opinions / reviews

Please, Someone Stop New Futurama From Ruining Good Futurama

If it weren’t completely and utterly obvious, I love Futurama. It isn’t just because it’s funny, clever, and witty wrapped into playful animations and inside jokes, but also because when I’m watching an episode of Futurama, I’m transported back to 1999 when I would sit cross-legged in the middle of my Dad’s living room with eyes bugged out as the tell-tale ring of dun dun dunnanana-nun nun filtered through the room. Being nine at the time, I didn’t appreciate the show for the incredible timing and jokes, and more thought about how cool it was that I got to watch a cartoon at night with one of my favorite people ever. Besides, it was a great way to end the night, as after Futurama was bedtime and the start of Ally McBeal which I found venomously boring. Dancing CGI baby or not, kid-me just saw another yapping adult drama show where they did super inappropriate things in the unisex bathroom (not that I knew what they were doing, per se, but I knew it was totally gross) with dialog that literally put me to sleep. Kid-me had great taste. When I see an episode that I’ve seen one-hundred times before and can quote from memory, it still makes me smile. It’s a very sentimental thing for me, kind of like watching Conan the Barbarian or Robocop.

For me, Futurama evokes a lot of emotions that aren’t necessarily linked with a late night cartoon (it isn’t as if it’s a popular thing to accredit Family Guy or Brickleberry with any emotion other than total boredom). Occasionally, in the show’s original and far superior run, there were episodes directly linked with Fry’s past that tugged and pulled at heartstrings. The Luck of the Fryish had Fry learn that his brother did really and truly love him, despite being a brotherly jackass when Fry was around. Jurassic Bark gave us a glimpse into the heart of Fry through the love of his dog, Seymour Asses. These are two episodes that are perfect in the way they gave Fry history, they shouldn’t be scraped up, rewritten, and changed. However, if we’ve learned anything from George Lucas, things that shouldn’t be changed often are in the Land of Unoriginality, more commonly known as show business

A couple of weeks ago I saw a post from Rob Bricken on io9 that said retconning Futurama’s beloved Jurassic Bark is a very real possibility. Expressing his excitement, Bricken said “[…] nothing, and I mean nothing, has me happier than that single shot of Fry playing with his dog Seymour. After the mind-shattering tragedy that was the “Jurassic Bark” episode, Seymour — and by extension every single person who wept hysterically while watching it — deserves a happy ending. And no, Clone Fry and Bender’s Big Score don’t count. I need real Fry, rescuing Seymour before he begins his fruitless, 12-year vigil.”

Okay, okay, he hits on one point I agree with. Futurama movies don’t count in the Futurama Universe. Now that we have that settled, we can get back to my outrage.

I absolutely do not agree that Jurassic Bark needs a new, happier ending. There is nothing wrong with the ending we were given and redoing the episode or parts of Fry and Seymour’s relationship would be to ruin it and it would negatively impact the strength of the characters.

The thing about Seymour is that he loved Fry in a way that no one else did before. Fry assumed that after he was cryogenically frozen, Seymour would have moved onto be happy with someone else—as did everyone else he knew back then, who seemed to continue on as if Fry never existed (e.g. his girlfriend). He didn’t, though. Seymour stood his ground à la Hachiko. Seymour was the one thing that lived his life for Fry, and Fry was Seymour’s entire world. Where others failed, Seymour never forgot Fry. Part of the beauty of the episode is that we, as viewers, know that Seymour broke that mold and continued to love him, even though Fry never finds out. The ending montage that shows Seymour still sitting in that spot, slowly laying down with tired eyes, ever waiting for Fry, cements his power as a memorable Futurama character and one of the best relationships Fry ever had.

To mess with such a heart-wrenchingly sweet moment in Futurama would be to cheapen it. seymourIt made viewers cry because they understood the anomaly that was their relationship and were distraught that Fry would never know just how much Seymour loved him—but that’s not true. Even though Fry knows that Seymour lived for twelve years after he was cryogenically frozen, those three years beforehand were filled with nothing but love. Fry’s fear of tarnishing the happy memories he had with his dog speak volumes and is an incredibly human fear, the fear of messing with a good thing, of starting up a relationship and having it be different somehow, of ruining the moments they shared before, hit close to home with anyone. Fry doesn’t clone Seymour because he doesn’t want to wreck the love that he thinks Seymour had for someone else after he was long gone. Jurassic Bark is a fan-favorite because it dug deep into the real emotions of terror, loyalty, devotion, love, and defeat.

We all got to see a tiny wedge of the aftermath of Fry’s departure, to re-write the legitimate loss of Fry to Seymour would make his departure from the year 1999 mean nothing. Sure, they’d get those twelve years together, but we, as the audience, wouldn’t get to see the depth of love after loss. Instead, Seymour would be just another Nibbler. I love Nibbler, as I’m sure Leela does, but it’s important to see that Fry didn’t just love Seymour in a pet sense, but in a best friend sense. When Bender tosses Seymour into the pit of lava, Fry cries and starts tearing off his clothes, intending on jumping into the pit, “I’m going in after him,” he yells, voice breaking, “he’d come after me.” We believe it, because we saw Seymour searching for Fry. Their relationship extends past “I love you because you feed me and pet me” and into “I love you because you’re my world.”

The Jurassic Bark storyline shows the depth of Fry’s heart. Where he’s well-known for his missing brain frequency, impulsiveness, cluelessness, and a love of beer that only a bro could identify with, Seymour gives him another dimension.

I understand that the ending hurt and that it wasn’t that fairy tale happiness of getting Seymour back and singing I’m Walking on Sunshine. However, the ending was the best ending that could have happened. Fry relives moments of love and viewers experience it with him. Where most of the memories we’re shown from the year 1999 are negative, we get glimpses of something that made Fry truly and exquisitely happy. It’s sad, but if viewers can’t handle a slice of beautiful sadness, then they need to stick to Disney, because they apparently have the emotional capacity of a twelve year old.

In all probability, this is going to be a segment from the What If machine from another Anthology of Interest, and if that’s the case then this entire post is for naught, yet on the off chance that they really do plan on furthering the downward spiral this show has been heading down since it was brought back, I just wanted to have my opinion put out there. It’s already been done, it’s just waiting to be broadcasted, I just think it’s a damned shame.

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