BREAKING NEWS: Futurama has NOT been canceled again. That's right! We've got two more seasons of 26 episodes, beginning with a two-episode, one-hour premiere tonight on Comedy Central.
But executive producer David X. Cohen isn't about to take success and two upcoming seasons lightly, especially considering the show's been canceled in the past and, until recently, almost been canceled most every year it's been on the air since its inception in 1999.
"We've actually settled into a kind of a regular groove on Comedy Central, and it's a situation we're not accustomed to, where we're actually just going to have four regular seasons in a row with no huge ax hanging over our heads," said Cohen in an exclusive interview with Blastr.
"The first episode we had a little more luxury this year of not having to explain what our characters have been doing for the last few years or why they're back to life. So it was actually kind of nice. The first few, we had a little extra time to think about it. We just said, 'Let's just do one of those episodes we like.'" The premiere has "a little bit of the old touching Futurama storyline to it, but basically it's just a good episode. Not having to come back to life or any of that stuff, that was pretty nice, actually."
In the premiere episode of season 7A, "The Bots and the Bees," Bender impregnates the office soda machine, which is voiced by Wanda Sykes. "You're going to get to see Bender as a father," said Cohen.
Immediately following will be "A Farewell to Arms," which involves a 3012 doomsday prophecy. "It begins when our crew discovers an ancient Martian calendar that predicts that the Earth will be destroyed in the year 3012. A desperate evacuation of planet Earth and storms of fire and all that kind of stuff one thousand years from now.
"The next one after that is inspired by this being a presidential election year, as people may have noticed, called 'Decision 3012.' We have, of course, Richard Nixon running for re-election for the third term since Futurama began running, and a new candidate arises to challenge him. Seems like a good guy, except it is discovered that he has no Earth certificate that states he was born on Earth. So the movement of Earthers is trying to prove that he wasn't born on Earth and therefore cannot run for president of Earth," he said.
Then "we have one in the middle [of the season] called 'Fun on a Bun,' which involves a terrible tragedy where Fry gets ground into a sausage that Leela eats. And it laterâtake my word for it, this is the same episodeâit later ends up in a giant battle of ice-age mammoths versus spaceships. Our animators were not too happy when they saw that sentence in the script, but that will be sort of an animation spectacular for the year, this battle sequence," said Cohen.
And Star Trek: The Next Generation's Patrick Stewart will guest-voice in an episode toward the end of the season called "31st Century Fox." "It explores the morality of robot fox hunting, whether it's moral or not to hunt robot foxes."
Other guest stars over the next couple of seasons include Larry Bird, Robert Wagner and a double dose of Star Trek's George Takei.
As for this season's finale, close your eyes and skip to the end if you don't want to know anything about it.
The 7A season finale will be "a special three-parter for the 13th episode where we try something wacky even by our standards. Last summer we did this one with the three animation styles. It was a big undertaking. Again, basically it's just an exercise in torture for the animators, but they end up being great. So we have one that should be the finale of this summer called 'Naturama,' which is a mock nature documentary and has three parts within it where we see our characters as different types of wild animals living out their life cycles. We'll see our crew as salmon and then as elephant seals and as endangered animals on the Galapagos," said Cohen. "Another animation spectacular for our finale."
Considering how long animation takes to bring to the screen, Cohen and his team are literally working on most of the episodes at any given moment. "It's kind of dizzying. We'll be literally working on the final sound effects for one episode and then dodging back to try to work out some flaw in the story of some episode we're just starting. It's a little overwhelming," he said.
But just because he's working on 26 episodes at one time doesn't mean he's ready to believe the Comedy Central has become a permanent home for Futurama or that, if it does get canceled, it will ever really be permanently canceled.
"I'll never fully believe it anyway. I can go to my grave always thinking the phone's about to ring," said Cohen.
Here's a look at "The Bots and the Bees" with Bender and his little bastard:
Futurama premieres tonight at 10 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.
Are you going to watch?