Bite My Shiny Metal Ass

I never realized how many similarities there were between Futurama and The Simpsons before seeing this comic spread. While the main cast have no direct counterpoints in either series (it is hardly The Simpsons in Space) there are a number of doppelgangers in the minor characters. The Mafia and the Robot Mafia; Kent Brockman and Morbo; Malfunctioning Eddie and Gil; Mr. Burns and Mom. (Click on the image for a much larger version)

Futurama recently resurfaced after being unceremoniously dumped by Fox in 2003 after a four-year run. Following the cancellation, obsessive fans like myself watched reruns over and over and snapped up all the DVDs until the network execs realized, a la Family Guy, that they may have pulled the plug too early.

Good news everybody, right? I'm not so sure. I love the show — it is densely weighted with pop culture references and sci-fi and parodies with depth of science knowledge that is astounding for a TV show, let alone a cartoon. Like The Simpsons, my years of absorbing science fiction was finally paying off. Wired recently ran an excellent piece on the show if you need to know more about how great it is.

The show is now back in DVD form, with four full-length films that will each be sliced into four 22-minute episodes, to be aired on Comedy Central. Voila, a new season of Futurama. I speculated at the time of the original announcement that it would be simple enough to catch up where they left of - the characters don't age - but worried if something would be missing after such a lengthy interruption.

At their peak, shows are more than the sum of their parts. They have an undefinable quality that comes from the assembled writers that I suspect would be difficult to recreate once all the pieces are scattered to the wind. And so it was with the first film, Bender's Big Score. The animation looked great, the voices were all the same, but something was just slightly off. It's like the show had crawled back to TV following a stint in the Pet Cemetery — I'm not saying it is evil, but the light had gone out of its eyes.

Now it was only the first one, so maybe I'm being too harsh and the show will find its groove again, but there isn't much time. You can usually tell by four episodes if you are going to enjoy a show or not, so that was four in one shot. It doesn't leave much room for improvement. But I shall remain hopeful.

Its fault was that it was nostalgic for itself — showing me familiar characters but not doing much with them. It makes me think that those getting excited about a potential Arrested Development movie should be careful about what they wish for. Some things are better off dead.


  1. I must admit that I was worried about Futurama's return. It seems so often that when a show comes back, even with the same cast and even the same production team, things just aren't the same.

  2. Part of me is hoping it is merely rust rather than something unholy.

  3. I too hope it is only rust, but there is such a short time for them to shake it off...