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Television Media

Matt Groening on Futurama, Simpsons and Fox 438

dipfan writes "Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening, in an interview with the FT, says that the Fox network didn't understand or support Futurama. Groening says: "They haven't really supported it. I think it's a worthy companion to The Simpsons and we're really proud of it. But Fox gave it a bad slot and zero promotion for the last three years." He also accuses the channel of meddling with the show, making complaints that the characters were "too mean". He's hoping to change Fox's mind, and endorses the online petition to try and save the show. The good news is that he's got other ideas for new shows if Futurama really does get canned, and talks about new Simpsons plots involving Enron, and Krusty The Clown running for Congress." His feelings shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who saw the first act of "Homer the Moe", but what I thought was interesting was his comments on Fox and how he's not interested in moving networks over the futurama thing.
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Matt Groening on Futurama, Simpsons and Fox

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  • by ZiZ ( 564727 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:17PM (#3439189) Homepage
    Fox has a long history of utterly failing to pay attention to the worthwhileness of their shows - giving good shows the boot while bad shows - say, for instance, Greg the Bunny - get prime airtime. The Simpsons just happened to be the right combination of edgy and comfortably marketable to get and keep a prime spot for so long - and any show that doesn't live up to those standards seems to be summarilly dropped, despite the fact that the bar is unreasonably high...
    • Greg the bunny is funny.

      • by ZiZ ( 564727 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:31PM (#3439263) Homepage
        Quoth the pigeon:
        Greg the bunny is funny.

        And the recent episodes of the X-Files are deeply conspiracy-laden, heart-wrenching and mind-busting masterpieces.

        Personal preferences aside - Fox has had a history of poor choices where the schedule and programming of their stations is concerned.

        On another subject, quoth the interview:
        But Groening is also pragmatic about the show's shelf-life. "Because animation is such an intensely painstaking process, it wears people out, and audiences are always looking for surprises. When any character is as stupid as Homer Simpson, it's hard to keep surprising the audience."

        Groening has a remarkably mature and insightful view of his own mortality and the limits of a particular genre. While the Simpsons make an excelent foil for poking fun at any cultural situation, economic event, or global personality (and as such, has a much much longer life expectancy than, say, Garfield (no offense to Garfield), who has said just about all there is to say on the subjects of laziness, gluttony, and hatred of dumb-but-cute), at some point, almost certainly, the majority of people watching the show will say "Ho hum, Homer's dumb, headlines, Bart whines, Lisa's smart - who gives a fart? Pass the booze - I'd rather snooze." (Or something, perhaps in slightly less doggerel.) We can only hope that Groening recognizes this point and brings us to a stunning (and satisfying) conclusion before the show becomes bogged down with the dead weight of unfunny seasons.

        • I liked this quote from the last ep:

          Homer: (sobbing) OOOHH!! I'm a rageholic. I can't live without ragehol!!
        • We can only hope that Groening recognizes this point and brings us to a stunning (and satisfying) conclusion before the show becomes bogged down with the dead weight of unfunny seasons.

          I think one of the really neat things about the Simpsons is that it reflects our own cultural insanity. The day when the Simpsons runs out of material will be the day we, as a culture, finally move ourselves out of the wasteland of ignorance and stupidity. It's win-win!
          • > The day when the Simpsons runs out of material...

            But that's just the point I was making (or trying to make) - the Simpsons won't run out of material anytime in the forseeable future, but the format it is presented in may well get old. How much interesting variation on the theme can Groening continue to come up with? And notice I say "continue" - I think he's done an amazing job thus far.

            > ...move ourselves out of the wasteland of ignorance and stupidity.

            So, you're saying, once we start resembling Futurama more than the Simpsons? *g*

            On a side note, try The Simpsons Archive [snpp.com] for way more than you wanted to know about the Simpsons...

    • by RackinFrackin ( 152232 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:46PM (#3439343)
      Fox has a long history of utterly failing to pay attention to the worthwhileness of their shows ...

      That's the truth. Married with Children is a prime example. It was one of the shows that helped launch the network, and they showed no respect for that. They repeatedly changed the timeslot, and eventually moved it to Saturday night. The worst, though, was that they didn't produce a final episode. They cancelled it after all the season 11 episodes were taped, so there was never a finale That's a pretty rotten send-off for a show that ran for over a decade.
  • Too mean?! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:20PM (#3439206)
    > He also accuses the channel of meddling with [Futurama], making complaints that the characters were "too mean"

    Fuck, that's the reason I gave up on the Simpsons years ago, and love Futurama!

