Good news, anyone!

Looks like Futurama has officially been picked up for a new season, courtesy of Comedy Central. This is good news! It looks like the money I dropped on the mixed bag the movies ended up being might’ve been worth it!

…so why did I spend the next half hour after I read the announcement arguing with people about why it’s a good thing?

The Futurama movies certainly had something to do with it. Sure, there were decent (and occasionally great) jokes thrown in, but now that they’re over and done with two major problems seem to stick out. The first is length – the movies all tended to drag at one point or another, or got too caught up in the plot to remember to be funny. The second, of course, was the insistence on cramming in appearances by all the beloved Futurama characters. It’s tough to blame them, but the movies did suffer from focusing too much on why you should look back fondly on the series, rather than the new material in front of you.

Thankfully, both of my concerns will, in theory, be addressed by the return to an episodic format. The apparent return of the show means they won’t need to trot out every great character all at once, and the shorter run time will presumably lend itself to the tighter, one-great-joke-after-another stride the series did so well, assuming they haven’t lost their touch. And I guess that is the biggest concern. People look at Family Guy and say that it wasn’t nearly as strong after coming back from the dead (I can’t really comment, since it was never my cup of tea), and The Simpsons has been going for so long that most people (myself included) wonder if there’s only so much you can do with a given cast of characters. (To put it another way, there’s only so much fun you can have with a moldy corpse. Trust me.)

So yes, there are some legitimate concerns, but there’s no reason to condemn the new season already. I’m fully able to compartmentalize good portions of a series from bad in my mind (hi there, Metal Gear), so worse comes to worse I’ll always have the original season to look back on fondly. Let’s give this season the benefit of the doubt before doing that, though. I know you can find a way to not be cynical about this, Internet. I believe in you.

18 thoughts on “Good news, anyone!

  1. I’ve never been as big a fan of Futurama as I was of The Simpsons during it’s heyday, but yeah, anyone who tries to poo-poo the return of the show needs to be kicked in the head. (As long as they don’t bring back the email spam villians from the straight-to-movies, why *would* anyone complain?)

  2. As it stands, we’ve had 4 seasons of episodic Futurama. Simpsons had at least 6 great seasons.

    I think we’re good for new half-hour Futurama.

    Family Guy? Never legitimately good to begin with, let alone great, so there’s no real comparison.

  3. I think we’re good for at least 20 seasons of the Simpsons. Unlike the Simpsons, where they’re stuck in Springfeild and limited by it’s characters and boundaries, Futurama has absolutely none. Could the Simpsons do an episode about Star Trek nearly as good? No: how would you convincingly get the entire cast to visit this shitty little town? Futurama is excellent.

  4. Unfortunately, your complaint about shoving in as many call backs as possible in the movies was also a problem with the series in it’s last two seasons. I just hope they spend the new season exploring new characters/situations. Knowing television writers however, I don’t hold out much hope of that.

  5. Family Guy didn’t become terrible because it came back from cancellation, it became terrible because, after coming back from cancellation, they decided to try and be all “edgy” and “shocking” like South Park instead of just relying on random references out of left field. Which wouldn’t be bad in and of itself, they just totally don’t know how to pull it off properly.

    Futurama’s humor is really all about taking standard comedy setups and then going something really unexpected with them, which is inherently something the audience can’t really get sick of, and there’s no real shortage of material to work with either.

    Besides, with the notable exception of Bender’s Game, I thought the movies all held up pretty darn well, honestly.

  6. “Unlike the Simpsons, where they’re stuck in Springfeild [sic] and limited by it’s characters and boundaries…”

    I have to disagree very strongly with this. I’m not saying that the Simpsons can go into space every episode (though they have in one or two), but the cast and the town and the whole of popular culture can be and have been and will continue to be explored in the town of Springfield. If you have any doubts about that, just take a look at everything that’s been covered – 90’s grunge bands, the apple empire, a football franchise in springfield (along with several other sports), hollywood & the sundance film festival, japan, etc. etc. There’s something about exploring new aspects of our culture with familiar characters that has such a warm feel to it.

    The Simpsons may not be as flashy as Family Guy or Futurama, but it has stayed strong with its ability to adapt and with the strength of its writing. I know it’s not the new thing in town anymore, but I’m starting to believe the show may have transcended something that makes it more that just a show on TV at a certain time of the week. Hopefully they keep going with it as long as they can come up with solid ideas.

    Yeah, I love the Simpsons, and I’d like it to stay as long as it wants.

