I was given the opportunity to interview David X. Cohen, the creator, producer, and head writer of Futurama in advance of Thursday night's premiere. I was also able to talk to Billy West who is the voice of Fry, the Professor, Zoidberg, Zapp Branigan and many others. You can listen to the interviews here.
For my review of the episode, see my piece that originally ran in IN Magazine. Below is an expanded version:
I'm not a television critic, but when I was asked if I wanted to review the upcoming, two-episode premiere of "Futurama" on Comedy Central, my heart was aflutter. I'm not even much of a television viewer at all, but "Futurama" has always captured the nerd half of my brain and entertained the hell out of it. In fact, when "Futurama" went off the air the first time, I stopped watching television altogether for quite a while.
I've heard some concerns that fans are worried about the show living up to its prior incarnations, but I'd like to assure you that you have nothing to fear from the first two episodes of the Comedy Central relaunch. They do not disappoint. They are just as witty and hilarious as the "Futurama" we knew and loved. I was even a bit taken aback by how easily these characters settled back into their place in my heart. The show starts without missing a beat and bringing me back into the drama and lives of characters I love. At times I even found myself upset that Fry wasn't with Leela and it made me take a step back and remind myself that it's just a show.
With these new episodes, however, the comedy has a bit more of an edge to it. Being on cable instead of Fox allows the writers to push the envelope further in terms of jokes and content. As an example, the second episode hinges on a rogue, Death Star-like satellite dubbed "V-Giny" in a Star Wars and Star Trek reference combo. Somehow, I don't think Fox would have allowed the writers to get away with such an overt a vaginal reference.
And I have to say, I'm a huge fan of the Transcredible Adventures of Zapp Brannigan. I found myself re-watching that episode over and over again, laughing hysterically each time. I won't ruin the ending of the second episode either, but the blatant hypocrisy that it points it was both hilarious and maddening. Futurama has a very good way of shining lights on political problems and pointing out absurdities and hypocrisies through the lens of the future and this time was no different.
I talked to show co-creator, producer and head writer David X. Cohen about the differences between producing the show then and now. "I think the show is a bigger deal for Comedy Central and they're definitely going out of their way to do heavy promotion for it, both on the air and online. Yeah, they are very excited about it. I don't want to say anything [about the future of "Futurama"] because no matter what I say, the opposite happens. I think we're doing well, we get cancelled and I go pack my bags and go to do something else and then I get a call that we're back on. It seems like everything is based on the flip of a coin as far as it's concerned. But I think the episodes are very good and the fans will be pleased."
We also chatted a bit about what's coming up in the series this season and guest stars we could expect to be seeing, "Al Gore will be making his fourth appearance. He's in our holiday special which will be between the two seasons. Other guests for the sci-fi fans includes Katee Sackhoff and she's playing a person with a very alien-related fetish, and I'll just leave it at that. A couple of comedians we're fans of will be making appearances. Chris Elliot, Patton Oswalt and Craig Ferguson will be on. And one more that I'll mention, for our 100th episode for our season finale at the end of the summer we have Devo appearing."
(He also made mention in the interview of Stephen Hawking's repeat performance, but that will be next season.)
All in all, I'm intensely pleased to report that "Futurama" is back in its seductive, velour uniform, reporting for duty to the benefit of all mankind. It premieres Thursday, June 24 at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central.