The Writers' Room

The Writers' Room
Please Stop Making Me Hate The Simpsons

Elizabeth Grunewald | 8 Dec 2010 17:25
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Futurama (1999-2003)

I actually remember when this show premiered, because I read about it in the newspaper. (Remember those?) The article was enticing, playing heavily on the Matt Groening connection, so I tuned in. I watched the series, and laughed loud and heartily, and you must have heard me, because you canceled it.

No, that's silly. You canceled it because everyone loved it, but not before you yanked it all the hell over the schedule. It got so bad that folks didn't even know when to tune in, but by that point it didn't matter. The critics had already praised it, and thus it was doomed.

The animated sci-fi sitcom was a fresh concept that was easy to start watching, and man, did it have its share of one-liners. Was your animated bread-and-"butter up that bacon, boy" beginning to look a little tired by comparison? Dr. Nick can only say "Hi everybody!" so many times, but Dr. Zoidberg can play the incompetent physician just as well ("Now open your mouth and lets have a look at that brain") and deliver the funny on a consistent basis. The science-fiction gags ("Well, it's a type M planet, so it should at least have Roddenberries") made it appeal to a niche audience of nerds, but references weren't laid so thick as to be off-putting to those viewers who did not self-identify as geek.

The saddest part of all is the animated pathos you denied us. The Simpsons has had its tear-jerking moments, but I defy you to name me one episode sadder than "Jurassic Bark." The plight of Fry's dog Seymour is widely regarded as one of the saddest moments in animation. I'd argue that it gives even Pixar a run for its money. Yes, Fox, you heard me. Pixar. Remind me why you canceled this show?

Right. It's just as Fry himself put it, in the fabulous "When Aliens Attack:" "You see? TV audiences don't want anything original. They wanna see the same thing they've seen a thousand times before." Apologize, and I'll forgive you the rest of Season 16 and all of Season 15, but that's only because other networks recognized your folly and filled the Futurama void.

You're lucky.

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