'Futurama' re-animated at Comedy Central

Futurama_290 Sweet zombie Jesus, "Futurama" is coming back.

The animated series, whose last regular episode aired in 2003, is getting a second life on Comedy Central. The cable channel, which has been airing reruns of the show for the past year and a half, has ordered 26 new episodes of the show to premiere next year.

"Futurama's" revival follows a similar script to that of "Family Guy," whose success in repeats and on DVD prompted FOX to revive it in 2005. Comedy Central has scored solid numbers with repeats, and four "Futurama" movies -- "Bender's Big Score," "The Beast with a Billion Backs," "Bender's Game" and "Into the Wild Green Yonder" -- have performed well both on TV and in DVD sales.

"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," reads a statement from Gary Newman and Dana Walden, chairmen of 20th Century Fox TV, which produces both shows. "But 'Futurama' was another series that fans simply demanded we bring back."

When Comedy Central made the deal to acquire "Futurama" in 2006, it announced it would produce 13 new episodes. That hasn't happened -- the four movies went forward instead -- but the channel is now doubling down on its initial commitment.

The show's cast, headed by Billy West (Fry, Zoidberg and others), Katey Sagal (Leela) and John DiMaggio (Bender), is expected to return, as are co-creators/executive producers David X. Cohen and Matt Groening and several writers.

The 26 episodes will bring the series total for "Futurama" to 98, and Groening notes that "We now have only 25,766 episodes to make before we catch up with Bender and Fry in the year 3000."