‘Futurama’: The Show’s Creative Team Shares Everything It Got Wrong About The Future & What Got Cut This Season (INTERVIEW)
Hulu’s Futurama reboot may have come out earlier this year, but that – and an ongoing SAG strike – did not stop its creative team from showing up at New York Comic-Con. This past weekend, not only did they participate in a special panel celebrating the show’s first official season on streaming. They participated in closed-door roundtable interviews as well.
Our Editor-in-Chief Dempsey Pillot was given the privilege to also participate in one of those roundtables. There, he and several other journalists were able to ask some more pointed questions about series’ past, present and well, future.
Being a show about the future, you can imagine that the creatives predicted a bunch of things correctly. While society has yet to arrive at flying cars, we’ve still got reliable robots and drones. Funny enough, the one thing the team admits that they got painfully wrong is cell phones. Calling back to one of the show’s first episodes where Amy has a tiny cellphone, Executive Producer and Head Writer David X. Cohen confessed that he and the other writers at the time were convinced that phones were going in that direction.
“They were getting smaller and smaller,” he said, eventually implying that the early 2000s Nokia seemed to be proof of the trend too. “It was like a cigarette lighter,” he added. “You just you hold it by your ear and they could hear you. That was way off the mark.”
No matter what Cohen and his team got wrong, the one thing that fans unanimously think they got right was the way they finally brought Fry and Leela together. But just because they are happy doesn’t necessarily mean they get to live happily ever after. Like all relationships they run into problems. And those problems are pretty prevalent in the new season.
Now, that isn’t any indication that there is trouble in paradise. Rather, it’s the team’s way of proving that these characters aren’t always going to be the same people. As Executive Producer Claudia Katz puts it “Our characters don’t really age. But I like that some of our characters have evolved, Fry and Leela are in relationship mode, Kif and Amy now suddenly have three kids, and Bender is sort of like, always feeling pushed to the side. It changes each character’s dynamics.”
With more than a decade of new material, there were a lot more things the team could play with other than the characters. This time around, the same people who made dead presidents famous again for putting their heads in jars made a surprisingly conscious decision to steer clear of politics.
“Nobody’s enjoying politics at the moment,” Cohen said.
Katz quickly added that she thought that the episode “Rage Against The Vaccine,” was the one exception. “It’s probably the closes we got to [politics] and even that’s really funny, but it’s really just the politics of science,” she said.
The team quickly made the jump from talking about things they wanted to cut from the series to things that they’ve been forced to cut over the years. One of those things actually turned out to be an entire character.
“There’s a character Matt Groening head at the very beginning – before the show came on the air even. It was one of the very first characters he drew called Pocket Pal,” Cohen revealed.
“It was supposed to be a little yellow robot, it look kind of like a battery with arms and legs. The idea originally was Frey would have it in his pocket, and it would be [available] if he had any questions about the future,” he added. “Very rapidly, we decided that was a boring concept. People don’t want explanations. They just want to move it along.”
Cohen then revealed that he only felt compelled to mention Pocket Pal because he had actually been reintroduced this season – before being cut again about 20 more times. To this day, he has become nothing more than an inside joke. So much so, that there’s only one episode where the character does appear, but only briefly before he’s literally thrown in the garbage by Professor Farnsworth.
When asked about other topics the team tried not touch this time around, Cohen clarified that there are always subjects that they shouldn’t touch that they somehow still do. He recalled the episode “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela,” where Zapp Brannigan tricks Leila into thinking they were Adam and Eve together on a planet.
“That one didn’t age well,” he said. “But we failed to avoid it. I would say it’s a better description than that we didn’t avoid it.”
Now, Cohen made it clear that just because something seems like a bad idea doesn’t mean you should always stay away from it. He cited a rule that the team had when the show first started about time travel episodes. “For the first two years, we decided there would be no time travel because it always creates a logistical mess,” he said. “We didn’t want to fall into that trap.”
Then they won an Emmy.
Per Cohen and the rest of the team, the general lesson was that if they had a good idea that was especially in the realm of science fiction they should go with it.
“I guess the lesson we learned is to loosen up – and we may have loosened up too much once or twice.”
You can watch the latest – and loosest – season of Futurama exclusively on Hulu now.