Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Futurama's Fourth and Final Finale

"The future concocted here comes straight out of sci-fi comics of the 1950s with art deco style in a Jetsons-like future. The characters remain very Simpsons-esque, because, Groening says, 'That's the only way I can draw, with big eyeballs and no chins.'"
The series was envisioned by Matt Groening in the late 1990s while working on The Simpsons, later bringing executive producer David X. Cohen (a writer for The Simpsons for five years) aboard to develop storylines and characters to pitch the show to Fox. Groening and Cohen have served as executive producers and show runners during the show's entire run, and also function as creative consultants. Ken Keeler became an executive producer for Season 4 and subsequent seasons.

In the United States, the series aired on Fox from March 28, 1999, to August 10, 2003, before ceasing production. Futurama was then aired in reruns on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim from 2003 to 2007, until the network's contract expired. It was revived in 2008 as four direct-to-video films; the last of which was released in early 2009. Comedy Central entered into an agreement with 20th Century Fox Television to syndicate the existing episodes and air the films as 16 new, half-hour episodes, constituting a fifth season.

In June 2009, producing studio 20th Century Fox announced that Comedy Central had picked up the show for 26 new half-hour episodes, which began airing in 2010 and 2011. The show was renewed for a seventh season, with the first half airing in June 2012 and the second set for early summer 2013. It was later revealed that the seventh season would be the final season, as Comedy Central announced that they would not be commissioning any further episodes. The series finale aired on September 4, 2013, though Groening has said he will try to get it picked up by another network.

Due to the uncertain future of the series, there have been four designated series finales. "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings", "Into the Wild Green Yonder (Part 4)" and "Overclockwise" have all been written to serve as a final episode for the show. The episode "Meanwhile" currently stands as the show's official series finale.

Rough Draft Studios animates Futurama. The studio receives the completed script of an episode and storyboards it into over 100 drawings. It then creates a pencil-drawn animatic with 1000 frames. Rough Draft's sister studio in South Korea renders the 30,000-frame finished episode.

In addition to traditional cartoon drawing, Rough Draft Studios often uses CGI for fast or complex shots, such as the movement of spaceships, explosions, nebulae, and snow scenes. The opening sequence is entirely rendered in CGI. The CGI is rendered at 24 frames per second (as opposed to hand-drawn often done at 12 frames per second).

Throughout its run, Futurama has received critical acclaim. The show has been nominated for 17 Annie Awards and 12 Emmy Awards, winning seven of the former and six of the latter. It has also been nominated four times for a Writers Guild of America Award, winning two for the episodes "Godfellas" and "The Prisoner of Benda", been nominated for a Nebula Award and has received Environmental Media Awards for episodes "The Problem with Popplers" and "The Futurama Holiday Spectacular". Futurama-related merchandise has also been released, including a tie-in comic book series and video game, calendars, clothes, and figurines. A crossover episode with The Simpsons is scheduled to be released during that show's 25th season.

Emmy Wins:
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation
    • 2000–Bari Kumar (color stylist) for episode "A Bicyclops Built for Two"
    • 2001–Rodney Clouden (storyboard artist) for episode "Parasites Lost"
  • Outstanding Animated Program
    • 2002–"Roswell That Ends Well"
    • 2011–"The Late Philip J. Fry"
  • Outstanding Voice-Over Performance
    • 2011–Maurice LaMarche, as Lrrr & Orson Welles for episode "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences"
    • 2012–Maurice LaMarche, as Clamps, Donbot, Hyper-Chicken, Calculon, Hedonism Bot & Morbo for episode "The Silence of the Clamps"
Emmy Nominations:
  • Outstanding Animated Program
    • 1999–"A Big Piece of Garbage"
    • 2001–"Amazon Women in the Mood"
    • 2003–"Jurassic Bark"
    • 2004–"The Sting"
    • 2012–"The Tip of the Zoidberg"
  • Outstanding Music and Lyrics
    • 2004–The song "I Want My Hands Back" for episode "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings"

More information:
» The Face Magazine (1999): "Nice Planet...We'll Take It!"
» Science Fiction Weekly's 2001 Interview with Executive Producer David Cohen

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