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Futurama (TV series)

From Academic Kids

For the exhibit/ride, see Futurama (New York World's Fair).

Template:Infobox television Futurama was an animated American cartoon series created by Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen (also a writer for The Simpsons). Set in "New New York City" in the year 3000, it was introduced on the Fox Network and received airplay between March 28, 1999 and August 10, 2003. Futurama now appears in syndication on the Cartoon Network and the TBS Superstation in the US, Sky One and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, TeleToon in Canada, Fox 8 in Australia, Pro7 in Germany and on SF1 in Switzerland.

The series begins with Philip J. Fry (usually shortened to Fry), a New York City slacker who is cryogenically frozen "by accident" on New Year's Eve, 1999. One thousand years later, he is defrosted, and finds himself in New New York on December 31, 2999. Fry's attempt to escape from his now-mandatory job assignment as a delivery boy ends when he is hired on at Planet Express, a small intergalactic package delivery company run by his distantly descended nephew. The series covers the adventures of Fry and his colleagues as they travel around the universe making deliveries on behalf of Planet Express.

The futuristic time frame allowed the show's writers to be creative with their humour by introducing humorous ideas into the series which have not really happened. As such, the show is as much a testament to the creativity of the writers as it is a story of Fry and his colleagues. The following is a division covering both sides of the series.

Contents

Setting

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Fry's first glimpse of New New York City after being defrosted.

The world of Futurama is a somewhat cynical version of the future. Unlike past cartoons like The Jetsons, which showed an efficient, clean, happy future, Futurama portrays a less idealistic view, with humans still dealing with many of the same basic problems of the 20th century. The show's vision of the future bears a striking similarity to the present; present-day political figures and celebrities survive as heads in jars, television remains the primary means of entertainment, the Internet is still slow, and issues from global warming and inflexible bureaucracy to substance abuse remain problems.

Race issues in 3000 are now centered around relations among humans, aliens, and robots. A common clash between the former two is alien immigration plaguing Earth. A specific issue on Earth is the large population of super-intelligent/super-incompetent robots (such as homeless robots and orphan children robots, like Tinny Tim), they are generally lazy and surly, and often unwilling to assist their human creators. Earth's government (now united under a single President of Earth) remains corrupt. For example, Richard Nixon's preserved head is elected President of Earth at one point in the series. This world government seems to be quite US-centric as Earth's capital is Washington, DC, the flag of Earth looks like the Flag of the United States only with an image of the Earth where the stars are today, and its inhabitants are called Earthicans and all speak the English language. Interplanetary relations are poor, with constant wars and invasions, often poorly planned and fought for foolish and unnecessary reasons.

Despite this, Futurama's world also showcases numerous technological advantages that have been developed by the year 3000. Wheels used in transportation have been made obsolete by hover technology, to the point that 31st century characters do not know what a wheel is. Along with robots, spaceships, and floating buildings, the show also introduced many memorable inventions such as the Smell-o-scope, the What-if Machine, and the Parabox, as well as less inspiring creations, such as coin-operated Suicide Booths and Soylent Cola ("The taste varies from person to person").

Some of the show's humor comes from the way characters make passing references to significant historical events of the past thousand years. For example, between 1999 and 3000:

