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October 9, 2015

'Futurama' - 'Rebirth' Recap (Season Premiere)

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jun 25th 2010 7:00PM
The dead cast of 'Futurama' (S06E01) "Move over God! Prepare for rebirth!" - Professor Farnsworth

It's here! It's finally here! 'Futurama' is back baby! And Bender! And his banjo! And Fry! (I'll never get sick of that joke.)

All of my favorite characters are back in action, as if nothing ever happened to them. The first new episode of Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's genius creation. It's like being reunited with an old college friend and realizing that they are the same silly, dumb, hard partying freak you spent so much time trying to keep his drooping head from falling in the toilet.

So why, after all this time, does it feel so weird to watch?

Don't get me wrong. 'Futurama' always has been and still is a blast to watch. The clever writing and characterization is still there. The story is engaging and surprising. Bender is, well, Bender. Something about it just still feels strange and haunting.

It's probably the plucky little back story that kept it in the pop culture consciousness and helped bring it back to life. I've been in this situation before with 'The Simpsons,' 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Mystery Science Theater 3000.' My expectations are never as good as the actual re-product.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case with Comedy Central's "rebirthing" of 'Futurama.' It's just as smart, fresh and (most importantly) funny as it ever was.

The first new episode had a hazard of being sub-substandard since it has to tie up the loose end that the fourth film, "Into the Wild Green Yonder," left them with since the future of the show was still up in the air. As you may remember (and if you didn't, Comedy Central conveniently ran it before the show's premiere), the Planet Express ship is careening into a worm hole and just as the ship rides off into the galactic sunset, Fry and Leela finally confess their love to each other, a movie that the writers put in as a final thumb nosing to the world since the show's future was still so uncertain, according to the DVD commentary track.

As the show returns, we eventually learn the ship had gone into the "Panama Worm Hole" that leads them directly back to Earth including the Nimbus, piloted by the always hilarious space ship captain Zap Branigan, causing a calamitous crash that kills the entire crew, hence the "rebirth" (the sticky, sloppy rebirth, ick).

The episode feels a little contained since it has to take time to explain the link from the old series to the new and make time to re-introduce the old characters to the new ones. Thankfully, they are just as colorful and funny as they always were, especially Bender who has to spend the entire episode partying "Slurms MacKensize" style to keep a life saving doomsday device installed in chest cavity in check. The image of Bender boogeying down in the background in such heavy situations was a nice touch.

It also had a few of the background "nerd" jokes that the old show was chocked full of were nice to find, like the not-so-subtle "Studio 54" sign (do the math). I would have liked to see more of them since that's one of the reasons that made the old show so much fun, but I'll take what I can get.

The story itself also felt a little too forced with it's tied up ending, but it still had a great sense of surprise and shock that worked like a perfect 'Twilight Zone' parody mixed with a little Philip K. Dick-esque (snicker) exploration of the meaning of life using robots as a vehicle for exploring the nature of existence.

The entire episode set a nice smooth pace for the new series. I can't wait for the next episode. Here it comes now!

Other observations:
- Does anyone else miss the little funny slogans that used to run at the beginning of the show at the bottom of the title screen? The writers seemed to have a bottomless well of little jokes that they put before every episode. Now it's just a boring old title screen. Bring it back!
- Finally, my dream has come true: a Leela on Leela catfight. I'll never wash my eyes again.

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Curtis Gibby

In "The Farnsworth Parabox" ( http://futurama.wikia.com/wiki/The_Farnsworth_Parabox ), Leela 1 and Leela A fight each other.

July 01 2010 at 5:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Much like the recent DVDs, it was devoid of any successfull humour. For me, I am done with it.

June 27 2010 at 1:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Episode 2 has the title flag......

June 25 2010 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yup. Great little premiere. Almost like it never left. I never watched the movies so I probably would've liked it more if I had but I thought the feel of the entire ep was very true to everything I've come to like about Futurama.

June 25 2010 at 7:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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