I feel fairly conflicted about Futurama season 11. As much as I love Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s animated sci-fi comedy, I’m not fully convinced its latest comeback was wise.
Despite being one of the best animated shows on Hulu (and one of my favorite Disney Plus shows for those in the UK where we don't have Hulu), Futurama lived in fear of getting canceled at every turn. This is the show’s third resurrection, which proves you can’t keep a good dog down… especially if said pooch is Seymour. Show me a better episode than ‘Jurassic Bark,’ and I’ll call you a liar.
Actually, there is one ep that runs the tragic tale of Fry’s loyal pet close.
Futurama's last goodbye was too good to follow-up
That would be ‘Meanwhile’. Originally released back in 2013, this season finale sent Futurama out on the highest of notes. It’s a high-concept tale that manages to tap into what makes Fry and Leela’s on-again, off-again central romance so special.
Somehow, it manages to tie a heartfelt, doomed marriage proposal into the wacky concept of a device that can send a person back 10 seconds in time indefinitely.
Back when the deeply hit-and-miss TV movies launched between 2007 and 2009, I never thought Futurama would once again hit the heights of its first four seasons. I was wrong. Season eight, nine and ten of the show are all excellent, representing the sort of renaissance the last 20 years of terrible Simpsons seasons could only dream of.
'Meanwhile' was Futurama at its best. Over 22 minutes, it tells a thoroughly stupid but utterly heartfelt story that aims for both your tear ducts and your funny bone. It’s a glorious episode of television.
Out of the Frying pan
The first episode of Futurama’s 11th season just isn’t in the same stratosphere. After a decade away from the small screen, the comedy’s comeback is merely fine, but no more than that.
‘The Impossible Stream’ feels more than a little outdated. Trying to mine gags out of the concept of binge watching in 2023 feels tired, though this season opener thankfully doesn’t plumb the depths of those questionable mini movies.
My biggest issue with Futurama being back isn’t just ‘old man shakes fist at clouds’ syndrome. It’s more to do with the show squandering an opportunity to end on a high it’s unlikely to top again.
Outlook: Hope mixed with doubt
I’m more than willing to give Futurama season 11 a chance to prove itself; the show’s past returns have earned it that right. And look, there’s not a huge amount the comeback does to tarnish its legacy.
Yes, it somewhat undermines the closing setpiece of 'Meanwhile,' which emotionally saw Fry and Leela live out their lives together as the only two people alive who aren’t frozen in time. But there’s nothing in 'The Impossible Stream' that irrevocably betrays Futurama canon.
I hope the showrunners can prove me wrong and that whenever this latest run inevitably ends, it bows out on an episode that deserves to be considered in the same sentence as 'Meanwhile.'
That scenario admittedly feels unlikely. Perhaps I should just be glad Futurama achieved such highs in its past (the closing moments of 2003’s ‘The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings’ episode are also terrific).
Back in the present though, I can only hope this iconic comedy can build on a somewhat shaky return.
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Dave is a computing editor at Tom’s Guide and covers everything from cutting edge laptops to ultrawide monitors. When he’s not worrying about dead pixels, Dave enjoys regularly rebuilding his PC for absolutely no reason at all. In a previous life, he worked as a video game journalist for 15 years, with bylines across GamesRadar+, PC Gamer and TechRadar. Despite owning a graphics card that costs roughly the same as your average used car, he still enjoys gaming on the go and is regularly glued to his Switch. Away from tech, most of Dave’s time is taken up by walking his husky, buying new TVs at an embarrassing rate and obsessing over his beloved Arsenal.