Season 3 Episode 14

Time Keeps on Slipping

Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM May 06, 2001 on Comedy Central
out of 10
User Rating
319 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

In the 30th Century, the once entertaining Harlem Globetrotters are now feared as they will humiliate any planet in the Universe who dares to play them. Feeling up to the challenge, Professor Farnsworth creates a group of mutant basketball players to go head-to-head with the Globetrotters. Farnsworth's secret winning ingredient is chronitons, time particles found in the Tempus Nebula. However, when the Planet Express crew removes the mutants from harvesting, they tip off the Time/Space Continuum causing forward motion of time to skip ahead.moreless

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  • Gets Boring The More I See It

    It is an exciting episode the first time you watch it, but I think that the more I see it, the quality goes down. It is too predictable (Well of course it is, but still), it's not as funny, and the plot doesn't seem as good. And I do not think the ending is that sad, to be honest. My overall grade for this is an A- or so, but to be honest I do think it should be lower. I like the episode it just goes down a little more the more I see it. Still good, I thinkmoreless
  • One of my favourites and is usually underrated

    "Time Keeps On Slippin'"

    Grade: A*

    This episode of Futurama is a fine example of being able to use a plot of making funny and serious things happen at a same time, whilst using the development of the characters in the show as a key point in this episode. Time Keeps On Slippin' is able to use this mechanic perfectly, and ends on a rather sad-happy ending as a result.

    The story begins with the Planet Express crew taking a day off in Central Park, when a spaceship lands on the park. It turns out to be the Harlem Globetrotters, who want to challenge Earth to a basketball match for no reason. Farnsworth accepts the challenge, and goes back to Planet Express to make the team, whilst Fry tries to get Leela to go out with him continously throughout the episode, with no success.

    Farnsworth shows the crew his Mutant Basketball team he made, but everyone sees they are still infants. Farnsworth sends them on a mission to collect time chronitons in space to speed up the process of growth.

    The crew come back with the chronitons, and Farnsworth feeds them to the Mutants, speeding them up adult form in seconds. At the game, the Mutants are actually beating the Globetrotters for a while, until time skips start happening randomly forwards through time. One of the Mutant members gets accidently killed, and Fry, trying to impress Leela, fills in as the substitute, but with less than 2 minutes to go, a time skip shows his team getting thrashed by the Globetrotters by the end.

    Farnsworth starts to worry about the time skips, and the Globetrotters are willing to try and help solve the problem with them as well. Farnsworth and the Globetrotters think that if they can move the stars correctly back from where the chronitons were moved, time would stop skipping.

    Unfortuantly, they need to build a "huge ass" gravity pump, which would cost alot of money and time to make. The time skip helps them speed this process up, and as a result they have it built. The crew use the pump to move the stars back to what positions they were by default, and are assumed to have successfully stopped the time skips.

    Shortly afterwards, Fry again tries to win Leela with trying to impress her on knowing how to fly the ship and giving here the Champagne she likes, but Leela tells him outright that "there's just no way that they're both ever going to..." but then the time skip occurs again, and its at Fry and Leela's wedding.

    Leela assumes that Fry drugged or hypnotised her due to the side-effect of the time skip of not knowing what happens in between. Fry tells her this is not the case, and then another time skip occurs and they are divorced.

    Fry, annoyed at not knowing what he did to win Leela's heart, is confused and baffled to how it happened. Meanwhile, Farnsworth and the Globetrotters noticed a flaw in their space-time equation and conclude that if they create a black hole to remove the remaining time chronitons, then it should permanantly stop the time skips.

    Fry, Leela, and Bender head to do the mission, and Leela originally decided to pilot the ship, but seeing Fry depressed she changes her mind and offers him to do it whilst setting the black hole device off. With the last remaining seconds of the time chronitons, Fry sees a message in the stars. It says "I LOVE YOU LEELA" and he realises what made him win Leela's heart. The bomb is detonated seconds later and the message disappears into the black hole. Fry asks Leela and Bender if they saw the message, but they didn't, and Fry keeps it to himself. He looks at the window, and realises he's missed his opportunity.

