Futurama Review

It seems odd that LOCUS Online has just posted a review of Futurama , but its a combined review of the three released DVD sets. Well, the three in the US that is.

I agree with most of the sentiments expressed in the review and I think its ultimate demise was, in part, that it was too SF. In other words, the general public, those who aren’t SF fans, might feel they were left out of some of the jokes, and they would be right. I think this also contributed to the Hollywood types not “getting the show” (along with a complete lack of imagination), which is what led to the cancellation. I do think this show has a lot to offer everyone, and it should be a candidate to bring back to the small screen, over other “lesser” shows like, oh, Family Guy….

13 thoughts on “Futurama Review”

  1. Perhaps it was for the best that Futurama didn’t go on forever, and became predictable or repetitive… quitting in top form, you know?

    What really kills an SF series on network TV is the expectation that once it becomes popular, it is supposed to go on until it runs out of ideas (and budget).

    This way, with Futurama limited to three seasons, at least we won’t have to complain about how much Season Six sucked… and can look back at the good three seasons with satisfaction and a tinge of nostalgia.

    -A.R. Yngve

    http://yngve.bravehost.com

  2. I hadn’t thought of that. Although The Simpsons seems to still be doing well. I would hope that a SF themed show, especially one that doesn’t need to conform to reality in way, being animated and all, would be able to find good ideas for a long while…

  3. Very interesting thoughts A.R. – I agree with you, although I am disappointed there aren’t more coming.

  4. I hope you read the Locus article John and give the series another chance (maybe you could borrow the DVDs and hit the best episodes.) Sincerely, those classic sci-fi elements are all the things I loved about the show.

    Oh, and to mention the inevitable, they didn’t mention the songs (which I found inspired but I know you don’t prefer) because singing only shows up in 3 episodes.

    There are elements to the show that you have to get past (I’ve always thought Bender’s line of “Bite my shiny metal ass!” was too much like Bart’s “Bite my shorts!”) but once you do I think you’ll see the show is strong.

  5. Actually, I like Futurama. The only bad thing I ever said (aside from the musical nonsense) was that it didn’t hold a candle next to the Simpsons; an unfortunate comparison on my part dues to it being from the same folks. I just don?t tend to catch it much, so I would not call myself an avid viewer.

  6. I don’t think you should compare Futurama, the first ‘season’ anyway, with the Simpson’s as a whole, but with the Simpsons’ first season. In that comparison, Futurama wins hands down. And its clear to me, after watching all the episodes on the first 3 DVD sets, that Futurama was really hitting its stride on set 3. That one had as many, or more, laugh out loud moments as The Simpsons does now. Plus it has all the in-jokes for SF lovers. Come on, how can you not like a show that has Gary Gygax and Al Gore as time cops in an episode?

    And there’s not that much singning. Maybe 3 – 4 songs total out of 50+ episodes…. Tivo is your friend.

  7. Unfortunately, JP, your argument is not sound either. Remember, Futurama is made by the same people as the Simpsons, so they have the experience from the first X seasons of the Simpsons to build on. The first season of Futurama might as well be Season X+1 of the Simpsons.

    If you watch the commentaries of the Simpsons DVDs of the early seasons, you’ll hear that the actors poking fun of themselves how they don’t have the house laid out or the town laid out and everyone looking all weird. Futurama didn’t have those problem from the beginning, which I attribute to their experience from the Simpsons (and other sources, I’m sure).

    With all that said, I’m actually in the camp with all the Futurama lovers: I have the DVDs and I’m sad to see it go. Unfortunately, I think, it suffered from the Dennis Miller syndrome — references too obscure for the intended audience. If you take away all the parodies and the Sci Fi references, you’re only left with a ~30min cartoon show about an odd lot of characters flying around in a spaceship spouting gibberish (assuming you didnt get the references) with the same repetitive traits: Bender is greedy; Fry is oblivious; Hermes is anal; Zoidberg is poor/cheap; Professor is forgetful; Amy is annoying (except when she make grumbles in perfect Cantonese); Leela, well, Leela is just a one-eyed Peggy.

    There are other reasons why Futurama might not have been as sucessful as it should have been. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it always stuck me as anachronistic somehow. It’s set in the future but it’s based on the past (references, parodies, our current events). Perhaps, it’s this angle that made it less accessible. People might not appreciate the humor of putting our contemporaries in glass jars with only their heads in them which leads to my next point.

    It has become somewhat fashionable to be Simpson-ized for an episode. Futurama is missing this plot device. Anyone from our time can only appear in the unnatural form of residing in a glass jar or with a android body. The Futurama-fication process here might not strike the same chord as being Simpson-ized.

    PS: sorry about the X and X+1, I’m too lazy to backtrack on IMDB what seasons of the Simpsons did Futurama first started. I think since we’re at season 14 of the Simpsons and Futurama ran for 3 seasons and was cancelled before the current one, X is probably 10 (or 11. More likely 10).

  8. I understand what you’re saying Pete, but I disagree that Futurama should be X+1. Sure, Groening created and developed both, and the two series shared a few writers (5-6) and yes Futurama may have had the technical aspects down (lay out of NNY, etc.), but that stuff doesn’t make the series.

    The writing and the voice actors do. With a new series, the writers were trying to get a feel for the characters and stories they could write. I think the voice actors did a great job out of the box as far as voicing goes, but I think they grew into ‘being’ the characters as the series went on.

    I’m just saying Futurama shouldn’t be compared to a mature Simspons. It never got the chance to really get going, although as I said, the 3rd DVD set rocks.

    I will agree that if you aren’t into SF, you probably won’t like the show as much. Most of the situations and stories rely on SF and its associated memes to make sense and be funny. I think the other problem is that SF on TV just isn’t successful. Name me one hugely popular first run SF series on TV? See what I mean?

  9. It’s not BITE my shorts, it’s EAT MY SHORTS! Yeah, Amy’s Cantonese cursing and singing is my favorite part of the show, it’s extremely funny.

  10. Mm, yeah I agree that the show’s references are way to obscure. I shouldn’t have to be a pop culture baron to appreciate humor, so that element makes it kind of a cult show. The Simpson’s usually makes fun of better-known characters. I do get the SF elements though.

  11. Ya know. If yo don’t get obscure references, and you need things to be obvious, maybe you should ask yourself Why. Remebering things and putting 2 and 2 together shows wit and intelligence. Most of Futurama in not so obscure that you can’t pick up on it.

    Otherwise you are just being spoonfed and not retaining any thing of what you have seen, showing an ability to appreciate it, or showing that what you have spent time doing means nothing.

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