Futurama: The Sci-Fi Toon That Wouldn’t Die

No matter how hard or how often shortsighted television executives tried to assassinate it, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s animated sci-fi satire Futurama has refused to expire. Payback is a shiny metal ass, fully bitten.

To honor the anticipated return of the show’s half-finished season, and the recently greenlit seasons to come, I picked Cohen’s strange brain for Wired. Read it before you jump into that suicide booth.


Futurama: The Sci-Fi Toon That Wouldn’t Die

In an age of escalating atomization, few pop-culture productions prove death-proof. But somehow, sci-fi cartoon Futurama continues to outwit any Execu-bots determined to pull the plug on the long-running show.

“We try to die, but it’s gratifying not to,” executive producer David X. Cohen told Wired.com by phone, ahead of Futurama’s return to the airwaves with a one-hour special Thursday night on Comedy Central.

Fans have much to look forward to in the second half of Futurama’s sixth season.

Cohen is particularly stoked on “Benderama,” previewed at right, in which profane robot Bender gains the power — like the show itself, one could argue — to infinitely self-replicate. That puts Earth in danger of becoming nothing more than food matter for a quintillion Benders.

In another clever episode, previewed below, Bender massively increases his processing speed, takes on tremendous powers of computation, improves himself at an exponential rate and “passes the existential singularity and the concerns of mankind,” said Cohen.

“It’s pretty deep, but there are also a lot of flaming belches,” he said. “We pull you in with the mathematical theorems, and we keep you with the flaming belches.”

Another Cohen favorite is “Reincarnation,” also previewed below, in which the show is filtered through three different animation styles. The first is a black-and-white look reminiscent of Fleischer Studios, the second apes lo-res 1980s videogame style and the third evokes the tropes and traps of Japanese anime, including Bender’s proud proclamation, “Mighty Merchandise Robot!”

It’s a promising batch of new episodes for a show that, despite ricocheting between networks like a charged particle since its 1999 debut, has remained an inextricable part of the sci-fi universe. After the show was dumped by Fox and syndicated by culture vulture Adult Swim, Comedy Central finally saw the light and gave Futurama 26 new episodes in 2009, and another 26 last year, to be aired in 2012 and 2013

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