    A fantastic and slightly sad episode. Time Keeps On Slippin' has alot of good jokes used on the premise of time skipping randomly forwards, and the subplot with Fry and Leela was very good. I also liked how Bender wanted to become a Globetrotter, but realised there's no way he can be on. This episode is quite underrated on some sites, but I feel its one of the best by far!moreless
  • The Harlem Globe Trotters come to Earth and challenge it's inhabitants to a basketball game for glory. Professor Farnsworth accepts their challenge with his team of mutant super men.

    The first time I saw this episode I came in at the end, after the crew had moved the stars around the nebula with the gravity machine.

    I came in at the part when Leela was telling Fry that there was no way that they would ever go out, and then time skipped to when they were getting married.

    After this Leela accused Fry of tricking her into marrying him, divorced him, and pretty much stopped on his heart, showing that there is no way that she will care for him the way he cares for her.

    Then Leela lets Fry pilot the ship to take them out to a safe distance from the nebula, so they won't get pulled in when they set off the doomsday device. While Fry is doing this she goes into another room to do something else with Bender.

    The whole time Fry is taking the ship out he is wondering what magnificent thing he did to get Leela to love him, and just before they set off the doomsday device he sees that the stars around the nebula say "I love you Leela." Then the device goes off and sucks them all in.

    Fry yells for Leela and Bender to come back, and when they do he asks if they seen it, and they ask "Seen what?" Fry says "Nothing," and just stares out the window as Leela and Bender walk away and Bender whistles the Globe Trotters theme music.

    So Fry moved the stars themselves for Leela and got nothing. It was much more sad for me the first time I saw it because I thought it took a lot more work, but after I saw it the second time, it was still pretty sad. Overall a great episode. In my top three.moreless
  • Hilarious and sad.

    This episode was so funny and the end was sad and some hilarious parts are when Leela told Fry to cool his jets and he said come on Leela and she said really cool your jets your melting Bender's face and then you see Bender under Fry's jet melting and when that mutant with a cannon in his chest showboated after making a shot and Farnsworth got made and could barely pick up a chair and barely could throw it. Also it was very funny when those kids where standing outside and on kid said stupid old people why do we have to give them money and then time skipped and they where old and the same kid said we deserve money. Overall because of the hilarious time skips,basketball game,and because of the sad last scene is why this is so good.moreless
  • Excellent!

    A really great episode. This episode has to be one of my favorite episodes of Futurama. It was a great idea for a plot, and the jokes were spot on ever single time. I also enjoyed the introduction to the Harlem Globetrotters, it was very memorable. I also liked Professor Farnsworth's mutants, they were very funny, and I enjoyed them a lot. Another shining scene was the basketball game. I enjoyed it a lot.

    After a basketball game with the Harlem Globetrotters (who, in Futurama of course, are from a distant planet in the universe), time starts to skip at random times.moreless
Katey Sagal

Katey Sagal

Turanga Leela

Billy West

Billy West

Philip J. Fry / Professor Hubert Farnsworth / Dr. Zoidberg / Richard Nixon's Head / Judge Ron Whitey / Senior Citizen

Lauren Tom

Lauren Tom

Amy Wong

Tress MacNeille

Tress MacNeille

Linda / Boy

Phil LaMarr

Phil LaMarr

Hermes Conrad / Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate / Reverend Preacherbot

Maurice LaMarche

Maurice LaMarche


Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (13)

    • After the basketball game ended, Leela's legs were flesh coloured.

    • On the cheque Farnsworth and Bubblegum Tate receive from Nixon, the date is written as ???

    • Professor Farnsworth has six doomsday devices, one of which is used in the episode.

    • Opening theme promotion: FOR PROPER VIEWING TAKE RED PILL NOW

    • There's a sign-up sheet for body dumping at Central Park Lake.

    • The long-armed mutant is named Grotrian (which is a brand of piano), the five-armed mutant is named Armo, the spider-like mutant is named Arachnium, the mutant with a cannon in his chest is Thorias, and the laser-eye mutant is named Lazar.

