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Futurama

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Futurama

The opening title screen for Futurama
GenreAnimated sitcom
Science fiction
FormatAnimated series
Created byMatt Groening
Developed byMatt Groening
David X. Cohen
Voices ofBilly West
Katey Sagal
John DiMaggio
Tress MacNeille
Phil LaMarr
Lauren Tom
Maurice LaMarche
David Herman
Kath Soucie
Frank Welker
Theme music composerChristopher Tyng
Composer(s)Christopher Tyng
Country of origin United States
Language(s)English
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes88 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Matt Groening
David X. Cohen
Ken Keeler
Running timeapprox. 22 min.
Production company(s)The Curiosity Company
20th Century Fox Television
Original channelFox (1999–2003)
Comedy Central (2008–present)
Picture format480i (SDTV) (1999–2003)
720p/1080p (HDTV) (since 2008)
Original runMarch 28, 1999
Official website

Futurama is an animated American sci-fi sitcom created by Matt Groening and developed by Groening and David X. Cohen for the Fox network. The series follows the adventures of a late 20th-century New York City pizza delivery boy, Philip J. Fry, who after being cryogenically frozen for a thousand years, finds employment at Planet Express, an interplanetary delivery company in the 31st century.

In the United States, the series aired from March 28, 1999 to August 10, 2003 on Fox before ceasing production. Futurama was then aired in reruns on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, from January 2003 to December 2007, when the network's contract expired. It was revived in 2007 as four straight-to-DVD films; the last of the four was released in early 2009. Comedy Central entered into an agreement with 20th Century Fox Television to syndicate the existing episodes and air the films as new episodes in an episodic format.[1][2]

Comedy Central began airing Futurama on January 2, 2008, with new episodes starting on March 23, 2008.[3] On June 9, 2009, producing studio 20th Century Fox announced that Comedy Central had picked up the show for 26 new half-hour episodes scheduled to begin airing in mid-2010.[4][5][6]

Cast and characters

Futurama is essentially a workplace sitcom whose plot revolves around the Planet Express interplanetary delivery company and its employees,[7] a small group that doesn't conform to future society.[8] Episodes usually feature the central trio of Fry, Leela, and Bender, though storylines centered on the other main characters are common.

Philip J. Fry (Billy West)
Fry is a dim-witted, immature, slovenly pizza delivery boy who falls into a cryogenic pod, causing it to activate and freeze him just after midnight on January 1, 2000, reawakening on New Year's Eve, 2999. He gets a job as a cargo delivery boy at Planet Express, a company owned by his only living relative, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth. His love for Leela is a recurring theme throughout the series.
Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal)
Leela is the competent, one-eyed captain of the Planet Express Ship.[7] Abandoned as a baby, she grew up in the Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium, believing herself to be an alien from another planet, but she later learns that she is actually a mutant from the sewers.[9] Prior to becoming the ship's captain, Leela worked as a career assignment officer at the cryonics lab where she first met Fry. She is Fry's primary love interest. Her name is a reference to the Turangalîla-Symphonie by Olivier Messiaen.[10]
Bender Bending Rodríguez (John DiMaggio)
Bender is a heavy-drinking, cigar-smoking, kleptomaniacal, misanthropic, egocentric, ill-tempered robot. He was originally programmed to bend girders for suicide booths, and later is designated ship's cook. He is Fry's best friend and roommate. He is also known to have deep desires to be a folk singer and a chef. He was built in Mexico.
Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (Billy West)
Over 160 years old, Professor Hubert Farnsworth is Fry's distant nephew.[11] Farnsworth founded Planet Express to fund his mad scientist experiments and inventions. He clones himself to create a successor, Cubert Farnsworth, whom he treats like a son.
Dr. John A. Zoidberg (Billy West)
Zoidberg is a lobster-like alien from the planet Decapod 10 and is the neurotic staff physician of Planet Express. Although he claims to be an expert on humans, his knowledge of human anatomy and physiology is woefully inadequate. Zoidberg is homeless, penniless and, despite being depicted as Professor Farnsworth's long-term friend, held in contempt by everyone on the crew, except Fry.
Amy Wong (Lauren Tom)
Amy is an incredibly rich, blunt, spoiled and accident-prone long-term intern at Planet Express. She is an engineering student at Mars University and heiress to the western hemisphere of Mars. Though born on Mars, she is ethnically Chinese and is prone to cursing in Cantonese and using 31st-century slang. Her parents are the wealthy ranchers Leo and Inez Wong. Although initially portrayed as somewhat promiscuous, she eventually develops a lasting monogamous relationship with Kif Kroker.
Hermes is the Jamaican accountant of Planet Express. A 36th-level bureaucrat (promoted to level 34 during the series) and proud of it, he is a stickler for regulation and enamored of the tedium of paperwork and bureaucracy. Hermes is also a former champion in Olympic Limbo, a sport derived from the popular party activity. He gave up limbo after the 2980 Olympics when a young fan, imitating him, broke his back and died. Hermes has a wife, LaBarbara, and a 12-year-old son, Dwight.
Zapp Brannigan (Billy West)
Zapp Brannigan is not a member of the Planet Express crew but appears regularly in Futurama. He is the strutting, egocentric, sleazy, and incompetent captain of the DOOP starship Nimbus. He is a satirical pastiche of Captain Kirk and William Shatner. He pursues Leela relentlessly, often at personal risk (such as being beaten up and or punched in the face).
Kif Kroker (Maurice LaMarche)
Zapp Brannigan's 4th Lieutenant and long-suffering personal assistant, Kif is a member of the amphibious species that inhabits the planet Amphibios 9. Although extremely timid, he eventually works up the courage to date Amy.
Nibbler (Frank Welker)
Nibbler is Leela's pet Nibblonian, whom she rescued from an imploding planet and adopted early in the series. While the size of an average housecat, his race is capable of devouring much larger animals and excretes dark matter, which until Bender's Game is used as fuel for space cruisers in the series. Despite his deceptively cute exterior, Nibbler is actually a highly intelligent superbeing whose race is responsible for maintaining order in the universe. He is revealed in "The Why of Fry" to have been directly responsible for Fry's cryogenic freezing.
Main cast members
Billy WestKatey SagalJohn DiMaggioLauren TomPhil LaMarrMaurice LaMarcheFrank Welker
Philip J. Fry, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, Dr. John A. Zoidberg, Zapp BranniganTuranga LeelaBenderAmy WongHermes ConradKif KrokerNibbler