  • Cows, anchovies, poodles, and pine trees have become extinct (Dr. Zoidberg's people wiped out anchovies due to excessive eating—"One more anchovy won't hurt").
  • Spotted Owls have become the primary household pests, surpassing rats and pigeons.
  • The Loch Ness Monster is real, as he has published a book mentioning Bigfoot.
  • Bigfoot is real also, still living an elusive life in the Northwest.
  • The Second Coming of Jesus occurs in 2443, but apparently has little effect on society other than resulting in the destruction of most video tapes. Professor Farnsworth often exclaims "Sweet Zombie Jesus!" (censored on TBS and Cartoon Network), which may be related.
  • Earth is repeatedly invaded by various foreign planets (one of these invasions resulted in the destruction of "Old" New York City, probably some time before the 23rd century).
  • Al Gore becomes the first "Emperor of the Moon".
  • For a period of time in the 21st century, cyborgs enslaved humanity.
  • The speed of light has been increased to allow very fast travel around the Universe while staying within the laws of physics, yet electromagnetic waves (such as those used for TV broadcasts) from before this era still travel at the slower speed.
  • Uranus is renamed Urectum in 2620 (in an attempt to get rid of "that stupid joke" forever).
  • At least 40 more amendments to the United States Constitution are passed, including the 67th Amendment which protects witnesses from testifying if they believe it may result in their lungs being ground into hamburger patties.
  • Global warming did occur, but Nuclear winter canceled its effects.
  • Atlanta, Georgia is now under the sea, after Ted Turner expanded it too much, causing it to subside. It is a lost city, just like Atlantis.
  • The Tooth Fairy is the head of the FBI.
  • The Eiffel Tower now floats in mid air.
  • MTV is now MMMTV.

See also: Timeline of Futurama

Most celebrities from the 20th century, 19th century, and earlier are alive and well in Futurama's world thanks to cloning, head preservation (invented by Ron Popeil), DNA splicing, and various other forms of regeneration. Most commonly they are disembodied heads living in jars. There are two jarred heads of Grover Cleveland, presumably because he was both the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States. The head of Richard Nixon, atop a giant robotic body (a weaponized mecha), was elected President of Earth; his 31st century term of office was a failure.

Linguistics

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Fry and Bender having a drink. The Slurm poster in the background features "Alien Language 1", which reads "drink" when translated.

Futurama's universe also makes several bold predictions about the future of linguistics. In "A Clone of My Own" (and "Space Pilot 3000"), it is implied that French is now a dead language, and that the official language spoken by the French will then be English (interestingly, in the French version of the show, German is substituted as the 'dead language' rather than French).

English itself has also evolved from today, however it still remains comprehensible. These changes include:

  • Christmas is now pronounced Xmas
  • ask is now pronounced aks (a reference to modern ebonics)
  • The sound duh, used to express exasperation, has been joined by the sounds guh, buh, spluh and other similar sounds.
  • The lyrics to "Happy Birthday" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" have been replaced with modern counterparts.
  • obviously has been replaced with globviously

The show also often makes use of a pair of alien alphabets in background signage. The first is a simple one-to-one substitution cipher from the Latin alphabet, while the second uses a more complex modular addition code. They often provide additional jokes for fans dedicated enough to decode the messages.

Religion

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The logo of the First Amalgamated Church, featuring symbols of several present-day religions.

Religion has changed quite a bit since the year 2000. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism have all merged into one Amalgamated Church. There is some form of Space Catholicism (despite Jesus' Second Coming already having occurred), led by the reptilian Space Pope (Crocodylus pontifex) and based upon a platform of discouraging love between robots and humans. (A retort to a question with an obvious "yes" answer is "Is the Space Pope reptilian?") Oprahism and Voodoo are now mainstream religions. Waltermercadismo is also mentioned in the Latin American version.

Some of today's holidays still exist, but with slightly different mascots. Christmas, now X-mas, is no longer celebrated, but feared. A giant robotic Santa Claus from Neptune was originally programmed to judge people naughty or nice and distribute presents accordingly. His standards were set so high that he invariably deems everybody naughty (except for Dr. Zoidberg) and attempts to punish them on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah now is represented by the Hanukkah Zombie and Kwanzaa by Kwanzaa-bot. At one point, when Bender becomes Santa Claus, he encounters Kwanzaa-bot, who is distributing the traditional Kwanzaa gift, a book entitled What The Hell is Kwanzaa? Kwanzaa-bot then asks Bender if he will be going to Hanukkah Zombie's party.

