Is Futurama's Latest Release Its Last?

Well, there’s only one thing better than ending off with a bang, that’s starting with one.

That’s also just what the latest edition of Futurama, subtitled “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” does. Amy Wong’s father, Leo (voiced by Billy West), blows Mars Vegas into itty bitty ionic particles. Why you might ask? To build an even bigger New Vegas on what was the epicenter of extraterrestrial sin, suckers, and shifty shenanigans.

That isn’t all he’s up to either. He intends to build the most humongous miniature golf course in the galaxy. It will span an entire arm of the Milky Way. This initiates a chain of events that finds Leela (Katey Sagal), Leo’s daughter Amy (Lauren Tom), and LaBarbera Conrad (Dawnn Lewis) joining a group of pink-camouflaged eco-feministas. At the same time Fry (Billy West, of course) discovers there’s darn good reason to wear tin foil hats.

Not that such good deeds go unpunished. Our heroes will be pitted against not only against Richard Nixon’s Head (West) and Leo, but also Zap Branigan (like West can’t say no or something), Zoidberg (West, again), the Professor (uh huh, West) and LaBarbara’s wife Hermes (Phil LaMarr, not West).

As for everyone’s favorite robotic grifter, Bender (John DiMaggio)? He’d prefer to sit back and cash in on it all until realizing Leo is causing a cataclysmic event. Normally, Bender wouldn’t mind, except he’ll end with it. That’s personal. Bender looks pretty weird in pink.

What’s important is while “Green Yonder” starts with a bang. Then it maintains a rapid fire barrage of gags visual and otherwise, some of the best plotting creators David X Cohen and Matt Groening committed to animation, lots and lots of easter eggs for old school fans, and a ton of EC to keep the hardcore geeks happy.

In fact, the only bad news is this might be the last Futurama production, ever.

That’s right, kids. While official sites such as www.gotfuturama.com and interviews with Billy West sound hopeful, the crew of the Planet Express really might be going into the vast “Green Yonder” if certain Dark Ones have their way. That has been the case for the series since it started in 1999, and the PTB’s at Fox took exception to the suicide chamber in the debut episode. They didn’t think much of the tentacle-laden massager either. Even though the show garnered initial good ratings, Fox moved the show’s time slot more often than an episode of Doctor Who. That’s when they decided to cancel the series in 2003.

Yet like another sci-fi series that dared to go where no man, er…one, would go before, Futurama came back to life. It became one of the opening shows on broadcasts of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. The show ended up so popular that the nigh impossible happened, Fox renewed the series. They struck a deal with Groening and Cohen to put out a “fifth season” consisting of four D2D releases, “Bender’s Game, Beast With 1,000 Backs, Bender’s Big Score,” and now, finally, “Into the Wild Green Yonder.” Each of these DVDs could then easily be divvied up into four “half-hours” of TV. They are now referred to as Futurama’s fifth season. All of them can or will eventually be seen, along with the first four seasons of the series, on Comedy Central.

Heck of a way to say thanks to the guys at Adult Swim, but that’s TV for you.

Still, while no one will officially confirm or deny the possibilities of a “sixth” or whatever season of the series, informed sources inside Fox (who still produce the series) will admit that it’s a strong possibility. Fox insiders state DVD sales for the fifth season has been better than anyone has expected. They also report the series still gets it gets better than average ratings on Comedy Central. So should we be surprised if Futurama does get another go round. Well, when West was down here in Florida for a recent Anime Con, he slipped out such a thing is in the works. He later retracted that statement.

While impressions being left behind are positive, Futurama’s history has taught to never count the chickens before they are truly hatched. As it stands, it’s not only one of the best animated shows of the last decade, but the best sci-fi series. If it has to end with “Green Yonder,” which gets released today, they will see it going on a truly appropriate note.

GHOST/EPCAR DUB AVAILABLE

Bandai Entertainment wanted to let it be known that the Richard Epcar dub of Ghost In the Shell 2: Innocence is available on their recently released DVD.

“Mr. Epcar’s dub is available on our DVD as a bonus audio track,” a spokesperson noted. “We included so fans could benefit from our new dub as well as his original dub.”

We apologize for this oversight.

BATTLE FOR TERRA PREVIEW IS UP

The first screener for the film Battle for Terra has gone online.

The film is by Roadside Attractions and debuts on Friday, May 1, 2009.

The film tells the story of Senn (Justin Long) and Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), two rebellious alien teens living on the beautiful planet Terra, a place that promotes peace and tolerance, having long ago rejected war and weapons of mass destruction. But when Terra is invaded by human beings fleeing a civil war and environmental catastrophe, the planet is plunged into chaos. During the upheaval, Mala befriends an injured human pilot (Luke Wilson) and each learns the two races are not so different from one another. Together they must face the terrifying realization that in a world of limited resources, only one of their races is likely to survive. It features the voice talent of: Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Luke Wilson, David Cross, Amanda Peet, James Garner, Dennis Quaid, Chris Evans and Danny Glover

Check out the official website at: www.battleforterra.com

NEXT COLUMN: Batman v. Owlman? Brave & The Bold also goes places no previous animated series has gone before.

Related:

Exclusive Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder DVD Extra

Preview Video Clip - "Futurama: Bender's Game"

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