  7. I know there’s nothing as dumb and pointless as a “new Simpsons suck!” “no! New Simpsons DON’T suck!” argument on the internet…and having said that, there’s really no excuse for me to go on, BUT: if “as long as they can come up with good ideas” were the criterion, the show would’ve been canceled quite some time ago. Okay, *occasionally* there’s a new episode that doesn’t make my brain hurt with its badness, but not too damned often. The writing has become generally weak and hackish; nobody cares enough anymore to even try to make the characters more than tired caricatures of themselves and the plots are painfully gimmicky.

    There, I said it! My opinion! Hopefully not expressed in a disrespectful manner! And that is all I have to say.

  8. “Family Guy didn’t become terrible because it came back from cancellation, it became terrible because, after coming back from cancellation, they decided to try and be all “edgy” and “shocking” like South Park instead of just relying on random references out of left field. Which wouldn’t be bad in and of itself, they just totally don’t know how to pull it off properly.”

    The irony in this is that said reliance on random references has been the achilles’ heel of FG all along, which it has done at the expense of actual plot or character development, again ironically called out by South Park in the episode “Cartoon Wars”. I will agree though, that for instance, Meg becoming a character voodoo doll for the writers after the show’s return didn’t do any favors.

  9. @Cartman414

    But Meg always sucked anyway. She’s been the abused, “normal” character since the show started, because every show needs a character like that for the audience to gravitate toward. Its pretty clear Family Guy isn’t looking for character development or “feel-good moments” or even any actual plots at some points. Its a show that pays loving, occasionally hilarious tribute, to all manner of TV and movies as well as pop-culture trends. Its pretty much a series of parodies strung along on a threadbare plot. And if you don’t like that, then Family Guy isn’t for you.

  10. StormPrime took the words right out of my mouth, not to mention phrased them much better than I ever could. I love Family Guy for what it is.

    But anyway, yay! More Futurama!^_^

  11. @phinehas

    I’m sure you must be a fan of the Simpsons, so you may not take my point, but the fact that all this ridiculuous crap happens is a part of WHY the Simpsons has been so awful for…more than a decade? It used to be more or less grounded in reality, but then this desperate, inexplicably panicy need to find OMG SOMETHING, ANYTHING to hang a plot on developed among the writers.

    As for Futurama, I watched a few new episodes — new to me, anyway — on Comedy Central the other day (they might’ve been one of the movies cut up into four segments), but not only was the writing lousy but the quality of the animation, which was in the past understated but often sublime and had just as much to do with making the show so awesome, has really gone in the tank — and when the art gets sloppy it’s probably because the key guys involved have moved on and it’s not something you’re likely to get back.

  12. @StormPrime

    Even on those terms, they’ve milked the “Meg sucks”/”Let’s abuse Meg!” angle dry. And while I understand FG is more focused on jokes than plots doesn’t mean I can’t criticize it for either meeting it halfway (there are still plotlines), or being predictable in its approach. Aqua Teen Hunger Force is an example of the “gags first” approach actually done right.

  13. Family Guy has definitely become a very mean-spirited show. If you go back and watch the pre-cancellation seasons, you will see the difference very clearly.

  14. I was never a fan of the Simpsons so I have no idea… but I’m very happy to hear Futurama is getting a new season. I love it!

  15. @ Cartman414

    Aqua Teen Hunger Force is very much a different show than Family Guy, Simpson, or Futurama. Its a complete bored stoner show, with sheer idiocy/oddity replacing anything resembling coherent plots or characters. For God’s sake, your main characters are a fat guy, a meatball, a giant paper cup, and a carton of french fries who clone dogs in a swimming pool, fight Leprechauns, and go back in time. There’s no comparison to anything else on TV today.

  16. True, but as such, ATHF doesn’t half-ass the non sequitur approach the way Family Guy does. Better yet, it keeps it short and sweet at 11-12 minutes per ep.

    And as you said, it doesn’t draw upon anything else out there.

  17. Futurama hit the mark with me the best in the same way King of the Hill does, those little throaway lines that contain great mirth, i.e. Fry’s “She makes my mouth feel like it’s full of peanut butter, even when it’s not.” The Simpsons sharp decline has more to do with these endless gimmick episodes and their inability to produce a good B story after the various times cuts there have been. The Too Fancy For Family Guy club mystifies me a bit. Most blokes in it argue against the format, the endless jokes and refrences not being considered actual entertainment. And yet those same blokes will sing the praises of MST3K all day long.

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