    Hey, FOX, why don't you bite my shiny metal ass? I'm an adult. Now that Bugs Bunny's been censored to hell, I'm left craving cartoons I can enjoy as an adult. If there's a demographic that leaves room in the lineup for Greg The Bunny (who's funny, but is hardly broadly-based social satire), there's gotta be room for Bender and the baby in "Family Guy".

    • by 56ker ( 566853 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:14PM (#3439491) Homepage Journal
      Fox probably got a lot of complaints about Futurama's more adult content. Well to those people I say - 1) it's only a cartoon
      2) well what do you expect when one of the characters is a beer-swilling kleptomaniac robot and 3) The obligatory bite my shiny metal ass. :)
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:30PM (#3439572)
      I don't think the current heads at Fox want angry characters or self-referential satire. For some reason television has climbed that hump and has moved back to Spelling-like plain-jane sitcoms.

      The mid to late nineties TV landscape was covered with amusing shows that took pot-shots at everything, including themselves and especially the sitcom formula. Mr. Show, Upright Citizens, Simpsons, Family Guy, The Daily Show, etc were groundbreaking shows. They didn't take anything as above-criticism and developed an intelligent edge through insightful comedy.

      Now look at the popular comedies on Fox. Bernie Mac, King of the Hill, Malcolm in the Middle, etc. They're more based in the Love Boat tradition of wacky sitcom than in the Simpsons tradition of satire and irony. This is what people want. The Neilsons have spoken and Fox isn't listening to the raves, but only to the complaints about shows being too brainy, mean, or smartassed.

      Cable seems to be picking up the slack with shows like the Man Show, Sealab 2021, etc. Hopefully the Simpsons spirit will live on in the minds of writers willing to take a small risk.
      • by jmauro ( 32523 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @10:05PM (#3440088)
        Mr. Show, Upright Citizens, Simpsons, Family Guy, The Daily Show

        They can only take credit for two of these shows. The simpsons and the Family Guy. The others were made and more importantly shown by HBO or comedy central. And they've tried everying possible to kill off the family guy. Give up being edgy on Fox. They needed to be edgy when they were a start up. Now their one of the big networks and need to keep the viewer tuned in with predictable stuff, rather than steal them with the edgy stuff.
  • network genius @ Fox (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iamjim ( 313916 )
    Fox has had some gold in the past that they gambled on and won, and gambled on and lost. Greg the Bunny is boring, Family Guy is great. Although I did not like them, 90210 and Melrose Place were gold for the network. X-files will be generated only syndication funds, nothing substantial.

    There has got to be something that I missed, I do not understand how they could cancel shows like Futurama and Family Guy.

    What are your thoughts?
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:41PM (#3439315)
      > Greg the Bunny is boring, Family Guy is great.

      I've seen this comment a few times.

      I think what it comes down to is that GtB is a great sendup of what life is like in Hollyweird. It's a great, biting satire about the kinds of things that TV executives can relate to.

      Greg the Bunny is TV executives what Dilbert is to the IT worker.

      Family Guy (the episode where the Grim Reaper took a holiday was sheer brilliance) and most Futurama episodes are just as biting as Greg the Bunny -- but most of the jokes probably have no real meaning for a TV executive; they're aimed pretty squarely at what life's like for Joe and Jane Sixpack. (Incompetent managers, bad investments, the Internet, Star Trek geeks :)

      Trouble is, most Joe and Jane Sixpacks don't like to see themselves made fun of. It reminds them of how lame they are. Hence the fact that most Simpsons episodes have their funny moments, but they've lost (if indeed, they ever had it) that acerbic, biting cynicism that the original "Life in Hell" comics had.

      That leaves the Slashdot crowd - most of whom loves satire as an art form - for stuff like The Tick, Family Guy, and Futurama. I mean, c'mon, how could we not laugh at the "Napster" episode of Futurama? Or the AOL episode ("My god... it's full of spam!"). We love satire, even when it's directed at us.

      (And yes, I also lament the loss of the Dilbert series, but that was a UPN thing, not a FOX thing, so it's not really on topic here :)

      Bottom line: GtB is being given a chance because TV executives probably think it's riotously funny. I think the gags are "kinda funny", but I can't even tell you when the show airs.

      In contrast, I tuned in to Dilbert (and tune in to Futurama) religiously - the jokes that TV executives think of as "kinda funny" are the ones I find riotous.

      I don't think I've regularly watched the Simpsons in years, though. Yeah, Life in Hell had to be toned down for TV, but that's probably why I never got hooked on the Simpsons.

      • You're thinking too hard.

        As I've posted above - Greg the Bunny is funny.

        It has nothing to do w/satire or demographics. It's really simple. It's puppets doing crass things. That is way too funny. When the fat bear puppet literally "ripped a new one" I laughed so hard I thought I might hurt myself.

