It’s time again for Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past.
Today’s, as you can guess from the title, is a really doozy. Some of you may remember when the Sunday evening lineup was good. Where you would forget about going to work the next day for three hours as you watched ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Futurama’, “Malcolm in the Middle’, and of course, ‘The X-Files‘. Two scifi shows in one night is not bad. It’s probably more than we get a week these days.
‘Futurama’ was conceived by Matt Groening, the creator of ‘The Simpsons’, which is evident in its art style, but not necessarily its sense of humor. Where ‘The Simpsons’ took more inane roots toward comedy, ‘Futurama’ had a more linear approach, though it parodied pop culture just as much as its predecessor.
The premise of ‘Futurama’ was simple, but endearing. It focused on Fry, an inept pizza delivery man who accidentally chryogenically freezes himself, and wakes up in the future. While is a comedy, it actually out does most serious science fiction pieces by using Fry as a fish out of water to critique our current society. From aliens who are hooked on ‘Ally McBeal’, to President Nixon’s head serving as President, there is no lack of satire in this fantastic show. Even science fiction isn’t immune, as the show makes fun of tropes about robots killing humans, Amazon alien women who only want to have sex, and Trekkies.
Not only that, but it has truly interesting characters. Fry is just one endearing part of a milieu of the quirky cast. His great-great-great-etc nephew is a mad scientist and his boss. The Captain of their delivery ship is an orphaned mutant with only one eye but still kicks butt. Their Doctor is basically a lobster version of Eeyore that is dangerously teetering on malpractice. And of course, you can forget their accountant, a Jamaican bureaucrat bent on never making mistakes. That’s just the tip of the iceberg of characters this show has to offer.
What’s even better is that despite being a comedy show, it can be just as touching, or thrilling as a drama. The characters truly grow and develop (well, most do, but probably not the Captain Kirk parody character, Zap Brannigan), and there are episodes that will make you cry. If you haven’t seen ‘Futurama’, and you’re doubting me, you just wait to the dead dog episode, or the five-leaf clover episode. For your ‘Futurama’ lovers, you know what I’m talking about, and I bet you’re getting a little chocked up even now. You are, aren’t you?
That’s okay. I’m also on the verge of tears, too. We’ll get through this together.
In short, ‘Futurama’ is funny, a celebration of the sci-fi we love (with episodes titles like, “I, Roommate” and “The Day The Earth Stood Stupid”, it’s a downright parade dedicated to sci-fi), and a surprisingly apt commentary on how our society works today. Watch it.