Assembly Line Fast-Forward

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Conveyor belt madness.

Alice and Bob just got a new job at the pie factory! Their job is to box up the finished pies and sort them. The job begins easily enough, but it speeds up and they cannot keep up. Hilarity Ensues and they get in trouble for making a mess.

Made iconic in the famous I Love Lucy chocolate factory scene; which was actually a Shout-Out to the film Modern Times, the Trope Maker.

This is touted as classic comedy.

Not to be confused with Conveyor Belt-O-Doom where the characters are trapped on a conveyor belt delivering them to their doom.


Examples

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     Film  

  • Modern Times is the Trope Maker. Charlie Chaplin has a job tightening some kind of widgets with a wrench. When the conveyor belt speeds up, Charlie winds up jumping on top of it, and he is sucked into the gears of the machinery.
  • Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.: Linda Who's coat gets snagged on a lever that makes a conveyor belt of meals for Robomen turn on. Tom tries to turn it off but that only makes the belt go faster. They have to dispose of the meals to hide the fact that they're there.

     Live Action TV  

  • I Love Lucy. The episode "Job Switching", the Trope Codifier. Lucy and Ethel get jobs wrapping chocolates, and are threatened with the sack if any chocolates get past them unwrapped. When the conveyer belt speeds up past their ability to keep up, they try hiding the unwrapped chocolate in their hats and mouth. Watch it here.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "Vitamin E-4", Mr. Conklin, Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton make a mess when manufacturing the eponymous "vitamin". Notably, Our Miss Brooks was only the second television program produced by Desilu Studios, sharing with I Love Lucy the same cameras and other equipment. "Vitamin E-4" aired only a year after "Job Switching".
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sabrina has a job at a pizzeria and dreams this happening. As evidenced by her dream's fifties' style clothes and room, this is a Shout-Out to the famous I Love Lucy scene.
  • An episode of Drake & Josh has the boys working in a sushi factory in a direct Shout-Out to the I Love Lucy scene. The episode is even named "I Love Sushi".
  • An episode of Victorious references the above scene with Cat telling what happened in the scene thinking it happened to Tori & Trina, only to be told it was just a scene from the above show.
  • Get Smart: In "The Day They Raided the Knights" 99 is laid off and gets a job at a trading stamp redemption center, where there's a run on a toaster which is sent out boxed on a conveyor belt from the back. The boxes come out so fast they're dropping off the end of the belt and one pops open; 99 discovers that it's a "stereophonic gun" and the center is actually a KAOS front for a munitions drop.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The short film "The Chicken of Tomorrow" has a scene with a woman sorting chicken eggs into boxes from an assembly line. Crow quips, "I've seen the one where the eggs come out so fast, she has to start putting them in her mouth!"
    • For one invention exchange, Dr. Forrester invents a buffet on a conveyor belt. Frank tests it, and Dr. Forrester increases the speed until it's moving too fast for Frank to actually eat anything. At the end, Dr. Forrester says, "There, Joel. I've turned dinner into a Lucy sketch."
  • An episode of Cutthroat Kitchen uses this as a sabotage in the final round, letting one chef force the other to spend five minutes boxing up chocolates as they come out on a conveyor belt. The victim ends up being fined $1,500 for all the chocolates he lets fall on the floor.
  • An episode of The Thundermans had Max & Phoebe doing this with pizzas in the kitchen of a local pizza shop. The round plain crusts came out and they had to put on the sauce and cheese. They get fired by the heavily Asian owner when they jam the machine with a lot of dough and it explodes.
  • On an episode of The Big Comfy Couch Auntie Macassar is working at a factory making mouse-shaped catnip toys and has the job sticking on the noses. Out of tiredness from working over she accidentally hits the switch herself that speeds up the conveyor belt. Finally too tired to keep up with the flow of new toys, she shuts down the line herself before collapsing from tiredness.
  • In the Bewitched episode "Samantha's Power Failure", Samantha, her twin sister Serena, and their Uncle Arthur are stripped of their magical powers for refusing to disavow Sam's marriage to Darrin, and Serena and Arthur are obliged to take jobs at a malt shop on a chocolate-dipped, nut-covered frozen banana assembly line. Though things go smoothly at first, eventually the assembly line speeds up, and they end up covered in melted chocolate. Notably, William Asher, Elizabeth Montgomery's husband, directed both I Love Lucy and Bewitched.
  • Square One TV:
    • In one short, a worker explained to another how their goal was to put a precise, uneven number of chocolates into each box. Said chocolates were dispensed in smaller boxes containing 1,000, 100, or 10 chocolates, with the final dispenser dropping singles. Thus, to put 3,947 chocolates into a box, the simplest way would be to dispense three boxes of 1,000, nine boxes of 100, four boxes of 10, and seven singles. After the first box, one dispenser would randomly fail, and another dispenser would have to be adjusted to compensate for the failure; e.g., the thousands dispenser would fail, so the hundreds dispenser would have to dispense 39 boxes of 100 to cover the same amount.
    • In another sketch, a new worker is the sole human posted at a "make a box" assembly line. The machine spits out flat cardboard pieces which the worker has to fold into a five sided cube (with an open end to fill it with whatever). Each one is different and the final one is an Impossible Task—the flat piece of cardboard just can't be folded it into a box shape.
  • Laverne and Shirley did an I Love Lucyesque bit where they got temp jobs as giftwrappers at a department store, with the gifts coming faster and faster.
  • In The Parent 'Hood Robert's son gets an after school job at a pizzaria. For plot related reasons Robert takes over the job and has to make a lot of pizzas very quickly.

