Futurama is officially back.
It’s been on the schedule for the past seven weeks, but these past two episodes have returned the series to its wonderful roots.
“The Late Phillip J. Fry” had the near impossible feat of going after the best episode of the new series. In addition, time travel is a feature the show has covered before (“Roswell that Ends Well” and “Time Keeps On Slipping”). Still, the episode was able to overcome these near insurmountable odds and give me a huge smile on my face.
Here’s the premise for this week: Prof. Farnsworth has invented a forward time machine, since their previous travel backwards in time change Fry’s family tree. Fry and Bender get dragged along for the ride and in an effort to return to their own time, since Leela is awaiting Fry for a date, they keep moving forward until someone has invented a backwards time machine.
There’s two important characteristics about this episode. First and foremost, it reestablishes the status of the most important relationship of the entire series: Fry and Leela. They’re together, it seems, though its still far from perfect. I was able to get a good sense of what Leela has to endure through in order to make herself happy. Obviously we’ve already received a resolution of the future between the two characters from “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” but this brought Fry and Leela’s on again off again type romance back to where it, at least in my opinion, should be: two opposites attracting. Their interaction in “Rebirth” was just too weird. Secondly, we have a full fledged story here that we’ve come to expect from Futurama. Each scene builds on the next, delivering some quality jokes and surprisingly plot twists.
Most important, “The Late Phillip J. Fry” is an episode that you can put into circulation with the original run and not be able to tell a difference. I know this because I watched it in between a mini marathon of Zapp Brannigan I put on for myself. If that doesn’t tell you how good this episode is, I don’t know what will. Let’s hope the rest of the season follows suit.