Futurama Season 11 review: animated sci-fi comedy returns to its roots in an initially bumpy Disney+ revival

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After a disappointing opening episode, Futurama Season 11 quickly refinds its rhythm and starts to lean towards its former glory

Good news everyone! Futurama has made its latest revival - after a decade-long hiatus in its long and meandering journey to 3023. 

Beginning in 1999, the show started as a harmonious clash between the 90s and an unexplored techy future in a brand new millennium - as pizza delivery boy Philip J Fry (Billy West) gets frozen and wakes up in the year 3000. 

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The show grabbed its viewers for its fun form and biteable texture, as it brought to life what we thought the future would be like - featuring hovering cars, common galactic travel and the moon as a cheese-themed amusement park. 

Diving into the latest series, it feels like Futurama never left. The new revival is already flickered with haunts of the old Futurama - its voice cast remaining intact, the same producers returning, and the episodes being written by familiar and much-loved names. 

The show opens as a continuation of the bittersweet ending of series 10. Fry and his will-they-won't-they love interest Leela (Katey Sagal) had spent a lifetime together after the rest of the world was frozen in place - the result of one of the Professor's inventions gone wrong.

Now with the invention fixed, the Professor zaps them back in time to do it all again - and that's where we meet them - but instead of 2013, it's 2023. The crew, once again, gather around Planet Express' table, still in the 31st century and still in New New York. 

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Bender (John DiMaggio) proclaims: "The important thing is, whatever happened, it’ll never, ever happen again." He obviously means the cancellation, as the show initially premiered on Fox, was cancelled, got rebooted as a collection of direct-to-DVD movies, was resurrected as a series on Comedy Central and then was cancelled again, and now lives again on Hulu. 

John DiMaggio as Bender in Futurama S11, typing on a typewriter in a small office with a WRITERS ROOM sign affixed on the door (Credit: Hulu)John DiMaggio as Bender in Futurama S11, typing on a typewriter in a small office with a WRITERS ROOM sign affixed on the door (Credit: Hulu)
John DiMaggio as Bender in Futurama S11, typing on a typewriter in a small office with a WRITERS ROOM sign affixed on the door (Credit: Hulu) | HULU

Yet, this is where it starts to slightly unravel. The first episode begins with unsubtle remarks about the cancellation of its arduous journey, with a storyline combined with something quite Black Mirror-ish. The jokes are rough around the edges, and the on-the-nose nature almost takes viewers (well, me) out of the experience and nostalgia of having a classic back on the screen.

At first, it was a little deflating to see (in a case of ‘stop bringing things back’) but as the season goes on - six episodes were made available - the show finds its rhythm and starts to lean towards its former glory.

As this series is 10 episodes long, we see a parade of familiar faces returning to the show in what feels like a rush to remind the audience why we loved this show in the first place. Each character gets a little bit of screen time, even fan favourites mentioned in Series 1.

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The series is still a satire of the present day, with storylines centring around bitcoin - needed by the professor to pay back the Robot mafia - "Momazon", and streaming sites. There are references made to parody Alexas, Wordle, and popular TV shows (think Stranger Things) but also revives old inside jokes to remind viewers of past plots, such as Fry's worms (in Parasites Regained) and what happened to Amy (Lauren Tom) and Kif's (Maurice LaMarche) babies (in Children of a Lesser Bog). 

Despite its rough start, Futurama returning for an 11th series has not harmed the elegance of the show. The on-the-nose jokes soften, and the humour we know fades back in a familiar way. The reboot is not an upgrade, but a nice even level of where it left off - which ultimately, is the best thing we could have hoped for. 

Futurama S11 is airing now on Disney+, with new episodes available every week; I watched six episodes of an eventual ten before writing this review. You can read more of our coverage of Futurama here, including this interview with John DiMaggio about his return as Bender, and find more of our TV reviews here.

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