Robot religions exist as well, with the most popular being the quasi-Christian religion of Robotology, which has its Hell located in an abandoned New Jersey amusement park, presided over by the crafty Robot Devil. Robot Jews exist as well, although all we know about them is that they hold functions to celebrate a robot becoming a "Bot Mitzvah" and do not believe that Robot Jesus was their messiah. "We believe that he was built, and that he was a very well-programmed robot, but that he was not our messiah" remarks a robot rabbi. Bender is also shown celebrating the festivals of "Robannukah", "Robanzaa" and "Robamadan", although he admits that he invented these in order to get out of work.

Over the years, as life began to imitate Star Trek more and more, the sci-fi series evolved into an enormous mainstream religious cult that swept the world. This caused the "Star Trek Wars" (not to be confused with the "Star Wars Trek", the mass migration of Star Wars fans). The destruction because of the "Wars" ultimately led to its banning by the Earth Government and the execution of its followers "in the manner most befitting virgins", i.e., by being thrown into a volcano. A guard would say "He's dead Jim", as Leonard McCoy would frequently say in the television series, after each follower was thrown in. By the year 3000 even discussing the show is a serious legal offense. (It is mentioned with no penalties, however, once by Hermes Conrad while describing the Democratic Order Of Planets, and again in the episode where the Planet Express crew uses the Internet.) There is little mention of what happened to The Next Generation and the other spinoffs, but the heads of Jonathan Frakes and Leonard Nimoy live on in glass jars. "Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation" does, however, get an Oscar nomination for best soft-drink product placement.

Galactic politics

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Earth's flag, "Old Freebie", being presented on Freedom Day. Richard Nixon's head is just visible on the podium in front of the flag.

Numerous other galaxies have been colonized or have made contact by the year 3000. Much of the Milky Way galaxy now operates under the Earth government's sphere of influence similar to America's influence on world politics today. Apparently, Earth is in the process of embarking on a long-term campaign to conquer and/or eliminate all other worlds/races not allied with it. This campaign is spearheaded by 25-star general Zapp Brannigan, a conceited, self-absorbed individual who makes regular appearances throughout the series.

Earth has a unified government under a single President of Earth. It seems that the various sub-states may have prime ministers and similar leaders, much like the current American system of governors, as Bender (see below) has in his possession the arm of the Prime Minister of Norway, complete with career chip. The political parties are organized fairly closely to the American system of two main parties and smaller "third parties". The main parties are the Tastycrats and the Fingerlicans, a reference to the current Democrats and Republicans. Other identified parties include:

  • The Green Party (For peoples whose skin is green, apparently, but also involved in environmental actions)
  • The Bull Space Moose Party (a reference to the Bull Moose party)
  • The Brain Slug Party (favoring unreasonably huge subsidies to the Brain Slug Planet)
  • One Cell, One Vote (A party most likely fighting for the rights of single-celled organisms)
  • Dudes for the Legalation of Hemp
  • The National Ray-gun Association, a reference to or continuation of the National Rifle Association
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans, a reference to PETA
  • The Voter Apathy Party, in which no member may be "excited" about any party function
  • Rainbow Whigs
  • Antisocialists

The President of Earth in power at the end of the series is the head of Richard Nixon who achieved a third term through a loop hole in American and Earthican politics since "no BODY can be elected more than twice". He buys Bender's robotic body from a pawnshop, but the Planet Express crew manage to retrieve it; Nixon's head is then mounted on a gargantuan, weaponized cyborg body. Nixon is shown at times being carried by the Secretary of Transportation or the headless body of Spiro T. Agnew. At the end of Futurama's last episode, however, the Robot Devil drags Nixon's head back to Hell, so the status of his presidency is now somewhat in question.

Earth's national holiday appears to be "Freedom Day", which is traditionally celebrated by doing whatever one wants without regard to the consequences, as well as by dancing and chanting, "Freedom, freedom, freedom, oy!"

