Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bad News, Everyone!

 One of the smartest, funniest shows on television has just been cancelled, again...

From Slate's excellent Bad Astronomy blog

There is a hypothesis—out of favor now, but it had its heyday—that the universe was cyclical. Big Bang, expansion, slowing, stopping, shrinking, Big Crunch … and then kaboom, another Big Bang, and here we go again.

Art imitates life. The TV show Futurama exploded in to the geek community, rose in popularity, then was canceled. Then it was reborn, only to be canceled again. And then for a second time it was reborn from its ashes. But this cycle may be the last. Perhaps it’s entropy. Perhaps it’s a network executive who thinks Scruffy hits too close to home. Whatever the underlying mechanism, Futurama has seen its last cosmic expansion. It’s been canceled again. Again. And probably for no raisin.

To say I love Futurama is like saying Nibbler loves to eat, and that Popplers are tasty. How often do you get a geeky, hugely scientifically based cartoon that is also incredibly funny? And it wasn’t just funny, it was smart. But that’s no surprise, given that executive producer David X. Cohen has degrees in both physics and computational science. Many of the writers had degrees in science and math, and that was reflected in the show. Not that is was all science all the time. When was the last time an animated show made you cry? If you answer “never,” then you have either never seen “Jurassic Bark,” or you have had your soul surgically removed. Chunks of granite weep openly at the end of that episode.  

Over its long run, Futurama has had way too many incredible scientific joke and plot points to point out individually. It is one of the few TV shows to actually respect the edicts of time travel. (Heck, it set up a massive later time travel plot line in the opening scene of the pilot.) It featured black holes, exploding stars, galactic governments, and more.

What the hell? I am crushed like a girder in Bender's hands. I've loved Futurama since its first run on Fox lo these many years ago, and my oldest son is a huge fan as well, despite my wife's parental disapproval of Bender's gratuitous use of the word "ass" in virtually every episode.

It was smart, it was funny, it was subtle and it was sharp: high comedy masked as low, which meant that it was doomed to never do well with that vast, all-important lowest-common-moron demographic. And unlike "The Simpsons", which I stopped watching or caring about years ago, Futurama has been consistently excellent throughout its run.

I'm not a big TV series DVD collector, but like "Arrested Development", this might be one to make an exception...


  1. I may be a bigger geek than you, with a crush on Leela and a thing for Messiaen- I OWN Turangalila! And Bender is my hero...

    Do remember my first wife sat in RA Lafferty's lap... in 1970.

  2. Wait; it's good TV? OF COURSE it got cancelled!