Salutations peeps and peepettes. Welcome to Cartoon Crackdown, wherein I regale you with tidings of newly released animated wonders, and by regale I mean geek the hell out about cartoons you should watch.
So that’s it. After thirteen years, seven seasons, and over one hundred episodes, Futurama has reached its conclusion and is canceled for the second and (presumably) final time in its tenure. Having remained an avid fan and dedicated viewer of the show for as long as I have, it was difficult to bid farewell to an old friend like Futurama. Even more challenging was the idea that we Futurama fans were expected to accept this relatively underwhelming episode “Meanwhile” as the show’s last hurrah.
Now things started off promisingly enough by utilizing the plot device responsible for Futurama‘s more inspiring moments: time-travel. After a fun jaunt on the moon (with references to Fry’s first delivery with Planet Express in Season One’s “The Series Has Landed”), Fry returns with the determination to propose to Leela and solidify their romantic life. In order to make sure that things go perfectly, Fry steals the Professor’s newest invention: The Time Button. It allows the wielder to go back ten seconds in time, and allows the viewer to experience some amusing sight gags (like Leela’s hand getting chopped off during Fry’s initial proposal).
Of course things go awry and Fry finds himself in an infinite time loop, wherein he perpetually falls to his death like an endlessly reincarnating lemming. Naturally, Fry is freed from this loop, but only to have himself and Leela caught in a world where time is frozen and only they exist together in a Twilight Zone-esque motionless world. This is easily the episode’s best section; as the pair determine to live out their lives in this strange place and we witness them happily grow old together. Seeing as the strongest relationship in this show has always been the budding romance between Fry and Leela, I couldn’t help but shed a few tears at this montage.
Unfortunately, the episode ends with a convenient deus ex machina (which I won’t spoil here) that manages to not only prevent this episode’s story from ever occurring but prevents the episode itself from being truly satisfying. For one thing, the narrowed focus on Fry and Leela makes for some great moments but hardly gives us time to say goodbye to the supporting cast we’ve all come to know and love. And more importantly, “Meanwhile” feels like a massive step backward into “safe” territory; especially coming from a show that has previously possessed the balls to venture into potentially depressing conclusions for the sake of a great story. Watch the episode “Jurassic Bark” and you’ll know what I mean by that.
Now I’m not saying it’s a bad episode. If it was, I wouldn’t have laughed or wept as much as I did. But some of the laughs felt forced due to my extreme love for the show, and the abrupt cop-out ending was something Futurama didn’t deserve at all. So I beseech you Matt Groening: bring this show back. Or at the very least, do another direct-to-video movie like Bender’s Big Score so we fans can get the finale that a show of Futurama’s caliber demands.