THE DATE: FUTURAMA returns for a
second season on FOX September 26 at 8:30 pm.
THE PLAYERS: John DiMaggio, Katey
Sagal, Billy West (Voice Cast) Matt Groening (Creator, Executive
Producer), David X. Cohen (Executive Producer) Eric Kaplan (Executive
THE SCOOP: For those that got the
sinking suspicion that FUTURAMA was trying too hard to be the SIMPSONS
and not trying hard enough to be a sci-fi show in its first season,
then we’ve got good news for you: season 2 looks like it’s going
to live up to the premise that only a handful of episodes managed
to do during its mid-season run on Fox earlier this year.
"I think the first season we were
trying to create the characters and once people knew those characters
we knew we could use them to explore all kinds of cool concepts,"
says executive story editor Eric Kaplan whose "Hell is other robot"
episode was one of the highlights of Season One and who promises
Season Two will be leaning heavily in that vein. "The characters
this season will be going on the galactic wide web in the form of
avatars, someone’s head will be transplanted onto someone else’s,
we will experiment on different animals through brain surgery that
will give super-human intelligence, we’ll learn the secret of Slurm
and Bender will have an empathy chip installed in his head to force
him to experience Leela’s emotions."
If that wasn’t enough, Kaplan teases
that Richard Nixon’s head will appear again to make a bid for power,
aliens will conquer the earth and we’ll be introduced to other Bender
units. However, the single-handedly drop-dead funny concept the
show is preparing this season is their, very special FUTURAMA Christmas
episode which sounds like a classic in the making.
"It’s about ‘Robot Santa’ and he’s
voiced by John Goodman" Kaplan reveals. "Through faulty programming
his standards for good are too high so he thinks everyone is naughty.
So every Christmas he flies by earth with his weapons. We’re hoping
it will change what a whole new generation of kids think of Santa
THE GOOD: Kaplan feels confident
that FUTURAMA has the potential to become the best genre show on
television and with writers from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (Dan Vebber)
and NEWSRADIO (Lew Morton, Rob Weiner, Brian Kelly) mixing in with
last season’s strong staff, they now have one of the best comedy
writing pools this side of THE SIMPSONS.
"It’s certainly great to have more
people," says Kaplan. "It gives you more insight and a greater range
of human experiences and perspectives."
>The show also moves back to its
original launch time slot Sunday’s at 8:30PM following SIMPSONS
and right before THE X-FILES where it belonged all along.
"A lot of television watching has
to do with flow," says Kaplan. "The networks want people to start
watching a show at 8:00PM and keep them there through the night.
When we moved to Tuesday’s at 8:30PM we went up 20 percent for the
night than the show before us and then it shot down after us. We
were considered extremely successful. Now we go into our sweet spot
on Sunday’s which makes us an ideal companion show for the night."
Plus there will be more episodes.
In addition to the full season order the show has, it still has
four season 1 episodes they’ll be burning off episodes that Kaplan
feels were created right when the show was hitting its stride
"Shows 7 through thirteen were getting
considerably better," says Kaplan. "We had stopped setting up the
characters and really picked up the pacing of the show from those
batch of episodes."
This also means FUTURAMA can start
the season in September since it takes up to nine months to complete
a show and they weren’t renewed until shortly after the show made
its debut in March.
THE BAD: FUTURAMA was always a very
good show, but now that the "sea legs" are over, it looks like the
potential it had will more than be lived up to this time around.
Other than that there is no bad, because after all -- what other
show has the outlet to consistently parody and pay homage to sci-fi
classics on a weekly basis? Exactly.
THE PROSPECTS: Very good. FOX has
a lot riding on FUTURAMA. As THE SIMPSONS quality continues to waiver
(it still has a good couple of seasons left in it if the ratings
remain high), they need to find another flagship animated series
to take its place. Why shouldn’t it be another Groening created
endeavor? And if FOX leaves it on Sunday’s at 8:30PM, the audience
is definitely going to grow throughout the year. Besides, who watched
THE ‘70s SHOW and FAMILY GUY anyway?