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TV Wasteland: Farewell Futurama
The venerable animated satire airs its final episode.
By Rob Vaux
September 02, 2013
Today, at long last, the journey of the Planetary Express crew comes to an end. Futurama started out on Fox as an attempt to cash in on co-creator Matt Groening’s phenomenally successful The Simpsons. As Fox is wont to do, they bounced it the schedule like a football for four seasons before finally pulling the plug. Comedy Central picked it up in syndication and its success prompted a new lease on life: four direct-to-video movies followed by three additional seasons.
It’s been a strange trip to be sure, and while it never generated the kind of success that The Simpsons did, the show actually held onto its soul much more effectively. Perhaps because it had to fight so hard for its place in the sun, its creators never took it for granted. Its uniquely bizarre humor help in that regard: maintaining the snarky pop culture satire of The Simpsons but adding some knowing (and often squicky) jabs at science fiction as well. It never got too old or too tired like its elder cousin did, and you never felt like it was going through the motions. (Unlike The Simpsons, a formerly brilliant show which now features far more crappy seasons than good ones.) Sci-fi fans felt a particular affinity for Futurama because it came from writers who shared our proclivities, not just Hollywood pretenders trying to copy what they couldn’t understand.
It was a great run, and the show still feels fresh now despite its trials and travails. The final episode airs this Wednesday at 10:00 PM EDT on Comedy Central. You never know, though; this crew has been declared dead before…
Under the Dome (CBS, 10:00 PM EDT)
New episode, no details. Sorry.
Ghost Shark and Sharknado (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
They’re not even fun-shitty. They’re just plain shitty.
Hard to Kill (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Remember when Steven Seagal actually mattered in the pop culture world?
Exit Wounds (AMC, 10:00 PM EDT)
And remember how pathetic he became?
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
Be of good cheer, for pretty soon the new one will take this one’s place on the schedule.
In Time (HBO, 9:45 PM EDT)
Justin Timberlake lives in a world where days and years are a commodity and the wealthy enjoy virtual immortality. It has a poor reputation, but it actually turns out to be a fun ride.
Hanna (IFC, 10:45 PM EDT)
Sometimes little girls are tougher than we think. A lot tougher.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part1 (Showtime, 8:00 PM EDT)
You really shouldn’t show every stage of a wedding onscreen unless something happens in the middle of it. Ninjas attack, Duck Face punches Henry, something. If you need proof, sit through the first forty minutes of this turkey.
Hotel Transylvania (Starz, 7:20 PM EDT)
Steve Buscemi’s werewolf is every put-upon parent ever. The rest of the film is only so-so, but he works wonders.
Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
The remaining contestants must create make-up for an underground monster, with creature designer Jordu Schell serving as judge.
Heroes of Cosplay (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Houston’s Anime Matsuri is the focus of this week’s episode.
Planet of the Apes (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
A total waste of Tim Roth, playing the scariest chimp in the whole wide world.
Cloverfield (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT and 9:45 PM EDT)
It’s not bad, but Pacific Rim really does the whole thing a lot better.
Die Another Day (Showtime, 7:00 PM EDT)
Pierce Brosnan’s reign as James Bond comes to a quiet end, caught between the character’s over-the-top past and post 9/11 future.
Bulletproof Monk (Showtime, 9:15 PM EDT)
Oh Chou Yun-Fat WHY?
Frankenweenie (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Tim Burton’s stop-motion tale has a cool look and a lot of heart, but not much in the way of story.
The Shining (BBC America, 7:00 PM EDT)
BBC America loves showing this, and who are we to disagree? Repeats on Sunday at 7:00 PM EDT.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
The plot comes second to watching Brad and Angie eye-fuck each other for two hours.
Toy Story (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Pixar’s legendary feature debut hasn’t lost an ounce of its charm over the years.
Futurama (Comedy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Fry finally proposes to Leela as the series comes to a conclusion. See the top of the article for more.
Ghost Mine (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
A new season begins – seriously, there two of them? – with the crew trying to get back to business as usual.
Pitch Black (Spike, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:32 PM EDT)
Riddick is kind of awesome, but then again, so was its predecessor.
Scarface (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Brian De Palma’s incredibly loopy gangster saga is unforgettable… though not in any way that suggests a quality production.
Pulp Fiction (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Gangster films, the indie movement… hell the whole goddamn medium just wasn’t the same after this one.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (BBC America, 7:00 PM EDT)
Come on Sean, can’t you do just one more to avoiding ending things on… on this?
Cowboys & Aliens (Cinemax, 9:00 PM EDT)
Jon Favreau does much better when he’s directing hipsters and superheroes than cowboys and aliens.
Toy Story 2 (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
The second time may even surpass the first as Pixar delivers one of its very best.
Columbiana (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
For God’s sake, can’t someone give Zoe Saldana a sandwich?!
Life of Pi (HBO, 8:30 PM EDT)
One of the best films of 2012, an exquisite journey that reminds us that CGI in the hands of a master filmmaker can be a transcendent thing.
Wilfred (FX, 10:00 PM EDT)
Season 3 comes to an end with Ryan and Wilfred separated, seemingly for good.
Burn Notice (USA, 9:00 PM EDT)
Michael has to reveal his true identity to James, something we’re guessing was not part of the plan when he got up this morning.
Vertigo (TCM, 9:00 PM EDT)
TCM has got its Hitchcock on this month, and you can’t do better than his powerful headtrip starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak.
Serial Mom (Sundance, 10:00 PM EDT)
Kathleen Turner delivers one of her better performances as a suburban mom so obsessed with perfection she’s willing to kill anyone to preserve it.
Swamp Shark (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Um… any questions?
