So it’s old news that Futurama has been brought back from the dead and has new episodes on the way featuring the entire original cast, but what many people might not know is one critical detail: it’s back on the air this Thursday, June 24 at 10 p.m. EST on Comedy Central.
Unfortunately, for our readers in Canada, little is yet known as to the scheduling of Futurama north of the border. As a show whose roots were predominantly international (as opposed to a show like, say, Family Guy, whose viewership was principally North American), this fan would expect any aversion to international release would prove less digestible to the network than, well, Pig Pink Gum “The only gum with the breath-freshening power of ham!” Nevertheless, here is the first 90 seconds of the season 6 premiere entitled ‘Rebirth’ for fans anywhere from Helsinki, Finland to Tucson, Arizona. It should adequately whet any whistles that have been dulled by, in this opinion, a weak crop of animated comedies held up only by Venture Bros. and Ugly Americans.
So what do you, the dork, need to know?
For starters, if the 90 seconds linked above is any indication, what one might call “the old Futurama” is indeed back. The four DVD movies (Bender’s Big Score, The Beast With a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder), as much as they tried, were not the same formula that made Futurama a hit. All were definitely passable movies, much enjoyed by yours truly, but they were fan movies. They were not created to make new fans. The timing was very different, quite possibly because they were 80 minute movies and not 22 minute episodes, but also because the show had just evolved through a rocky 4th season that had many episodes created from ideas otherwise left on the cutting room floor. And we can all blame FOX for that one.
But those 90 seconds… I have seen their ilk before. There is a crispness to the dialect that hearkens back to seasons 1, 2 and 3. It is as though the writers and creators have had time to sit back and let their brains stew on the subject again – instead of being forced to churn out quality product – creating a fresh take on old Futurama, a take which has all the signs to indicate it is a success. Below is a picture from episode 603, which was assistant-directed by Aimee Steinberger and posted on her blog.
David X. Cohen recently revealed that plots for individual episodes have been waiting in the wings ever since the kernel of possibility of renewal arose, saying “One thing that was beneficial to being off the air for a while was that society generated a few story lines for us.” New ideas galore. Twenty-six news episodes have been ordered by Comedy Central, and with Futurama fandom still running high after years off the air, it is not hard to imagine a season 7. Cohen also downplays the squabble between the voice actors and the studio, saying he and co-creator Matt Groening just tried to keep everyone happy. You can read his entire interview with Entertainment Weekly right here.
Here’s a summarizing plot list:
-iPhones and Twitter of the year 3000
-Robosexual Marriage (Robot-Human)
-The Garden of Eden
-A Time Machine That Only Goes Forwards
-Decency Censoring Space Probes
-Leela’s Inner Mutant
-Head-in-jar forehead-licking hallucinations
-And naturally, a Comic Con episode.
We should note that the episode about the Garden of Eden is called “In-a-Godda-da-Leela” and features Leela and Zapp Brannigan as Adam & Eve. It airs after “Rebirth” at 10:30 on Thursday. It’s a double-header!
Now, we all know premises and McGuffins don’t make a show – sensible storytelling, ridiculous/relatable characters and clever jokes do – but these sound promising. And we’re going to assume it will be many long years before Futurama has to start using 5 plots an episode to fill 22 minutes like it’s little brother also by Matt Groening. Maybe you know the one?
So spread the word! Emigrate to America! Grab a beer and hunker down in front of the internet waiting for an American comrade to upload the new episodes for us poor shmoes who do not get Comedy Central. Another classic science fiction show brought back… and it’s about time!
You read it. You can’t un-read it!