Good Will Hunting maneuver.
The theorem, which can be seen in the image from the episode above, is clearly useless for a regular Joe like myself to look at. Again, anything could be on there and I would believe it because looking at almost anything math-related makes my brain writhe with pain. Some folks out there on the other hand do understand math, and the much-smarter-than-I folks over at the Futurama Wiki page, The Infosphere, explain the math and ultimate solution to the mind-swapping situation in detail. You can head there for the full rundown as my attempt to explain would only result in my weeping in the corner, curled up in the fetal position.
The only bad thing about this wonderful (and hilarious) episode is that ratings were down once again from the previous episode, “A Clockwork Origin.” This week’s “The Prisoner of Benda” was down to 1.7 million viewers, 150,000 less than the previous. How such a great show nails down well over 2 million viewers for a while — most of which are likely fans — but slowly loses them over the course of each week is beyond me, especially with DVR so readily available.
Futurama is a show that’s far too good to be lost again (and this time forever), especially when an itchy trigger-finger network like Fox is the acting executioner. The rest of us can only hope that the numbers stay high enough to warrant more seasons on Comedy Central.