Futurama has numerous recurring minor characters, many of them voiced by regular cast members Billy West, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, and Maurice LaMarche.

Setting

Fry's first glimpse of New New York City

Futurama is set in New New York at the turn of the 31st century, in a time filled with technological wonders. The city of New New York has been built over the ruins of present-day New York City, referred to as "Old New York." Various devices and architecture are similar to the Populuxe style. Global warming, inflexible bureaucracy, and substance abuse are a few of the subjects given a 31st-century exaggeration in a world where the problems have become both more extreme and more common.

Numerous technological advances have been made between the present day and the 31st century. The ability to keep heads alive in jars was invented by Ron Popeil (who has a guest cameo in "A Big Piece of Garbage"), which has resulted in many historical figures and current celebrities being present; this became the writers' excuse to feature and poke fun at celebrities in the show. Curiously, several of the preserved heads shown are those of people who were already dead well before the advent of this technology; one of the most prominent examples of this anomaly is frequent Earth president Richard Nixon, who died in 1994. The Internet, while being fully immersive and encompassing all senses – even featuring its own digital world (similar to Tron or The Matrix) - is slow and largely consists of pornography, pop-up ads, and "filthy" (or Filthy Filthy) chat rooms. Some of it is edited to include educational material ostensibly for youth. Television is still a primary form of entertainment. Self-aware robots are a common sight, and are the main cause of global warming thanks to their alcohol-powered systems. The wheel is obsolete (no one but Fry even seems to recognize the design),[12] having been forgotten and replaced by hover cars and a network of large, clear pneumatic transportation tubes.

Environmentally, common animals still remain, alongside mutated, cross-bred (sometimes with men) and extraterrestrial animals. Owls and golden lion tamarins are often shown to have replaced rats as common household pests, although rats still exist. Earth still suffers the effects of greenhouse gases, although in one episode Leela states that its effects have been counteracted by Nuclear Winter. In another episode, the effects of global warming have been somewhat mitigated by the dropping of a giant ice cube into the ocean, and later by pushing Earth farther away from the sun.

Futurama's setting is a backdrop, and the writers are not above committing continuity errors if they serve to further the gags. For example, while the pilot episode implies that the previous Planet Express crew was killed by a space wasp, the later episode "The Sting" is based on the crew having been killed by space bees instead.[13] The "world of tomorrow" setting is used to highlight and lampoon issues of today and to parody the science fiction genre.[14]

Society and culture

Earth is depicted as being multicultural to the extent that a wide range of human, robot, and extraterrestrial beings interact with the primary characters. In some ways the future is depicted as being more socially advanced than Fry's, and thus the audience's, reality. However, it is often shown to have many of the same types of problems, challenges, mistakes, and prejudices as the present. Robots make up the largest "minority". While a few are depicted as wealthy members of the upper class, they are often treated as second-class citizens.[12] Most robots are self-aware and have been granted freedom and self-determination. However, in times of crisis, robots may have their free will removed when their "patriotism circuits" are activated, forcing them to serve humans or to serve in the military in times of war.[15] Sewer mutants are mutated humans who must live in the sewers by law. They hold urban legend status and are regarded as fictional by some members of the public.