        Have you seen the muppet posts floating around here lately? You've got to be quick to catch them before they are modded down into oblivion. I've read the sex one and the eating muppets one. Anyways-- they are hilarious because it's about puppets and people doing crass things.

        That's all there is to it.

      • how could we not laugh at the "Napster" episode of Futurama?

        I actually didn't like that episode all that much (and I love Futurama), I don't think it's a good example of the satire you've mentioned (which I do see on the show a lot, otherwise): they just indiscriminantly took several "issues" that have come to be recognized in "popular culture" as the very essense of the Internet - IP infringement, celebrity fanaticizm, pale geeks spending their lives in chat rooms, etc - and mixed them into some sort of current issue soup that didn't really say anything except: "hey look, this is all net realted stuff, and it's hip!"

        It was a funny ep though. :)

        Overall I think all that those who like Futurama like it more for the edginess (to be trite) and the geek factor is a secondary, but still iportant factor. And that's probably why it's getting canned - what's not bland, cannot appeal to the "average" viewer.

        btw, I wouldn't think network execs would make decisions based on what they like - they must realize that TV execs are not a very significant demographic, and after all they probably know how to make money in that business.

        Excellent call on The Tick though, best show ever made! :) "La donna e mobile \ qual piuma al vento, \ muta d'accento \ e di pensier!" I loved that show!

      • Greg the Bunny is TV executives what Dilbert is to the IT worker [sic]

        Yeah, like that flies. Remember Action? Even funnier and more biting than GtB, and how long did it last, eh?

        I lost my respect for FOX when they cancelled that show without even trying to find the right time slot for it. C'mon... Thursday night? It took ABC and CBS nearly a decade to break NBC's domination of that schedule.

    • Fox has done an excellent job this year bringing 24 [fox.com] to their schedule...that show is fantastic, Keifer Sutherland is awesome, and Dennis Hoppers' addition to the cast in the past few episodes has been outstanding too...to me, this was the best new show on any newtork this season...of course, it sounds like their gonna ruin it next season when, according to articles i've read, the shows switch from 24 episodes each covering one hour of time...to each episode covering 1 24-hour block of time...it just won't be the same..please FOX, try to bring it back in the original format...


      Andy Richter Controls the Universe [paramount.com] and Undeclared [undeclaredonline.com] are, in my opinion, two of the funniest new shows this season...yet, Undeclared has been conspicously absent from the spring schedule, and there are rumours that Andy Richter will not be picked up for next season...these two shows are great...and if you haven't checked out Andy Richter consider watching..it's on Tuesday's at 8:30 (although not this tuesday) as a lead in to "24"...it's damn funny...and the office humour in it is great...

      i do think Fox's lineup does have some potential over all....these 3 shows i mentioned....plus Simpsons, Malcom in the Middle, King of the Hill and That 70's show give them a nice core group of programming...albeit one that doesn't really appeal to older viewers....but it should appeal to the all important 18-25 year old male demographic...

      just my opinion...
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:28PM (#3439249) Homepage Journal
    While I don't agree that The Simpsons has "Jumped the Shark,*" I must confess that there's a downward trend in overall quality. The show has always had its ups and downs, but the ups are not as high as they used to be and the downs are more frequent.

    I wouldn't mind The Simpsons ending its run at this point. Better that than risk something awful happening, like one of the voice actors quitting or getting canned or Fox insisting on some egregious change.

    Anyway, there are so many episodes in syndication that I can watch reruns for weeks without getting bored.

    What WOULD be tragic: Groening not having a shot at another show. Surprise us, Matt!


    * #1 Candidate for overused annoying chic media term.

    • Better that than risk something awful happening

      Have you seen the Simpsons at all this season? The whole series has been a train wreck. It's like they're deliberately trying to kill off interest in the show by making the worst possible episodes.
    • "Jumped the Shark,*"

      * #1 Candidate for overused annoying chic media term.

      Did I miss something? I feel like I'm in Back to the Future II.

      • While I agree it's annoying and kind of dumb, I don't think it's a media term, per se. The web site Jump the Shark [jumptheshark.com] has been around for about 5 years, and I really think it's a fan term. It may be that the media types have just caught on to it recently though, and the phrase is now in vogue.
      • by E-prospero ( 30242 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:08PM (#3439453) Homepage
        "Jumped the shark" is a reference to the last episodes of Happy Days, when the studio was so desperate for ratings that they had episodes with topics like "Fonzie jumps a shark on his motorcycle."

        It's now used to describe the episode in a series where long time fans give up watching a long running series because it has just become too much of a joke, too much of a cliche, or so far from the original premise that it doesn't warrant watching anymore.

