02 03 Nerd Lunch: Futurama Retrospective and Season Whatever Review 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Futurama Retrospective and Season Whatever Review

I was never a Simpsons guy. As a result, when it was announced that the creators of The Simpsons would be doing a new sci-fi comedy cartoon, my reaction was that of apathy. I didn't watch the show when it originally aired except on one occasion when I caught the last half of an episode and was confused enough to decide it wasn't for me. This decision in the face of Jeeg and PLee both professing their love of this show.

Then a former co-worker of mine loaned me the first season DVD set with the strong recommendation to watch it from the beginning. Well, not having much else to do at the time (I'm pretty sure this was pre-kids and certainly pre-grad school), I gave it a shot. Not having the experience with the Simpsons writing-style and comedic pacing, I had to get used to it, but by the end, I had warmed to the series.

Then came season two DVDs and then season three DVDs and by that point, I was hooked and it came alongside Red Dwarf as some of the best sci-fi comedy I have ever seen. Strong characterizations, wonderfully potent at times, and genius comedic set-ups and payoffs.

Then I got to the season four DVD set and a slight shift downward began to occur. From what I can know of the history (and perhaps Jeeg can better elaborate), FOX continued to mess with Futurama's air time and scheduling yet didn't cancel it for quite some time in spite of low ratings. Of course, who could watch the show when no one knew when it was on or if it would be on at all. Then FOX wanted them to wrap it up so the show could end. The season four set was just that. The episodes were focused more on explaining things and taking away the mystique of certain components that made the show great. Then it was canceled, never to be seen again. And while it was a step down in quality, at least we had resolution on some things.

But then it came back in the form of four direct-to-DVD movies. Movie #1 was excellent and a step up over season four. And perhaps, it should have ended there. But then they made three more and each one was only half as good as the one before it. By the fourth movie, I was having a hard time staying awake. But with that movie done, the series ended, never to be seen again.

But then it came back in the form of a 13-episode season (12 already aired and a 13th holiday-themed episode yet-to-air) from Comedy Central. While many were excited about its return, I was worried about more of a decline and would have been just as fine if it hadn't come back.

I had the opportunity to check out the 12 episodes that have aired. Overall, it was a pretty mediocre season. Three episodes stand out as really good, one that might have been as good as the season 2/3 episodes. The season started rocky with the need to pick up the series where the fourth movie left off and address that. Then, it was peppered with a mix of agendas and "current events" humor that seemed beneath Futurama.

Still, if you're a true fan, I recommend you check out all of them. If you only have a passing interest, I recommend only "The Late Philip J. Fry," "A Clockwork Origin," "The Prisoner of Benda" (which is just superb), and maybe "Lethal Inspection."

I haven't heard whether it's been picked up for another season. In spite of the up and down of this season, I would welcome another.

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