Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Futurama Lives See A New Day (26 New Days To Be Exact)

The rumors of Futurama's episodic return have been circulating for about a week but they have now been confirmed. Comedy Central has ordered 26 new episodes of the show which was most recently revived by four direct-to-DVD movies.

I am not alone in my opinion that Futurama is far superior to Matt Groening's more successful franchise, The Simpsons, the principle reason being that Futurama had a short but high quality run on Fox before being unceremoniously canceled. Meanwhile, The Simpsons is a painfully unfunny shell of the groundbreaking series that it was twenty years ago. There is certainly something to be said for quality over quantity. Before Futurama, there was never a television cartoon that delivered poignant enough stories to actually make me shed a tear. Futurama has several such episodes. I challenge anyone to watch "The Luck of the Fryish" or "Jurassic Bark" and not be compelled to cry like a baby. That all being said, I'm not exactly thrilled about the news of new episodes of Futurama.

I was very excited several years ago when news broke that Futurama would return with a direct-to-DVD movie followed by up to three others if the first was sucessful. With the measure of success being the number of copies sold, "Bender's Big Score" was a hit. However, it was also not a very good representation of the Futurama franchise. The jokes seemed very dated and many minor but popular characters were awkwardly shoehorned into the plot just to give them an appearance in the movie. In short, it didn't work for me. The following three movies continued the trend of mediocrity so much so that when I finished watching "Into the Wild Green Yonder" earlier this year, I was content that Futurama had closure and was finished.

I don't blame the producers for taking this opportunity to create new episodes of Futurama for Comedy Central, but I think that the best days of the show are long past. It started with the movies and now I fear that Futurama runs the risk of heading rapidly into Simpsons territory of substandard stories made simply to keep the franchise alive. It was nostalgia that made me look forward to the direct-to-DVD movies a few years ago but it is now that same nostalgia that makes me reticent about the new epsiodes coming next year. I will give them a chance, but I don't have confidence that they can match the high quality of shows that they were producing seven or eight years ago.

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