“Futurama” returns to Comedy Central in just a few weeks, and creator Matt Groening says fans can look forward to continued development in Fry and Leela’s relationship, the return of guest voice George Takei and, according to him, the limb-losingest season yet.
“I guess what’s different this summer is Fry and Leela’s relationship is progressing, and people who care about that will be delighted,” Groening tells Zap2it. “And the animators at Rough Draft have once again made it their missions to outdo themselves. They just love doing the show — they have such a good time. … With a very skimpy budget and tight time schedule, they continue to amaze us.”
The season opens June 20 with back-to-back episodes. The first finds Bender the father to a robot baby (complete with explanation of how that works), and the second plays with the idea of the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world in 2012. In “Futurama’s” case it’s the year 3012, and it’s a Martian calendar.
The Martian apocalypse means some of the show’s characters will lose a limb or two, but because it’s a) science fiction and b) a cartoon, Groening says that particular “Futurama” tradition will continue. “We chop more body parts off in this season — maybe as much as ever,” he says. “So yeah, we haven’t lost that.”
Groening also gave us some insight into other episodes in Season 7, and it’s best just to let him describe them.
Politics: “We have an episode in which the 3012 presidential election is in the works — president of Earth, by the way, not just the United States — with [the head of] Richard Nixon running for re-election, and he’s up against a candidate from Hawaii, but he can’t produce his Earth certificate and prove he was born on Earth. That was an idea from more than a year ago, and what was funny was we thought, ‘Oh my god, it’s dead.’ The whole birther thing — they finally hung their heads in shame. And I go, ‘No — they have no shame!’ [laughs] … But we have a really good science-fiction twist in that one that you will not see coming.”
Celebrity: “We also have an episode in which the world’s greatest actor is a guy so good, he acts with a bag over his head. He’s never photographed, but even with a bag on his head he’s still the greatest actor. Bender becomes a paparazzo in order to get the only photograph of this guy without the bag.”
Creepiness: “We have a disturbing episode in which Zapp Brannigan starts dating Leela’s mother. It inspired the animators to do a scene with Leela trying to seduce Zapp that will get a certain demographic hot under the collar.”
“Anthology of Interest” returns, sort of: “We’ve gotten into our version of the ‘Treehouse of Horror’ where we make fun of different animation styles, and this year we’re calling our little trilogy the ‘Saturday Morning Fun Pit.’ … At first we were so close to some of the things we were parodying that we had to change it up a little. But there’s some good stuff — Bender as a crime-solving dog with a bunch of teenage kids played by our characters. … They’re very funny. … In the ‘Saturday Morning Fun Pit’ — I know it’s going to be big for fans — we have George Takei playing himself, and also Larry Bird playing himself. The Robot Devil is also returning, played by Dan Castellaneta.”
“Futurama” premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 on Comedy Central. Look for more of our interview with Matt Groening closer to the premiere date.