     Video Games  

  • In the Nancy Drew video game Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon, Nancy has to sort pieces of taffy that roll past her on a conveyor belt. The belt doesn't actually speed up, but the taffy pieces' types become more varied and unpredictable as the minigame progresses.
  • A Mario Party 2 minigame called "Cake Factory" involved two teams of two trying to make cakes in an assembly line. The game gradually becomes more challenging when the conveyor belts randomly increase and decrease speed.
  • The Mac game Factory is about assembling products carried through a factory on a conveyor belt. In order to meet quotas within the time limits you often find yourself turning up the speed, which if you aren't careful, quick and cleaver can make the entire system foul up leaving you with half assembled products going out for delivery.
  • Panic Button was a game for the Tandy Color Computer 2 where you had to assemble items from parts brought down the assembly line. The eponymous Panic Button was a way to temporarily stop the works when the speed ratchets up too high.
  • A minigame in Space Quest 4 involved making burgers — the more burgers you made, the faster the conveyor moves, until you ultimately miss one.
  • This can happen in the computer game Chocolatier, where the factory's production is determined by a minigame where the player fires ingredients into a machine to make the product. The more successful the player is, the faster the machine goes, and therefore the more chocolates they can make, but inevitably it'll get to the point where they can't keep up and miss the machine. The player can miss up to eight times.
  • Neopets has a game version of this called Hungry Skeith, where the goal is to sort jellies by colour. Sometimes, ice cream cones will accidentally(???) appear on the belt—these are to be fed to the hungry Skeith.

     Western Animation  

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In the episode "The Last Roundup", five of the mane cast are assigned to sort cherries on a conveyor belt. Three of them walk away, leaving Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie to get completely overwhelmed as the conveyor belt speeds up. And Pinkie starts shoving cherries into her mouth.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures. One episode had them making cartoons. Dizzy made one called "I Love Dizzy" where he works at a cake factory and this happens.
  • Donald Duck:
    • In the cartoon "Der Fuehrer's Face", the assembly line in front of Donald has bombs to screw caps on and pictures of Adolf Hitler to salute to. It mentally, then physically exhausts him as the belt speeds up. Luckily, it's All Just a Dream, but still...
    • In another episode, Donald has an assembly line of gifts to wrap for the holidays and gets singled out by the foreman for not working adequately compared to all of his co-workers.
  • The Mixels episode "Hamlogna Conveyer Belt Madness" (pictured above) has Lunk and Tentro as workers assembling Hamlogna sandwiches from multiple conveyor belts at a time. When Zaptor cranks up the speed from below, they're forced to Mix to keep up with the rapid pace.
  • Futurama referenced the I Love Lucy episode in one of their Christmas episodes. Robot Santa's elves have to crank up the speed in the toy factory to make the quota in time, and the highest setting is "Lucy Speed".
  • In an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, Scratchy is dead, so Itchy builds a Cloning Machine to churn out new Scratchys to kill. But the machine is going so fast he can't keep up—so he builds a Killing Machine for the conveyor belt to deliver the newly made clones into.
  • Family Guy did this in an episode with Peter & Brian trying to pack pills into plastic vials. Peter's nose starts to bleed and he passes out after swallowing several of the pills at once.
  • In Sesame Street's Spin-Off miniseries called "Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures", in the episode "Bakers", Bert tells Ernie to leave the pie-making machine speed to "Slow"...but Ernie thinks that they'll never get their order done at this rate, so Ernie decides to set the machine to "Fast". Hilarity Ensues.


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