Some notable locations within Earth's sphere of influence:

  • An alien civilization which was either discovered on Neptune, or was colonized some time before 3000. It is now home to Robot Santa.
  • Mars has been terraformed to a great degree (it is now the home of many wealthy socialites), and is even home to Mars University, with which several main characters are affiliated.
  • Pluto has also been terraformed, and now houses large penguin colonies.
  • Earth's moon is still mostly unsettled, but houses a standard amusement park which is the sole tourist attraction. The rest of the moon is mostly uninhabited, with the exception of some farms, as a deep South joke. One farmer wears a hat saying "The Moon Shall Rise Again". Oddly, those in 31st century have very little understanding of the lunar landing, and Fry is the only one familiar with how it really happened. At one time the Moon was ruled from Earth, but at some point in the past, the citizens revolted. It is now under the rule of Emperor Al Gore.

Many worlds, including Earth, are unified in the Democratic Order of Planets (doop). Hermes Conrad described it as being "similar to the United Nations... or like the 'Federation' from your Star Trek program." Earth sometimes acts unilaterally without the aid of other doop members. The inhabitants of Omicron Persei 8 are frequently engaged in conflicts with doop. The name doop, which is always depicted in lower case, has perfect 180 degree rotational symmetry.

The series featured a bitter conflict between Earth and Spheron 1, a planet inhabited by giant, bouncing balls. One of the conditions for peace with Earth involves: "Bouncing of the 3rd degree, then bouncing of the 5th degree, followed by bouncing of the 2nd degree." A victorious war with the Arachnid homeworld of Tarantulon VI resulted in a silk surplus, which in turn led to a $300 tax refund from the head of Richard Nixon, the ruling President of Earth.

There is also at least one rogue colony of robots that kills humans on sight (this being Capek 9, a reference to Karel Capek who coined the term robot). A planet named Arrakis exists, a tip-of-the-hat to Frank Herbert's Dune novels.

Since a matter of years after the Big Bang, an eternal war has been waged across space between the Nibblonians (Nibbler's race) and the Brainspawn (evil floating giant brains with telekinetic and telepathic powers). The war recently made its final end when the Nibblonians used Fry to sneak a bomb into the Brainspawn's main base that would seal them into a pocket dimension prison.

See the List of planets in Futurama for more examples.

Several parallel universes are known to "Earthicans" by the year 3000. One can be seen just beyond the Edge of the Universe viewing area, in which everyone seems to look the same, albeit dressed in cowboy gear. Later, one of Professor Farnsworth's experiments turns out to produce boxes containing entire universes. (Whether or not these parallel cosmoses exist before Farnsworth activates his machine is an open question; compare the short story "The Aleph".) In the first creation, the people looked and acted rather similar to the residents of our universe, but with different-colored hair, clothes, and in Bender's case, body primer ("Bite my glorious golden ass"). The only major difference is that the results of coin tosses are always the opposite of what they are in our universe; thus, Leela is married to Fry, and Farnsworth attempts to surgically remove his own brain. Other universes are rather more bizarre: in one, no one has any eyes; in another, everyone is a robot; in another, time seems to still be in the ancient Roman era; in another, everyone is a bobble-head toy version of themselves; in another everyone is a leprechaun; in another, pirates; in another, perhaps octopodes; in another—"Universe 420"—hippies; and in yet another, the atmosphere is cold enough to freeze one in ice.

Planet Express

Planet Express is the name of the delivery company held by Professor Hubert Farnsworth to fund his "research" and "inventions." It is revealed later in the series that Farnsworth thought of the company as a form of cheap labour ("Like a family").

The Professor often makes passing reference to the fact that many of his past crews have been brutally killed. The crew prior to Fry's arrival was devoured by a space wasp. (In one of the last few episodes of the series, "The Sting", the crew is sent on the same mission that killed the last crew. They actually find the old Planet Express ship whose crew were actually killed by giant Space Bees while infiltrating their nest to procure space honey; the current crew then succeeds where they failed).

Officially, the ship is helmed by Turanga Leela as captain and pilot, Bender Bending Rodriguez as cook, and Philip J. Fry as delivery boy. Intern Amy Wong and company physician Dr. John Zoidberg join the crew as needed. Bureaucrat Hermes Conrad oversees operations and human resources in the company (see characters below for more). The ship has an autopilot (who is a heavy drinker) and a shipboard AI, which may or may not be separate entities. (When Professor Farnsworth enabled the ship's AI to become female, Bender immediately began a romatic relationship which he then terminated in an emotionally devastating manner. The crew was then forced to disable the AI in a manner very similar to HAL 9000's deactivation in 2001: A Space Odyssey.) Nearly every mission that the Professor comes up with is dangerous, or quickly degenerates to a suicide mission.