        Shows can also "Jump back" if they redeem themselves in a later episode.

        Common examples (I don't neccesarily agree with them) are the Mulder and Scully Kiss episode of X-Files, and the Buffy Musical episode.

        My personal Jump the Shark fave is the last episode, series 1 Dark Angel, where [[SPOILER WARNING]] Max's boyfriend/CO tops himself to save Max. I refuse to watch Dark Angel any more after that little travesty of scriptwriting...

        Russ %-)
        • "Jumped the shark" is a reference to the last episodes of Happy Days, when the studio was so desperate for ratings that they had episodes with topics like "Fonzie jumps a shark on his motorcycle."

          Thx 4 th hedz up. Is that a real example, or hypothetical?

          I believe such a thing happened to MASH. And SNL, like 17 times.

          the Buffy Musical episode.

          While I do not watch TV on a regular basis, my mother is an avid Buffy fan. She loved that episode (I have not seen it, but remember her telling me about it multiple times), though she is admittedly not as elitist as the average slashbot.

          Does The Media really use this term? I find it odd that I am so completely out of the loop.

          • Is that a real example, or hypothetical?

            Sadly - yes, it is real. I remember seeing the episode. For the record, it was crap. But then, I hated Happy Days anyway, so I'm not sure that stands for much... :-)

            I believe such a thing happened to MASH. And SNL, like 17 times.

            There is website [jumpedtheshark.com] for shark jumping; you can check out your favourites.

            While I do not watch TV on a regular basis, my mother is an avid Buffy fan. She loved that episode

            As did I. And I hate musicals (as a rule).

            Does The Media really use this term?

            I can't say I've ever seen it used in mainstream media. AFAIK, it's mostly used in/on fan sites.

            I find it odd that I am so completely out of the loop.

            I find it easier to assume that there is always a loop I'm not in. That way it's a pleasant surprise when I find a new loop :-)

            Russ %-)
        • It's now used to describe the episode in a series where long time fans give up watching a long running series because it has just become too much of a joke, too much of a cliche, or so far from the original premise that it doesn't warrant watching anymore.

          No no no! The phrase "jump the shark" is used to describe a specific episode in which the series in question peaked, leaving the show nowhere to go but down unless they "jump back."

          Don't just trust me on it: check out the Jump the Shark FAQ [jumptheshark.com].
    • Funny you should mention this. A LOT of otherwise knowledgable people I know completely missed it too - on the recent "clipshow" (Homer Gump or some such title), watch towards the end credits where they start making jokes about future Simpsons episodes.

      They quickly show a picture of Homer waterskiing - and he happens to be taking a jump, right overtop a shark.

      I think milk came out of my nose when I saw that.
    • What WOULD be tragic: Groening not having a shot at another show. Surprise us, Matt!

      How about a TV series version of Life In Hell [toonopedia.com]? That would tota11y r0ck!
  • Control of TV series (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:29PM (#3439257)
    As some of you are aware, when J. Michael Straczynski attempted to make a sequel to his popular Babylon 5 series, the network in charge (TNT) tried to control the creative direction of his show, Crusade. After only 13 episodes, Straczynski walked away saying that he either does Crusade his way or not at all. TNT had refused to relinquish creative control to the creator. Apparently, a similar showdown occurred between Simpsons creator Matt Groening and the FOX network while developing the Futurama series.

    Groening said in a Playboy interview: "The current atmosphere in television is one of anxiety and fear. And Fox has been worried that Futurama isn't like the Simpsons. And I've said, 'No, it's exactly like the Simpsons: It's new and original.' But that hasn't calmed them down. Also, Fox expected to have our show under its thumb and was quite surprised when I adamantly insisted that we put this show together exactly as we do The Simpsons, with complete autonomy. So that's why you haven't heard anything positive about Futurama from Fox during the past year."

    So, where TNT failed to compromise and save Crusade, the FOX network acquiesed to the creator and now has had a successful show in Futurama.
  • I'm amazed Futurama has lasted as long as it has considering that it's not only in the 7 pm Sunday death slot, but that it's preempted continuously during the football season. Add to that the fact that this past season didn't start with regular new episodes until January, and you've got a recipe for lost viewers.

    • I'm amazed that when they aired Star Wars IV, they cancelled Futurama that night. Funny thing is, normally Futurama would have been right after SW, instead they put on two eps of King of the Hill.

      Why they preempted Futurama from following Star Wars I'll never know.
      • it seems to me like it is always on a different time, you watch it one week and go back the same time the next, and its simpons THEN futurama...no wonder the ratings are poor, who wants to play scheduling roller coaster?
  • is merely a place holder because if they showed ALL ads some people would turn it off. The Simpson's had a good run, but is old hat now and hardly even brings a chuckle. I tried to watch Futurama, but it failed to impress me.
  • ... Then they'd have 2 good shows to air!
  • by tb3 ( 313150 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:44PM (#3439328) Homepage
    That online petitions don't work.

