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Futurama – Season Six – Episode One: “Rebirth” Review

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Written by : published Saturday 30th July 2011

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Watch Futurama at: http://www.thetvking.com/tvshows/1351/futurama/

Futurama’s return to UK screens was something of a mixed bag. Undeniably, it was great to have the Planet Express crew back in a regular time slot - precisely where they deserve to be after the show was unfairly cancelled by Fox in 2003 - but the writing didn’t seem up to par with some of the series’ past seasons. Jokes fell flat, situations felt stale and clichéd, and yet there were still shining examples of wit and humour on display, the sort only Futurama can deliver.

 

Rebirth picks up where Into the Wild Green Yonder left off, with the Planet Express fleeing from Zapp Brannigan’s colossal Nimbus spacecraft. With nowhere left to run, the crew unite on the decision to enter a wormhole to escape, but Professor Farnsworth warns his comrades that the wormhole could transport them trillions of light years away.

 

Instead, the wormhole takes them back to Earth, but not without complications: the ship is hit by one of the Nimbus' torpedoes and the Planet Express hurtles to Earth. Farnsworth hilariously reassures everyone that everything will be alright; he’s fitted the entire crew with bubble-like force fields. However, upon activating them, it turns out that the Professor is the only crew member in possession of a fully functioning force field and the rest of the crew have to make do with bubbles that only protect their heads. After everyone says their goodbyes, the ship crashes, killing everyone except the Professor and Fry, who is left with severe burns and frizzy hair.

 

We are treated to some pretty startling images over the next few minutes, the most shocking of all being the crew’s skeletal bodies dangling from a metal railing with their heads intact. This imagery is both horrifying and morbidly fascinating, with Kif’s dangling organs looking repulsive and Bender’s mechanical innards surprisingly frail and spindly. The Professor has a plan to resurrect the deceased crew using a cauldron of human stem cells, which miraculously brings back non-humans Zoidberg and Kif, robot Bender and the rest of the human Planet Express workforce. Unfortunately, Leela isn’t so lucky, and she falls into a deep coma.

 

There were some well-executed references to sci-fi films here, with Rebirth spending most of its time paying homage to Blade Runner and pondering whether man could ever love artificial life. Later, theTerminator franchise is poked fun at, and even King Kong is given theFuturama treatment in one scene.

 

The episode had its work cut out for it in reintroducing television audiences not only to the show’s characters, but also to the fantastical world Futurama inhabits.  For those who didn’t follow the brilliant direct-to-DVD Futurama films, this was the first time in years, bar repeats, that the show has graced television screens. Of course, Futurama has a huge cult following, and pleasing both diehard fans and fledgling viewers was always going to be a tricky task.  Rebirth seemed to try too hard in balancing these objectives, which resulted in a lacklustre outing for one of the funniest cartoons on television.

 

Bender’s situation was unfunny and quickly became repetitive and irritating, only redeemed temporarily when the team visit a club wittily named ‘Studio 1 Squared, 2 to the Power of 1, 3 Cubed’. The Fry and Leela relationship is one of the best things about the series and it was pleasing to see that the writers understand that and decided the opening episode of season six should be dedicated to their plight, but the results were mixed.

 

Because it is set in the distant future, Futurama can get away with some of the most bizarre, out-there jokes on television, but Rebirth offered up a sparse collection of laughs, the novelty of the series returning proving to be one of its only saving graces. But saying that, the way the overall plot unfolded was very satisfying, with unseen twists and turns just rescuingRebirth from becoming a huge disaster.

 

 

 

6/10

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