Characters

From left to right: Leela, Amy, Professor Farnsworth, Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, Bender, and Hermes.
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From left to right: Leela, Amy, Professor Farnsworth, Fry, Dr. Zoidberg, Bender, and Hermes.
  • Philip J. Fry ("Fry") (Voiced by Billy West) - was "accidentally" cryogenically frozen just after New Year, 2000, and thawed out in time to usher in the year 3000. Something of a misfit in the 20th century, he adapted to 31st century life with ease after finding employment outside the field of pizza delivery and taking up residence in Bender's closet at the Robot Arms apartment building. He generally has a lower intelligence than the rest but occasionally has moments of genius.
  • Turanga Leela ("Leela") (Katey Sagal) - The ship's captain, and usually the most disciplined member of the Planet Express crew. For most of the series she believed she was an orphaned alien, and desired to learn of her origins. It was later revealed - in Season 4 - that she is a sewer mutant instead of an alien as previously believed.
  • Professor Hubert Farnsworth (Billy West) - Fry's great-great-...-great grand-nephew who runs Planet Express. In his 160's, he peers through cokebottle glasses, has bad posture and frequently forgets who or what he was talking about. Has a long-standing rivalry with former student Professor Wernstrom.
  • Bender Bending Rodriguez ("Bender") (John DiMaggio) - a foul-mouthed, hard drinking, misanthropic robot (catchphrase: "Bite my shiny metal ass!") built in America's heartland of Mexico. He frequently violates the Three Laws of Robotics. The only thing he fears is an industrial-size electric can opener.
  • Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr) - a Jamaican Bureaucrat with a flair for filing. He is also an Olympic Limbo-er. He manages Planet Express delivery business, and his responsibilities include paying bills, giving out legal waivers, and notifying next of kin. In direct contrast to most stereotypes of Jamaicans, he is an uptight workaholic, a stickler for doing everything according to regulations, and frequently admonishes the staff for not working hard enough. The character was originally named "Dexter" who did not sport a Jamaican accent; this was changed after the first few episodes were recorded.
  • Dr. John Zoidberg (Billy West) - a lobster-like alien from planet Decapod 10 who (as a self-proclaimed expert on humans) provides incompetent medical care for the crew, at one point saying to Fry, "Young lady, I am an expert on human physiology, so pick a mouth and open it!". He is strongly disliked by Hermes Conrad and lives below the poverty line. Zoidberg combines features of several sea creatures, scuttling sideways like a crab, producing ink like an octopus or squid, and creating pearls in his digestive tract like oysters. He is often treated as the outcast in the group.
  • Amy Wong (Lauren Tom) - an intern at Planet Express (supposedly kept around because she shares the professor's blood type) and heir to half of Mars. Her parents, who constantly pester her about the lack of grandchildren, came to own half the planet through a legitimate deal that parodied colonial exploitation of gullible natives. On the show, Amy is known for being somewhat shallow and ditzy, and for her overuse of futuristic 31st century slang. She also tends to dress provocatively, frequently being the person on screen wearing the least clothing. When aggravated, she occasionally starts cursing in Cantonese.

See also: Futurama's recurring characters.

Production

Futurama takes its name from a General Motors exhibit at the 1939 New York World's Fair which depicted future technologies. Also demonstrated at that World's Fair was Philo Farnsworth's vacuum tube television; Professor Farnsworth is named after him.

Actors lending their voices to the series include Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, and Tress MacNeille. Phil Hartman was cast as a voice actor on the series, but died before production began. Some believe Billy West performs the character of Zapp Brannigan in a Hartman-ish voice as a tribute to him (hence why Zapp looks so much like Hartman's Simpsons character, Troy McClure), but the DVD commentary reveals that West's version of Zapp's voice is actually unchanged from the way he did it originally in auditions. The character Philip J. Fry's first name was originally going to be Curtis. It was changed to Philip as a way to remember Hartman.

