But the show's predilection for sex jokes, now less hindered by broadcast network standard and practice policies, was on display in "In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela." This episode features Zapp Brannigan and Leela lewdly seated together in a small fighter ship attacking a giant "Death Sphere," named similarly to a word for female genitals, that's programmed to eradicate sexual impurity throughout the galaxy.  After having destroyed several transgressing planets, the censoring vessel is headed to earth when Zack and Leela try to stop it.  Failing their mission, they crash land in a forest, apparently the only humans on the planet.  

 

Zapp convinces Leela that they might as well play the role of Adam and Eve, including their leaves only attire, and begin populating the human race.  Well, you get the idea.  Obviously, the humor, written by some very bright people, is aimed squarely at the mostly youthful and geeky male demographic and uses its cartooning style to get away with material that live action would struggle with even on cable channels.  

 

The earlier incarnation of the series had more heartfelt treatment of its characters and some very impressive storytelling that exploited the show's premise, such as the fifth season's poignantly ironic tale of Fry and his 20th century dog, "Jurassic Bark," (available, apparently legally, here.)  So far, the grosser and more lascivious elements of Futurama are overwhelming the harder to write character-based plots that lifted the show to Simpsons-level storytelling.  I doubt I'll be going back to the Futurama that lives again. 

 

Season 6 of Futurama airs on Comedy Central, Thursdays 10:00pm eastern/9:00pm central. Seasona 1-5 are available on DVD.

 


Alex Wainer, Ph.D. teaches media and film at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  He is a regular contributor to theFish.com.