Minute 1: Wow! Amazing packed with information and trademark sight gags, including the “Do Not Tip Delivery Boy” note on the pizza box and the newspaper headline “Doomsday Cautiously Upbeat”. We also find out that Fry is a delivery boy for a pizza place and see him get dumped by his girlfriend on New Years Eve while making a delivery. Also, you can have a six-pack delivered with your beer? Is this still a thing or did it get eliminated in our post-9/11 hellscape?
Minute 2: Not as good as Minute 1. Fry gets his bike stolen but doesn’t notice and makes his way up to the cryo-lab. A nice montage of people counting down the millennium around the world (and yes, I understand that the millennium actually starts in 2001, but that’s just as arbitrary as starting it in 2000 and is just super pedantic to point out. You pedantic ass.). Fry falls into the freezer. This minute is just a lot of setup and doesn’t convey nearly as much information as Minute 1.
Minute 3: Another montage, this one showing time flowing by as Fry remains frozen. Aliens ravage the Earth a couple of times and new societies rebuild. Strangely Fry’s building escaped undamaged. Fry awakes and discovers himself in the future. This one ends on quite a cliffhanger as Fry realizes all of his family and friends are dead and he’ll never see them again.
Minute 4: Cliffhanger from Minute 3 resolved! Fry is cheerful thinking about how everyone he knows died and rotted away long ago. Smash-cut to the intro theme song and opening; this is filled with all kinds of sight gags and a nicely cheerful music. Thumbs up. We also find out that the show was developed by Matt Groening after his first cartoon sitcom failed miserably. Ends on another cliffhanger as we only see the middle 3/4 of the “Fate Assignment Officer”. Who is it going to be?!?
Minute 5: Man, what is it with this show and cliffhangers? After we find out that the FAO is a purple-haired cyclops named Leela and that Fry is actually relieved to be in the future, he starts to explain why only to get cut off! “I was beginning to suspect my girlf-” Suspect what about who? Who is this “girlf”? I need to know!
Minute 6: Oh, girlfriend. Kind of a let-down. Fry gets probed and finds out that if he doesn’t accept being a delivery boy again that he’ll be “Fire. Out of a cannon. Into the sun.” So that sets up some new drama. Wonder how he’ll get out of this. Wonder where I can get some coffee.
Minute 7: Fry is on the run! Also, love Leela’s “You gotta do what you gotta do” motivational poster. I’m worried that the show hit its creative peak around minute 3 and that everything from here on out is just going to be downhill.
Minute 8: An extended series of sight gags about the futuristic world of pneumatic tubes. Have the writers just given up on character development? Sad. Also sad? I still haven’t figured out the best way to get coffee.
Minute 9: Ok, the writers are clearly relying way too much on cliffhangers at this point. We get to watch our hero stand in line, which is always thrilling. But we do meet Bender, who is a robot. Also I found coffee. This show is looking up!
Minute 10: How do you think one brand of suicide booths gets to be “America’s Favorite”? I can’t imagine there would be a lot of reviews.
Minute 11: So the show has reached a lull and has to build new conflicts already, with Leela objecting to doing her job now. Also a bunch of world building and Bender starts to tell a sad story but runs out of time! Will this show ever learn how to pace itself?
Minute 12: Leonard Nimoy! If only we really could revive his head and stick it in a jar. He was great, wasn’t he? This feels like a revival of the show I enjoyed in minutes 3 and 4, with a lot more jokes packed in.
Minute 13: Wow, they just packed in a bunch of celebrity appearances in this minute to make up for a lack of ideas. Leans heavily on Leonard Nimoy to carry the entertainment and then throws in Richard Nixon as well. Poor form; guest appearances shouldn’t dominate so much. Not a great minute of television.
Minute 14: Some very timely and insightful commentary about police brutality. “You guys are totally out of control.” “That’s our job. We’re peace officers.” Also a nice callback to the show’s golden age with a comment about “You gotta do what you gotta do.” Manipulation of the viewer’s nostalgia for those halcyon times? Yeah, probably.
Minute 15: Bender undergoes some “shocking” character growth that allows him and Fry to escape once again. I said “shocking” because he gets electrocuted and has his programming change. It’s a pun. Get it? Mmmm, coffee.
Minute 16: Fry and Bender visit Fry’s old neighborhood. This reminds us that Fry comes from the past, which is something that the show lost track of so I like that they are bringing this element of his character back to the forefront.
Minute 17: What an unrelentingly depressing minute! There’s like one joke in this entire 60 seconds and the rest of the time is filled with Fry and Leela both trying to one-up each other with sad life stories. Its fine for a show to dip into darker territory, but, again, pacing. They really need to learn how to break up the maudlin elements better.
Minute 18: Now THAT is how you do it! We get to move past the depressing stories, get some romantic developments, a moving triumph of Leela over the forces of industrialization, and even the Mystery of the Missing Ring! A wholly satisfying minute of TV and one that makes me think this show’s best days are behind it yet.
Minute 19: This minute was all about introducing a new character to the show, Professor Farnsworth. He’s old and he likes different lengths of wire. I think he adds a nice dose of new blood to a show that was beginning to show signs of wearing out its premise.
Minute 20: A desperate minute of TV if I’ve ever seen one. As if they know they’re running out of gas, the writers have Leela take off some clothing. Then they shamelessly rip off the countdown montage from way back in Minute 2 only this time they don’t even get all the way through it. They also fail to explain why Richard Nixon is giving the police orders. Another commentary about policing here, as the cops surround Fry, Leela, Bender, and the Professor with military-grade hardware. Not the show’s finest moment though.
Minute 21: The penultimate minute disappoints. Half the runtime is taken up with special effects to the point that it becomes tiresome. The back half crams in some more narrative developments and Leela cleavage. Meh.
Minute 22: Undoes a lot of character development that the show worked hard to establish in the beginning by making Fry celebrate his new job as a delivery boy. Outro theme music is a delightful as intro though.