Ragin Cajun Redneck Gators (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
They dump moonshine in the water and it creates mutant monsters. Fairly warned thee be says I.
Toy Story 3 (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Best trilogy ever? You could make that case.
Hereafter (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT)
Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon start out strong, but just don’t know where to go in their thoughtful yet dull story of a real life psychic.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (ABC Family, 6:00 PM EDT)
Just for the record, this is the good one…
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (ABC Family, 8:30 PM EDT)
… and this is the handsome but terribly flawed one.
The Italian Job (AMC, 7:30 PM EDT)
Nothing like Mark Wahlberg and a fleet of Mini Coopers to put a smile on your face.
Rob Roy (BBC America, 7:00 PM EDT)
Good week for Tim Roth bad guys. Liam Neeson also shines as the legendary Scottish hero.
I, Robot (Cinemax, 7:00 PM EDT)
It’s a Will Smith joint, but Alan Tudyk owns this thing.
Crank 2: High Voltage (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
IFC has officially aired this one far too often.
Reservoir Dogs (Showtime, 9:25 PM EDT)
Another film that just keeps getting better with age. Also, Tarantino had a shorter leash here, so he kept his cinematic indulgences in check.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
A supposedly heartwarming story about a childless couple who receive a visit from a magical child. It gets full marks for good intentions, but stumbles over an indifferent execution.
Metropolis (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
The grandfather of all science fiction films, Fritz Lang’s surreal masterpiece is presented here uncut and better than ever.
Things to Come (TCM, 10:45 PM EDT)
TCM follows up with an interesting version of the HG Wells’ story, capturing our Double Feature of the Week prize in a cakewalk.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (ABC Family, 7:25 PM EDT)
The weakest of the eight Harry Potter films suffers because it has to set the foundation for all the movies to come.
A Knight’s Tale (BBC America, 7:00 PM EDT)
Heath Ledger and Paul Bettany help keep the silliness in check and deliver an interesting if deeply flawed story.
Con Air (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EDT)
Fun doesn’t get any bigger or dumber than this.
Tangled (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
If this is the end of the Disney Princess movie, it definitely goes out on a high note.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT)
The bottom falls out of the franchise right about here.
Star Trek (FX, 7:00 PM EDT)
Okay, so is the reboot Part 1 or Part 11? I’m a little confused.
XXX (FX, 9:30 PM EDT)
It’s badly dated, but Vin Diesel’s extreme sport spy caper is quite the guilty pleasure if taken in the right frame of mind.
The Hills Have Eyes II (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Ugly and harsh without the attendant coolness that the first film featured.
Blade: Trinity (Starz, 7:00 PM EDT)
There are some talented people working here. Unfortunately, most of them end up upstaging the star, and killing the whole movie in the process.
The Rock (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT)
My favorite Michael Bay movie… for what that’s worth.
Crimson Tide (TNT, 10:30 PM EDT)
“I never trust air I can’t see.” As good a eulogy for the work of Tony Scott as you’ll likely find.
Men in Black II (TBS, 8:00 PM EDT and 9:45 PM EDT)
Definitely the low point in the franchise, a tired rehash almost killed the franchise.
Do No Harm (NBC, 10:00 PM EDT)
FOR GOD’S SAKE, WHY WON’T IT DIE?! What? That’s it? Whew!
The White Queen (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
The flop sweat is starting to show on Lord Warwick. Just sayin’.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (ABC Family, 7:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
Numbers six and seven in the Harry Potter series form a great set-up to the rousing finale.
The Dark Knight Rises (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Christopher Nolan brings his Batman story to a rousing conclusion… and hey, considering he had a hand in hiring Ben Affleck, what say we give him the benefit of the doubt?
The Princess and the Frog (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Good villains go a long way. Case in point…
2 Fast 2 Furious (Bravo, 9:00 PM EDT)
Okay, we really need Vin Diesel if this thing is going to work.
Taken (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
This Liam Neeson revenge story was made for basic cable.
Salt (FX, 10:00 PM EDT)
The action’s okay, but the star is in desperate need of a hug and a cookie.
Starship Troopers (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:45 PM EDT)
Have you heard the RiffTrax live take on this thing? It’s incredible.
Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Syfy, 5:30 PM EDT and 8:04 PM EDT)
The top two Indy films get the double feature treatment tonight on Spike.
Dexter (Showtime, 9:00 PM EDT)
Dexter needs Dr. Vogel to nab the Brain Surgeon, even while watching someone he really cares about get killed in front of him.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (ABC Family, 7:30 PM EDT and 9:30 PM EDT)
The placement is kind of weird, but they are two of the better Potter films, so who are we to complain?
North by Northwest (TCM, 10:15 PM EDT)
The granddaddy of all spy capers finds Cary Grant fleeing for his life after case of mistaken identity. One of Hitchcock’s greatest, it sets the stage for James Bond, Jason Bourne, and every other spy movie for the last 50 years.
Cinderella (Disney, 8:00 PM EDT)
Disney’s classic still looks fantastic… but could that prince be any less interesting?
Cabin Fever (IFC, 7:00 PM EDT)
Eli Roth’s film debut sets the sneering anti-social standard that categorized all of his work.
House of 1000 Corpses (IFC, 9:00 PM EDT)
I wish I could say that Rob Zombie’s become a better director since his dreadful 2003 debut. Not so much.
Indiana Jones Marathon (Syfy, 2:30 PM EDT, 5:04 PM EDT 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s three of the four films. Temple of Doom takes a powder on this one.
Sherlock Holmes (TNT, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
Guy Ritchie’s clever take on the ubiquitous detective makes a fine way to end the week.