I’d like to point out first of all that in no way am I trying to be impartial. This review is based on my own taste, so it is not, in any way, a professional one. I also want to clarify that I am still experimenting with this blog, and this type of material may or may not continue to appear on this blog. This looks an awful lot like a terms and agreements page lol.
After creating the longest and one of the most successful animated series in TV history, Matt Groening decided to spice it up a little bit and have his own alternative project, and just that should be enough for you to start watching Futurama right now. Well, not really. The Simpsons has actually been in constant decline, and all creators have their ups and downs; Seth McFarlane for example, who created the huge hit “Family Guy”, also made spin-off shows such as “The Cleveland Show”, which unfortunately pale in comparison to his original work. Futurama begun airing in 1999, going on and off until 2013, with 7 seasons, which include 4 movies.
Instead of comparing Futurama with The Simpsons, I’ll simply state what I love about the show. Keep in mind that some features are shared by both series.
Futurama has an excellent cast of main and secondary characters; a group of average “employees” in a spacial delivery company set in the city of New New York in the year 3000. Fry, the main character, is simple-minded, maladroit yet kind-hearted man who was transported forward in time from the late 20th century. Most of the episodes revolve around him and his best friend, Bender, a swindling, lying, thieving, and mischievous robot, along with his co-workers, which include Fry’s grand-grand…-grand(x30) nephew, a one-eyed woman, a Jamaican accountant, Amy, and why not Zoidberg? I don’t want to dive in too deep character-wise, as part of the fun of watching Futurama is getting to know every one of them little by little. Indeed, the characters, portrayed by an excellent cast of voice actors, is one of the show’s strongest points. As the viewer starts going farther in the series, s/he will discover that all characters are flawed in their own unique way, but these very flaws are what makes them so human/alien and extremely relatable. Most main characters and a lot of secondary characters actually have their own backstory, which adds even more depth to their character. They also have catch phrases which many have become famous throughout the internet, namely “Bit my shiny metal ass” and all its variants, “Shut up and take my money” or “Why not Zoidberg”. The result is a bunch of goofy lovable characters, and the viewer will be able to see a small part of himself artfully portrayed in each one of them. Furthermore, the inclusion of hundreds of primary, secondary and tertiary characters in the episodes helps make a rich and ambient universe that is full of life, very similar to The Simpsons’ world. The great majority of all characters appear in several episodes, giving you the “Ehhh, I remember you! I know this guy, I remember him from that other episode, this is so cool!!” feeling.
Futurama’s jokes are, in my opinion, among the best ones in modern television. The show relies fairly heavily on satire (social, political, etc…) and on pop-culture references when making jokes. For example, Earth in the year 3000 only has one government, based in the former USA, and under the leadership of Richard Nixon….’s head preserved in a jar to protect it against aging and outside harm. The same is done with a myriad of other actors, political figures, artists, celebrities; you can find Al Gore’s head preaching for sustainability in New New York or Clint Eastwood’s head in display in the Head Museum. The actions and behaviour of the Earthican government and its citizens in the year 3000 strangely resemble those of our own, and the show tackles a lot of issues that the USA is facing today such as war on terror, weapon laws, gay marriage, discrimination, and many others. There are also loads of movie and TV references scattered every few minutes in every episode, and a cinephile worthy of her/his name will be able to distinguish quite a few. However, don’t be fooled into thinking Futurama is devoid of slap-stick comedy, fart jokes, countless hilarious innuendos and crude and violent humour; the jokes aren’t always obvious, and it might take you between a few seconds to a re-run of the episode to actually get some of the jokes and go like “I see what you did there”, as opposed to sitcoms which spoon-feed you the humour, always pointing out when it is appropriate to laugh and when you should go “aww” at something cute. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you are a hardcore TV expert or a guy who watches Friends from time to time, the show caters to all audiences along that spectrum.
Lastly, there’s the storytelling appeal that successfully closes the deal (at least for the show’s fans). No matter how hard you laugh throughout the episode, regardless of how much riches Bender stole or how badly Dr. Zoidberg was treated, no matter how maniacal and lunatic the professor seemed, some episodes can make the best of us shed a tear. Although most episodes are not usually linearly set, there are canon elements that are set in some episodes, such as relationship status, whether an important character is dead or alive, and others. The shift of comedic atmosphere to an emotional one can be done in a few instants, and the result can range from heart-warming to devastatingly heart-wrenching. This feature is also present in The Simpsons, although it is not nearly done as well as it is in Futurama. In my opinion, this is something all good comedy TV shows have in common, since it’s not enough to have a show that is witty and funny. A good story-line to follow up and take your feels by surprise is always welcome. The biggest example of a comedy TV show that also does this is Scrubs, combining the hilarious antics of JD and Turk with precious life lessons they each learn in Sacred Heart.
Although it was cancelled a year ago, I really hope they ‘re going to bring it back. The show’s unforgettable characters, wonderful setting, hilarious comedy and heartfelt story really make it one of the best yet underrated comedy TV shows ever made. I would recommend watching this to anyone who enjoyed The Simpsons…scratch that: I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys comedy that is out of the mold, very different from you usual sitcom, doesn’t have its jokes smashed directly on your face and pointed out to you. Are you ready to travel to the world of tomorrow? If not, hypnotoad might just change your mind.