    This came out of a report from an anime convention last week. The studio reps said that they would pay attention to petitions for new series, but not online petitions. I suspect that Fox would pay even less attention.

    I don't think there's been a single example of an online petition having an effect. Please provide examples if I'm mistaken.
    • I don't think there's been a single example of an online petition having an effect. Please provide examples if I'm mistaken.

      Well, there is at least once recent example of FOX responding to letter-writing campaigns. One such campaign rescued Party of Five - the second story on the other side of this link [viewersvoice.org] is supportive of that claim.

      I don't believe that online petitions work, but if I recall correctly, online communications did assist in the PoF fight by mobilizing people on PoF-related email lists (yes, this was quite a while ago) to write letters. Likely, this approach would prove more effective. Kill a tree, save a show!

      Not exactly to your point, but close.

    • I saw this recently from Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski:

      http://america.net/~judge/jms04-18 [america.net]

      The other thing that needs to be emphasized, in terms of fan letter campaigns, is that the currency of the fan campaign is that it's been in large measure devalued by over-use, at least in terms of how the studios see it (having been told this straight up). These days *any* show that is nominally SF or fantasy, when its time ends, gets a writing camapign to get it back or keep it on the air. Good show, bad show, indifferent...the campaigns come regardless. So it doesn't really carry the same weight it did once.
    • We had a rather appropriate one in Chicago a while back. The local fox affiliate decided to replace one of the three daily Simpsons repeats with Third Rock (ugh). A web page was created for people to add their names; this list was mailed daily (!) to a number of executives at the station. Not only did they restore the show, but they aired ads for its reinstatement where the executive who made the decision is dragged off bound and gagged. A great day!
  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:47PM (#3439351) Homepage Journal
    I wont even notice. Usually I am busy when the new shows get aired. I watch the Simpsons 3 or 4 times a week but it is all syndication.

    That's part of what makes it so awesome. Each time I watch an episode again it cracks me up as much as the first time. Plus I notice little things I missed the first time around.

    I figure all the new episodes I've missed give me a buffer of at least a few years. And you know that the Simpsons are going to be on for a very long time on some channel.

    Sort of like that 8 minutes of light we get after the sun goes out one day.

  • Speculation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gnovos ( 447128 ) <gnovosNO@SPAMchipped.net> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:50PM (#3439366) Homepage Journal
    I have no inside knowledge of FOX or other broadcasting companies, but if they function the same way that other companies that I have worked at do, then I know exactly why you see the really fantsatic shows being canned in thier prime: new blood. Every time managment changes or restructures, there is some subconcious need from the newbies to change things around, if for no other reason than to justify thier existance. The usual route is to attack what was successful before, tear it down, and bring out the solid gold shnazzy New Thing(tm) that will wow everyone. Maybe it works one time out of a hundred, but that doesn't stop people from trying to be the lucky golden boy.

    This is just a guess, but I'll put a tenner down that the reason why Futurama never really got the support that it should have, and why it's being dropped now, is becuase maybe a week after the pilot, the heads of that department in FOX got restructured and the pastic wrap came off a whole new lineup of fresh-faced marketing and programming execs. They couldn't drop the Simpsons (it just has TOO MUCH momentum), so they decided to carve up everything else they could touch and fill the void with the neeto ideas they had during thier training in the frat house.
    • I just figure the ratings have never been what they hoped. Didn't it start off airing in the slot right after the simpsons, where they liked to nurse new shows to see if they'd pick up an audience? The fact is, most of the time that you get a show that people really fanatically love, the people who don't like it *really* hate it. Trying asking my parents about the family guy sometime. Point is, just because you think a show is the greatest thing on earth, it far from guarantees that anyone else does.

      Besides, I always had a theory on futurama. I saw the question as less 'why did they cancel it?' and more 'why did they keep it around so long?' They obviously haven't really been supporting it in years, with the shitty time slot and frequent preemptions(including one season premiere, at least on the east coast). I figured it was Millenium Syndrome. Remember the show Millenium, by Chris Carter? I never actually watched it, and supposedly not many other people did, either. When it was on, i always heard rumors that it was Chris Carter's 'pet project' and that fox just kept it on to keep him doing the X-Files. So maybe it was the same deal with Futurama, and fox just got sick of it.
  • by alanjstr ( 131045 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @07:51PM (#3439368) Homepage
    Yahoo News carries an interview [yahoo.com] with Groening. My favorite quote it "Although what happens generally if we win the Emmy for best animation show is that that gives us another couple of years to run it into the ground," he said.
  • There was a Dilbert cartoon on UPN that really wasn't bad. Unfortunately, being UPN and being on at an unusual time (well for me anyway...) made me miss alot of it. So I really didn't notice that it had disappeared. One night, I was inspired to check Kazaa for Dilbert and grabbed a few eps. That show was actually pretty good!

