Fox has an affinity for killing things that I love. Between Firefly, Arrested Development, and Keen Eddie, the network has had a habit of axing cult favorites with wanton abandon, which may just be half of what made the return of one particularly amazing adult cartoon called Futurama feel like such a victory.
Set in the year 3000, Futurama begins with pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry becoming accidentally frozen in cryogenic stasis just as the clock struck midnight on New Years Day, 2000. Awakening a thousand years later, Fry soon meets a loud-mouthed, hard-drinking kleptomaniac robot named Bender, a one-eyed alien woman named Leela, and his great (x30) grandnephew Professor Hubert Farnsworth, who gives Fry a job as an intergalactic package delivery boy. While the Encino Man premise may seem a bit dry to some, Futurama soon established itself as having one of the most adroit yet farcical voices in all of TV, providing incissive comentary on our own pop-culture obsessed world while also giving us ridiculous pop culture icons of its own, like the Hypno-Toad and the Space Pope.
Originally running for just four seasons on Fox between 1999 and 2003, Simpsons creator Matt Groening saw his quirky adult cartoon falter in the ratings until finally being axed. But, much like Family Guy which met a similarly undignified end after a short run on Fox, Futurama found new life on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. After four years on its lineup, the cult following that the sci-fi cartoon had amassed was attracting the attention of other networks. Knowing that his fanbase would surely go ga-ga over any new content, Comedy Central opted to test just how well new episodes of Futurama would perform by ordering the creation of three TV movies, collectively dubbed “season 5,” in 2008.
It worked. Those of us who spent our early teenage years watching the same few episodes of Futurama over and over again had finally gotten our wish, and the TV movies lead to Comedy Central picking up the series for a full season. Since then, as other networks have begun syndicating Futurama, the show has doubled its viewership and is going stronger than ever.
For now, at least. Knock on wood.
The newly-released 7th season of Futurama is now available on Netflix.