Though the last Futurama movie, “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” seemed like the end for Fry and his pals, they’re coming back to television with all new episodes. Who says cancelled shows can’t have a future?
Created by The Simpsons’ Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, Futurama revolves around a slacker (Billy West) who is cryogenically frozen until the year 2999. He takes a job as a cargo delivery boy and encounters a strange crew of characters. The rest of the voice cast includes Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, Maurice LaMarche, Frank Welker, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Byrne Offutt, Kath Soucie, Dawnn Lewis, Tom Kenny, Danny Jacobs, and Phil Hendrie.
After a troubled run on FOX, Futurama was cancelled in 2003. But the show’s success in syndication and in DVD sales caused the studio to revive the characters for a quartet of direct-to-DVD movies. The movies were subsequently cut into pieces and reworked into 16 new TV episodes for Comedy Central.
The final movie seemed to close the door on the series but, with strong DVD sales, West, Groening, and Cohen were all optimistic that the motley crew would return. And it turns out that they were right.
Comedy Central has ordered a new season of Futurama. All of the key voice actors are expected to return with West, Sagal, and DiMaggio having already signed on. The writing staff members are also supposedly coming back and work has already begun on the 26 episodes. This order marks the largest season episode order in the show’s history.
According to Variety, 20th Century Fox Television and Comedy Central have been trying to figure out a way to revive the show in a way that makes financial sense to both parties. In the end, 20th has the right to license the episodes to a broadcast network. If a network agrees to air them, Comedy Central’s license fee will be reduced and will get to air them later.
Of the arrangement, David Bernath, Comedy Central’s programming senior VP, says, “It’s a deal we’re all happy with. It’s a bigger win for us promotionally if we wind up going first… but if we wind up in second position, then the economics work out for us as well.”
The possibility of ordering new installments has been an attraction for Comedy Central all along. Bernath noted, “One of the things that excited us even at the time when we bought the initial 72 episodes was the possibility of new production and new episodes.”
Of the new order, Groening said, “We’re thrilled Futurama is coming back. We now have only 25,766 episodes to make before we catch up with Bender and Fry in the year 3000.”
Cohen added, “We’re excited and amazed that the show is coming back, perhaps due to some sort of mysterious time loop. We look forward to working with Comedy Central and 20th Television to make this the best iteration of the loop yet!”
The new installments of Futurama are expected to debut mid-2010.
Image courtesy 20th Century Fox.