Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Rise and Fall of Futurama

Did everyone hear?

Futurama's coming back!

You know, a couple of years ago, I'd have been tremendously excited to have one of my most fondly-remembered cartoons back on the air. When Fox canned Futurama back in 2003, I'll admit, I died a little inside. I simply couldn't fathom how the tired tripe that The Simpsons had become could still be kicking while a show as inventive and exponentially more engaging as Futurama toddled off into the great beyond.

When the news broke that Futurama was coming back, I was psyched. It wasn't, perhaps, in the format that I'd hoped it would be, but four feature-length films, I thought, would certainly tide me over till someone woke up and bought a new series. And they did. As per the teaser embedded above, new episodes of everyone's favourite Matt Groening show are scheduled to begin airing in June with "Rebirth" on Comedy Central.

But those films...

I won't bore you with the details, readers - I'm sure anyone who's seen them will know what I'm talking about - but suffice it to say that between the two I managed to sit through, near enough every inch of anticipation I felt for Futurama's return was lost. Between Bender's Big Score and The Beast with a Billion Backs, whatever love I had for Fry and Bender and Leela crashed and burned. This was not the Futurama I wanted.

I said to myself, maybe it's just me. Maybe I've gotten older and Futurama just isn't what I want anymore. No. I re-watched some of my old DVDs and the first four seasons are still stellar entertainment.

I said to myself, maybe they've lost a few writers, a few key cast members, something like that. No. With no notable exceptions that I could see, the cast and crew of the series were as involved with the four films as they were with the original episodes.

And so. In June, the new series starts in the States - which means here in the UK, we can expect it something in 2013 or thereabouts - and I just don't know how to feel about it. I won't get my hopes up again for them to be shattered as they were once before.

Then again, I feel a little disingenuous saying that. Because, bully for me, I am hopeful - against all good reason. Perhaps Futurama only truly flourishes in 20 minute-long installments. Perhaps the last few years and the rather cool reception to the movies have set the creators straight on what we want from the series. Perhaps... perhaps there is reason to hope.

Who's with me?


  1. Futurama kinda suffered with those long episodes (aka movies). I liked the 1st and 4th movies the most but is true that the movies are not awesome as the first 72 20 min. episodes (but the movies have a lot of nice jokes and moments)

    I do think that the new episodes will be equally or more fun than the 72 episodes, because Futurama works better in episodes than in movies IMO.. with new energy, the producers and cast knows that this is the chance they needed to revive Futurama once and for all!

  2. I'm with you!

    This is the first I have heard of Futurama coming back (besides the movies, and I agree that those were hardly quality) and I am happy to hear it. I never understood why Fox, cursed be the network, canceled the show in the first place. It was definitely the best of their animated line-up, certainly better than The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Family Guy. What disappoints me more is that after Family Guy, a show that defines dull repetition and has done so since the second season, was canceled it was quickly resurrected and yet Futurama, the better of the two shows, got to linger around until another network desired to bring it back.

    Anyway, here's hoping that what made Futurama great in the first place continues on through the new episodes.

  3. Agreed. I had always thought that this is the show that should've come back instead of Family Guy.

    The movies had their moments (the ever-so-brief revelation of Bender's son was a highlight), but definitely not as great as the show had once been. Still, I'm remaining hopeful, too. Perhaps recklessly so. =D

  4. I agree for the most part. The original series was brilliant. The 1st and 4th movies were semi decent but the 2nd and 3rd movies were terrible. Not sure why but it might have something to do with the extended format coupled with the fact they were designed to be segmented into 22 minute shows for Comedy Central.

    I hope that the show can reclaim its original greatness. I don't know if it can but I will be there watching it.

    Hopefully the characters don't take a left turn like they did in Family Guy.