Futurama

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Futurama
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Futurama

Futurama is an animated television series created by Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen (also a writer for The Simpsons). Set in New New York City in the 31st century, it was first introduced on the FOX Network and recieved airplay between March 28, 1999 and August 10, 2003. It is currently in syndication on the [adult swim] segment of Cartoon Network and TBS in the United States, on Teletoon in Canada, on Channel 4, Sky One, Sky Two, and Sky Three in the UK, and on FOX8 and Network Ten in Australia.

The series begins with Philip J. Fry, a New York City slacker and pizza delivery boy, who is cryogenically frozen by accident on New Year's Eve, 2999 and finds himself in New New York City. Fry thinks he has a chance at a new life, only to find himself being permanently assigned a career as a delivery boy. Fry's attempts to escape from his now-mandatory hob assignment end at Planet Express, a small intergalactic package delivery company run by his distantly descended nephew, where he is hired on as a delivery boy. The series covers the adventures of Fry and his colleagues as they travel around the universe making deliveries on behalf of Planet Express.

Setting

The setting is first and foremost a backdrop of humor, and the show is not above committing continuity errors if they serve to further the gags. The capabilities of many things (and even characters) vary according to what is most appropriate for the situation at hand.

The visually retro-futuristic world of Futurama is not a utopia but neither is it a dystopia. Unlike past cartoons like The Jetsons, which showed an efficient clean, happy future, Futurama portrays a less idealistic view, with humans still dealing with many of the same basic problems of the 20th century. The show's vision of the future is very similar to the present in many ways: the same political figures and celebrities we know today survive as heads in jars (a method invented by Ron Popeil), television remains the primary means of entertainment, the Internet is still slow and filled with ads and pornography, problems such as global warming (although this was revealed to be cancelled out by a nuclear winter), inflexible bureaucracy, and substance abuse are still pressing issues. This is probably due to human civilization being wiped out and replaced twice while Fry was in stasis, along with many other events including verious enslavements of humanity and nuclear wars.

Race issues in 3000 are now centered around relations among humans, aliens, and robots. A common clash between the former two is alien immigration plaguing Earth. Humans find it hard to treat aliens with respect because of their differences, as seen with the Decapodians, who probably evolved from something resembling a lobster, and because of various invasions and obliterations of Earth in the past.

A specific issue on Earth is the large population of super-intelligent/super-incompetent robots (homeless robots and orphan children robots, like Tinny Tim); they are generally lazy, greedy and surly (with the exception of the sycophantic super-efficient Robot 1-X), and often unwilling to assist their human creators. Almost all robots are fueled by alcohol-based substances, leading to widespread environmental pollution. Robots are treated as independent beings — indeed only twice in the series are robots referred to as property (in Route of All Evil, Cubert refers to Bender as "company property," and in 30 Percent Iron Chef the Professor shouts "That's my robot. I own him."). In fact, over the years robots have developed their own culture, with publications, music and religion.

Despite this, Futurama's world also showcases numerous technological advantages that have been developed by the year 3000. Wheels used in transportation have been made obsolete by hover technology, to the point that 31st century characters do not know what a wheel is. Among the robots, spaceships, and floating buildings, Professor Farnsworth introduced many memorable new inventions such as the Smell-O-Scope, the "What If" Machine, and the Finglonger. Less inspiring 31st century innovations include coin-operated Suicide Booths (said in the show to have been in business since 2008) Soylent Cola (the taste "varies from person to person"), and Slurm, the highly addictive green ooze secreted by a termite-esque Queen (revealed in Fry and the Slurm Factory). Slurm is advertised at every opportunity on Futurama, whether in conventional television adverts, or on giant blimps flying past in the background.

Large companies hold a massive amount of power in the year 3000, in particular Mom's Friendly Robot Company, which builds and controls almost every robot on Earth. Advertising is everywhere, and people often buy products not knowing or caring what goes into them or who manufactures them — for example, the unrestrained human consumption of "Popplers" which turned out to be alien young.

Some of the show's humor comes from passing references to historical events of the past thousand years. For example, in the time that has passed, formerly endangered owls and marmosets have emerged as the primary urban pests, at the expense of rats and pigeons. Los Angeles has become a wasteland, Fry mistaking it for New New York in the year 4000 after believing he had been cryogenically frozen for a further thousand years. Atlanta, after being moved to sea, sinks to overdevelopment and becomes a "lost city" (a parody of the story of Atlantis); its residents evolve (with the help of Coca-Cola's caffeine) into mermaids. In another episode, Pamela Anderson mentions that she won an Academy Award for Baywatch: The Movie, the first ever movie to be filmed entirely in slow motion.

Appeal

The main audience of Futurama is comprised mostly of self-described "nerds". This is due in part to the fact that much of the humor on Futurama is derived from the fields of mathematics, physics, computer science, and a hefty dose of Star Trek (TOS) and Twilight Zone references. In fact, several members of the crew have PhD's in these fields.


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