Good news everyone…again. Futurama is coming back for not only one more full season of episodes, but two. As reported by Variety.com on June 9, 2009, 20th Century Fox plans to produce 26 more episodes of the well-loved sci-fi cartoon.
Comedy Central will air the episodes, and the show’s three lead voices have already signed on to return. Those voice actors are Billy West, who voices Philip J. Frye as well as several other characters including Professor Farnsworth, Katey Sagal, who voices Taranga Leela, and John Dimaggio who also performs multiple voices but is best known as the show’s rebellious robot Bender.
The show began in 1999 and quickly gained cult classic status among science-fiction fans, Trekkies, Simpsons fans, and more. It was unceremoniously cancelled by the FOX network and first resurrected with 4 feature-length DVDs were released in 2008 and they were spliced into 16 episodes for airing on Comedy Central. But what fans thought was one last run with their favorite characters was actually the show’s creators testing the waters. They wanted to measure the popularity of the show in the public eye and see if they could bring it back to life.
This isn’t exactly a new practice for FOX, “Family Guy” was cancelled and also returned to the network and, “King of the Hill” was pronounced cancelled twice during its run but brought back due to fan protest.
Gary Newman, chairman of 20th Century Fox, insinuated in the Variety article about the shows’ return that there were major budget cuts going on. (You can read this article here: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118004722.html?categoryid=14&cs=1) The article states that the writing staff was decreased and the shows will need to be delivered on a different timeline than they once were in order to operate more efficiently this time around.
Creator of the show, Matt Groening, says that he was inspired to start Futurama again due in part to J.J. Abrams, “Star Trek” reboot. He also told Variety, “David and I have ideas that we knocked around before we even began the first series…And we haven’t gotten to everything yet.”
So what can fans expect from the new show? Hopefully similar episodic plots that were common when the show was airing on FOX originally. Some fans were less than thrilled with the recently released feature length films. But even those Futurama fans that didn’t like them still watched them and even flocked to stores to buy them. This was likely a high factor in the show being resurrected.
DVD box sets are being planned for the new material, and 20th Century FOX still has the option to air the new shows on a Broadcast network, such as FOX. If they don’t air on network television, it’s highly likely that the show will return to Comedy Central for its original airing. But it has definitely been narrowed down to those two networks, according to the article.
Wherever the new episodes will air, you can expect to see them in mid-2010. Will you be watching? I know I will.