Tonight, Futurama will return from the dead for the fifth or sixth time. This is a sacred event. Five years ago, when I was rediscovering the show on Adult Swim reruns, news of Futurama‘s return would have caused my brain to explode. In fact, my brain did explode back in 2007, when the show’s creators announced the production of four direct-to-DVD movies. Then I actually saw the movies…and haven’t felt so disappointed by a franchise I love since The Phantom Menace taught us all a valuable lesson about intergalactic trade routes. All of which has me wondering: When Futurama returns this week, will it still be as good?
I don’t want to sound like a hater. There was some fun stuff in every movie. The time travel plot of Bender’s Big Score was twisty fun. The Beast With a Billion Backs features easily the best war against heaven since Paradise Lost. The end of Into the Wild Green Yonder was very emotional. And, well, I lied, there was nothing fun about Bender’s Game.
When you get right down to it, the films just felt like they paled in comparison to the original series. Every episode of Futurama threw alien cultures and futuristic satire in your face at a rapid-fire pace. (And the show could also move you to tears, something that The Simpsons stopped doing over a decade ago.) By comparison, the movies just felt like lots of fan service with once-great characters turning into clichés; think Sex and the City 2 for the D&D set.
Exec-producer David X. Cohen talked to EW last month, and his teases for the show’s upcoming storylines (Robosexual marriage! Mutant rights! Katee Sackhoff!) has me hopeful that the show will return to its former glory. But what do you think, PopWatchers? Will Futurama be another Family Guy, a show that rose from the dead to achieve pop culture dominance? Or will Futurama be another Family Guy, a brilliant series that was never as good (IMHO) in its post-cancellation run? And is Futurama the most quotable show ever? Windmills do not work that way! Good night!