Futurama: an obituary
by Luke Annand
Dearly beloved sci-fi geeks, animation fans and anyone with a sense of taste. We gather here today to mourn the loss of an underrated classic.
Two months ago, the final episode of Futurama was broadcast, ending the five-season run of one of the most ingenious, touching and hilarious series written. Futurama told the story of Fry, an average pizza delivery boy who is accidentally frozen, only to wake up in the year 3000. Always one to go along with whatever is happening around him, he falls in love with Leela, a one-eyed space pilot, befriends Bender, a hard drinking, kleptomanaical robot, and gets a job at an intergalactic courier service, thus setting the stage for four years of comic genius.
Futurama had many things that made it an interesting series. For starters, the main cast is a character buffet, not seen since the original Star Trek series. Name one other show that has a 20th century slob, a geriatric professor, a beautiful purple haired cycloptic space captain, a robot of Mexican descent, a Chinese gal from Mars, a Jamaican bureaucrat and a Crustacean doctor all in one place.
While The Simpsons only has middle class America to satirize, Futurama had an entire universe to satirize. The show both lovingly and brutally made fun of other planets, futuristic earth, our own present, alternate universes, religion, biology, physics and sci-fi clichés made all the more funny with the show’s ingenuity and comic timing. If the future will be anything like the one depicted on the show, then sign me up to be frozen. But for all i’s bizareness, the show’s key ingredient to its success was in it’s leading man. Fry is by far the most relatable leading character in any show I’ve seen on TV, animated or live action.
He’s not that good looking, a slob, not that smart and longs for the woman that, even though he may never get, still try’s to impress and prove his love to. It may not be your traditional leading man type, but it’s an accurate description of nearly half the guys that walk the hallways. This familiarity gave the show (whose genre might not appeal to everyone) a more personal and honest dimension. Sadly, this show is no more. The cause of death in this case was not by ratings or declining quality, but by mismanagement. Like so many other shows on Fox, it was put in a bad time slot with little to no publicity and got lost in the shuffle.
Ironically, like Star Trek, maybe Futurama will get the recognition and fame it deserves now that the series has ended. There are reruns of it nightly on the Cartoon Network, and there are now two volumed sets of the show on DVD. Hey, Trek wasn’t bad to begin with, so why shouldn’t Futurama get the same recognition? It’s final words were “Please don’t stop playing, Fry. I wanna hear how it ends.” Here’s hoping the wild ride will never end.