No future for you

Futurama: Into The Wild Green Yonder (DVD)

If television has but one lesson to offer, it’s that it’s near-impossible to bring a series or character from the dead (or cancellation). If the TV landscape was a war zone, the likes of Battlestar Galactica would be among the few survivors standing atop the strewn, bloodied corpses of Joey, The Tortellis, The New WKRP, AfterM*A*S*H and that Avengers movie with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman.

Revivals are pointless at the best of times, as they risk exposing the limited shelf-life of any given show’s premise, thus alienating the very fanbase they were trying to cater to. This brings us to Futurama, which was a great show for all four of its seasons and, unusually for American television, it ended on a glorious high note. The show’s fans and writers couldn’t leave well enough alone, so four direct-to-video Futurama movies were commissioned. The last of these, Into The Wild Green Yonder, suggests that maybe they should have quit while they were ahead.

We rejoin the Planet Express crew on Mars Vegas, where business tycoon Leo Wong is tearing apart the environment to create a planet-sized mini golf range in outer space (don’t ask). In retaliation, Leela (the Cyclops pilot) joins a group of “feministas” protesting the destruction, while the slow-witted, redheaded delivery boy, Fry, attempts to stop Wong by becoming his security guard.

Also, Fry now has psychic powers, which he must use to fend off an impending ecological crisis (don’t ask).
The Futurama movies have been a pretty mixed bag, getting off to an awkward start with the padded Bender’s Big Score! before rising to more inspired heights with the insane The Beast With A Billion Backs and the underrated Bender’s Game. Into The Wild Green Yonder is not only the weakest of the lot, it’s a mediocre, often unfunny movie that doesn’t seem to know what it’s about. There’s a sub-plot criticizing feminism, but the film never has anything more pointed to say than ‘slogans are ineffective and feminizing existing words is silly.’ (The latter joke about language was already done in a much funnier way in an earlier Futurama episode with Bea Arthur.)

When it’s not busy being a toothless satire about feminism and gender relations, this film is a preachy, outer space remake of The Christmas Raccoons minus the Canadian rock classic, “Run With Us”.

Worse still, the movie ends with a cliffhanger.

Yeah, ‘cause that always works when a series is on death’s door and is hoping to be renewed.

As funny as they sometimes were, none of the Futurama movies were necessary after the show’s hysterical and often very sweet final season. I love Futurama, but I wish it had stayed cancelled.

Adam Clarke