The prevalence of suicide booths, the use of soylent food products, the ease with which one may acquire a license to kill, and other aspects of Futurama society indicate that human/sentient life is not valued very highly. In "The Problem with Popplers", for instance, it is revealed that although dolphins are recognized as sentient people, it is considered acceptable to eat them if they were remarkably stupid in life. In "My Three Suns" and "The Cyber House Rules", it is implied that one can, with little effort, purchase human meat for culinary purposes. In "The Sting", Fry speaks casually about having acquired a new spleen from a recent accident victim. Zapp Brannigan's willingness (if not eagerness) to sacrifice hundreds of lives (on both sides) in even the most insignificant conflict may also reflect this trend.

Religion is still a prominent part of society, although the dominant religions have evolved. A merger between the major religious groups of the 20th century has resulted in the First Amalgamated Church,[16] while Voodoo is now mainstream. New religions include Oprahism, Robotology, and the banned religion of Star Trek fandom. Religious figures include Father Changstein-El-Gamal, the Robot Devil, Reverend Preacherbot, and passing references to the Space Pope. While very few episodes focus exclusively on religion within the Futurama universe, they do cover a wide variety of subjects including predestination, prayer, the nature of salvation, and religious conversion.[16]

Earthican flag, "Ol' Freebie"

Earth has a unified government headed by the President of Earth – Richard Nixon's head is elected to the position from season 2 onwards. Earth's capital is Washington, D.C., and the flag of Earth is similar in design to the flag of the United States, with the western hemisphere (described by Prof. Farnsworth as "the best hemisphere") of planet Earth displayed in place of the fifty stars. Fond patriotism still exists in some former countries such as Jamaica; Futurama's canonicity is heavily focused on American soil, and other places on the world are rarely shown. English is shown to be the primary language of the known universe.

The Democratic Order Of Planets (D.O.O.P.) is an organization in the Futurama universe that has been compared to both the United Nations and the United Federation of Planets of the Star Trek universe.[17] Numerous other galaxies have been colonized or have made contact by the year 3000. Mars has been terraformed and is home to Mars University, Mars Vegas, and tribes similar to Native Americans.

A derivative of baseball is still played, and the New York Mets, a laughingstock of the league, still play in Shea Stadium (which, as it turned out, was demolished in 2009 in real life).

Language

Alien Language 1 and its equivalent Latin characters

There are three alternative alphabets that appear often in the background of episodes, usually in the forms of graffiti, advertisements, or warning labels. Nearly all messages using alternative scripts transliterate directly into English. The first alphabet consists of abstract characters and is referred to as Alienese,[9] a simple substitution cipher from the Latin alphabet.[18] The second alphabet uses a more complex modular addition code, where the "next letter is given by the summation of all previous letters plus the current letter."[19] The codes often provide additional jokes for fans dedicated enough to decode the messages.[14] The third language sometimes used is Hebrew. Aside from these alphabets, most of the displayed wording on the show uses the Latin alphabet.

Several English expressions have evolved since the present day. For example, the word Christmas has been replaced with Xmas (pronounced "EX-mas) and the word ask with aks (pronounced axe). According to David X. Cohen it is a running joke that the French language is extinct in the Futurama universe (though the culture remains alive), much like Latin is in the present.[20] In the French dubbing of the show, German is used as the extinct language instead.

Humor

Futurama's original spoof closing logo for "30th Century Fox"

Although the series uses a wide range of styles of humor, including self-deprecation, black comedy, off-color humor, slapstick, and surreal humour, its primary source of comedy is its satirical depiction of everyday life in the future and its parodical comparisons to the present.[7] Matt Groening notes that, from the show's conception, his goal was to make what was, on the surface, a goofy comedy that would have underlying "legitimate literary science fiction concepts."[21] The series contrasted "low culture" and "high culture" comedy; for example, Bender's catchphrase is the insult "Bite my shiny metal ass" while his most terrifying nightmare is a vision of the number 2, a joke referencing the binary numeral system. (Fry assures him, "there's no such thing as two.").[7]

