Futurama is back for Season 11, a decade after it was cancelled a second time. In the Season 11 premiere, “The Impossible Stream,” we see what happens with the Planet Express crew in the 3020s. The new set of 20 episodes is set during 3023. We begin where the Season 10 finale left off, with the frozen world and Professor Farnsworth asking an elderly Fry and Leela whether they want to return to being young again. Hermes and Amy comment on how they’ve been “rebooted”, while Bender complains about his stale beer.
What’s funny about the 3023 date is that the date marked on the calendar is July 24, 3023, the date in reality in 2023 when the episode airs.
Once they’re back, Fry decides to set himself a goal; to watch every television show ever aired via Fulu [a parody of Hulu, the new home of Futurama]. Leela supports his goal, while everyone else says it’s a stupid idea.
Farnsworth Makes The Situation Worse!
Farnsworth puts Fry in a “streaming suit” with the help of Amy, who gives him streaming goggles that screw into his head. In true Futurama style, they make the lead character looks like a total idiot, but he is due to his unobtainable goal. Also, it’s Leela’s fault for suggesting the idea. Not to mention, Farnsworth says that streaming doesn’t mean what it was back in Fry’s day.
What makes it even more eye-rolling is how Farnsworth appears to make the situation even worse than it is. He claims Fry will die if he runs out of episodes of All My Circuits. This freaks Leela out, so she drags Bender to the Fulu headquarters, where they pitch a new season of the show to the executives.
While not detailed, the executives approve the new season, and production starts immediately, beginning with having to pull Calculon out of robot hell.
Fry’s Condition Worsens
Before he settles on All My Circuits, Fry watches The Scary Mirror, a parody of Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone. There’s also a cooking or baking show that resembles Masterchef or The Great British Bake Off.
Fry watches television for moments without a break and starts losing touch with reality. This is why Leela and Bender go to Fulu for help.
The fascinating thread we found throughout the episode is the message that “too much binge watching can be bad” and how easy it is for networks to cancel shows. It also highlights how fan campaigns rarely work. Also, it stresses the issues rebooting shows unnecessarily that were already successes can bring.
Back to the episode, Farnsworth contacts Leela and tells her that Fry has two episodes left before he dies. She panics and says they need to make episodes on the hour so Fry can continue living.
It then cuts to a Futurama in-universe ad for Slurm Zero, where the mascot looks sick. This has a real-life reference to how every soft drink on the face of the Earth now has a sugar-free version.
Farnsworth checks Fry’s streaming speed and finds he’s been streaming at double speed to get through the episodes.
Amy brings in a massive bottle of battery fluid, a nod to the ads some streaming services show on their add tiers if they have them.
Back of the set, Leela is incredulous when Farnsworth tells her about the double speed. She questions why he can’t slow it down. The professor says Fry’s brain is fragile due to the non-stop streaming. If there is any sort of change, including refilling his snack bowl, it could kill him.
Leela stresses that an episode produced per hour is as fast as they go. Calculon cuts in and says he can outperform any great human actor, and his speech becomes garbled as he speaks—Leela then asks the director to direct at double speed.
The Writer’s Room Dies… Literally
As the female lead goes to deliver her lines, she stops speaking, forcing the director to call cut. When asked why she stopped, she says the pages stopped uploading as she’s a robot.
Calculon walks into the writer’s room and finds the writers bend over their computers, dead. Leela asks if he can ad-lib his lines, only to be told a poor comeback.
Bender proclaims he’ll write the scripts and says any idiot can be a TV writer. Calculon responds that many idiots are TV writers.
Sometime later, the director has a heart attack and is taken away by ambulance. This causes Leela to question whether it was part of the script. Bender says it wasn’t, but they should leave it in because it was funny. Leela then takes over since she is the executive producer. As expected, the production goes horribly, a homage to many of the projects of today that receive horrible reviews.
The show is then cancelled again.
The Last Episode
Farnsworth calls everyone back to Planet Express, revealing that Fry is on the last episode. He explains that if they free him from his binge-watching prison, they need to do it slowly so that he snaps back to reality. He tells Calculon to act his scenes out in real-time.
When he questions it, Leela laughs it off and tells him to think of it as being like theatre but with one person watching. As Calculon does his scene, Farnsworth slowly turns the watch speed on the binge chair. Fry then walks in and says that he got out of the suit two days earlier as he couldn’t bring himself to watch the last few episodes because of how bad it was.
Futurama has been a long-time favourite, but we believe that the attempt to bring people up to speed with the current topics of the 21st century is a bit up and down. There is very little humour to be had in this first episode. The show should never have been cancelled in the first place. It’s a godsend that Hulu chose to pick it up, especially since the show mocks its double cancellation.
A valid attempt that falls flat, though bold all the same.