'Futurama' EP David X. Cohen discusses keeping the show fresh and how long it can last
"Basically on a daily basis while we're talking, we're pointing up and saying, 'No, we did that there, we did that there,'" executive producer David X. Cohen tells Zap2it. "It's so ingrained in me where all these things are that even though they wrap around the room, I'm always pointing behind my head and going, 'No, that's right over there.' It's definitely part of our everyday routine to steer clear of old episodes."
That's getting harder to do, because after Wednesday's (June 20) two-episode season premiere on Comedy Central, the show will have hit 100 episodes (116, if you count the four "Futurama" movies released between the show's FOX and Comedy Central runs). Cohen says the production schedule for this season was about a month longer than last year to ensure the show doesn't repeat itself.
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Which is not to say long-time fans won't see some locations and characters the show has visited before. Cohen points to an episode he wrote called "Free Will Hunting" in which the Planet Express crew visits the robot home world -- last seen in Season 1.
"I can't really assume the viewer who's watching is really familiar with that episode, but I want to reward the viewer who is familiar with it," he says. "So we reuse a couple of characters from that episode way back when. We don't have anyone saying, 'Oh, I remember you from years ago,' but the viewer who has seen it will know we didn't forget about it. So we try to put something in to show our appreciation for the hard-core fans."
Cohen is also excited about an episode called "Fun on a Bun," which you can see a clip of at the end of the post and which is best described by Cohen himself.
"The crew goes to the Oktoberfest of the future. Bender enters the sausage-making competition, and Fry is horrifically injured in a sausage-making accident in the beginning of the show," he says. "But it really goes far from there and culminates in an epic battle between cavemen riding mammoths and spaceships commanded by Zapp Brannigan. ... And if that's not enough, it's also a love story. I think it has the potential to be one of those memorable episodes that's a huge sci-fi epic but also has a fairly touching Fry-Leela story on top of it. It's one where I don't know quite how we squeezed it all into 22 minutes."
"Futurama" will run for at least 26 more episodes (this summer and again in 2013). Comedy Central hasn't committed to anything beyond that, but Cohen is ready to go as long as the cable channel will have the show.
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"There's no clear time it has to end for me," Cohen says. "I guess the way I'd say I feel is if it ended the first time it ran on FOX [in 2003] and never came back, I'd always feel a little bit disappointed we didn't really explore every place we could have gone. At this point if it ended, I'd feel no tremendous sadness in my heart, because I feel like we did have a long and productive run and we really did get to do a lot.
"If you say when you start up a show that you're going to do 140 episodes, you'd feel like that is a big, long, successful run. So at this point I'm willing to go with the flow. I don't feel like we will have shortchanged the people or ourselves, but there's always more to do in a whole universe. There's more life should they want more."
"Futurama" returns for Season 7 at 10 p.m. ET Wednesday on Comedy Central. Here are clips from "Fun on a Bun," which is set to air in early August, and "Decision 3012," which airs June 27. For still more on the show's new season, read Zap2it's exclusive interview with creator Matt Groening.