by Graham Pierrepoint
Futurama was one of the most-loved animated series of all-time – created by the likes of Matt Groening and David X Cohen (and the follow-up to the former’s colossally popular Simpsons), the series focused on the plight of Philip J Fry, a man accidentally frozen in 1999 and thawed in the year 2999 to live among beer-swilling robots, incompetent crustacean medical personnel and, of course, flying cars – and, for a long time, it was a huge draw for the Fox network – until it was cancelled. The show has in fact ended twice – with Fox having pulled the plug after four seasons, the show moved to DVD-only for four feature-length specials – before being picked up again by Comedy Central. However, it wasn’t to last – and while the show has more or less received what many fans believe to be a satisfying conclusion, it’s a franchise that just won’t stay dead.
This week, Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist podcast unveiled a 42-minute recording of an audio-only episode of Futurama – in the form of a podcast recorded as if during the days of traditional radio drama. The episode, Radiorama, has been well-received by fans – and it remains to be seen whether or not future episodes will continue. Speaking to The Guardian, David X Cohen advised that the Futurama team spends ‘most of (their) time in a wait-and-see hibernation phase’. It’s a wise move – particularly as the series has been successfully resurrected in a number of forms and still continues to find fans – in a time when The Simpsons continues to run ad infinitum amid complaints that the show is long past its prime.
It’s not every day that you get a cartoon transition over to audio-only – but Futurama is a series which has transcended different media and thematic choices over the years – coming up to around 20 years, in fact – that the emergence of Radiorama has hardly been a surprise. It has been welcomed, however, as fans of the show have recently been dismayed to find that much of the original run of the series has disappeared from US Netflix – a move which Cohen suggests may coincidentally be to do with Fox seeing Netflix as serious competition – as much Fox content has moved over to Hulu, which the brand owns.
In any case – Futurama is a great series to keep on DVD just in case streaming runs dry – but chances are you’ll always get the chance to see more of Fry, Bender, Leela and Zoidberg for as long as the fans are out there. Firefly fans, hang in there.