The series developed a cult following partially due to the large number of in-jokes it contains, most of which are aimed at "nerds."[7] In commentary on the DVD releases, David X. Cohen points out and sometimes explains his "nerdiest joke[s]."[22] These included mathematical jokes – such as "Loew's $\aleph_0$-plex" (aleph-null-plex) movie theater,[22] – as well as various forms of science humor – for example, Professor Farnsworth complains that judges of a quantum finish "changed the outcome by measuring it," a reference to the observer effect in quantum mechanics.[23] The series makes passing references to quantum chromodynamics (the appearance of Strong Force-brand glue),[24] computer science (two separate books in a closet labeled P and NP respectively, referring to the possibility that P and NP-complete problem classes are distinct),[25] electronics, and genetics (a mention of Bender's "robo- or R-NA").[26] The show often features subtle references to classic science fiction. These are most often to Star Trek – many soundbites are used in homage[7] – but also include the reference to the origin of the word robot made in the name of the robot-dominated planet Chapek 9,[27] and the black rectangular monolith labeled "Out of Order" in orbit around Jupiter (a reference to Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey series).[28] Bender and Fry sometimes watch a television show called The Scary Door, a humorous pastiche of The Twilight Zone.[29]

Journalist/critic Frank Lovece in Newsday contrasted the humor tradition of Groening's two series, finding that, "The Simpsons echoes the strains of American-Irish vaudeville humor — the beer-soaked, sneaking-in-late-while-the-wife's-asleep comedy of Harrigan and Hart, McNulty and Murray, the Four Cohans (which, yes, included George M.) and countless others: knockabout yet sentimental, and ultimately about the bonds of blood family. Futurama, conversely, stems from Jewish-American humor, and not just in the obvious archetype of Dr. Zoidberg. From vaudeville to the Catskills to Woody Allen, it's that distinctly rueful humor built to ward away everything from despair to petty annoyance — the 'Eh? So whaddya gonna do?' philosophy that helps the 'Futurama' characters cope in a mega-corporate world where the little guy is essentially powerless".[30] Animation maven Jerry Beck concurred: "I'm Jewish, and I know what you're saying. Fry has that [type of humor], Dr. Zoidberg, all the [vocal artist] Billy West characters. I see it. The bottom line is, the producers are trying to make sure the shows are completely different entities".[30]

Opening sequence

Much like the opening sequence in The Simpsons with its chalkboard, sax solo, and couch gags, Futurama has a distinctive opening sequence featuring minor gags. As the show begins, blue lights fill the screen and the Planet Express ship flies across the screen with the title of the show being spelled out in its wake. Underneath the title is a joke caption such as "Painstakingly Drawn in Front of a Live Audience," "Filmed on location," "Fun for the whole family except grandma and grandpa," "If you see a robot: DRINK!," "Soon to be a Major Religion," or "Dancing Space Potatoes? YOU BET!"[31] After flying through downtown New New York and past various recurring characters, the Planet Express ship crashes into a large screen showing a short clip from a classic cartoon. These have included clips from Looney Tunes shorts, cartoons produced by Max Fleischer, a short section of The Simpsons from a Tracey Ullman episode,[32] and the show's own opening sequence in "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings." In Bender's Big Score, the opening clip is from the first Futurama episode where Fry gets frozen.

In most episodes, the ship physically crashes into the screen, destroying the glass and getting stuck in the process. In The Beast with a Billion Backs, the ship passes through the screen's glass and temporarily becomes part of the environment depicted thereon (a Futurama cartoon clip drawn in the style of Disney's Steamboat Willie). The ship and crew eventually escape this environment, crashing through the screen's glass on the way out. Bender's Game features a similar opening sequence, with a pastiche of Yellow Submarine in place of Steamboat Willie. In Into the Wild Green Yonder, the opening sequence features a trip through a futuristic version of Las Vegas located on Mars and travels through many buildings with future twists, such as The Mirage hotel actually being a hologram/mirage. The theme tune is sung by Seth MacFarlane and is different from the normal theme tune. A unique variation of the opening scene was used at the end of Into The Wild Green Yonder. When the Planet Express ship (and crew) enter a wormhole that will take them lightyears away, it converts into a pattern of lights similar to the lights that appear in the opening sequence.

The Futurama theme was created by Christopher Tyng. It is closely based on the 1967 composition "Psyché Rock" by Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier.[citation needed] Tyng's arrangement was also influenced by a 1997 album of remixes of "Psyché Rock" by British DJ Fatboy Slim.[citation needed] The theme is played on the tubular bells but is occasionally remixed for use in specific episodes, including a version by the Beastie Boys used for the episode "Hell Is Other Robots," in which they guest starred.[31] The theme also uses the Amen break.

Episodes

Futurama has a total of 88 episodes spanning 5 production seasons. The original 72-episode run of the show, representing the first 4 production seasons, was split and aired as 5 broadcast seasons from 1999 to 2003. The last 16 episodes, comprising the fifth production season, were originally released as four direct-to-DVD feature-length films from 2007 to 2009.

