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Futurama quarter-season status report

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Good news, everyone!

Futurama is only three episodes into its sixth season on Comedy Central, and we at Handshake already have a bunch to discuss.

The first episode, Rebirth, definitely worked as an explanation for how all the characters returned from a certain final death/wormhole scene in the last movie. The second and third episodes, on the other hand, find the show giving far more not-so-subtle social commentary than it used to.

In “In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela,” two oppressive government space stations collide to create a censoring “death sphere” labeled V-Giny (heh…clever, I guess.)

In last week’s episode “Attack of the Killer App,” Futurama envisions the future dystopia of Twitter and Facebook once they are owned by all of Earth’s corporations, which are, in turn, all owned by Futurama’s Mom.

Maybe the heavy-handed cultural commentary of Comedy Central’s other shows have rubbed off on Futurama a bit, or maybe the show’s writers just chose to go this route and want to do it well.

Futurama‘s episodic format is partly what makes it so fresh, with dabs of a story arc that scatter throughout several seasons (Nibbler’s literal foreshadow, Fry’s delta-wave deficiency and Leela’s mutant heritage). Even when the writers got preachy before, the nonsensical cultural humor found in Birdbot from Icecatraz or The Problem with Popplers often outweighed any seriousness in Futurama‘s commentary.

But far be for me to dissect all of the new Futurama shortcomings so soon. The series’ humor has gotten edgier in these few episodes, but this season definitely shows some improvement from the often flaccid jokes and storylines that plagued much of the four interim movies.

Either way, for the rest of the season, as well as the next, I hope the show sticks to whimsy and approaches cultural commentary the same way it uses overarching plots: with a light touch here and there.

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