Comedy Central has confirmed what we’ve all been waiting to hear: Futurama will officially be back on your TV sets on June 24 of this year!
To catch everyone lost in the dark up: back in 2003, 20th Century Fox was silly and canceled a little show called Futurama way before it should have been canceled…as they have been known to do on occasion. Since the show was killed off, its fans have continued to scrape and claw any way that they could in order to try and convince someone to bring the show back. At first these efforts seemed futile, but after another Fox show, Family Guy, proved that it can be done, these pleas have consistently grown stronger and stronger.
Fans of Futurama were convincing enough to persuade the studio into giving the animated sci-fi series one more shot in the form of four straight-to-DVD movies. Bender’s Big Score, The Beast with a Billion Backs, Bender’s Game, and Into the Wild Green Yonder eventually were born and released into the world; and to our pure elation, they did just well enough to force those Suits into a few meetings that lead to the decision to give the show one 26-episode season.
UPDATE #2: I was able to hear back from Fox again, and was told that Billy West and John DiMaggio did indeed sign on along with everyone else. Futurama is back, folks!
UPDATE: The trades are reporting that all of the cast members, including West and DiMaggio, have signed new deals. As I said earlier, someone from Fox told me directly that only the three actors were confirmed so far, and I haven’t heard anything since then, but the big boys seem to have heard differently, so it all seems legit. Rejoice!
Earlier today, the news that we had all been waiting for was announced: the original voice cast had been signed for the upcoming new 26-episode run of Futurama. The news was initially reported by The Star, but has since changed up a bit: I contacted someone at Fox who confirms that Katey Sagal (Leela Turanga), Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker/Hedonismbot/Morbo/Donbot/Clamps), and Tress MacNeille (Mom) had all officially signed on. This of course means that the biggest name of them all, Billy West (Philip J. Fry/Dr. John Zoidberg/Prof. Hubert Farnsworth/Zapp Brannigan), and John DiMaggio (Bender Bending Rodriguez) — who admitted that he was confident all cast would return at Comic Con — had not yet signed on, but it is hoped that an agreement will be reached with the rest of the cast soon.
I’m not feeling great this week, so when the floodgates opened up today with a frenzy of backlash in regard to the news that 20th Century Fox is looking to re-cast all of the voice actors for the revival of Futurama…well, my little illness tripled over on me. That’s right, after making the giant announcement that the show would return (Read: Never Underestimate The Power Of Hypnotoad: “˜Futurama’ Is Officially Back!), they now are looking to replace brilliant talents like Billy West (Philip J. Fry, Professor Hubert Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Leo Wong, Zapp Brannigan), John Di Maggio (Bender), Katey Sagal (Turanga Leela), Phil LaMarr (Hermes Conrad), Maurice LaMarche (Kif, Donbot, Morbo, Calculon), and others.
At first, many believed it was just some sort of marketing ploy and that the plan was to throw everyone into a panic and then throw some big surprise party with the cast showing up and all being well in the world. Though this scenario would be accepted and laughed about later, I believe it would still infuriate fans to hear they purposely did this. However, it appears that word first broke out when multiple cast members mentioned it on their Facebook, which takes away a Comic Con surprise. Then there is Forces of Geek, who brought the news to us with a giant official-looking casting call with all the characters that they want to re-cast as well as clips on Hulu to use as reference.
As it stands now, the situation looks like a good ol’ executive blackmailing attempt. Fox doesn’t like the salaries that the actors want to be paid for their work, so they tell everyone to screw and put out a casting call for other voice actors in hopes that the original cast will lower their fee. A truly dirty and despicable play by the studio. As any fan of the show will tell you, no other show’s voice talent is as important as the cast of Futurama. That core of talents is so good, it just doesn’t matter who they found or how accurate they sounded, you know it just wouldn’t be the same and we would all be able to tell the difference. These guys deserve every single dollar that they’re looking for, and it’s very unlikely that they’re demanding more than is fair.
Click over to the other side to get a look at the call for submissions the studio has put out.
Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder DVD
Directed by Peter Avanzino
Starring Billy West, John Di Maggio, Katey Sagal, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr, Maurice LaMarche
Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: February 24, 2009
Futurama aired from 1999 to 2003, but it was canceled after its fifth season. Though it got off a few more seasons than Family Guy and Firefly, it’s definitely classified among the shows that Fox has canceled way too soon.
As we know, Family Guy was brought back and soared to immense success, while sadly, Firefly remains buried and cold. Futurama kind of fell in the middle of these two. It wasn’t brought back to TV, but noticing the fan demand, it was decided that four direct-to-DVD movies would be made to see where the shows popularity stood.
The first three to arrive were Futurama: Bender’s Big Score, Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs, and Futurama: Bender’s Game. Bender’s Big Score was loved by fans and did well, while the other two did decent, but weren’t quite as praised as the initial offering. Either way, fans were thrilled just to be getting some fresh content.
The last movie to come along is our review today: Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder. It’s a little bittersweet this time, because after this movie, the future of Futurama is uncertain. There’s always the chance that this may just be the last we ever see of the gang.
Recently we shared a great little video which combined clips from Futurama and the Watchmen movie trailer. In this little gem, I made mention of someone, like maybe Comedy Central, being the ones who are smart enough to bring Futurama back to TV.
After posting this story, I checked out HippoJuice, the fine folks who lead us to the Watchmen video. On their site, they had just hit Supercon in Florida, where they had the opportunity to interview voice master Billy West of Futurama fame. Before the interview, Mr. West sat in front of a small crowd a shared a little golden nugget, explaining that because of the success of the four straight-to-DVD Futurama movies that have been made, Fox was now pondering a possible 6th season of the show!
Click over for the video of this announcement and the Billy West interview.