Celebrities who have lent their voices to the show include Dick Clark, Beck, Donovan, Al Gore, Stephen Hawking, Sigourney Weaver, Lucy Liu, Pamela Anderson, and the cast of Star Trek. (The episode featuring the Star Trek cast, "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", does not include DeForest Kelley, by that time deceased, or James Doohan, whose character was replaced by 'Welshy' in a parody of the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, where Jan was played by a different actress.)

The theme and incidental music for the show were composed by Christopher Tyng. The original theme song for the show was to be the 1960s electronic music recording "Psyche Rock" by Pierre Henry, but the inability to license the track for the show led Tyng to compose a theme strongly reminiscent of it. Two remixes of the theme songs were produced and used as the main themes in two episodes. This show is also one of the few animated series to use fully orchestrated original music in almost every episode.

Many of the spacecraft and backgrounds appearing in Futurama were made using 3D computer graphics. The scenes were first painted by hand and then implemented in 3D. This way, camera movements provided a perfect geometry of the environment and characters (for example, at the beginning of the series when the camera flies around the Planet Express building).

In response to the events of the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, the Fox Television Network and Futurama creator Matt Groening for a short time removed the scene in the show's opening in which the Planet Express ship crashes into a giant television screen. It was felt that this scene would be upsetting and disturbing to many viewers who had witnessed the head-on collision of an airplane into the World Trade Center in New York on live television. Within a month or so after the attacks, the scene was reinserted back into the opening.

In 2001, during the show's third season, it was quietly announced that Fox Television was cancelling production of the series. Writing for The Onion A.V. Club, Keith Phipps observes that

Futurama premiered in 1999 to hype and anticipation that seemed fitting for the first new series created by Matt Groening since The Simpsons. But even before the show reached the air, Groening was describing his Futurama-related dealings with the Fox network as the worst experience of his adult life. What happened next couldn't have made him feel much better. While Futurama struggled to connect to its audience, Fox first moved it to a new time slot, then constantly preempted it for sports broadcasts [...] In other words, Futurama contains something for everyone—except, it seems, grumpy Fox executives. [1] (http://www.theonionavclub.com/review.php?review_id=6377)

While Futurama ended after its fifth broadcast season, there were actually only four production seasons. Due to numerous preemptions and other schedule shuffles, Fox had enough new episodes backlogged for another full year of shows. These delays account for the difference in Fox's broadcast season number and production season number. (Note: the production season forms the basis for the DVD and video sets.) The 72nd and final episode, called "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", aired in the USA on August 10, 2003. With this episode, the fifth television season (fourth production season) and the whole series ended. The episode was not a true series finale however, and though many plot issues were resolved in the last season, the final episode was in no way a clear "conclusion" to the series—the last line of dialogue, aptly enough, was "Don't stop playing, Fry... I want to see how it ends". At the title screen of this episode, though, the words "See You On Some Other Channel" were shown.

Several television stations are currently airing the series in syndication. In Britain, the series was picked up by Sky One shortly after its US premiere, and Channel 4 later acquired terrestrial broadcast rights.

Also, since Futurama's cancelation, Matt Groening's The Simpsons series has been making an increasing number of references to it. In the show, Matt Groening appears as himself (animated) and was introduced at a convention as the creator of the hit show Futurama. He then signs Bender dolls. Also, in another episode of The Simpsons, a person jumps off a cliff, screaming "Why did they cancel Futurama?". In the episode "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade", Bender appears in a dream of Bart's. And, in the episode "Future-Drama", Bart and Lisa explore their teenage years with the help of Professor Frink. During this sequence, Homer and Bart drive through a "tunnel" where they shift dimensions temporarily. When they exit, Bender is in the car with them, and he says, "All right! You guys are my new best friends!" Homer then says, "You wish, loser!" and throws him out of the back of the hover-car, breaking him.

