Futurama's Back, Baby: another new season


The science geekiest show on broadcast television was once Futurama, an animated series co-created by The Simpsons' Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, a Simpsons writer and showrunner. The show has competition now from programs as varied as broadcast's Big Bang Theory, cable's Mythbusters and Eureka, and Felicia Day's Web network "Geek & Sundry."

But, good news, everyone! Futurama is back for another season, starting with two new episodes on June 20 on Comedy Central, where it premiered the last two seasons as well. Thirteen episodes will air on Thursdays at 10 p.m. (9 p.m. Central). It's possible the final episode in this season...will be its last! Or...will it?

Cohen, who spoke from a sound-recording studio in Los Angeles on Thursday that was nearly a Faraday cage as well, said, "These are really good classic Futurama episodes, as good as any we've ever done. There are perhaps a few more flying body parts." He said the arc of this season through next summer is Philip J. Fry, the show's hero-idiot-lover, will try to win the one-eyed Turanga Leela's heart for good.

Courtesy of Comedy Central

The show has survived more cancellation attempts than perhaps any show in history. Cohen said in the podcast interview linked below that writer Ken Keeler has penned each of the four "final" episodes of the program. He's getting pretty good at them.

Fans keep bringing the show back. After four seasons of Fox's broadcast division bumping and preempting the program on Sundays due to sports conflict and a strange hostility (were Fox execs all jocks, and giving Futurama a wedgie?), the program went off the air in 2003. Cohen says the show aired at 7 p.m. on Sundays for much of its run, and Fox's slogan was, "The fun begins at 8!"

Re-runs started on Cartoon Network, where it built an audience, and following Fox Home Entertainment's successful release of a Family Guy direct-to-DVD movie, had four of its own DVD releases. That led to Comedy Central taking on the program's re-runs and commissioning a whopping 26 episodes, which aired in 2010 and 2011.

Cohen's sister is an old friend, and I was invited to attend the table reading for episode 26 of that run of shows at which point it was still unclear if Futurama would be picked up yet again. (BoingBoing ran an item and some links from the table reading back in 2010.)

But it's back, baby, large and in charge, starting with a pair of episodes: a surprising sweet case of Bender becoming a robot daddy, and an ancient doomsday prophecy coming true. Morbo says, panic, puny earthlings. Futurama has, for reasons that are unclear to Cohen, amassed 22 million likes on its Facebook page, reflecting the show's global audience. (That puts it among the top 10 shows on Facebook including broadcast programs.)

In the interview embedded in this post, we talk about Futurama's tangled production history, the science and math nerds who make up the staff, the emotional heart that developed at the center of the show, and what the coming season will bring.




  1. seriously I plug my ear on the commercials not to find out information about the new episodes content. gosh SPOILERS!!!

  2. What does Matt Groening’s signature mean? That he drew the picture, or that he “approves” it

  3. Good news, everyone!

    I’d list “Community” among its friendly competitors, too. It takes the same approach to all the references and in-jokes as “Futurama.” They fly by so fast you have to watch episodes twice or more to see all of them. It also has the same sort of structure: big warm fuzzy secret heart nestled inside an exoskeleton of cleverness. I just hope “Community” survives all its trials with the same grace and aplomb as “Futurama.”

  4. Futurama is one of the greatest shows ever. Saying the big bang theory is good is like saying white people in black-face doing vaudeville is an accurate depiction of black people.

  5. Please please please please please give us Futurama Classic quality.  The show took a really bad turn with Fry’s dog, Hermes’ son, Kif and Amy’s romance, etc. etc.  To say nothing of the movies.

    1.  I disagree on at least one point – the episode with Fry’s dog was one of the more touching stories I’ve seen on television in the last 10 years.

      1.  Needs more episodes like The Late Philip J. Fry and less of the other self referential filler junk that the rest of the new season had.

  6. Another favorite, partly because it’s something very hard to do:  a perfectly balanced joke about a controversial subject, which makes fun of both sides in a way both sides can laugh at:

    Fry: “Fetal stem cells? Aren’t those controversial?”
    Professor: “In your time, yes. But nowadays, shut up! Besides, these are adult stem cells, harvested from perfectly healthy adults, whom I killed for their stem cells.”

  7. Adult Swim brought Futurama back. They also brought back Family Guy. Even though they broadcast on the same channel as Cartoon Network they are not the same thing. I think you should change the article so Adult Swim gets full credit and people can check out their other shows.

    I can’t wait for the new season but the newer episodes completely crap on the continuity of the early seasons.

  8. If 20th Century Fox had any common sence, they would have cancelled in The Simpsons instead. At least Futurama has better storylines and much better jokes, whereas the Simpsons continues to decline in quality!
    Can’t wait for Season 7! I hope there’s a great Fry/Leela story arc!

  9. It’s had some of the funniest moments on tv in the past decade but I don’t thiALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD

  10. Top Ten Shows on Facebook?

    Pfft. Like that’s representative of anything!

    No, the data that REALLY matters is the 25,000 Neilson Rating homes! After all, what could be more meaningful than measuring a cherry-picked 0.02% of the estimated 116,000,000 television households in the United States and extrapolating from there? Certainly not listening to the opinions of 22,000,000 random people on that silly “world wide web” thing. I mean, for goodness sake! That’s all in cyberspace – they’re not even real people!

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