    I think what killed that show was not so much time slot, but rather FOX has a virtual monopoly on prime-time animated shows. Sunday nights are when I watch like a string of cartoons. And ... well damn, if Fox had bought Dilbert from UPN, that would have worked out really well:

    7:00 PM: King of the Hill
    7:30 PM: Family Guy
    8:00 PM: Simpsons
    8:30 PM: Futurama
    9:00 PM: Dilbert
    9:30 PM: X-Files

    Tell me that wouldn't have been a cool night lineup.
  • FOX Broadcasting has a nasty habit of cancelling good shows and keeping bad shows. One such show was the Critic, from where it lept from FOX to ABC. Due to that leap, the show only lasted two seasons (One on FOX, one on ABC).

    Now FOX is treading on both Family Guy and Futurama...

    Tis a shame...
  • If FOX takes Futurama away from us or (as recently) simply decides to pre-empt or randomly move it then do yourself and your sense of humor a favor and stay up later (usually about 11:15) to watch Sealab 2021 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block.

    It's Sci-Fi (Robots, Time Travel, Black Debbie), it's got great characters (Stormy, Hesh, Chubby Cox), and some of the best comedy writing and voice talent (Erik Estrada!) on tv EVER.
  • Seems to me that the Simpsons has reached the point of being a minor religion...

    As folks will quote scripture, so folks will quote the Simpsons.

    It's on Sunday, and plans are made around it. Those that watch think those that don't are wierd.

    You can also attend throughout the week, but the sermons seem a bit canned and dated.

    The characters consistently show reality through a fun-house mirror and have representation from most ethnic groups/stereotypes.

    Why not? I'm sure someone somewhere hates the Simpsons with passion enough to start a small war, and that's all the qualification I need.

  • what I thought was interesting was his comments on Fox and how he's not interested in moving networks over the futurama thing.

    The devil you know is frequently better than the devil you don't.

  • That is a really strange complaint comming from TV executives.

    My favourite sitcom "News Radio" was always in trouble and was cancelled because the characters were too mean to each other.

    And now my favourite animation show (yes i think the current futurama shows are a bit better than the current simpsons shows) is getting cancelled because the characters are too mean.

    Thats really bizarre. First of all the characters werent really mean in either one of those show (ok maybe except bender but even he was showed goodness of heart in the godfellas episode).

    Second of all it makes you wonder do TV stations consider it their duty to build up the morals of their audience trough tv shows? And if so why is that coming from FOX that brought us numerous car chase shows, police reality shows, accident and disasters where people die shows, one (or two was it?) numerous women begging to be married to some millionare schnuck shows, and lets not forget the trivia show where the host is famous for insulting the contestants.

  • Letter Writing (Score:5, Informative)

    by finny ( 107762 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:13PM (#3439486)
    Yes, it's probably true that online petitions aren't worth the server space their stored on which is why Futurama fans might want to consider writing a good old USPS letter. Rumor has it that big-wig studio execs are greatly swayed by your willingness to waste paper, time, and tax dollars. Here's their addresses at the Fox network:

    Ms. Gail Berman
    Building 100 Room 4450
    10201 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    United States of America

    Mr. Sandy Grushow
    Building 100 Room 5110
    10201 W. Pico Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    United States of America

    I don't want to give you a script but you might want to focus on Futurama's poor and frequently changing time slot and it's abundance of critical praise.

    Telling a studio exec to bite any part of your anatomy (shiny or otherwise) is generally a bad idea.
  • I've been wondering what they are going to do with the war on terror and a lot of other post 911 stuff.

    I thought that all the episodes this season were made before 911, but they had "Bin Laden in a blender" last Sunday, so what's the deal? Was that spliced in later?

    On one hand, there is a lot of way to spin humor on some of this stuff, but on the other hand it's hard to do it without addressing "important social issues" or having a "very special episode", which was what used to signal the end of a sitcom before everyone started to say "jumping the shark".

    Let's see:

    They fly someplace. Lisa gets wanded and taken into a special room. Bart's slingshot gets ignored. Homer beeps in the detector, but nobody wants to touch him. Marge is asked to stick her hair in the X-ray machine, and it comes all the way out the other side. Maggie has a gun in her diaper, but nobody notices. This stuff practicly writes itself.