Futurama will have a sixth season mid-2010. 20th Century Fox announced that Comedy Central will be picking up 26 new half-hour episodes.

Production

David X. Cohen and Matt Groening at the Futurama panel of Comic-Con 2009.

Matt Groening began thinking of Futurama in the mid-1990s. In 1996, he enlisted David X. Cohen, then a Simpsons writer and producer, to assist in developing the show. The two then spent time researching science fiction books, television shows, and films of the past. By the time they pitched the series to Fox in April 1998, Groening and Cohen had composed many characters and story lines. During that first meeting, Fox ordered thirteen episodes. Shortly after, however, Groening and Fox executives argued over whether the network would have any creative input into the show.[33] With The Simpsons the network has no input.[34] Groening explains, "When they tried to give me notes on Futurama, I just said: 'No, we're going to do this just the way we did Simpsons.' And they said, 'Well, we don't do business that way anymore.' And I said, 'Oh, well, that's the only way I do business.'"[35] After negotiations, he received the same independence with Futurama. The name "Futurama" comes from a pavilion at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Designed by Norman Bel Geddes, the Futurama pavilion depicted how he imagined the world would look in 1959.[36]

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore uses a scene from the episode "Crimes of the Hot" during his initial explanation of global warming.[37] The Futurama cast and crew also made an animated promo titled "A Terrifying Message From Al Gore." Gore is a recurring guest star on the show, his daughter Kristin Gore is a regular writer and story editor, and he has said that Futurama is his favorite show. The promo is included on the DVD release of Futurama: Bender's Big Score.[38]

Production process

It took six to nine months to make an episode of Futurama.[39][40] This long production time meant many episodes were worked on simultaneously.[41]

Each episode began with the writers discussing the story in a group. Then a single staff writer wrote an outline and then a script. Once the first draft was finished, the writers and executive producers got together with the actors to do a table read.[33] After this script reading, the writers rewrote the script as a group before eventually sending it to animation.[42] At this point the voice recording was also started and the script was out of the writers' hands.[40]

The animation in Futurama was done by Rough Draft Studios, at Groening's insistence. Rough Draft received the completed script of an episode and storyboarded it into over 100 drawings. Then they created a pencil-drawn animatic with 1000 frames. From there, Rough Draft's sister studio in Korea put together the 30,000-frame finished episode.[33]

CGI

Computer-generated explosion in Futurama

In addition to traditional cartoon drawing, Rough Draft Studios often uses CGI for the fast or complex shots, such as the movement of spaceships, explosions, nebula, and snow scenes. Most of the opening credits are rendered in CGI. The CGI is rendered at 24 frame/s (as opposed to hand-drawn often done at 12 frame/s) and the lack of artifacts makes the animation appear very smooth and fluid. CGI characters look slightly different due to spatially "cheating" hand-drawn characters by drawing slightly out of proportion or off-perspective features to emphasize traits of the face or body, improving legibility of an expression. PowerAnimator is used to draw the comic-like CGI.[43]

When it came to deciding when the show would air, Groening and Cohen wanted Futurama to be shown at 8:30 on Sunday nights, following The Simpsons. The network disagreed, opting instead to show two episodes in the Sunday night lineup before moving the show to a regular time slot on Tuesday.[44] Beginning with its second broadcast season Futurama was again placed in the 8:30 Sunday spot,[45] but by mid-season the show was moved again, this time to 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, its third position in under a year.[46]

The 7:00 p.m. Sunday timeslot caused the show to often be pre-empted by sports and usually have a later than average season premiere. It also allowed the writers and animators to get ahead of the broadcast schedule so that episodes intended for one season were not aired until the following season. By the beginning of the fourth broadcast season, all the episodes to be aired that season had already been completed and writers were working at least a year in advance.[40]

Cancellation

Even by the fourth season Futurama was still being aired erratically.[47] This was parodied in the opening sequence of the last episode of Season 4 with a picture of Fry, Leela, and Bender captioned "See You On Some Other Channel." Due to being regularly pre-empted by sporting events, it became difficult to predict when new episodes would air. This erratic schedule resulted in Fox not airing several episodes that had been produced for seasons three and four, instead holding them over for the fifth season. Fox executives were also not supporters of the show.[48] Although Futurama was never officially cancelled, midway through the production of the fourth season, Fox decided to stop buying episodes of Futurama, letting it go out of production before the Fall 2003 lineup.[49][50]