    • The image shown when time skips is the same as the holes left in the Tempest Nebula where the chronitons were originally pulled from.

    • Amy's birthday is the day before Dr. Zoidberg's.

    • The named Globetrotters are Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate, "Sweet" Clyde Dixon, "Curly" Joe, and "Goose."

    • The first time time skips, a close-up of the hole behind Leela's head is shown, but for the rest of the skips, the screen turns blue and green.

    • The NFL still exists in the year 3000 or so, and is still divided into NFC/AFC.

    • The Social Security Office kids are wearing the same clothes 80 years later.

    • During a time skip, everyone should act as they normally would, but forget what happened during the skipped period of time. However, after the basketball game, the Professor and the Globetrotters wouldn't have still been at Madison Cube Garden the next day like they were shown after the time skip.

      RESPONSE: Unless they returned there the next day for some reason, which they forgot about due to the time skip.

      RE-RESPONSE: Except that they were in the same position and clothes and positions as the night before, so clearly they had been standing there for the past 24 hours.

  • QUOTES (52)

    • Fry: (gasps) That's how I did it! I moved the stars themselves to write Leela a love note in the sky!
      Leela: (Over intercom) Detonation in ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!
      Fry: NOOOO! (the explosion sucks the stars into a black hole just as Bender and Leela walk in) Did you see it? Did you see??
      Bender: See what? The explosion?
      Fry: No! I--- (pauses, defeated and saddened) ...nevermind.

    • Bender: Well, the doomsday device is ready. Maybe blasting this quadrant of space into a hell storm of flaming nothingness will cheer me up a little.

    • Leela: Careful with that doomsday device, Bender.
      Bender: What does it matter? I'll never be a Globetrotter. My life, and, by extension, everyone else's, is meaningless.
      Leela: Roger.

    • Tate: We must leave now, for we are needed elsewhere. But we wish you Godspeed.
      Bender: Please, please let me come with you. I can make myself taller.
      Tate: Bender, you can talk trash, you can handle the ball. But look in your heart and ask yourself: Are you funky enough to be a Globetrotter? Are you?
      Bender: Yes.
      Tate: Are you?
      Bender: I mean, with time, my funk level could-
      Tate: Are you?
      Bender: No.

    • Tate: Give me some skin, Prof. I'm making you an honorary Globetrotter. In fact, everybody in this room's an honorary Globetrotter.
      Amy: Hooray!
      Hermes: Yes!
      Zoidberg: I'm a Globetrotter!
      Bender runs in
      Bender: Did you just say-
      Tate: Too late, hot plate.
      Bender: Oh, crap.

    • Farnsworth: Well, I'm stumped. We'll have to call in the finest scientific minds in the univ-
      Time skips
      Farnsworth: Perhaps we could explode the whole damned nebula. What do you think, Curly Joe?
      Curly Joe: No, man. An explosion big enough to destroy that mama would take out half the universe.
      Sweet Clyde: You gotta Globetrotter that explosion up a little, Farnsy. Make it an implosion.

    • Farnsworth: The time skips are worse than ever now. Isolated spots are jumping by years at a time. Look.
      Boy: Stupid senior citizens. Why should we have to pay for their social security benefits?
      Time skips and the kids have turned into old men
      Old Man: I deserve free money!

    • Fry: I don't know what I'm doing.
      Bender: Maybe she'd come back to you if your best friend Bender were a Globetrotter. What do you say, Bubblegum?
      Tate: Hell, no.

    • 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.

    • Fry: I don't know what amazing thing I did you make you love me but, whatever it was, we're married now. We've got the rest of our lives to work-
      Time skips
      Whitey: Divorce is final.
      Fry: What?
      Leela: Well, let's divide up the china. I guess I'll take the NFC helmets and you can have the AFC helmets.
      Fry: Fine, break my heart again!

    • Farnsworth: Ye Gods, Bubblegum! We failed. The time skips haven't stopped at all.
      Tate: Even in these formal shorts, I feel like a failure.

