Wednesday, March 19, 2008

MSCR: Back to the Futurama

Futurama is scheduled to return on Comedy Central! This spunky little show has suffered many slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. It was punted around the schedule and it's renewal notices were constantly delayed as Fox hemmed and hawed about whether it should be given a proper chance. With Matt Groening as one of the co-creators, network execs likely expected The Simpsons meets The Jetsons. What they got was The World's Fair meets David X. Cohen, a macabre genius. Groening: "The network's attitude quickly went from tremendous excitement to great fear. They were very troubled by the suicide booth. They didn't like the 'All-Tentacle Massage' parlor." Futurama was not renewed after its fourth season, though there were so many episodes left un-aired (having been overrun by sports broadcasts) that a fifth season was cobbled together from the remains.

Network Execs passing judgment (artist's rendering).

Really, Fox just couldn't handle Futurama's truth. Which is that there are some adults who enjoy the mindless violence and impossible physics that only cartoons can provide. That's why the show's syndication ratings were so great, that's why fans went out and bought the entire series on DVD. The guy at Fox who made the decision to cancel this lucrative show is probably kicking himself right now. A word to the wise: don't underestimate the power of 25-30 year old bracket. Many of us are young professionals, some of us are DINKs (double income, no kids). We've got an excess of cash and a deficit of impulse control, which means our buying power is astronomical. And we're the kind of people who like our futuristic dystopias gory, absurd, and full of freaky alien sex.

Luckily for us, Groening and Cohen refused to give up the dream. They got the cast and crew together for several direct-to-DVD releases, including Bender's Big Score - which will air March 23rd at 8pm. Four DVD releases are being divided into four episodes apiece, giving us 16 "new" episodes for the sixth season. Of course, many die-hard fans may already own the DVDs, but you can't help but get excited.

As Dr. Zoidberg would say, "Hooray!"

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