FUTURAMA: NEW EPISODES
Comedy Central, Thursdays at 9 p.m.
For the most part, there are no do-overs in television. If that series you love gets canceled — no matter how sharp the writing, no matter how great the characters, no matter how dreamy the leads — that's usually the end of it. Ratings are king, and if you can't get those, you're usually out for good. I say "usually," because we're about to see a rare TV Lazarus trick with the return of new episodes for the cartoon "Futurama." The show debuted on Fox in 1999, and looked like a sure thing — especially given that the brain behind it was Matt Groening, who also helms a little show called "The Simpsons." Too, the plot was funny: In 1999 a pizza delivery guy named Phillip J. Fry (voice of Billy West) gets accidentally frozen in a cryogenic chamber, only to wake up 1,000 years later. There in the future, he meets his many-times-great-grandnephew, Professor Farnsworth. Farnsworth, a kind of mad scientist, runs a galactic shipping company. Soon, Fry is making interplanetary comedy with pals Captain Leela (voice of
Katy WestKatey Sagal) and wisecracking robot Bender (voice of John DiMaggio). The show had a decent run on Fox, lasting about 4 years before the network pulled the plug. Reruns of Futurama went to the late night "Adult Swim" block on Cartoon Network. That would have been that, but the show has managed to build up enough of an audience on Adult Swim that cable took a second look. Comedy Central got involved, and now the show will return with 26 new episodes. Next up: my letter writing campaign to Fox, asking them to consider re-firing "The X-Files" and "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." Cross your fingers, geeks.