Futurama (Fox, 1999-2003, Comedy Central, 2008-2013)
The Simpsons was one of the most successful TV shows of its era, so when it was revealed that its creator Matt Groening was working on a new cartoon, a lot of people including myself were wondering what he would come up with next. It turned out that his new show was a science-fiction cartoon set 1,000 years in the future called Futurama.
I can still remember the first time that I saw a picture of the Futurama cast at the beginning of 1999 and I was rather excited. They looked like characters from The Simpsons… but there was something different about them! There was a huge buzz around the show when it finally launched later that year, and Futurama made its debut on TV in this country on Sky One around the same time as Family Guy so I can’t help but always group those two shows together.
Futurama is one of those shows that is very well documented online, so there isn’t much need to explain the plot in huge depth, but I’d just like to add my views on the show to the many already out there. It begins at the end of 1999 when we meet our hero of the show, the ordinary pizza delivery boy Fry (who was voiced by Billy West of Ren And Stimpy fame among many other animated shows).
Fry manages to get himself locked in a freezer, and when he finally awakes in the year 3000… it is fair to say that things on Earth have changed somewhat. We then follow Fry’s new life in the future as he gets a new job as a delivery boy on the Planet Express spaceship, and like all good shows there are a small amount of very enjoyable regular cast members, the main ones being the purple-haired one-eyed Leela, and Bender the talking robot.
Also featuring was Fry’s elderly relative Professor Farnsworth who was always inventing things, Amy, Hermes, and Dr Zoidberg. I remember being particularly amused by Zapp Brannigan, especially his difficultly with pronouncing the word “champagne”, which really upset him. There were also lots of other good touches in the show including a title sequence which changed every episode, and a chance to spot secret messages.
I remember watching the early episodes of Futurama on Sky One in the late-90s/early-2000s when there was something of an animation boom on TV which brought the genre into a new era. Some episodes were also shown on Channel 4, but these were in some odd timeslots and the show never really managed to get as big a following in this country as The Simpsons but it still had a huge amount of fans. The DVDs also feature a good amount of extras looking behind the scenes of the show.
As time went by Fry and co. visited several planets and encountered a wide range of creative aliens, technology, robots and so on. After a few years though Futurama was cancelled by Fox, but then it was revived a few years later by Comedy Central before being cancelled again, and there have been constant rumours ever since about its return. I also remember that there was a lot of merchandise for the show including comics, and I also had the PlayStation 2 game. There were so many great episodes over the years and I still enjoy watching the show.