Category Archives: futurama
Since its debut on Fox in March of 1999, “Futurama” has had a rocky existence on television. The animated series, revolving around an inept pizza delivery guy frozen and released on the unsuspecting 31st century, has been canceled and un-canceled more times that I want to count. The warmness toward the program is probably due to its creators, David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, the latter being the creator of “The Simpsons.” Fox wouldn’t do anything to tick off the creator of their continuous cash cow, not if they were smart, but eventually dwindling ratings held sway.
After being syndicated on both Cartoon Network and significantly Comedy Central after (and during) its cancellation(s), “Futurama” proved successful enough to have four direct-to-DVD movies made, essentially a ‘fifth season.’ Ironically enough, these movies separated by months in between was really no more erratic that the schedule Fox was airing the series anyway when it was officially a Fox program. These DVDs were equally successful to merit the return of “Futurama” as a regular series on Comedy Central with twenty-six new episodes for mid-2010. I wonder how hard Fox is kicking themselves now?
The third straight-to-DVD “Futurama” flick, Bender’s Game, is a true mixed bag. It could have been one of the more hilarious half-hour episodes but they stretched it to feature length making it for the most part insufferable.
It begins with clever parody of Dungeons & Dragons, the current oil crisis and quite possibly a little bit of Sarah Palin thrown in for good measure, and then turns to mush. Most of the second part of this one is an adventure taking place in a D&D-like world satirizing Lord of the Rings, and doing it badly.
This DVD doesn’t even have any fun extras that could possibly make up for the lack of quality in the actual feature. In my opinion, more Hypnotoad, both figuratively and literally, could have helped this package quite a bit. I recommend you skip this one, wait for it to show up on basic cable, and hope for the final “Futurama” feature to improve on this downward spiral.
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs ~ David Cross is a sick sick monkey, and I think he’s hilarious. His presence can virtually turn around a usually bad movie – witness Alvin and the Chipmonks, he made that flick fall-down-and-wet-yourself funny. So when I heard he had a major guest-starring role in the second “Futurama” feature I was already sold.
Things pick up from the last feature as if we hadn’t had to wait a few months. Amy and Kif get hitched, Fry gets a polyamorous girlfriend and there’s a rip in time and space above the earth. As with any extra-dimensional rift, it must be explored, and there a polyamorous tentacle monster named Yivo, played by Cross, is found. It goes downhill from there.
Little things like the Death Ball Arena, the Upscale Human Domicile, the Exorcist 2 and Wishmaster references and of course everything with David Cross are kind of amusing, but for the most part, this feature doesn’t come close to Bender’s Big Score or even the TV series. The subplots are boring and I’m being kind. If only there was more David Cross, love his gonorrhea joke though. Nothing on the DVD special features either this time out, although the preview for the next one looks fairly interesting – a spoof on Dungeons & Dragons. There are two more of these straight-to-DVD Futuramas coming so maybe they can make up for this one.
For me, much like the opening scene of the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” film, the opening to this one was worth the price of viewing. The Professor announces that they’ve been canceled, and we immediately go to the offices of the Fox Network where we see executives doing moron noises a la the Three Stooges. Priceless.
The story for this one revolves around a brilliant satire on spam to a functional plot about annoying aliens taking over the Earth and using time travel to get rich. Great time travel logic in the Bill and Ted vein, and of course some standard “Futurama” antics ensue. As I said, a great watch.
The best part, other than the depiction of the Fox executives, was in the DVD extras. We get to see an entire episode of the 31st century’s favorite TV series, “Everyone Loves Hypnotoad.” It’s wonderful, unbelievable, cringe-worthy humor for almost an hour – Hypnotoad staring at you. There is a scene switch or two, some commercials, and even an outtake, but mostly, Hypnotoad at work. I was rolling. A joy.
Hypnotoad says watch this DVD. All hail Hypnotoad!
I’m a big fan of the show and despite it running in syndication for quite a while I still haven’t seen all of them, and I look forward to catching up. The animated series, revolving around a slacker from the 20th century unfrozen in the 30th, has a slightly more subversive sense of humor than “The Simpsons.” Its humor, characters and references more nerdy and more evil – making it right up my alley.
What has really caught my attention is the advertising campaign Comedy Central has been using for “Futurama.” It’s a play on the song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by equally revolutionary jazz artist Gil Scott-Heron whose work I love as much as a poor white boy from the ‘burbs can love such stuff. Somebody at Comedy Central knows the true meaning of cool, and the future will be televised.