The Return of Futurama…Again

What do I need to say that hasn’t already been said. Futurama is a show with more lives than a cat. Not only that, it is also, by far, my favourite animated TV show of all time. OK, I admit it, I tend to lean towards the geeky side of life, and I do tend to get some of the more intelligent jokes that the writers ever so craftily put into the show.

Tomorrow night (Friday) sees the third dawn for a TV show that under any normal circumstances would have been mothballed aeons ago and left at that. However, as we’re all well familiar with, just because a TV show has been cancelled does not mean it is as dead as you might think. Family Guy set the gold standard simply because fans went out and spent their hard earned money on the DVDs. Why did they do that? The show was damned funny, that’s why!

Futurama would follow a similar pattern, although as you may not be aware of, due to the arcane release “windows” that many (if not all) of the TV networks instigate, Futurama DVD boxsets were on sale in Europe months (if not years) before the US, where the show was still in the syndication “window” of its release.

Having said that, it was this system of syndication that may have helped save the show (and Family Guy too). Cartoon Network stepped up and began broadcasting episodes every night at 10 o’clock. It was strong ratings for these broadcasts that eventually resulted in a full-scale bidding war for the rights after [adult swim]’s deal expired.

Comedy Central was a winner and they immediately commissioned new episodes that were subsequently rounded up into 4 DVD movies before being broadcast. Strong sales of these movies (I do own all four) convinced the good people at Comedy Central that a proper series was needed.

Thus we come to today (or rather tomorrow) when the first of these new episodes will be broadcast. The show has come a long way since 1998 when it blasted onto the FOX network. Always the sister to The Simpsons, it was constantly pushed around the schedule, which in my opinion significantly contributed to the (supposedly) low ratings. A similar fate befell Family Guy until it’s return when it set up shop at a dedicated time. It has enjoyed good ratings ever since.

After the original cancellation (actually, the commentaries on the DVDs mention that the show was never actually “cancelled” in the traditional sense, it’s contract was simply never renewed), there was much talk about how it was a result of being a sci-fi show and how it didn’t match up to The Simpsons in terms of humour and so forth. Nothing could be further from the truth! In reality, Futurama has been able to maintain it’s high standard of quality jokes and storylines in stark contrast to the sharp fall the Simpsons has experiences of late.

With an order of 22 episodes, there will be plenty of new Futurama to come for quite a while. It’s fate after that is still uncertain, but I hope that this, the third attempt, will see Futurama be successful enough for a proper conclusion to the series. That’s all I have to say on the matter for now. I’ll post a review of the season thus far in a couple of weeks.