    • Fry: Look, Leela. I know there's some perfect, amazing thing I can do to make you love me, and when I figure out what it is-
      Leela: Fry, stop. I don't wanna hurt you, but there is absolutely, positively no way that you and I will ever, ever-
      Time skips
      Preacherbot: ...man and wife. You may kiss the bride.

    • Fry: Look. I've been studying how to pilot the ship. Impressed?
      Leela: Yeah, actually. You're doing OK. The core reactor temperature's nominal, the blinker's off.
      Fry: I learned how to work the gravity pump too. In case we need to move more stars. So, are we dating now?

    • Tate: 86 the chump stuff, F-man. It's time to win Leela's heart with a big-showy, three-point romantic gesture.

    • Fry: I got her champagne, I opened it. What does a guy have to do?

    • Bender: Hey, Leela. Bubblegum might let me organise a bake sale for the Globetrotter wives. Can you teach me to make cupcakes?
      Leela: Alright, but I wanna lick the beaters.

    • Fry: Leela, I want you to know I think the way you moved those stars around was really wonderful. I got you something.
      Leela: Moderately-priced, domestic, non-vintage champagne? How did you know?
      Fry: You deserve it. I mean, nobody ever stops to tell you what a great captain you are.
      Leela: Aw! That is so true and sweet.
      Fry: You're smart, you're beautiful, and best of all, you'll go out with me-e?
      Leela: Fry, please try to understand: You're a man, I'm a woman. We're just too different.

    • Fry: Hooray for Leela!
      Bender: And what better way to celebrate our success than by me showing Bubblegum the Globetrotter uniform I made myself!

    • Nixon: Now, how long will it take to build?
      Tate: It won't be easy, Nixon. A jim-jam this complex might take months or even-
      Time skips
      Farnsworth: Ah, there we are. One gravity pump. Powerful enough to move the stars themselves. Now to begin the arduous task of attaching it to the ship so th-
      Time skips. The Planet Express ship is taking off with the gravity pump attached to the roof
      Farnsworth: Off you go, apparently.

    • Tate: Hold up. What if we were to move this cluster of starts to these algebraic co-ordinates?
      Farnsworth: Their gravity might just divert the Chronitons to the empty side of the universe.
      Tate: Yeah. But is it possible? Moving stars would require one bad-ass gravity pump. And we'd need all the money on Earth to-
      Time skips
      Tate: What the...
      Farnsworth: Wha?
      Nixon: Here's the funding for your gravity pump. But it damn well better work! We can't spend all of Earth's money every day.

    • Tate: What's that funky jazz?
      Farnsworth: The odour of pure time leaking. When my crew removed the Chronitons, it destabilised the nebula, causing time skips throughout the universe.
      Bender: Ooh! Let Bubblegum tell it.
      Tate: Pretend these basketballs are time particles, my silver honky. As the nebula bounce-passes them off us... (He throws the balls at Bender and they dent his head)... they cause these dents, or "time skips".
      Bender: You are so smart!

    • Leela: Dr. Zoidberg, can I talk to you about Fry?
      Zoidberg: Leela, I would be honoured.
      Time skips. Leela is still talking but Zoidberg is now watching TV
      Leela: ...does the worst W.C. Fields imitation I've ever seen. Zoidberg!
      Zoidberg: Sorry, you must have been boring me.

    • Fry: Psst! Leela. I've set up a time-proof shelter in the closet. There's only room for two, and you're the one I wanna share it with.
      Leela: Fry, that's so sweet. Let me see... How exactly will this protect us from time jumps?
      Fry: Because when we're together in here, baby, time will stand still.

    • Hermes: Say, I'm no physicist, but I think I know how to stop the skipping. We'll just-
      Time skips. Hermes is wearing a funky shirt and playing a steel drum while the others are dancing a nude conga line
      Hermes: I don't know how this was suppose to work.

    • Farnsworth: Bubblegum, look at this. The background time radiation is fluctuating wildly.
      Tate: Good Lord! That sucker's shaking around like some fine, imported booty.

