Predicting the Future of Futurama

While steering clear of true innovation, The King and I, does have some interesting twists and the same old, time tested and true score. Ilene Renee Gannaway reports.

Futurama. All images & © 1999 Fox Broadcasting Company.

Who would be better to review a cartoon about thefuture than future animators? Representing a pool of animation talent at TheSavannah College of Art and Design, we have seen the future for our debutreview in the form of Matt Groening's new animated series Futurama whichpreviews on Fox, Sunday, March 28 and April 4 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT) beforemoving to its regular timeslot Tuesday, April 6 (8:30-9:00 PM ET/PT). Getting to Know Them Futurama stars Fry (voiced by Billy West), a slobbish, slow-wittedpizza delivery boy who gets cryogenically frozen on New Year's Eve, 1999.He wakes up one thousand years later to find himself in a totally new world.In the future he meets Leela (voiced by Katey Sagal), a one-eyed alien girlwho is a fate assignment officer with bad depth perception. Along the way,he befriends Bender (voiced by John DiMaggio), a beer drinking, cigar smoking,pornography loving robot programmed to bend girders for suicide booths. Fryalso meets his 149-year-old great-great-great-great etc. nephew, ProfessorHubert Farnsworth, who has a collection of assorted lengths of wire. Togetherthey form the Planet Express Corporation, a delivery service that transportscargo all over the universe. This move by Groening to introduce a new show reminds us of the Hanna-Barberaof old. The success of The Flintstones as an animated sitcom has beencompared to The Simpsons' success many times. It seems that Groeningis allowing history to repeat itself, almost mirroring Hanna-Barbera's movewith The Jetsons, keeping the same formula but moving it to the future.This could prove to be a smart move. "I'm a big fan of The Simpsons,"says college student Seth Grant, "but I've always wished for Matt Groeningto create a setting where he could broaden his horizons from the simple settingof Springfield." The most obvious aspect of Futurama is its similarity to The Simpsons.When one watches the show, it's hard to get over the fact that one isn't watchingThe Simpsons. The character design is the same. The humor is the same.Blinky the fish made a cameo appearance, and we wouldn't be surprised if otherSimpsons characters made there way into the future as well. This isnot to say this is a bad thing. The Simpsons continues to be one ofthe most successful animated programs of all time. The idea of creating anothershow with the Simpsons' style and witty humor will no doubt prove asmart decision for Fox.

TheProduction End of It

One of the most intriguing aspects of Futurama is its integrationof traditional and computer animation. In the new animated Spider-Man cartoon,when Spidey flies and flips through the computer backgrounds, one can tellthat they are computer backgrounds. In Futurama, the backgrounds andanimation are so close in their look and style that one hardly notices it'scomputer. The best way to describe it is to compare it to the animated feature Cats Don't Dance,where the backgrounds and animation match almost seamlessly. As animationstudents, this is a big issue. We are more interested in the creative waysof using computer animation to assist in storytelling. Flashy and fancy doesn'timpress us anymore! "It is a welcome change from the usual synthesisof the two types which is usually gaudy and ugly," says college studentLance Simmons. When done correctly, computer technology can be a great enhancer,but when done incorrectly it takes away far more than what is added to a picture. We would like to take a moment and congratulate Rough Draft Studios for thewonderful animation in Futurama. While carrying on the torch with thecharacter design and look of The Simpsons, Futurama's characteranimation works a little bit better. We really liked the overall layout, andthe color scheme is more vivid and exciting. It's too early to comment oncharacter personality development, but the potential is there, and we can'twait to see all the extremes that Fry and company will go through. Overall, as animation students, we enjoyed Futurama. "The firstepisode was consistently funny and didn't lag pace-wise," says collegestudent Gianina Lopategui. Similar to shows like The Simpsons and Seinfeld,this is the type of show that the guys at work are going to talk about aroundthe water cooler. Simpsons fans definitely have something new and excitingto look forward to. The future is now and more hilarious than ever! The Classical Animation Society is a student organization at the SavannahCollege of Art and Design. Devoted to character animation and the animationindustry, the Society was founded to unite the animation students at SCADto promote learning about the art, craft and industry of animation. The Savannah College of Art and Design exists to prepare talented studentsfor careers in the visual arts, design, and building arts. The college emphasizesindividual attention in a positive environment.

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