31. Futurama: Jurassic Bark

Director: Swinton O. Scott III, Rich Moore (2002)
Starring: Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio
Find it: IMDB

Mankind's single greatest achievement. The pinnacle of all animation, television and scripted entertainment anywhere. Jurassic Bark is the single greatest individual episode of any television series ever. No matter how many times I watch this episode (and I've seen it a lot) it never fails to reduce me to a blubbering wreck come the final montage. It is perfectly structured, written, acted and constructed. Jurassic Bark is the crowning episode for a TV series already overflowing with wit, intelligence and heart. Heartbreaking heart.

Delivery boy Fry visits a museum dedicated to the 20th Century. He is shocked to find the fossilized remains of his pet dog, Seymour, exhibited there. For three days he protests outside the museum, until they relent and give him the fossil. Professor Farnsworth discovers that a clone of Seymour can be made from the remains. Jealous Bender grabs the fossil and throws it in a pit of lava. Fry is devastated. Seeing his master's love for the dog ("I thought you were only pretending to love him to toy with my emotions") Bender leaps in the pit and retrieves Seymour. Just as Farnsworth is about to begin the cloning process, Fry has a sudden change of heart. "Seymour went on to live a full and happy life without me", he thinks. Concluding that Seymour would have forgotten all about him by the time he died, Fry violently aborts the operation. But did Seymour forget all about his beloved master after all? NO, NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST.

If you didn't find that video the most beautifully miserable thing ever, then you're an emotional husk. That final minute of the episode has affected me far more than any Requiem For A Dream, Bambi, Dancer In The Dark or death of Buffy. It is the perfect riposte to anyone who might claim that animation is shallow or childish. There are funnier and cleverer episodes of Futurama, but none reach the same notes. Some (The Luck Of The Fryish) come close, and others are heartbreaking for different reasons (Time Keeps On Slippin, The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings) but none have quite the sting (also a good episode) of Jurassic Bark.

The below score, by the way, is the highest 5/5 on the site. The below 5/5 is the standard by which everything else shall forever be judged.

1 comment:

  1. Huh, I DO find the episode miserable, but not beautiful... It is miserably one-dimensional, miserably unfunny and miserably manipulative of your emotions. The serious episodes of Futurama always have corny plots but this one takes it too far with the ending. I feel like I was violated, not moved.