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Futurama

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Futurama
Futurama-Title.jpg
Premiere March 28, 1999
Finale September 4, 2013
Creator Matt Groening
Network FOX (seasons 1-5)
Comedy Central (seasons 6-8)
Style 30-minute animated comedy
Company Curiosity Company
30th Century Fox Television
Seasons 8
Episodes 140
Origin USA

Futurama is Matt Groening's first animated series since the creation of The Simpsons in 1989. The series follows Philip J. Fry, a loser pizza boy from the 20th century who accidentally freezes himself in a cryogenic tube. He wakes up a thousand years later and starts life again as a delivery boy in the year 3000.

Although the series doesn't follow a long-term plot, the series revolves around Fry and the rest of the crew of Planet Express, a delivery company which offers interplanetary package delivery. Along with delivery boy Fry are Turanga Leela (pilot), Bender (all purpose bending robot), Professor Farnsworth (owner and eccentric inventor), Amy Wong (intern), Dr. Zoidberg (doctor) and Hermes Conrad (bureaucrat). Some plot devices used throughout the show's duration include Fry's relationship with Leela, Leela's history as an orphan, and Fry's attempts to reconnect with his lost past.

Contents

Production History

Futurama helped revitalize FOX's animated line-up, along with its contemporary Family Guy. The series was met with critical praise and a fanatical fan base because of its deeply layered storylines and occasionally esoteric sci-fi humor.

Futurama's ever increasing critical acclaim didn't transfer to positive feelings among FOX executives, who thwarted the show at every turn. Episode airings were delayed, the airtimes were often changed randomly with little or not notice and ultimately it was scheduled for the Sunday night "death slot," the 30 minutes of television which is most often preempted for football and baseball overrun.

The show was ultimately canceled in 2002, though the final episode wasn't aired until late 2003. Although there were four production seasons, there were so many episodes that had been preempted by sports that they were dumped into a fifth broadcast season. Even then, many of those episodes were left unaired, particularly on the East Coast where live sports continued to preempt the series. It was left in limbo until Adult Swim picked the show up for reruns. These reruns proved to be massively successful for the network, often breaking the 1 million viewer barrier. Despite this success, the network was outbid by Comedy Central, which purchased the broadcast rights for all 72 produced episodes.

Revival

In late 2005, after the very successful return of Family Guy to FOX, 20th Century Fox contacted Groening and inquired whether or not he would be willing to resurrect Futurama as a series of feature films. Eventually four movies (Season Six) were produced and released on DVD in 2007-2009, and eventually aired on Comedy Central.

On June 9, 2009 Twentieth Television announced that they were going into production with 26 new episodes to begin airing on Comedy Central in mid-2010 with a possible first airing on a broadcast network. This will make it only the second cancelled series in the history of television (after Family Guy) to go back into full production due to the strength of DVD sales and cable repeats.

It was initially assumed that the entire cast would reprise their roles, but the budget for the series was slashed dramatically and contract negotiations broke down between the cast and the network. In July 2009, call sheets for all of the major characters began to surface and eventually 20th Century Fox admitted that they were actively recasting the series with less expensive actors. The characters mentioned on the call sheet are those played by Billy West (Fry, Prof. Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan), John DiMaggio (Bender), Katey Sagal (Leela), Tress MacNeille (Mom) and Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker).

In a statement made to the press, the network said: "We love the 'Futurama' voice performers and absolutely wanted to use them, but unfortunately, we could not meet their salary demands. While replacing these talented actors will be difficult, the show must go on. We are confident that we will find terrific new performers to give voice to Matt and David's brilliantly subversive characters." The announcement came nearly a week before a panel featuring many of the Futurama cast members was scheduled to run during the San Diego Comic Con. The panel was originally meant to be a sketch where FOX executives would determine whether or not the series would be given a new season live, but due to the breakdown, the cast boycotted the panel and Groening was forced to go on without the planned sketch or the cast. He also would not answer questions about casting.

On July 31, it was announced that the original cast and the network had reached a compromise and that they would be returning to the series. The situation played out similarly to when the voice actors for The Simpsons struck over a pay increase in 2004.

Cast

Actor Character Duration
Main Cast
Billy West Philip J. Fry 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Dr. John A. Zoidberg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Zapp Brannigan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Katey Sagal Turanga Leela 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
John Di Maggio Bender 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Tress MacNeille Mom 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Maurice LaMarche Lt. Kif Kroker 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Lauren Tom Amy Wong 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Phil LaMarr Hermes Conrad 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
David Herman Additional voices 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Season numbers in red indicate a recurring or guest role in that season.
Supporting/Recurring Cast
Tom Kenny Additional voices 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Kath Soucie Additional voices 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Frank Welker Nibbler 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Dawnn Lewis LaBarbara Conrad 2 4 5 6 7 8

Seasons

Season Premiere Finale #
FOX
Season One March 28, 1999 May 18, 1999 9
Season Two September 26, 1999 May 21, 2000 20
Season Three November 5, 2000 May 13, 2001 15
Season Four December 9, 2001 April 21, 2002 12
Season Five November 10, 2002 August 10, 2003 16
Comedy Central
Season Six March 23, 2008 August 30, 2009 16
Season Seven June 24, 2010 September 8, 2011 26
Season Eight June 20, 2012 September 4, 2013 26

In-Depth

DVD and Blu-ray Releases

DVD

Title Release Date #
Episode Collections - Collections
The Complete Collection 1999-2009 July 22, 2009 (Comic-Con)
October 13, 2009 (General)
19 purchase
Episode Collections - Chronological
Volume 1 March 25, 2003 3 purchase
Volume 2 August 12, 2003 4 purchase
Volume 3 March 9, 2004 4 purchase
Volume 4 August 24, 2004 4 purchase
Episode Collections - Themed
Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection August 23, 2005 1 purchase
Direct-To-Video
Bender's Big Score November 27, 2007 1 purchase
The Beast with a Billion Backs June 24, 2008 1 purchase
Bender's Game November 4, 2008 1 purchase
Into the Wild Green Yonder February 24, 2009 1 purchase

Blu-ray

Title Release Date #
Direct-To-Video
Bender's Game November 4, 2008 1 purchase
Into the Wild Green Yonder February 24, 2009 1 purchase

External Sites