We’ve said goodbye to “Futurama” before, but this time it 's for real.
David X. Cohen, the co-creator, head writer and executive producer of “Futurama” (along with animation god Matt Groening) is sad to see the iconic cartoon go, but thinks it’s probably time to pull the plug, at least in its TV incarnation.
It’s hard to bid farewell to Fry, Leela, Bender, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and all the others, but we’re going to have to -- the series finale is on Thursday, Dec 5 at 9:30 p.m. EST/PST on Teletoon at Night in Canada.
HuffPost Canada TV spoke with Cohen about letting go, crafting a perfect series finale and what he has to say to the “Futurama” fans who’ve stuck with the franchise through all its ups and downs.
HuffPost TV: How does it feel knowing that the series is really coming to an end?
David X. Cohen: As always, the greatest tragedy and the biggest relief of my life. [Laughs] I love working on it, but it’s grueling, so I’m sad but also relieved. This time it does feel a little bit different than the previous cancellations, just because when you add up all the bits and pieces, and all the times we’ve been on the air, I feel like it’s a more complete show. Every time before, I felt like we had been cut off prematurely, and didn’t really get the chance to say everything we wanted to say. I think if it doesn’t come back again, I feel very proud of it as a whole.
Do you think in a few weeks you’re going to feel an empty void or a big, gigantic vacuum?
[Laughs] Yes. It’s been a little while already, because we were done production way before the show’s ending, so I’ve been through the stages of grief already. [Laughs] Overall, though, I feel less depressed than I expected to feel. For me, part of it is the last episode is so good, and it has the exact tone that I always wanted the series to end on. I feel nervous if the show ever came back, we wouldn’t be able to match it. It would be painfully hard to come back, but [the last episode] certainly takes some of the sting out of it.
You keep mentioning “if it comes back.” Is there actually a possibility that it will?
I don’t think so. I think we’re actually done this time. People don’t seem to believe me when I say that, because this is the fourth time I’ve told everyone it’s done for real. It’s been 14 years on and off that we’ve been working on it, and I think everyone is ready to move on. Even if it is done as a series, there are other ways it can make sneak appearances. For example, there’s a “Simpsons"-"Futurama” crossover coming up in the fall of 2014. I think “Futurama” will continue to live on, and pop up like a jack-in-the-box.
Would you guys ever make a “Futurama” movie?
You know, that’s my number-one secret fantasy. And by “secret,” I mean I tell everybody all the time. [Laughs] That would make it exciting again, because we’ve covered a lot of ground in the series ... we did the DVD movies, but they had to be done in this certain way so they could be broken up into episodes. We were a little limited in the structure. We could really go nuts with the grand theme if we did a feature film. Another reason it would work to do a film is because “Futurama” looks so great on-screen and lends itself very well to that epic scale. That’s our best option. That said, it’s just you and me gunning for this right now. [Laughs]
What can you tell me about the finale? Will there be tears? What’s going to happen?
I keep telling people, the one sure thing is you’re going to finally see Fry and Leela’s wedding, for real. I’m not jerking you around here. [Laughs] People sometimes get mad when I say it because they think I’m giving away a spoiler, but the wedding is just the beginning of the problems for Fry and Leela. There’s a little bit of time travel, a little bit of romance, maybe some tears. There’s going to be a lot of blood. That’s not a joke!
Did you ever think this show would have such a rabid fanbase back in 1999, when you started this whole thing?
I pictured two scenarios: complete failure or giant success. [Laughs] I never pictured the weird roller-coaster that it actually became. I think it would have fallen prey to my first vision if it weren’t for that really hardcore group of fans, who’ve saved us on a couple of occasions by sticking with the show, and watching reruns and DVDs while it’s been off the air. Having that base of fans is really what got the show to the point it’s at today. I’m super appreciative of those people who scrutinize every frame and value the hard work we put into “Futurama.”
What would you say directly to the “Futurama” fanbase?
Thank you. And enjoy the finale. I hope we live up to your high expectations. We have certainly tried our hardest -- and I think we’ve got it right this time.
The “Futurama” series finale airs on Thursday, Dec 5 at 9:30 p.m. EST/PST on Teletoon at Night in Canada. The series finale aired in the U.S. on September 4.
"Futurama": The Complete Series and "Futurama" Voume 8 will both be available on December 10.
TV's Most Controversial Finales
The two-and-a-half-hour movie that closed out the series, "Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen," held the record for the most-watched broadcast in American history for almost two decades. That's not to say it didn't generate controversy: The Korean War ends and all the characters bid farewell to return to their "normal" lives, but some (like poor Hawkeye, as seen in the video here) don't end up quite as viewers hoped. The iconic ending is as big a tear-jerker as you'll ever see on TV.
"St. Elsewhere" (1988)
One of the most spoofed and widely referenced finales of all time, the "St. Elsewhere" finale ended with the revelation that St. Eligius hospital and its staff (which included Denzel Washington, Helen Hunt, Howie Mandel and Mark Harmon) were all the creations of an autistic child, Tommy Westphall, taking place inside a snowglobe. Fans weren't too thrilled about investing six years of their lives in characters who never existed in the first place, which is kind of ironic when you think about it.
