To celebrate Futurama's return, creator David X. Cohen answered all our burning Futurama questions. How scandalous will the new cable version be? What's happened with Fry and Leela, what's a "robosexual," and how will they make fun of Twitter? Spoilers.
Now that Futurama is on cable will there be a different tone? Are things going to get sexy or scandalous?
It's pretty interesting actually. Obviously, Comedy Central has laxer standards as far as their broadcast standards compared to Fox. Then we face the question, do we want to cash in on that, or would it be a mistake to do that? My main priority definitely is to make these episodes feel like they are classic Futurama. And that they are the same series as you were seeing if you were a fan of the original episodes. I don't want to stray too far, but we do push the envelope a little bit on a few episodes. Probably not beyond what we could have gotten away with before, but it would have required a bigger argument on Fox. For example the second episode of the new season [airing tonight with the premiere] has Zapp Brannigan and Leela stranded on a kind of Garden of Eden planet. Their fig leaves are probably a little smaller than Fox would have let us get away with. So we may push the boundaries a little bit from the TV-14 to RV-16, but I don't think anyone will think it's radically different... It's more about self-censoring really.
Fry and Leela got together in the end of the last DVD. Seeing as this was a giant plot device for Futurama, how are you planning on handling this new relationship?
We certainly had to deal with the situation that we left them in at the end of the last DVD. That was an issue we spent a lot of time discussing. When we wrote the 4th and final DVD movie, we did not know if the show was coming back or not. So we wrote an ending where they are flying off into a wormhole as Fry and Leela were kissing each other good bye. And we said some line like "perhaps never to be seen again?" That was pretty much what we knew about our own fate at that time.
Then when we found out we were coming back, we did not want to disappoint anybody who had been following the arc of the show. You will see continuity in the very first episode. Anyone who didn't see it will not be too confused. But we wanted to reward everyone who stuck with us. We pick up with how they get back with the wormhole then the episode itself does deal quite a bit with the scifi twist, and the consequences of Fry and Leela's relationship. That is going to be the subject of the very first episode.
Who else will we see getting intimate or getting it on this season?
[We] found yet several more combinations of our characters to test out. We've obviously had a lot of relationships on the show, including Fry and Leela's on again, off again relationship, this season we're going to test the limits again — perhaps a little bit more with Comedy Central's help.
One of my favorite new episodes is when Bender tries to legalize Robosexual marriage, which is the taboo marriage of the future, between a robot and a human. So we're testing the waters and Bender's going to have a relationship with one of our human female characters... In that episode, Bender is trying to pass ballot Proposition Infinity.
We're gonna see a little more of Kiff and Amy, there will be a twist to their relationship. And the Garden of Eden episode has Zapp and Leela stuck on a planet with no hope of ever getting back to civilization, and they have to decide if they're going to populate.
Besides the relationships and politics what else are you guys tackling this season? Will we see any more Futurama parodies of current trends?
The third episode this year was inspired by Twitter, YouTube and iPhones, and all the social networking that's popular today. Craig Ferguson is guest starring in that episode. And you'll see future versions of all those devices and services. We rolled everything into one, so everything is centered around the eye-phone. It's a tiny device actually implanted into your eye and is always recording all the time. So anytime you want you can send out a little video clip to all of your followers... And of course it makes it a little too easy to post embarrassing videos of your co-workers, which will get Fry into a lot of trouble.
What is happening in the first picture you guys released of the new season, it's terrifying!
Well, they're pretty much dead. I'm not going to beat around the bush. The episode itself is called "Rebirth," which has a metaphorical meaning in the context of the series coming back. But it will also be a surprisingly literal event that we show, where the professor has to use his stem-cell birthing machine to get the characters back from that horrific state. It may not be for the faint of heart, because you're going to see a lot of... birth.
What cameos can we count on this season?
One of our most exciting episodes will be our Holiday episode, which Comedy Central is holding off until airing in December. Which means we get to do one of our little versions of X-Mas and Kwanzaa and Robotica, the holiday Bender made up to get out of work every year, that's going to feature Al Gore in a record breaking 4th appearance on Futurama. We've also got Chris Elliott, Patton Oswalt, and for the Battlestar Galactica fans we're going to have Katee Sackhoff. That episode will feature a future version of Comic Con. Sackhoff is a future scifi fan, with a bit of a peculiar alien fetish. George Takei will be joining us again. And in our 100th episode we're going to have Devo and Mark Mothersbaugh. The 100th episode will also be the season finale, and will have Leela leading a revolution of the mutant people who live under the sewers. And she leads them in a rebellion against the surface people and Devo felt like a natural to support the mutant cause.