The cable network announced on Tuesday (June 9) that it has ordered 26 new "Futurama" episodes, a remarkable achievement for a show that hasn't aired an original episode since August of 2003.
Comedy Central acquired rights to the 72 "Futurama" episodes back in 2006 and has been regularly airing the series, which aired as part of FOX's Sunday animation block from 1999 to 2003, since early 2008. The network then moved forward on the extra-long "Futurama" adventures "Bender's Big Score," "The Beast with a Billion Backs," "Bender's Game" and "Into the Wild Green Yonder," which achieved enough success, particularly in DVD sales, to spur Comedy Central and 20th Century Fox TV to action on this new order.
"We are excited to continue our relationship with Matt, David and 20th Century Fox TV and to be able to offer Comedy Central viewers the first opportunity to see new episodes of 'Futurama,'" says David Bernath, senior vice president, programming. "As evidenced by the strong performance of the extended length epics, there remains a deep and passionate fan base for this intelligent and very funny show that matches perfectly with our audience. It's fantastic that we can add brand-new installments of Leela, Fry and Bender's adventures to our existing library."
The new "Futurama" episodes will be available in 2010. There's a bit of a catch, though. Although Comedy Central is a ready, eager and available home for "Futurama," 20th Century Fox TV still has the option to license the original runs of the episodes to a broadcast network, which means that if FOX wanted to pony up, it could get those new episodes before Comedy Central, it would appear. No matter how it goes, "Futurama" will be back.
"When we brought back 'Family Guy' several years ago, everyone said that it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing - that canceled series stay canceled and cannot be revived," say 20th Century Fox TV Chairmen Gary Newman and Dana Walden. "But 'Futurama' was another series that fans simply demanded we bring back, and we couldn't have been happier when Matt and David agreed that there were many more stories yet to tell."
For those who don't remember, "Futurama" was the story of 20th Century pizza boy Philip Fry (voiced by Billy West), who was accidentally frozen on Dec. 31, 1999 and woke up 1000 years in the future, where he met a variety of new friends, including one-eyed Leela (Katey Sagal) and robo-buddy Bender (John DiMaggio). "Futurama" won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 2002.
"We're thrilled 'Futurama' is coming back," Groening says in the statement. "We now have only 25,766 episodes to make before we catch up with Bender and Fry in the year 3000."
Adds Cohen, "We're excited and amazed that the show is coming back, perhaps due to some sort of mysterious time loop. We look forward to working with Comedy Central and 20th Television to make this the best iteration of the loop yet!"