Ratings

When Futurama debuted in the Fox Sunday night line-up at 8:30 p.m. between The Simpsons and The X-Files on March 28, 1999, it managed 19 million viewers, tying for 11th overall in that week's Nielsen Ratings.[51] The following week, airing at the same time, Futurama drew 14.2 million viewers. The third episode, the first airing on Tuesday, drew 8.85 million viewers.[52] Though its ratings were well below The Simpsons, the first season of Futurama rated higher than competing animated series: King of the Hill, Family Guy, Dilbert, South Park, and The PJs.[53]

When Futurama was effectively canceled in 2003, it had averaged 6.4 million viewers for the first half of its fourth broadcast season.[54]

Syndication

In late 2002, Cartoon Network acquired exclusive cable syndication rights to Futurama for a reported ten million dollars.[55] In January 2003,[55] the network began airing Futurama episodes as the centerpiece to the expansion of their Adult Swim cartoon block.[56] In October 2005, Comedy Central picked up the cable syndication rights to air Futurama's 72-episode run at the start of 2008, following the expiration of Cartoon Network's contract. It was cited as the largest and most expensive acquisition in the network's history. It is currently airing every night, followed by South Park.[57] A Comedy Central teaser trailer announced the return of Futurama March 23, 2008,[58] which was Bender's Big Score divided into four episodes followed by the other three movies. The series also airs in syndication in many countries around the world.

DVD movies

When Comedy Central began negotiating for the rights to air Futurama reruns, Fox suggested that there was a possibility of also creating new episodes. Negotiations were already underway with the possibility of creating two or three straight-to-DVD films. When Comedy Central committed to sixteen new episodes, it was decided that four films would be produced.[59] On April 26, 2006, Groening noted in an interview that co-creator David X. Cohen and numerous writers from the original series would be returning to work on the movies.[60] All the original voice actors participated. In February 2007, Groening explained the format of the new stories: "[The crew is] writing them as movies and then we're going to chop them up, reconfigure them, write new material and try to make them work as separate episodes."[61]

The first movie, Futurama: Bender's Big Score, was written by Ken Keeler and Cohen, and includes return appearances by the Nibblonians, Seymour, Barbados Slim, Robot Santa, the "God" space entity, Al Gore, and Zapp Brannigan.[62] It was animated in widescreen and was released on standard DVD on November 27, 2007, with a possible Blu-ray Disc release to follow.[63] A release on HD DVD was rumored but later officially denied. Futurama: Bender's Big Score was the first DVD release for which 20th Century Fox implemented measures intended to reduce the total carbon footprint of the production, manufacturing, and distribution processes. Where it was not possible to completely eliminate carbon output carbon offsets were used. They refer to the changed processes as "carbon neutral."[64]

The second movie, The Beast with a Billion Backs, was released on June 24, 2008. The third movie, Bender's Game was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc[65] on November 3, 2008 in the UK, November 4, 2008 in the USA, and December 10, 2008 in Australia. The fourth movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder, was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on February 23, 2009.[66]

Revival

Since no new Futurama projects were originally in production at the time, the movie Into the Wild Green Yonder was designed to stand as the Futurama series finale. However, Groening had expressed a desire to continue the franchise in some form, including as a theatrical film.[67] In an interview with CNN, Groening said that "we have a great relationship with Comedy Central and we would love to do more episodes for them, but I don't know... We're having discussions and there is some enthusiasm but I can't tell if it's just me."[68]

On June 9, 2009, 20th Century Fox announced that Comedy Central had picked up the show for 26 new half-hour episodes that will begin airing in mid-2010.[4][5][6] A smaller writing crew will return.[69] It was originally announced that main voice actors West, DiMaggio, and Sagal would return as well, but on July 17, 2009, it was announced that a casting notice was posted to replace the entire cast when 20th Century Fox Television would not meet their salary demands.[70] It was later resolved and the original cast will be on the set for the new episodes. Many fans were disheartened to see that the cast was not at the Futurama booth at San Diego Comic-Con International. According to Phil LaMarr (who voiced Hermes on the show), the cast's invitation was retracted by FOX because of a dispute over the salaries.[71]

Near the end of a message from Maurice LaMarche that was sent to members of the "Save the Voices of Futurama" group on Facebook, LaMarche announced that the original cast would be returning for the new episodes.[72] The Toronto Star confirmed, announcing on their website that the original cast of Futurama have signed contracts with Fox to return for 26 more episodes.[73] Similarly, an email sent to fans from Cohen and Groening reported that West, Sagal, DiMaggio, LaMarche, MacNeille, Tom, LaMarr, and Herman would all be returning for the revival, set to air in June 2010.[74]

