Futurama returned to television tonight with its first new episode since being cancelled back in 2009. It’s not the only time they’ve been cancelled and it probably won’t be their last. You’d think they’d be used to it by now, but instead of ignoring their absence and simply carrying on, Futurama kicked off its new season with an episode titled “Rebirth” in which they over-reference the show’s departure from the airwaves and praised the folks at Comedy Central for bringing them back by calling them idiots. Not exactly biting commentary, and maybe after that intro you found yourself worried. I know I was.
After all, while the show’s been away they released a series of pretty terrible straight-to-video movies. If you saw them, maybe you wondered if they’d lost their touch. Good news: They haven’t.
Once they stumbled through a somewhat rocky intro the appropriately titled “Rebirth” kicked the funny into high-gear by resurrecting the recently dead Planet Express crew using a vat of stem cells. Don’t worry, they were adult stem cells… from adults Farnsworth murdered. Bender ends up with an overheating power plant, which will kill him if he stops partying. Leela is a in a coma. Fry’s Fryfro is out of whack, and then there’s the rest of the cast.
Fry, grieving for his brain dead true love constructs a robot Leela. Of course the real Leela awakens and things get messy. Until that is, we discover that Fry’s actually a robot and he’s dead. Oh wait, no he’s not.
But it was the second episode, aired back to back with “Rebirth”, which really re-cemented Futurama’s place on top of the animation totem-pole. Entitled “In-a-Gadda-Da-Leela”, it used a familiar Futurama premise: The earth is under attack and only Zapp Brannigan and Leela can save it. They fly an invisible jet against an invading death sphere, and end up in what appears to be the garden of Eden (complete with apple and talking snake), where they find themselves playing Adam and Eve.
Leela’s soon naked, which is uncomfortable primarily because it doesn’t seem like cartoon nudity should be quite so enjoyable, and Zapp starts playing house. Meanwhile back on Earth the death sphere is revealed to be a censorship satellite, censoring naughty planets. As if to thumb their noses in the face of the censors, the censorship satellite can only be stopped by allowing it to watch Leela and Zapp naked and fucking. On any other show they’d find some other way out of it, but nope, the episode ends with Leela and Zap simply going at it.
As usual it’s not the plots that makes Futurama so good, it’s the random insanity that happens around it. Watching Bender forced to party endlessly in the foreground of each scene while characters attempt heartfelt discussions behind him is a genius bit of visual insanity. Farnsworths scientific irresponsibility is as hilarious as ever. Zapp’s punctuation mark cameo before the credits of Rebirth is classic. And Fry’s improbable stupidity remains the funniest stupidity on television. Futurama’s back, and they haven’t lost a step.