    Or how about... Bart decides to become a Moslem. Do all the Lisa Budist stuff--Bart style. Hurl pork chops out the window, etc. End Moslem conversion when Bart finds out he has to get circumcised.

    Then again... maybe having the Simpsons come to an end without ever riffing on that stuff would be better. It would fix the Simpsons permanently as part of the "pre-911" world, allowing us to watch it in sindicated re-runs knowing that stuff would never intrude, save for that one little reference to Bin Laden.

    • by or_smth ( 473159 )
      To answer question 1...

      FYI: Generally (and this is true for a lot of shows), that while the actually production process starts 9 months before showing, that doesn't mean that everything is finished 9 months before. Things can be spliced in almost up to the point of showing. The Bin Laden bit was probably an add-in, but either way, I sure as hell don't agree with it. It cheapens a truely "evil" person, and makes it feel like people died in vain.
      • I sure as hell don't agree with it. It cheapens a truely "evil" person, and makes it feel like people died in vain.

        Lighten up a little. "Taste" is so subjective, it is entirely self-destructive to worry about it.

        If you don't like it, don't watch it. While it offends you, it may comfort others. If you are right, and lots of people agree, then it will be removed. Otherwise, if your wrong, and people don't agree with you, you'll just cause more harm than good.
    • I understand your point, but I respectfully disagree about it's humor. I appreciated South Park's take on the War on Terror, but I really think the joy of it came from the episode's focus on showing the US kick Bin Laden's ass.

      I don't see the Simpsons being able to lift my spirits that way. Jokes about airport screenings may be funny, but when you put them in the terrorism context, it loses it's humor.

      Bin Laden in a blender is a spoof of stuff we've already seen on the net. It's the lighter side of what happened. But to tackle the attacks directly without turning it into a drama... well I'd be very impressed if they pulled it off. As I said, South Park did, but I'm not sure Simpsons is quite up to it.

      *would love to see Groenig prove him wrong.*
      • That south park episode was lame. I'd been waiting LITERALLY months to see a south park/bin laden episode. I was so psyched up, expecting maybe even a guest appearance of Saddam, both of them with the canadian style heads, yapping away, mistreating Satan even...

        AND WHAT DO I GET?

        I get some "not all muslims are our enemies" (not that they all are, but I watch this show to be entertained, not listen to a public service announcement) bullshit. I get a script that is so far from the first 2 season's quality, that I want to cry. I get a horribly unwatchable spoof of Bugs Bunny, which is unforgiveable. I get YET ANOTHER episode where Chef fails to sing.

        I get a really really really lame new character, invented for the sake of a bad pun. Every other joke was either as bad as that, or worse. Nothing like the humor I'd expect from South Park. I get a rehash of the Sally Struthers/Jaba the Hut gag, only done really poorly. And the pain goes on and on. I get cold chills, remembering how bad that episode is.

        But that wasn't bad enough, the entire season has been as bad, with only the occassional joke anything like they had been. I get a Kenny that stays dead.

        If this is what South Park has turned into, then Simpsons (which I haven't watched in year) or Futurama (I've only seen it once or twice) definitely kicks its ass.
    • Scene one: Itchy, Scratchy and Bin Ladin in a barber shop...
  • Remember what Roswell did? Bottles of tabasco sauce sent to the producers or something? Mailbomb them with lots of alcohol (Bender likes to drink) and maybe they'll notice and not cancel Futurama. They'll definitely notice it more than some stupid online petition.
  • by JoeShmoe ( 90109 ) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:21PM (#3439527)
    The one that that I find most upsetting about the whole Futurama/Simpsons rivalry is that Simpsons seems to be treated as FOX's little darling and Futurama is the bastard child they want to pretend they never had.

    Case in point? The Simpsons Archive (snpp.com) perhaps the single greatest authoritative Simpsons information source. Mostly culled I'm sure from countless USENET postings but the information contained there is priceless to the average Simpsons fan. Someone at work will utter a butchered version of some famous quote and in seconds we will have the exact wording, the episode it came from and (with a little step 2 magic) soon be watching the hilarious moment.

    But is there such a resource for Futurama? Well there was...The Futurama Cronicles (frcr.com). Had much of the same kind of information, with upcoming episode dirt and all sorts of little factoids. I can't read the alien language, but those guys had it pretty much deciphered. I always wonder what the little clips during the intro came from and they always seemed to know.

    But what was it, two years ago? the site got the Cease & Desist kiss of death. How can a site like snpp.com flourish and frcr.com disappear when both are basically cataloging and organizing USENET content? And what happened to the other Futurama sites like FuturamaOutlet and so on?

