You might say that Futurama is the American Dad to the Simpsons’ Family Guy.
By that I mean a show that was created by someone (Groening, Macfarlane) who had a mega hit, and eventually the second show become more creatively interesting and innovative than said mega hit…but never really got the respect it deserved.
(Plus American Dad‘s Roger and Futurama‘s Bender are two sides of the same coin)
Although Futurama had been on for only a few seasons and was then canceled, a successful run of four movie length episodes (Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game, and Into the Wild Green Yonder) on DVD brought the show back on Comedy Central, where it has been since 2008.
While the Simpsons has all the marketing and merchandising glory, Futurama has been quietly churning out funnier and more touching episodes than the Simpsons had done in years. Case in point: even I, who will never ever own a pet, was touched by Fry’s loyal dog Seymour and the end of “Jurassic Bark.”
See? Just heartbreaking.
The world Futurama created is just as rich as Springfield, but being in the future – and with the added ability to be outer space – Futurama‘s world is that much crazier and more interesting. With secondary characters like soap opera star Calculon, Lrrr ruler of Omicron Persei 8, Hedonismbot, Dr. Wernstrom (WERNSTROM!!), Nibbler, Richard Nixon’s Head, and evil tycoon Mom, the opportunity for humor without sliding into plain slapstick or retreading too-worn stories (Simpsons I’m look at you here).
Plus Zapp Brannigan and Kif. So much Zapp Brannigan and Kif. Who doesn’t love velour?
(audio, not visual…but it still works)
And the main cast of characters is still rich with possibility. Bender, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, and even Amy and Hermes still have stories left to tell.
Of course there’s Fry and Leela. Theirs is an on-again-off-again that I hope is resolved for a while. But it’s always touching to see Leela discover that Fry isn’t as dumb as she thinks. (See last seasons’s The Late Philip J. Fry for proof and an amazing time travel episode)
Season 7 begins tonight, to celebrate here’s a live action version of the opening credits. In the season opener, apparently Bender will have a child with a soda machine. Bender as a caring father to another robot, teaching him how to drink and smoke and get with the robot ladies? I’m all in.
Also…all glory to the hypnotoad.