Tuesday, February 19, 2013

RR Futurama

This time let's have a look back... AT THE FUTURE!
At the year 2999 to be precise!

Name: Futurama: Season One
Created by Matt Groening & David X. Cohen
Original run 1999
Genre Animated scifi comedy

The year was actually 1998.
Fox announced a new show from the mind of The Simpsons creator - Matt Groening would be starting in March '99.
Yeah, there already were back then rumors of The Simpsons ending (which won't actually happen until next year's Season 25 afterall!)

Anyways this was a big event.
A new cartoon from the cartoonist behind Life in Hell? An all-new product?! New characters!!
Groening actually came up with the idea back in the mid-90s. Instead of a sitcom parody, Futurama would be a big comedy-tribute to science fiction of old.
Lots of people got concerned when it was announced to be science fiction, but I sure got interested by that point.

In 1996 he got David X. Cohen, a great writer from the Simpsons, to tag along and help him develop the ideas.
Together they refined the concept of what would become the show, they researched a lot of old vintage serials and science fiction books.
The show was pitched to Fox in 1998. By then they already had figured out various ideas for larger on-going story lines - yet it would still be keeping the episodic formula of The Simpsons.

The result was such a fun new original animated series!
It might have had some problem finding its feet - and particularly its audience being such a niche concept - but it was brilliant.
Funny, but a different vibe from The Simpsons.
Not quite as much a satire, and a whole lot more nerd-oriented.

Futurama follows the adventures of a pizza delivery boy, Philip J Fry, that gets cryogenically frozen by accident only to wake up in the future - a 1000 years aways.
After at least two destructions of mankind and the rise of other cultures.
Life in New New York City has the 31st century all sorts of retro-futuristic. With hover cars, people using pneumatic transportation tubes to move around, suicide cabins around and many more crazy stuff!

Fry ends up joining the crew of the Planet Express where he ends up working for his own great great great (...) nephew, Professor Farnsworth.

The first season established the tone of the show. The random usual single story episode, the biggest craziest scifi ones with the usual science fiction tropes and the deeper ones that revolve around the heart of the show or its characters.

It covers Fry's discovery of the future, the introduction of rest of the crew such as his beer-loving robot buddy Bender, his would be love interest Leela, Hermes Conrad, Amy Wong, etc.
They meet Captain Zapp Brannigan, human-hating robots, the evil Mom, head of Mom's Friendly Robot Company, Fry becomes the emperor of a water-based world, a 21st-century garbage ball threatens to fall down on New New York, Bender is sent to Robot Hell.... so many crazy storylines!

The show was simply put - Great!
It was served by a fantastic cast.
Billy West voices about a dozen voices each episode. He makes such a looser and doofus like Fry not only lovable but also relatable.
He also does the Professor, Zoidberg and Zapp Brannigan amongst the main characters!
He is accompanied by Katey Sagal as Leela and John DiMaggio as Bender. They really form the heart of the show.
Then there's also many more reputed voice actors such as Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr and many more...

The series was then produced by the Californian animation studio Rough Draft Studios.
Futurama made quite a unique use of CGi at the time. Most of the vehicles and spacial elements are rendered in CGi.
Not only do the drawings look great and clean but they blend quite well with the 3D-objects. Really revolutionary at the time. (specially more so for a TV series than a movie)

The stories are so fun and original stories.
Easily on the same level of the Simpsons at their best (or even more - depends on who you ask this to).

Really, the show was pretty unique - still is. It doesn't really as much on kiddie humor or adult jokes as most cartoons do these days.
Everyone can enjoy it!

The show was quite well received and got several nominations over the years.
11 Emmy Awards, and winning five of them!
A Writers Guild of America Award, a Nebula Award, an Environmental Media Awards! You name it!
It only shows the wide range of genre Futurama covered despite its scifi/comedy overlook.

Such a smart and geek friendly series~

Overall, it's a fantastic animated TV series!
If like me you love science fiction then Futurama's really a must.
I can't recommend it enough!

The show has a lot of reference and pop culture allusions. It's not as "in your face" as the Simpsons though.
There's lots of easter eggs to enjoy around for the fans.
The only problem that it got really was be hidden by the shadow of The Simpsons for many or the way some people don't take much risks with science fiction....
It deserved as much respect.
Give it a try if you haven't!

The DVDs are usually also worth getting.
There's lots of bonus, 3D aniamtion animatics, scripts, storyboards...

The original Futurama series ran for a 72 episodes run, which makes for a total of four seasons. The series only got better over the years. There's a lot of great more serious deep episodes are zany lighter ones. My favorites being the ones that play with science-fiction tropes and clichés.

The show went on producing its share of merchandise, tie-in comics, a video game, figurines...

Sadly the audience didn't catch on quick enough..
And so it was canceled in 2003... but it would later be revived through a series of direct-to-video movies and finally all-new new seasons in 2010 on Comedy Central instead!

I give it:
3 / 3 UFOs!

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