Last week, I asked if the resurrected Futurama would still be funny. I was pretty sure the answer would be “No.” The show’s original run is still fresh and funny seven years later because it still feels like a show conceived in a fit of passionate desperation. Low-rated and ignored, Futurama was shuttled all over the Fox schedule like unloved radioactive space detritus. You get the sense that the creators felt like every episode could be their last, like they had to cram in everything before the giant Fox laser beam blasted them into the Negative Zone. I worried that those same creators – blessed with a second life on a new network that will protect them like a sainted franchise and let them use the S-word – would descend into self-congratulatory backslapping and fan service. Self-congratulation gets you nowhere in comedy – just look at the drearily unfunny Bender’s Game.
Well, we’re now three episodes into the new Futurama. And viewers, I’m in robot heaven. The show hasn’t been perfect, and the first two episodes were a little bit all over the place. (Curiously, those two episodes also featured “Story By” credits for Matt Groening, which I think is the first time in over a decade that the Simpsons overlord has had credited input on an episode.) But last night’s iPhone-themed ep was fast, funny, angry, nutso, and as good as anything the show produced in its prime.
Futurama lucked out a little bit in timing. A whole episode making fun of Apple might have seemed outdated, if America hadn’t just suffered from the twin hurricanes of the new iPad and the latest iPhone model. But part of the fun of the satire was its utter precision: you could tell that at least a few people in the Futurama writers’ room probably go Apple crazy, even if they hate themselves hilariously for doing so.
Putting aside the plot specifics, what made me love the episode was the rat-a-tat speed of it all. Great lines spewed out nonstop. The first three minutes introduced the notion that all of Earth’s garbage gets sent to the Third World…of the Antares system. Rimshot! (Gloriously, this plotline had nothing to do with the rest of the episode.) Also, if you’re going to do a Susan Boyle parody, you might as well use a singing butt-boil named Susan. And that ending! Apocalypse, wow!
Do you like the new Futurama, viewers? And what was your favorite line from last night? Vote now! And be sure to let me know which ones I missed.