Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Sunday, 24 July 2011

TV Review: The Return of Futurama

Futurama flourishes with new found confidence in its insanity
As The Simpsons continue to roll on and on, Friday saw the return on these shores of Futurama, the lesser child from the Matt Groening stable. Cancelled in 2003, Futurama was adored by many fans, and the speculation that it may return was rife. Eight years later, it is back as a regular series after some straight-to-DVD feature length releases.

I have to say that I never found the original series to be hilarious. They were, however, very watchable, full of invention and rich characters. The show was witty, but it lacked a certain zing. In the straight-to-DVD releases, it found that zing. An extended Lord of the Rings/Dungeons and Dragons parody, for example, was completely insane. The writers went wherever they wanted and let their imaginations fly. From the horrors of an army of “Morks” to giant Kangaroo’s attacking a cliffside, white city, this was absurd and brilliantly funny.

The first episode, appropriately called “Rebirth”, maintains that edge. The new output seems bolder and more mature. The laughs come from small asides and little snippets that seem to have been held back in previous series (for instance, and without wishing to spoil the laugh, Hermes Conrad saying “Leela” is brilliant). The writers appear to have the confidence to follow their humour in a manner which they haven’t previously shown.

They’ve always had the capability: people who can produce concepts such as “Hedonism-bot” (a robot built to “revel like the Greeks of old”) have clearly got talent. It still doesn’t have the same hit-rate and supreme humour as classic episodes of The Simpsons had, but this comparison is unfair. After all, we can be sure that Groening isn’t competing against himself. Hopefully, the move to Comedy Central has started a new era in the programme of greater freedom. Signs are good that the new found confidence may be maintained.

The new series of Futurama is on Sky One, Fridays, 8pm

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