M att Groening could do no wrong in The Simpsons was still both witty and money-spinning, and he could get any project he wanted greenlit — even a sci-fi comedy cartoon called Futurama.
On board the Planet Express spaceship with the immature and slovenly Fry were cyclops orphan Leela, drunken robot Bender, clumsy intern Amy and incompetent alien medical lobster Dr Zoidberg: a crew of misfits seemingly deed to connect directly to the types of misfits who watch cartoon science fiction. Present-day celebrities made cameos as preserved he in jars, which was a lot more satisfying than how The Simpsons handled them.
Unlike some shows aimed at nerds that just shouted science words and played a laugh track bazinga! Jokes about superdupersymmetric string theory or written in binary code were included for viewers with the nerd credentials to recognise them. Despite fan outcry, it axed Futurama after four brilliant seasons.
Many of the old writers had moved on to bigger things, however, and instead of leaving a perfect legacy of genius comedy, the show decided to try new things. Like being stupid. And unfunny.
The real low point came in the Futurama Holiday Spectacular, which combined songs with heavy-handed ecological morals across three unrelated stories. Murderous Christmas trees conquering Earth was, somehow, not the worst thing about it.
The montage of the years passing before his death is often ranked among the most moving moments in TV history. When time travel is introduced — always a killer in sci-fi plots — Seymour is given a happy ending, robbing his first death of its meaning.
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The show was axed and remade, moving to Comedy Central and leaving its comedic legacy behind. Aargh, make it stop… Futurama.
Photograph: Fox. Ben Gazur. Mon 10 Jun Topics Matt Groening Jump the shark Television features. Reuse this content.