    • Bender: Ooh! Ooh! Bubblegum? My name's Bender and I'm a huge fan of your work, both on and off the court. Can I be a Globetrotter?
      Tate: Shut up, turkey.

    • Farnsworth: Interesting. It's as if we behave normally during the time skips, but then we have no memory of it.
      Fry: You mean we just-
      Time skips
      Farnsworth: My, yes. Ooh, just like that.

    • Tate: Now look here, Prof. I think we got ourselves an excess of Chronitons in the subatomic interstices.
      Farnsworth: Yes, I see. Something involving that many big words could easily destabilise time itself.
      Fry: Is that a problem?
      Farnsworth: Indeed so. At this rate, by Tuesday it will be Thursday; by Wednesday, it will be August; and by Thursday, it will be the end of existence as we know it.

    • Farnsworth: We have bigger problems. This time disruption is extremely serious.
      Tate: Damn right, brother man. This chronological wang-dang-doodle could destroy the very matrix of reality.
      Farnsworth: Tate? What do you know about this?
      Tate: Not much, yet. But I am senior lecturer of physics at Globetrotter U. And I'd like to help you investigate.
      Farnsworth: You're that Bubblegum Tate?
      Tate: Well I sure ain't his grandma.

    • Leela: I don't know what you did, Fry, but once again you screwed up. Now all the planets are gonna start cracking wise about our mamas.
      Hermes: I'm just glad my fat, ugly mama isn't alive to see this day.
      Farnsworth: Enough about your promiscuous mother, Hermes.

    • Farnsworth: Oh, great! Now, on top of everything, we need a new fifth man.
      Fry: Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Put me in, Professor. I wanna show Leela my skills.
      Farnsworth: Hmm. Will said skills pay the bills?
      Fry: Who cares? We're 35 points ahead with two minutes left. What could possibly-
      Time Skips
      Albert: Globetrotters win, 244-86.

    • Fry: What's happening?
      Farnsworth: We seem to be lurching forward randomly in time, like a needle skipping on a record player.
      Amy: What's causing it? Is it my outfit?

    • Albert: Ladies and gentlemen, something very strange has just happened in this basketball game between space clowns and atomic monsters.

    • Albert: And that's the half, with the Supermen up 48-42. Surprisingly dull, so far. Bubblegum, the Trotters are down by six. Reactions?
      Tate: It was always our plan to trail at the half, thus deepening Earth's eventual humiliation. Also, what game were the refs watching?

    • Farnsworth: No showboarding, you atomic hotdog!

    • Albert: Supermen lead 45-42. Arachneon with the steal, to Thorias. Thorias from downtown! Yes! He's really showing us what a man with a cannon in his chest can do!

    • Albert: Marv Albert here at Madison Cube Garden where the Harlem Globetrotters take on a squad of atomic supermen in what promises to be a by-the-numbers athletic contest with no surprises whatsoever.

    • Leela: Here you go. Hot off the nebula.
      Farnsworth: None too soon. While you were gone the Trotters held a news conference to announce that I was a jive sucker.

    • Leela: Your face can take a lot of punishment. That's good to know.
      Fry: There's a lot about my face you don't know! Perhaps you and it could get better acquainted over dinner.
      Leela: Alright! Cool your jets, hotshot.
      Fry: C'mon, Leela, why won't you go out with me? We both know there's something there.
      Leela: No, I mean cool your jets. They're melting Bender's face.

    • Farnsworth: We'll need to speed up their growth with time particles called Chronitons.
      Bender: Aren't those the particles that destroyed an entire civilisa-
      Farnsworth: Good news, everyone! You're off to the Tempus Nebula to gather Chronitons.

    • Farnsworth: Behold: My mutant atomic supermen.
      Leela: They're only a foot high, Professor.
      Farnsworth: Well, they're still young. Mere atomic super boys, really.

    • Tate: You, old man? Sweet Clyde, laugh derisively at him.
      Farnsworth: I may be an old man. In fact, I'm fairly sure I am.

