American mid-season is upon us. With nothing new to watch television junkies like myself are being forced to catch up on old shows they may have missed, catch up with friends and family or heaven forbid, go outside and endure the sun’s punishing rays. But fear not fellow addicts! like zombie Jesus, Futurama has risen from the grave of cancellation to deliver us from boredom and consume our brains.
In the summer of 2010 following the success of Futurama’s four straight to DVD movies, Comedy Central renewed the show for two more seasons. 2010 and 2011 gave us the hilarious comeback that was season 6 and now Futurama is back to make its 2012 debut with Season 7. With that said I was quite apprehensive when sitting down to watch the double episode premier of Season 7.
Futurama Season 6 was somewhat of a mixed bag. At its best it was satirical, relevant and just a hint of bizarre as seen in such episodes as ‘Attack of the Killer App’, ‘Proposition Infinity’ and ‘Neutopia’. At its worst however, it was convoluted, overly emotional and excessively ‘Sci-fi’ for what is essentially just a comedy set in the future – I’m naming episodes ‘Mobius dick’ and ‘Rebirth’ here.
For a while, I was afraid it would suffer the same terrible fate as the later seasons of Red Dwarf. With Matt Groening’s other animated series, that little show called The Simpsons having a deplorable 23rd season (even with cameos from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Lady Gaga this season barely made me chuckle) can you blame a man for having his doubts? Fortunately for me, and those forced to watch it with me and endure my constant critiquing, Season 7 is good. Not astonishing, but solid none the less.
Episode one ‘The Bots and the Bee’s’ sees everyone’s favourite mechanical felon, Bender, get thrust into fatherhood after he accidentally impregnates Planet Express’ new vending machine. Admittedly, this episode is a little bit weak storywise as we are meant to believe that in the future robots can impregnate other robots even though this was never alluded to in previous episodes and the weak B-plot of Fry beginning to glow after drinking too much Slurm does not help the poor story situation. That said the episode certainly has its funny moments including a hilarious fathering montage which sees father and son-bot embarking on a spree of petty crimes.
The real strength of the Season 7 double episode premier lies in the second part, ‘A Farewell to Arms’ which is a hilarious and relevant play on everyone’s fears about the world ending in 2012. After the Planet Express crew discover an ancient Martian prophecy about the world ending in the year 3012, everyone rushes to get a spot on the planet’s only functional space ship captained by none other than the incompetent Zapp Brannigan. This is a great episode that is clever as it is funny and satirical as well as surprisingly relevant. After getting sick of The Simpsons parodying something about 2 years after it’s in the media its nice to see Futurama having a slightly quicker response time, although it’s still got nothing on South Park‘s timeliness.
Hopefully this solid double episode start will herald a great season of Futurama that can measure up to any of its first 5 seasons and warrant an 8th. Season 7 is a must see for any fans of the series however new fans should start with the earlier seasons before diving into to 7 as it’s not Groening’s best work.