Cohen told Newsday in August 2009 that the reported 26-episode order means. "It will be up to 26. I can't guarantee it will be 26. But I think there's a pretty good chance it'll be exactly 26. Fox has been a little bit cagey about it, even internally. But nobody's too concerned. We're plunging ahead".[30] Two episodes were in the process of being voice-recorded at that time, with an additional "six scripts ... in the works, ranging in scale from 'it's a crazy idea that someone's grandmother thought of' to 'it's all on paper'. ..."The first episode is tentatively titled 'Rebirth' — and in a surprisingly literal fashion, as things turn out".[30]

Impact

Awards

Wins[75]Nominations[75]
Annie Awards:

Emmy Awards:

Environmental Media Awards:

Writers Guild of America Award:

Annie Awards:
• Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Program
• 1999–Futurama. The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
• Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television Production
• Outstanding Achievement in a Primetime or Late Night Animated Television Program
• 2000–Futurama. The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
• Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television Production
• Outstanding Achievement in a Primetime or Late Night Animated Television Production
• 2001–Futurama. The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
• Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Television Production
• 2003–Futurama. The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
• Outstanding Music in an Animated Television Production
• Outstanding Writing in an Animated Television Production
• 2004–Patric Verrone for episode "The Sting"
Emmy Awards:

Nebula Award:

Writers Guild of America Award:

• Animation
• 2004–Patric Verrone for episode "The Sting"

Media

DVD releases

Full season releases

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released all 4 seasons of Futurama on DVD in order:

Region 1Region 2Region 4
Volume 113March 25, 2003January 28, 2002November 27, 2002This three-disc boxset includes the 13 episodes from production season 1. Bonus features include commentary on every episode, Animatics for "Space Pilot 3000", Deleted scenes, Script/storyboard for "Space Pilot 3000", Featurette, Interactive still gallery (stills & video), and easter eggs.
Volume 219August 12, 2003November 11, 2002May 13, 2003This four-disc boxset includes the 19 episodes from production season 2. Bonus features include commentary on every episode, deleted scenes, easter eggs, still gallery/concept art, and alien alphabet.
Volume 322March 9, 2004June 2, 2003September 24, 2003This four-disc boxset includes the 22 episodes from production season 3. Bonus features include commentary on every episode, deleted scenes, animatics, still gallery/character art, 3D models from rough draft sequences, and easter eggs.
Volume 418August 24, 2004November 24, 2003November 24, 2003This four-disc boxset includes the 18 episodes from production season 4. Bonus features include commentary on every episode, deleted scenes from 16 episodes, storyboard, character art and "How To Draw" galleries, animatics, 3-D Models, pencil tests, and easter eggs.
Note: In Region 2 and 4 the boxsets are marketed as "Season" rather than "Volume."
Note: Each of the boxsets represents one of the four production seasons of the series. However, Fox spread out the series over 5 television seasons, often airing episodes out of production order. Of note: after the production of Futurama was originally canceled, Fox aired the 16 previously unaired episodes, all from production seasons three and four, as a "season 5," running sporadically between November 2002 and August 2003. The boxsets restore the episodes to production order.

Other DVDs

Region 1Region 2Region 4
Futurama: The Complete Collection72March 22, 2005October 25, 2004November 22, 2005A fifteen-disc collection containing the first four seasons of Futurama. All bonus features from the first four box sets are included. The Region 4 version of the collection is significantly smaller than the others.
Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection4August 23, 2005May 30, 2005August 22, 2005Contains four episodes, one from each previously released season: "Hell Is Other Robots", "Anthology of Interest I", "Roswell That Ends Well" and "The Sting". New bonus features include an animatic for "Hell Is Other Robots" with commentary, special introductions and an easter egg.
Futurama: The Complete Collection (1999–2009)72 (and 4 movies)October 13, 2009TBDNovember 18, 2009The same collection as previously stated above, with the addition of the four direct-to-DVD movies. A special limited edition will only be available at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International. The set will have all of the DVDs in a collectible bust of Bender's head and will be limited to just 500 copies.[77]

Films

Region 1Region 2Region 4
Bender's Big ScoreNovember 27, 2007April 7, 2008March 5, 2008Bonus features include complete commentary, full-length episode of Everybody Loves Hypno-Toad, Futurama math lecture, and promo for An Inconvenient Truth starring Bender and Al Gore.[78]
The Beast with a Billion BacksJune 24, 2008June 30, 2008August 6, 2008Bonus features include complete commentary, animatic, deleted scenes, storyboards, blooper reel, "lost episode" taken from the video game, recording sessions, 3D models with audio description, Celebrity featurette: David Cross, Bender or Cast reads credits, new character design sketches and a trailer for Bender's Game.[79]
Bender's GameNovember 4, 2008November 3, 2008December 10, 2008Bonus features include complete commentary, animatic, Dungeons & Dragons & Futurama featurette, How to Draw Futurama featurette, recording sessions, 3D models with audio description, a deleted scene, a fake anti-piracy warning by Bender, and a trailer for Into the Wild Green Yonder.[80]
Into the Wild Green YonderFebruary 24, 2009February 23, 2009March 4, 2009Bonus features include complete commentary, animatic, Docudramarama a fake making of, Behind the scenes with Penn Jillette, deleted scenes, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen in space, How to draw futurama, 3-D models, Bender's movie theater etiquette, and Zapp Brannigan's Guide to Making Love at a Woman.
Futurama: The Collected Epics-October 19, 2009November 4, 2009This is a box set of all four DVD feature films.

