By ERIN MAXWELL
The battle to keep “Futurama” on the air has been rife with plot twists and intrigue. So fans rejoiced today when the entire original cast, along with series creators David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, gathered at Comic-Con to answer questions and show clips of the new season.
It appears that, finally, the on-again, off-again sci-fi toon really does have a future.
The show debuted on Fox in 1999 and was canceled in 2003. The show then ran in reruns for the next four years on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim until the syndication contract expired. This was followed by four DVD pics and a new syndie deal between Fox and Comedy Central in 2009. That year, the laffer net picked up the show for 26 new episodes to air on Comedy Central.
It seemed that “Futurama” had a new lease on life. But fresh issues arose when the cast claimed Fox would not meet their salary demands. At last year’s Comic-Con, the future of “Futurama” seemed dim when none of the cast appeared for the panel. The dispute was resolved, however, and the original cast was back in place to voice the new episodes.
“It alternates from good to bad at these ‘Futurama’ panels year to year,” observed Cohen. “It’s so good to be here on a good year.”
The panel featured a table read by the cast of an upcoming episode titled “Benderama,” set to air next summer. After the read, panelists took questions from an appreciative audience that appeared happy to see the gang back together again.
The writers could probably get away with a lot more at the comedy net than at their former home on Fox. But the writers say that they have yet to explore their new-found freedom.
“We have the opportunity to go further,” Cohen said. “We are trying to restrain ourselves. The second episode of this season featured Chris Elliot as a giant robot that censors everything. In one line, we bleeped a word out, and the execs said, ‘Well, what was it? Maybe you can say it.'”