Friday, February 13, 2009

The End of Futurama: Memories, Dreams, Reflections

Disclaimer: The following is a documentation of my thoughts on the new Futurama movie, “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” as well as the Futurama film quadrilogy in general and its value in respect to the TV series. If you have not watched all of these things, the following may contain spoilers and/or not make sense.

Well, this is it: the final outing for the Planet Express crew is here with the release of the fourth Futurama feature-length film, “Into the Wild Green Yonder.”

The way the movie handles the big goodbye offers a little closure, but in the end it left me feeling for the most part sad and empty. To wit the way they concluded Fry and Leela's romance was just so… unceremonious. I mean, this is an arc they've been building from the very first episode! It’s the arc that was tragically cut short by the untimely cancellation of the series, before the creators were given a once in a lifetime opportunity to rectify that injustice somewhere in the ample span of four feature-length movies. So how did they use all this screen time when working up to a conclusion to the series’ longest running plotline?

They wait until the very absolute last minute to tack it on at the end, that’s how.

And when the moment finally arrives (seemingly out of nowhere), they ruin it have by literally not allowing so much as a millisecond to pass before they throw in the next unfunny joke. Now you see it, now you don't.

I don’t think you’ll find many Futurama fans that appreciate the "I love you too--WORMHOLE!" gag.

Even if this isn’t the end of Futurama and they somehow get a second second chance to continue the series, nothing they add to the continuity will change the fact that the moment they’ve been building up to from the very first episode is now over and done with, and the climax was the kind you have when someone knocks on the door and startles you into cumming. It’s even more disappointing when compared to the skillfully crafted emotional escalation and climax in episodes like “The Sting” and “The Why of Fry” – it begs the question: we’re supposed to believe that those episodes were all building up to THIS?

Seeing Futurama go out on such a tepid note is pretty sad, especially when “Bender's Big Score” brought it back from the abyss with such a bang. As far as I’m concerned, the first film was a fan's dream come true. In contrast to the unceremonious dispatch with which Green Yonder ends Futurama, Big Score was a triumphant return for the series, complete with a healthy dose of jabbing at the network bozos that stole these dear characters from us all those years ago. The rest of the movie was similarly packed with in-jokes and references strictly for the fans, mining the show’ rich history for several plot points, many of which allowed fans to return to some of the shows most emotional unresolved subjects (e.g. seeing Seymour again). And while on the subject of emotional unresolved subjects, the Fry/Leela relationship was handled in wonderfully. Seeing him suffer as she gets engaged to another guy only to find out that the other guy is actually him was a more clever and emotionally compelling plot twist than anything featured in any of the remaining three movies.

Yes, the remaining three movies… After Big Score shows Fry pining over Leela while his alternative self pines over her for 10+ years in another time line, where does the next movie pick up? Well, it starts off with Fry having forgotten about Leela and hooking up with some skank. Urgh. After that, the third movie completely ignores their relationship, which then returns in the fourth for a few odd minutes before the writers wave their magic wand and magically bring Futurama’s central arc to its door-knocking-ejaculatory conclusion.

The result is a resounding : /

I end with this. The gentlemen shown make valid points.

-- Harold Farber


Don Coyote said...

Great article. I too thought that the fry/leela thing was clumsily handled and came out of nowhere in the end

Edward Lee said...

Huh. I wasn't a huge fan of the whole environmental plot of the movie (found it very heavy-handed), but I thought they handled the Fry-Leela relationship perfectly. Think about everything that happened between before the final scene:

- Fry gives Leela up so that she can pursue her mission.
- Fry then appears to betray her by working with Leo.
- With all evidence pointing against him, Leela trusts Fry when he pleads with her to stop.
- Fry attempts to destroy himself to save the universe.

I thought the final scene was short and sweet, touching without being sentimental.