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Season 2 Preview

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 Story Editor)

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 Claus."

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?


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