    • Tate: Pitiful ballplayers of Earth, I am Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate, commander of the Harlem Globetrotters. For generations, your puny planet has lived in peace with the Globetrotter Homeworld. But now, for no reason, we challenge you to defend your honour on the basketball court. Will no one meet our challenge? Have none of you pathetic Earthlings game?
      Fry: What happens if we lose?
      Tate: Nothing. There's nothing at stake and no threat, beyond the shame of defeat!
      Farnsworth: This will not stand! I'll take you on, you air-balling bozos.

    • Fry: So, Leela, how about a romantic ride in one of those swan boats? They're kinda dangerous but I finally mastered them.
      Leela: Those aren't swan boats, they're swans.
      Fry: Oh. That explains these boat eggs.

    • Farnsworth: No wonder we failed to stop the time skips. Diverting Chronitons is mathematically impossible. I knew I should have checked your show-boating Globetrotter algebra.
      Tate: Man, I thought you knew that algebra was all razz-ma-tazz. A Globetrotter always saves the good algebra for the final minutes.

    • Farnsworth: Doomsday device? Ah, now the ball's in Farnsworth's court!
      (platform rises from floor containing many doomsday devices)
      Farnsworth: I suppose I could part with one and still be feared.

    • Linda (newscaster): Time continues to skip forward randomly. Details at 11... This is the news at 11. The mysterious and unexplained... Turning to entertainment news, teen singer Wendy might just be the latest... Won three Grammys last night... Found dead in her bathtub.

    • Marv Albert: A dark day for humanity, folks. We have been beaten... in basketball.

    • Farnsworth: Did everything just jump around, or did my brain just stroke off there for a second?

    • Leela: The thing is, Fry is very sweet, but he's so immature. I love his boyish charm, but I hate his childishness.
      Dr. 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.

    • Fry: How did I do it? How did I get Leela to love me? I've got to figure it out.
      Hermes: Maybe you're just a fantastic lover, Fry.
      Amy: Mmm, No...

  • NOTES (1)

  • ALLUSIONS (11)

    • The Day the Earth Stood Still
      The location of the landing and the shape of the Globetrotters' space ship is a reference to the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    • Basketball: 'Bubblegum' Tate's line, "Nothin' but nebula", is obviously a play on the popular B-Ball expression, "Nothin' but net."

    • The song that Bender whistles when he's leaving Fry alone at the cockpit near the end is "Sweet Georgia Brown", which is most famous for being the Harlem Globetrotters' signature tune.

    • Professor Farnsworth throwing a chair resembles the usual attitude of Bobby Knight, head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers Basketball team from 1971 to 2000.

    • Strange Romance Concept Part of the concept of this episode was inspired by the short story "Strange Romance" from the book "Y. Cheung, Business Detective" by Harry Stephen Keeler, in which a man falls in love with a woman whom he sees through his telescope, only later to found out that she lived (and died) 10,000 years ago.


      In The Matrix, Neo had to take the red pill to see the reality.

    • The Harlem Globetrotters

      Obviously mentioning the famous basketball team that would tour the country, but also in reference to the cartoon show where they would fix their problems by challenging people to a basketball game. And let's not forget the many appearances on Scooby Doo where they would visit the cast and fix a problem. Man, the Globetrotters sure fixed a lot of problems.

    • M*A*S*H: The Final Episode

      When the spaceship is flying away before they detonate the nuke, and Fry sees the message he wrote Leela with stars, it was a reference to the final episode of MASH, Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, when Hawkeye is flying away in the helicopter and sees the message BJ left him with rocks.

    • Space Jam

      Much of this episode, specifically the basketball game between the Harlem Globetrotters and Farnsworth's atomic mutants, is a parody of the plot of Space Jam. Also, Seal's cover of "Time Keeps on Slipping", "Fly like an Eagle," appears on the movie's soundtrack.

    • Steve Miller: Time Keeps on Slipping
      The title is taken from a Steve Miller Band song (which was later remade by Seal) called Fly Like an Eagle where the lyrics state "Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin' into the future..."

    • Wendy The picture of pop singer Wendy that was shown on the news was designed to look like the album cover of real-life pop singer Britney Spears' U.S. debut album "...Baby One More Time."