Hope for the "Futurama"

The latest cancellation of Fry and friends is a reminder how the cartoon’s rise from the TV graveyard led to the return of other fan favorites like “Arrested Development.”

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, Apr 23, 2013  |  Updated 8:50 PM PDT
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As one long dry spell already has shown us, a television world without "Futurama" is like Bender without booze – a lot less fun and irreverent.

News that Comedy Central is scrapping the animated sitcom about life in 31st Century New York and its interplanetary environs comes as a bittersweet blow to patient fans who championed the show after its initial 2003 cancellation by Fox.
 
It's unclear whether Fry and his Planet Express colleagues will land a yet another new berth. Either way, the rise of "Futurama" from the TV graveyard helped pave the way for new life for other shows with modest but devoted fan bases.
 
Like "Futurama,” other network series – "Southland" and "Cougar Town," to name two – have found new homes deeper in the cable box.  But perhaps a more appropriate comparison is to "Arrested Development," another Fox comedy ax victim, which is set to be reborn on Netflix next month after a seven-year absence.
 
The successful return of "Futurama" on Comedy Central in 2008, five years after losing its network perch, no doubt, served as an inspiration to the "Arrested Development” team. “Futurama” also potentially could benefit from the kind of unique deal that took the crazy Bluth family out of the traditional TV realm.
 
Matt Groening, who gave us "The Simpsons" and "Futurama," offered a quip about the Comedy Central cancellation, hinting that his less successful creation could be re-reborn in this increasingly multi-platform media world.
 
“Perhaps ‘Futurama’ will return in another form, on the Internet, or as a puppet show in the park,” Groening told Entertainment Weekly. “Or maybe as a puppet show in the park on the Internet.”
 
Whatever the future brings, kudos to Comedy Central for providing “Futurama” fans with a handful of TV movies and what will be, by the end, more than 50 new episodes. The revived version generated some of show’s best installments: a satirical gem in fight for “robosexual” marriage; an appearance by Leonardo in a “Da Vinci Code” spoof; and allusions to Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” in the 100th episode, in which one-eyed beauty Leela is forced back to the underground world of her fellow mutants.
 
There’s still more to come, with the last 13 episodes of Season 7 beginning in June. We’ll see if there’s a happily-ever-after ending for Fry and Leela, whose love spanned centuries – and networks. Our bet is on a wedding, with Bender as best man – and plenty of booze. In the meantime, check out a promotional clip below:

 

 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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