Similarly, Futurama references The Simpsons. In an early episode of Futurama, the crew are sent to destroy a huge ball of garbage in space by placing a bomb on it. Bender finds a Bart Simpson doll which says "Eat my shorts" when its string is pulled. Bender eats the shorts, then says "mmmm... shorts".

Even though there were no official words on the revival of the show, there have been rumors of it since the news broke that Family Guy was being revived. On May 22 2005, the Can't Get Enough Futurama (http://www.gotfuturama.com) web site carried the following unofficial post, attributed to Billy West's discussion board (http://www.billywest.com):

Well, I spoke to David X. Cohen [...] and he said that they did have talks with the top guys at FOX and they were extremely impressed with the sales of the Futurama DVDs. The idea was to make a Futurama movie right to DVD and then a 2nd and a 3rd [...]

Non-broadcast production

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Issue 1 of the US Comics, "Monkey See, Monkey Doom!". The comic is A5 size.

In the USA (DVD Region 1), the first season of Futurama was released on DVD on March 25, 2003; the second season on August 12, 2003; the third season on March 9, 2004; and the fourth (and final) on August 24, 2004.

In Europe (DVD Region 2), the first and second seasons were both released in 2002; the third season was released on June 2, 2003; and the fourth on November 24th, 2003. The DVDs were released in Europe first as a test to see if they would sell, and sales were very good on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite the different release dates, the content of the DVDs are identical for both Regions.

Unique Development Studios released a video game titled Futurama for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 consoles in August 2003. Critical reviews indicate poor play control and graphic quality, but an excellent story and voice acting.

Matt Groening's Bongo Comics group is still producing a spin-off series of Futurama Comics. These are now the only new stories featuring the Futurama characters. There are two sets of comics available, the US series and UK series.

The US series was first published in 2000 and so far consists of 19 issues plus 2 2-parter crossovers with The Simpsons. The comics are A5-size and now published 4 times a year. The next issue is due in May 2005.

The UK series was first published in 2002 and so far consists of 17 issues, incorporating the Simpsons crossovers. The comics are bigger in the UK and although the stories are exactly the same as the US comics, they are published in a different order. See Futurama Comics for more details.

Season details and references

Note: Originally, there were four production seasons (the DVD releases are based on this original sequence of episodes), but the FOX network broadcast most episodes out of order, and split them into five seasons.

Credits gags

Opening credits

At the start of each episode, just as the "Futurama" logo appears on the screen, a witty caption appears on the bottom of the screen, different in every episode. Some captions include "Coming Soon to an Illegal DVD", "Dancing Space Potatoes? You Bet!", "Crafted With Wuv (By Monsters)" and "Beats a good hard kick in the face". Occasionally, a witty advert is displayed instead.

A Planet Express Ship then flies through the text, and around a futuristic city. During the final shot of the opening credits, a billboard screen appears in view, upon which the executive producer credits appear. Just before they do, a clip from a classic public domain cartoon is shown on the screen. A number of classic cartoon stars have been featured on the billboard, including Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Little Lulu, Felix the Cat, and Bosko [2] (http://www.peelified.com/cgi-bin/showpage.cgi?Forum=1&Thread=000427). During the last episode, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", the billboard shows the Futurama opening credits, implying a visual infinite regression.

Closing credits: "30th Century Fox"

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Logo_20th_Century_Fox_(30th_Century_Fox,_from_Futurama_(TV_series)).jpg
30th Century Fox logo

"30th Century Fox" is a variation of "20th Century Fox" listed in the end credits. Fox initially rejected the idea of show creator Matt Groening, who sponsored the design of the logo by himself. Later, it became popular, with Fox embracing and taking some credit for it.

The episode "That's Lobstertainment!" reveals that 30th Century Fox is a television and film studio within the Futurama universe. The studio building is shaped like the logo. The floodlights surrounding it are used to blind pilots so they crash, producing exciting documentary footage.

See also

External links

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