by Rudy Panucci and Melanie Larch
It's a special, but short edition of Animated Discussions this week, as we note two animation revivals that are on the television horizon. Following the phoenix-like resurrection of Family Guy, two other recent brilliantly-executed animated TV shows are coming back, though one is still iffy. Family Guy, Futurama, and The Oblongs were all dropped by network television after poor ratings performances due to idiotic programming decisions. Since their respective demises they have found far greater success on Adult Swim and with DVD collections of their episodes.
Futurama, which was a major hit on FOX until they started shuffling it around the schedule for no reason, will return on Comedy Central in 2008. This series, which tells the story of a pizza delivery guy who was cryogenically frozen on New Year's Eve 1999 and then thawed out one thousand years later, ran from 1999 to 2003 on FOX, but then found new life on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block. Comedy Central managed to finagle the rights to the Futurama reruns (they move to their new home next year) and has gone one step further, and ordered 13 new episodes, which will air beginning in 2008. The original voice cast had already signed on for a series of direct-to-DVD movies, so it was no problem rounding them up for the new shows. What's not clear is if the DVD movies will even happen now, or if they'll just shift gears and start producing the new episodes of the TV show.
The Oblongs may also make a return. This is less certain, but there's been a lot of buzz about the new Frankenstein Network, The CW (made up of body parts from the deceased WB and UPN netlets) considering bringing back The Oblongs based on the recent strong ratings that the series has earned on Adult Swim. This is still in the early talking stages, and there's some question if they can still afford the cast, which includes Will Ferrell and Jean Smart. The Oblongs was a ultra-cool show, sporting a theme song by They Might Be Giants, and telling a tale of mutant lower-class valley folk that would make the Munsters flinch. It'd be great to see more episodes.