I only vaguely remember when Futurama began, but I would have thought a new series from the creator of The Simpsons would have made me quite excited at the time. That show was still mostly great back then, so high things were expected from Futurama. And oddly, the reason the show succeeds so well is for the same reasons that The Simpsons eventually started to suck – it was very out-there. Every episode was wild and crazy, and often made little-to-no sense, but it was very funny. And Futurama got away with it where The Simpsons didn’t because of one thing: it’s set in the future!
The show is like a romp through sci-fi lore, taking theories and concepts from serious fiction and subtly (well… usually) parodying it. The premise of the show – 20th Century man Philip J. Fry is accidentally cryogenically frozen, awaking one-thousand years later in the year 3000 – allowed the writers to let their imaginations run riot, because it’s so far into the future that really, it’s a creative free-for-all.
Without the family-unit of The Simpsons, the show feels a great deal more grown up. The storylines are less coerced by the fact that every character is an adult, and their adventures can be tied into their job – working as they all do for an inter-planetary delivery service. The characters themselves are all wildly different, too. First off there’s Bender; a bending robot. He’s foul mouthed, he smokes, he drinks, he steals… and he’s great! Leela is the one-eyed female captain, Dr. Zoidberg is an anthropomorphic lobster-like alien, and the Professor (Fry’s great, great, great – well, you get the idea – nephew) is an 160 year old inventor.
There’s nothing more to say, because there are dozens of episodes of Futurama and they’re almost all really good. We’re talking about two or three bad episodes per season, so it could be worse – except for the fact that it was cancelled after five (short) seasons. But there are some straight-to-DVD movies on the way! So catch up on your Futurama now.