Comic books

First started in November 2000, Futurama Comics is a comic book series published by Bongo Comics based in the Futurama universe.[81] While originally published only in the US, a UK, German and Australian version of the series is also available.[82] In addition, three issues were published in Norway. Other than a different running order and presentation, the stories are the same in all versions. While the comics focus on the same characters in the Futurama fictional universe, the comics may not be canonical as the events portrayed within them do not necessarily have any effect upon the continuity of the show.

Like the TV series, each comic (except US comic #20) has a caption at the top of the cover. For example: "Made In The USA! (Printed in Canada)." Some of the UK and Australian comics have different captions on the top of their comics (for example, the Australian version of #20 says "A 21st Century Comic Book" across the cover, while the US version does not have a caption on that issue). All series contain a letters page, artwork from readers, and previews of other upcoming Bongo comics.

Toys, games, and figurines

While relatively uncommon, several action and tin figurines of various characters and items from the show have been made and are being sold by various hobby/online stores. When the show was initially licensed, plans were made with Rocket USA to produce wind-up, walking tin figurines of both Bender and Nibbler with packaging artwork done by the original artists for the series.[83] The Bender toy included a cigar and bottle of "Olde Fortran Malt Liquor" and featured moving eyes, antenna, and a functioning compartment door; it received an "A" rating from Sci Fi Weekly.[84] A can of Slurm cola actually contains a deck of cards featuring the Planet Express crew as the face cards. A two-deck pack of cards was also released.

I-Men released five two-packs of 2.5-inch (64 mm) high figures: Fry and Calculon; Zoidberg and Morbo; Professor Farnsworth and URL; Robot Devil and Bender; Leela and Roberto. Each figure comes with a corresponding collectable coin that can also double as a figure stand.

The collectible releases include a set of bendable action figures, including Lieutenant Kif Kroker, Turanga Leela, and Bender. There have also been a few figures released by Moore Action Collectibles, including Fry, Turanga Leela, Bender, and the Planet Express ship. In late 2006, Rocket USA brought out a limited edition "super" heavyweight die-cast Bender. Another special edition Bender figure was released at the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) in 2006; the figure was called "Glorious Golden Bender."

Toynami is currently producing new Futurama figures.[85] The first series of the Toynami figures is separated into 3 waves: wave one, released in September 2007, featured Fry and Zoidberg; wave two, released in January 2008, consisted of Leela and Zapp (Who comes with Richard Nixon's head-in-a-jar); the third wave, released in June 2008, includes Bender and Kif. Each figure comes with a build-a-figure piece to assemble the Robot Devil. The second series of Toynami figures includes Captain Yesterday (A Fry variant from "Less Than Hero") and Nudar in the first wave. The second wave includes Super-King (Bender from "Less Than Hero") and Calculon, and the third wave includes Clobberella (Leela from "Less Than Hero") and Amy Wong. The figures in series 2 include pieces to build Robot Santa. The third, and current, series of the Toynami line includes Professor Farnsworth (who comes with Nibbler), and Hermes. Wave 2 is set to be released in January 2010 and will include Chef Bender and Mom, who will come with a removable fat-suit. Series 3 figures come with pieces to build Roberto. All figures feature multiple points of articulation and character-specific accessories.

In August 2009 Kidrobot released 3 inch vinyl mini figs of some of the cast. These are sold in "blind" box form."From the cryogenically frozen Fry to the ancient Dr. Zoidberg, 12 iconic characters, including 2 chases (rare figs) are coming at you blind boxed in the very near future. Each figure in this series comes with a sticker and some include accessories too!"

Video game

On September 15, 2000, Unique Development Studios acquired the license to develop a Futurama video game for consoles and handheld systems. Fox Interactive signed on to publish the game.[86] Sierra Entertainment later became the game's publisher, and it was released on August 14, 2003.[87] Versions are available for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, both of which use cel-shading technology; however, the game was subsequently canceled on the Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance in North America and Europe.[88]

 Futurama portal

References

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