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Futurama is the second animated sitcom to be created by animator Matt Groening, famed creator of long-running hit The Simpsons. Only about 2 years old, Futurama hasn't exactly become a smash hit, but its presence is well known internationally. Airing in at least twenty different countries and gaining mass popularity on the Web, this show seems destined to become at least as popular as its predecessor. The craze started in America on March 28, 1999, when "Space Pilot 3000" premiered. So, what makes this show as popular as it is?

The Story

The basic premise, over which Groening had been mulling over for about five years before its release, is that a delivery boy named Fry is accidentally frozen on New Year's Eve, 1999, and is thawed out a thousand years later. He discovers a world where destiny is preassigned, and becomes (after a day-long struggle) a delivery boy yet again, this time for intergalactic courier service Planet Express. His best friends and co-workers are the one-eyed humanoid alien Leela and the terminally corrupt robot Bender. However, they all seem to spend much more time getting into trouble on missions than they should, and the package sometimes doesn't even get to its destination on some missions! (Even despite the company motto: "Our crew is replaceable--Your package isn't.")

The Animation

The animation used in Futurama has a unique richness to it that many animated shows lack. Crammed with even more jokes than it is possible to get at one time (including an alien alphabet that the staff refuses to decode) and amazing three-dimensional backgrounds, Futurama is utter "eye candy" to the viewer. From amazing shots of their terminally demented universe to their wild escapes, the computer animation showcased is almost enough to pull in the viewers by itself! However, the backgrounds and computer-enhanced sections are intentionally toned down so that they blend with the hand-drawn animation and to prevent from taking away from the storylines.

The Characters

  • Phillip J. Fry (Billy West) A disgruntled New York City pizza delivery boy from the 20th Century, Fry is the hapless hero of Futurama. He was cryogenically frozen for a thousand years, after which he became delivery boy for intergalactic courier service Planet Express. He's a loser with a bad job who gets himself into some pretty bad situations; luckily, he has his friends and co-workers Leela and Bender to get him out of trouble.
  • Toronga Leela (Katey Sagal) An orphaned cyclops alien, Leela is a natural-born leader. She formerly worked as a Fate Assignment Officer, but abandoned the job to become the captain of the Planet Express delivery ship. On the crew's many potentially deadly missions, she's usually the one to get them out of the mess that Fry and Bender frequently get themselves into--though she has, on occasion, brought them into some fairly tricky situations.
  • Bender Unit 22 (John DiMaggio) A bending unit from Mom's Friendly Robot Corporation, Bender is utterly corrupt. He is known for drinking, cigar-smoking, reading robot pornography, and occasionally getting high on electricity. His secret dreams are to become a folk singer and a cook, but there are more than a few good reasons why he shouldn't be either one. Though a human hater by nature, he has saved the crew's lives a fair amount of times--although he usually is the one to get them into trouble in the first place.
  • Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth (Billy West) Planet Express owner Hubert
    Farnsworth is a very senile 160-year-old inventor, and is a far call from the typical professor type. He is one of Fry's two known living relatives and gave Fry, Leela, and Bender their jobs. Though he gets very upset when a package isn't delivered, he could care less if the crew gets killed on a mission--in fact, he's already complained that he's had this crew for far too long!
  • Amy Wong (Lauren Tom)
  • Twenty-year-old Amy is an intern at Planet Express. She doesn't seem to have a brain of any kind, but makes up for this disability due to her extremely rich parents and her good looks. Due to the second factor, she and Leela are often competing to show who's the better woman, especially during tense social situations.
  • Hermes Conrad (Phil LaMarr) Every fairly decent 31st Century business needs a bureaucrat, and Planet Express is no exception. Hermes, a former Olympic limbo champion, is a Grade 34 bureaucrat who occasionally gets involved in the crew's adventures. He often gets annoyed with the slobbish crew, and always has a form for the crew to sign to keep them from suing Planet Express...
  • Dr. Zoidberg (Billy West) Zoidberg, an overevolved lobster, is the staff doctor at Planet Express. However, where and how he became a doctor is a great mystery, because he has little to no skill, or even basic common sense, for that matter. The crew considers him a nuisance that doesn't have any money, and they try to avoid him as much as possible.
  • Calculon (Maurice LaMarche) Calculon is the star of a 31st century favorite soap opera, "All My Circuits". However, unlike the stars of the show's 20th century equivalent "All My Children", Calculon and the others are...robots!
  • Zapp Brannigan (Billy West) Zapp, a DOOP1 starship captain, is a self-proclaimed ladies' man who is head-over-heels for Leela. But, he is less than desirable--that's an understatement--and Leela does all she can to avoid him. In fact, meeting Zapp could be considered one of Leela's greatest mistakes ever...
  • Kiff Kroker (Maurice LaMarche) The unwilling right-hand-alien to Zapp Brannigan, Kiff has done so many humiliating jobs that you almost feel sorry for him.2
  • Nibbler (Frank Welker) Leela’s loyal pet, Nibbler is the only existing creature of its kind, as it was rescued by the crew from the planet Vergon 6 previous to its implosion. However, he is loathed by some of the other crew members; namely Fry, Bender, and Hermes.
  • Mom (Tress MacNeille) Mom is a power-hungry conglomerate, and best known for her company “Mom’s Friendly Robot Corporation”.
  • Elzar (John DiMaggio)
  • Beelzebot
  • Leo and Inez Wong (Leo, Billy West; Inez, Lauren Tom)
  • Morbo (Maurice LaMarche)
  • Tinny Tim (Tress MacNeille)
  • Santa Claus (John Goodman)
  • Flexo (John DiMaggio)
  • Alkazar (David Herman)
  • Scruffy (John DiMaggio)
  • Morgan Proctor (Nora Dunn)
  • Cubert J. Farnsworth (Tress MacNeille)
  • Professor Wernstrom (David Herman)
  • Lurr
  • Futurama Links

    To find out more about this futuristic show, check out these sites:

    Planet Trisol--A site that I designed all about the show. A good place to visit for info on the individual episodes.
    The Futurama Outlet--One of my personal favorite sites, they have the very latest information on the show.
    Can't Get Enough Futurama--A site just about as good as the Outlet itself. Less focus on information, more on graphics and cool gadgets.
    The Futurama Fan-O-Rama--The best Futurama newsletter around, with over 650 subscribers! Humor, fan scripts, and the latest news from the 31st Century in your mailbox every week--sign up today!
    Big Book of Futurama--Lots of original contests, episode reviews, media and more!
    Futurama's Official Site--Site managed by the show's creator and the Fox network.
    Planet Express Service Station--Another favorite of mine, devoted entirely to the Planet Express delivery ship.
    1Democratic Order Of Planets. Kind of like the United Nations from Fry's time, or the Federation in the Star Trek movies.2Then, you remember that he's a cartoon alien who talks Leela's ear off. No, not literally...

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