    Honestly, it's like FOX is trying to deny Futurama even exists. The FOX website for the show is a flash-laden piece of crap that hasn't been updated since the show premiered (same with the Family Guy show site).

    Bleah. Matt Groening must has some change in his pocket. He knows about the massive following his shows have on the Internet (he has been asked about ANiVCD and the whole VCD scene at every convention he's ever attended). In this post dot-com world, I think his projects would be the only ones that have a chance at working over the Internet. Produce the show straight to video and offer streaming downloads over the Internet. Hell, I see channel after channel on IRC doing exactly that.

    So he's not interested in leaving FOX. Fine. But for god's sake...don't cast pearls before swine. How many musicians say that given the choice between languishing in a corporate vault and being enjoyed and shared by fans they would much rather give their work to the fans? Why can't Matt be the same way?

    - JoeShmoe

  • similar article (Score:3, Informative)

    by tedtimmons ( 97599 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:27PM (#3439562) Homepage
    Yahoo has a similar article with a great quote at the end:

    yahoo story [yahoo.com]

  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:51PM (#3439660) Journal
    Sometimes, these things are actually read, believe it or not. If a lot of people write "I LOVE TEH SHOW!! DON'T TAKE IT DOWN!!", then the petition will not carry a whole lot of weight. A good example, I think, is what I wrote with "Not only a technically interesting piece, it continues the delightful and socially important satire of Matt Groening." There were a number of other very interesting comments. Most of them are just obnoxious, however. Write nothing before you write something of no value.
  • This is what I want, when The Simpsons finally ends :

    1. An HBO episode, preferably 90 minutes - preferably like a Halloween episode. FULL of swearing.

    2. A picture-in-picture episode. Show the cast, as they voice the parts.

    3. A multi-city tour, where the cast reads a well-known episode. No visual gimmicks (not "Simpsons On Ice"), just them, reading the parts.

    I would love each of these three things. Pretty please, Mr. Fox, give me my wish.
  • by hyacinthus ( 225989 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @08:59PM (#3439688)
    One of the reasons that the early Simpsons episodes were so funny, and continue to remain funny, is that they were not topical, but universal. There were episodes about Bart and Lisa in school, Homer's troubles with his job, strains in Homer's and Marge's marriage--all standard if not hackneyed sitcom plots, you may say, but stories of general appeal, that are still funny more than a decade later. And that's true of nearly _all_ of the classic comedy that's still funny even fifty years later. Watch I Love Lucy or listen to the Jack Benny program and you're not likely to hear any joke or gag about some 40's or 50's political or social event. Both shows _do_ make use of cameos, and those "date" the show to an extent, especially when the star or bigwig has since become rather obscure (hands up everyone who's heard of Dore Schary or Ronald Colman!) But those classic shows, and classic Simpsons, because they avoid topical humor, have aged remarkably well.

    Groening's talk of making an Enron episode reminds me of how low the Simpsons have sunk. Who, five years from now, is going to remember Enron? Hell, who cares _now_ about Enron? But the Simpsons went down that primrose way a long time ago, ever since they started cracking jokes about the Internet, and making episodes featuring George Bush and Bill Clinton (I'm reminded that the Simpsons' funniest political episode, the one where Lisa goes to Washington, makes hardly any specific reference to the politics of the day), and running cameos from every two-bit celebrity or band who had their fifteen minutes, from Mark McGwire to N-Sync.

    • I can see where you're coming from, but I'm not sure "The Simpsons" is written with the idea that it needs to be "timeless entertainment". As many episodes as they've done, it's much more like a late-night talk show.... You count on it being there every time you turn on the TV, and it's meant to enjoy that one time, and then sort of "throw away".

      Oh, sure - there will always be re-runs, but there's enough generic humor in it to keep people watching them far into the future. I don't see any reason why they should pass over chances to poke fun at current events, simply because they're worried people won't "get it" 10 years from now.

      Cameo appearances have always dated shows, but I don't think it really harms the production. Even today, the "outdated" celebrities appearing on Scooby Doo adds to the charm to those of us old enough to remember those people. The kids might not know who Don Knotts is, but they still like the episode anyway.
    • Hm, good point. Although I disagree with your criticism of the celebrity cameos. Without N-Sync, we never would have been graced with the line, "Those wack invertebrates'll sting you OLD SCHOOL!" Brilliance.

      But otherwise, yeah, right on. :)

  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Tuesday April 30, 2002 @10:55PM (#3440417) Journal
    If Futurama gets canceled, have Bender get sent back into time and end up in Springfield. Let's face it, Bender is what makes Futurama. Well, then there's Lela. I haven't gotten excited by a cartoon character since Jose and the Pussycats in the 70s...

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle