After being cancelled and brought back for four straight-to-dvd movies (which were then turned into episodes), Futurama is back, baby! This is a good thing for me, as I liked it a lot before, but since the movies it’s one of my favourite shows.
Within minutes of firing up the first episode, you know that it’s like they were never away, and the writers have not lost their touch where reveals and surreal humour is concerned, thank God. As with the first movie (the excellent Bender’s Big Score – be careful typing that into Google), the first episode’s packed with metahumour aimed at the executives who cancelled them and the network that they’re on now (Comedy Central). So far there have been two episodes, so I will be reviewing them both today.
The first episode of the fifth series (sixth on American terms) is appropriately called ‘Rebirth’, and as I’ve mentioned, it features lots of take that humour against the executives who had them cancelled in the first place. It also takes a while to get back into the swing of things and re-establish the status quo (not the band). And it does this like a soap opera, with lots of reveals and deceptions falling down. It was a good episode to start with, and they seem to have kept some aspects of the show changed rather than resetting everything that changed over the course of the last four movies.
The episode itself was extremely funny, piling on moment after moment of hilarious jokes. There was one incredibly random and funny moment that had my brother and I in fits of laughter when it happened, and it came as much of a shock to us as it did to the characters, which was presumably the intention of the joke. Lots of jokes in the show seem to come out of nowhere, and that’s part of why it works, as it weaves the random element in with some clever writing.
The second episode, named ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela’ spends the bulk of its time leading up to an Adam and Eve plot with Zapp Brannigan and Leela, which Fry is not happy about. The enemy in this episode is a ‘Death Sphere’ which is making its way to Earth which turns out to be a homage to Star Trek: The Motion(less) Picture. The concept of a hostile being going through the galaxy destroying planets it encounters is nothing new, being used earlier in the series’ run with the Brainspawn and in the classic Star Trek episode ‘The Doomsday Machine’*.
Like the last episode, this one uses a series of reveals to pile on yet more jokes and yet again it works. The opening episode was funnier, but I feel that this one also works as a follow-up, and I hope they keep the show going strong like this. Rebirth was also a tough act to follow and I shall be eagerly anticipating more of the same.
*Seriously, this is one of the better episodes of the classic Star Trek run. Watch it if you can.
**My original title for this was ‘Scott’s reviews are like Scott’s love. Hard and fast!’ Then I realised the implications of this particular quote.