Futurama: The Sixth Season - Intitial Thoughts

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So Futurama has managed to pull a 'Family Guy' completely now, it's brought itself back from extinction and onto our screens through the four made for TV DVD movies and is now airing it's sixth season. The movies - Bender's Big Score, The Beast With a Billion Backs, Bender's Game and Into the Wide Green Yonder were a mixed bag overall. Alternatively great and then quite awful with no real consistency. Watching the DVDs with commentary revealed that the cast and writers were quite unaware of the weaker parts of their baby - they found great entertainment and pride in even the most juvenile and unoriginal of their jokes.

On a few rewatches my opinions of the four movies have changed a little - My estimation of 'Bender's Big Score' has gone up further, it's certainly the best of the quadrology; but 'Into the Wide Green Yonder' has plummeted in it's stock and I now only marginally prefer it over 'The Beast with a Billion Backs' - Bender's Game sort of hovers around the middle, some parts of it are brilliant, but others sort of fall flat.

Anyway, what I have been hoping is that the four movies which consist of the fifth "season" of Futurama were not the symptoms of diminishing returns for the series (something that Family Guy has begun to suffer from and that The Simpsons has been accelerating off towards the event horizon of since season ten). But in truth it's only through the watching of the now airing sixth season that we can get an idea if the quality of the original series (especially in the last two seasons) has been maintained.

Well, I'm going to quickly run through the first seven episodes with a short review on each:

A moderately touching story that alternates between being good and being pretty lame. It was a rather lacklustre start to the new series, still when it was good it was rather good indeed and the twists in the plot were fun.

Out and out the worst, yes that's right - worst, episode of Futurama of all time. There was a great premesis here to be played with but instead what we got was a torid venting of sewage that seemed to dump all over both the show and the viewers. I don't think I'll ever watch this episode again - it's even worse than That's Lobstertainment.

Attack of the Killer App:
The first of the great episodes in the season. Attack manages to lampoon current culture trends and as such feels both fresh and funny. The release of the iPad in particular (and the still continuing froth about the iPhone) really gave this episode some teeth. The race between Bender and Fry for followers and the uploading of the embarrasing video of Leela all came together to create something that just worked perfectly.

Proposition Infinity:
While not as bad as In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela, Proposition Infinity dumps all over one of the better established relationships in the show - Amy and Kiff for very little pay off. In fact you get so little pay off that at the end of the episode 'everything returns back to normal'. I've always appreciated that Futurama is one of the few mainstream cartoon sitcom shows that seems to have a progressive plot that builds on previous events. This was a huge step in the wrong direction.

The Duh-Vinci Code:
While the episode was a little late in taking full advantage of the buzz around Dan Brown's book (this wasn't the first time this happened with Futurama, see the Titanic episode), The Duh-Vinci Code was the first genuinely good episode of the season. It was fast paced, fun and filled with a balance of good gags and thoughtful moments - classic Futurama.

Lethal Inspection:
Yes, the ending to the episode was predicatble, but that did not reduce its impact. Lethal Inspection builds on the improvement in writing that The Duh-Vinci Code offered and gives us the first really emotional episode since Bender's Big Game.

The Late Philip J. Fry:
Fry and Leela's relationship has been exceptionally hard to follow in this season, and at this point I'm still hesitant to say that it's settled down into a pattern that can be followed. But The Late Philip J. Fry did feel like an episode that addresses this and moves the pair forward - I don't mind the ultimate destination for the pair, but I don't want to see more of the exceptional nonsense In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela voided at us.

Overall thoughts:
The sixth season has had a few rough episodes and weak moments, but there has been marked signs that the show is returning to its original stride. While I really, really cannot stand In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela in the least bit and will not be watching that particular turd ever again, the rest of the season so far has enough parts to make it an enjoyable proposition. It's just not quite back to the status of "all-time classic" yet.


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