BACK TO THE FUTURAMA
Belligerent and numerous
BY JOSH ROGERS
It’s final in all but name: although Fox TV hasn’t officially cancelled Matt Groening’s Futurama, the network hasn’t commissioned any new episodes either. In a recent interview with the entertainment magazine Cinescape, producer David X. Cohen says, "We’re in what is basically an unprecedented situation in that we have so many new episodes to run the rest of this year and all of next year in the snail’s pace that they run the show at. So we’re not cancelled in the sense that we’re still on the air."
Viewers trying to watch Fry, Bender, and the gang in their (deadly early) 7 p.m. PST Sunday slot this season were rebuffed at almost every turn, as Futurama was pre-empted most weeks by football. According to Jonathan Reed, a webmaster for the fan site www.gotfuturama.com, "From a business point of view, you can see why Fox didn’t want to buy more episodes because they had so many in storage. But it should never have got that way in the first place. Almost from day one, Fox didn’t promote it as much as other shows." He goes on to give the insider scoop: "From what I heard from Matt Groening about the development of the show, [Fox] didn’t get it from day one, and kept trying to change it to their liking. Things like suicide booths were very much frowned upon."
Cohen confirms this: "What it boiled down to in the end, the people making the decisions — they’re not our biggest fans."
Though network executives may have decided to kill Groening’s darkly humorous future, there is a strong following out there as devoted to Futurama as Bender is to his robo soap opera All My Circuits. And they’ve decided to do something about it by mounting a petition campaign to save the show. "We got official news from sources on the show on February 12," says Reed. "Within about 12 hours the petition [authored by gotfuturama staffer Marc Wichterich] was online [www.petitiononline.com/futufu/]."
By the next morning, they had over 14,000 signatures.
But do campaigns like this really work? Cohen says the show’s status "doesn’t bode well. It’s the old ‘on hiatus’ thing. Once you’re in that fabled hiatus, you don’t come out of it." (Although he points out that another neglected Fox animated series, The Family Guy, recently did so.) Even if Fox did order more Futurama episodes, the show’s current writers and animators have already gone on to other jobs. Cohen points out that new episodes are "probably a long shot, but by no means zero chance." Still, he adds, "a whole new team would have to be put together, which is no small task."
If numbers impress Fox — and we all know that they do — Cohen might want to start putting that team together: as of Tuesday morning, the online petition had 98,309 signatures.
Issue Date: April 4 - 11, 2002
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