"The Prisoner" (1968)
45 years later, we're not sure if anyone has figured out what this televisual acid trip actually meant or whether any of it even happened. Did Number 6 truly leave The Village? Was he really Number 1 the whole time? And why the monkey mask? If you were frustrated by the ambiguities of the "Lost" finale, this cult British classic might send you off the deep end.
"Little House On The Prairie" (1983)
Walnut Grove blows up. Yep, it <em>BLOWS UP</em>. In order to stave off a greedy baron and save Walnut Grove from a takeover, everyone collectively decides to eradicate the town to make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Faulty logic, but effective! Fittingly, all that's left standing is the Little House.
Another infamous finale -- though undeniably inventive at the time -- saw main character Dick Loudon get hit in the head by a golf ball in the final minutes of the episode, only to wake up as Dr. Bob Hartley (the main character from "The Bob Newhart Show," which ended in 1978). This revealed that the whole of "Newhart" had taken place as a dream inside the mind of one of Bob Newhart's previous characters. Trippy!
To be fair, the powers-that-be behind "ALF" didn't realize this would be the final episode, but it's still no excuse for going out like this: In a nutshell, ALF is taken into custody by the authorities rather than escaping back to his home planet of Melmac. A sad, jarring ending to a family-oriented sitcom.
We all know the question "Who shot J.R.?," but fans of the show were left with that ultimate cliffhanger when the series came to an end (the first time). Did he kill himself? Was it Adam? (Luckily for fans -- or unluckily -- at the end of the current Season 2 "Dallas" finale, we found out who shot J.R. for real.)
"Twin Peaks" (1991)
Full of mysteries and subtle imagery, "Twin Peaks" wasn't the easiest show to get a grasp on. The finale was essentially a series of cliffhangers, leaving devoted fans in the lurch forever. There's a bank explosion, Agent Cooper is trapped in a lodge while his "doppelganger" (possessed by an evil spirit) runs free, and we get a promise of something happening in "25 years."
The third-most watched series finale of all time behind "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers," "Seinfeld's" finale clocked in at an hour and 15 minutes and saw the central foursome on trial for "criminal indifference" (i.e. doing nothing, much like the central premise of the show). The final minutes saw Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George sentenced to a year in jail, closing with Jerry doing a poorly received stand-up routine in prison. Although the finale was seen by more than 76 million households, many fans felt that it mocked the audience and portrayed the characters as callous with no respect for society -- but that was part of their charm, right?
"Xena, Warrior Princess" (2001)
Ever the hero, Xena sacrificed herself to ensure that 40,000 damned souls could find peace, which meant that -- unlike earlier seasons that saw our heroine cheat Hades numerous times -- she had to stay dead, leaving her ass-kicking mission to BFF/soulmate Gabrielle while she hung out as a ghostly sidekick. While it was sweet that even death couldn't separate the pair, it was still a fairly depressing climax for a show that, until that point, had unashamedly celebrated female empowerment. Didn't they deserve a happy ending?!
"Dawson's Creek" (2003)
If you grew up with this series, you'll probably recall the angst surrounding Joey's choice: Would she pick lifelong friend and crush Dawson, or the sweet-yet-devilish Pacey? Her ultimate pick (Pacey) left half the viewers elated and the remainder peeved. Think of it as the original Team Edward vs. Team Jacob.
"Battlestar Galactica" (2009)
Die-hard "BSG" fans were waiting eagerly (after many hiatuses) for a cumulative finale that answered all their questions: Is there one God or multiple Gods, or maybe not at all? Who/what is Kara Thrace? Are there any more Cylons? Is this planet Earth? Unfortunately, the writers painted themselves into a corner, and we were left with a bunch of barely-there explanations.
"The Sopranos" (2007)
Which is worse -- finding out that the entire show was a dream, or never knowing what happened to your favorite characters at all? "The Sopranos" kept things deliciously ambiguous, building up the tension as viewers wondered whether some shady character was about to shoot up the diner in the show's final moments, but instead, the finale cut abruptly to black, leaving the fate of the titular family uncertain.
The great debate about what it all means still rages on even three years later, but after six seasons of ever-deepening mysteries, there was no way that everyone was going to be satisfied by "Lost's" eventual ending. Whatever your feelings are about the show's grand ruminations on the nature of life, death and redemption, your level of finale satisfaction probably depends on whether you were moved by the uplifting/sappy ending of our island-dwellers disappearing into the bright white light of the afterlife together, or left frustrated by the show's unanswered mythological questions. The battle continues!
The "Smallville" finale featured plenty of satisfying moments for longtime Superman fans -- from Perry White exclaiming "Great Caesar's ghost!" to an Olsen in a newsboy cap and the legendary John Williams theme -- but audiences had been waiting 10 years to see Clark Kent don the iconic cape and red underoos and embrace his destiny. What they got was a tiny, CGI speck that looked vaguely like Tom Welling and one shirt-ripping final moment, leaving many viewers feeling understandably short-changed.
"Gossip Girl" (2012)
LONELY BOY IS GOSSIP GIRL? In some ways, it made total sense (Dan was always way too obsessed with the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite). On the other hand, it was so obvious that the big reveal hadn't been planned from the very beginning and it seemed to assume all of its viewers were idiots. The show found it disturbingly easy to handwave away all of Dan's betrayals just to give him a happy ending with Serena. Ick. (We were rooting for Dorota!)