FUTURAMA Season Six Premiere Review

by     Posted 4 years, 59 days ago

Futurama-image-601-Crew-Skeletons slice

It has been seven years since Fox cancelled Futurama in 2003.  Thanks to solid ratings in syndication, the animated sci-fi spoof was revived for four DVD movies, which Comedy Central repurposed for a makeshift season five starting in 2008.  The network must have been happy with the results, as they ordered a whopping twenty-six new episodes.  Hit the jump for a review of the first two, “Rebirth” and “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela,” which premiere on June 24th at 10/9c.


“On the count of three, you will awaken feeling refreshed, as if Futurama had never been cancelled by idiots, then brought back by bigger idiots.”

And so, in a prologue to the first episode back, recurring gag Hypnotoad brainwashes the viewer into blissful reality where new episodes of Futurama never ceased to populate the airwaves.  However, this is the first of many meta references to the Fox cancellation and subsequent Comedy Central in “Rebirth” to remind you that such is fantasy.

I was a big fan of the DVD movies — particularly the first, Bender’s Big Score.  I thought it made splendid use of multiple timelines and character duplicates.  Similar techniques are carried over into “Rebirth” successfully, if a bit more haphazardly.  It serves as a good reintroduction to the Planet Express crew, whether or not one is necessary.

My favorite gag of the episode trapped Bender in a Speed-like plot device where, if he ever stopped dancing and partying, he would explode.  Bender inappropriately and reluctantly living it up never got old.

I fancied “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela” a bit less due to a labored third act and the prevalence of Zapp Brannigan, a character I’ve never loved.  Still, mini-parodies of the serials from the fifties that kicked off each act were a highlight.  In terms of sci-fi references, Star Wars and The Terminator also get the Futurama treatment in the first two half-hours.

bender_futuramaI’m so glad they got the voice cast back, despite contract negotiation issues.  They’re just teriffic.  Billy West has got to be the MVP as the voice of Fry, The Professor, and Zoidberg among many, many other supporting characters.  John DiMaggio has crafted one of the great comic characters of all animated time in Bender.  And heck, Katey Sagal is now a legitimate Emmy contender for lead actress in a drama for her work on Sons of Anarchy.

(Side note: Because of the general ubiquity of talented voice actors, West and DiMaggio have plenty of side gigs in an industry where the core audience is young children.  It is bizarre to hear a variation of Bender in The Penguins of Madagascar.)

In the sense that I became a Futurama fan by way of the Adult Swim reruns (the 2003 episode “The Farnsworth Parabox” was new to my eyes as recently as this weekend) Hypnotoad already has me on board.  I consider the DVD movies proof that the writers didn’t lose their comedic edge over the production hiatus; “Rebirth” and “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela” indicate that energy will translate back in to an episodic format just fine.

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  • suck it

    you never liked Zap? what are you stupid…he is one of the best toons on that show…no death by snoo snoo for you buttface!

  • MCP

    Ya, that's what I was thinking, Zap is great.
    I could imagine having Phil Hartman doing the voice (nothing wrong w/ current voice), if he was still around; RIP.

    “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is spongy, and bruised.”

    End of Line

  • TragicVillain

    As much as I appreciate a fresh perspective on the series, said perspective seems to throw your love for the show in conflict with those (like myself) who've rewatched our box sets so many times you can barely get through an episode without skipping. I don't want to come across like someone who says “I liked it before it was cool”, but at the same time there is a distinct difference between what you appreciate about the series the first time through vs. the twentieth. You're still on your first time in, and while I envy you that fresh perspective, it makes your judgments on Zap or that the DVD movies (beyond the first) were very good at all seem somewhat less valid. I'm glad to hear that they hooked you deeper into the series, but for the longtime fans it was bittersweet seeing beloved characters revived for features that lacked the genius of the original series.

  • Jhkjash

    @ TragicVillain

    Wow, just…..wow

  • KifsBulbousHead

    I am SOOOOO excited that Futurama is back. I own all the DVDs. It is one of my all time favorite shows. How could you not like Zapp? He is awesome!

    Leela: “You know Zapp, someone ought to teach you a lesson.”
    Zapp: “If it's a lesson in love, watch out! I suffer from a very sexy learning disability. What do I call it, Kif?”
    Kif: *sigh* “Sexlexia.”

  • The Truth

    never been laid

  • http://twitter.com/colliderbrendan Brendan Bettinger

    My opinion is probably invalid, but I hope it's for different reasons.

    I've seen most of the episodes multiple times in syndication, hooked long before the DVD movies, but the odd repeat reaches me anew.

    I think Bender's Big Score is among their best work, where they made fantastic use of the longer format and created some genuinely heartfelt moments.

    None of the other three movies or these first two episodes reached that level for me, but I'm still laughing often enough to disagree that the genius is completely gone.

  • http://twitter.com/colliderbrendan Brendan Bettinger

    I do think Zapp works great as a spice character, and is (clearly) endlessly quotable. But some episodes, like “Gadda”, use too much Zapp spice for my taste.

    It's possible that part of it is sympathy for Kif. Poor, poor Kif.

  • TragicVillain

    No, I didn't say invalid. I was aiming more at suggesting a different perspective. Nor do I think the “genius is completely gone”. I'd put the newest two episodes above all three of the direct-to-DVD prequels – they were just that bad. I don't think it proves that the series lost what fans love, I think it proves once and for all that Futurama works best as a 23-minute episode.

    @The Truth – Grow up.

  • Superseanski

    I had snoo snoo.

  • AbsoluteApril

    just one question since I don't have cable and can't watch the new series yet.. did they finally bring back alienese? I missed seeing the futurama alien language in the movies.

    Such an awesome show, great 4-dvd movies, I'm so happy! “we're back baby!”

    Bender is great and I don't care.. take that you stupid corn.

  • Sed1996

    I liked Futurama before it was cool, too, but I really enjoyed Into the Wild Green Yonderore than Bender's Game (but I was never into Dungeons & Dragons), so to each his/her own.

  • Lol

    man i hope they never cancell this again idiots dont relise this show is everything to the fans

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