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Author Topic: General Futurama Discussion - A New Thread  (Read 9639 times)
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Scrappylive

Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #120 on: 11-02-2017 00:31 »
« Last Edit on: 11-02-2017 00:35 »

A few years ago I ran through every episode, with the commentary track enabled. It's simply wonderful. My only disappointment was that Katey Segal didn't participate in any of them (to the best of my recollection).

Yeah, I've listened to every commentary track (except for the last production season, which I still sadly don't own on DVD yet). Neither Katey Segal nor Dave Herman were ever featured. Tress MacNeille was only included a couple times -- maybe only once.


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Gorky

Space Pope
****
« Reply #121 on: 11-02-2017 00:50 »

I remember reading years ago that the writing staff suffered from budgetary restraints in the new run, as well. Whereas the old run, as with most shows, had a full staff of writers who would sit together in a writers' room and develop a story before assigning one of them to spend two weeks writing the script (and subsequently bringing it back to the writers' room for various edits), instead they could only hire just a few full-time writers for the writers' room. The other writers would be part-time or contractual -- they would take an assignment to write an episode but would not be a regular part of the writers' room. Obviously, having fewer people to brainstorm, collaborate, and edit is going to have a negative impact on the series, which is why I think the new run was a mixed bag.

Fair point, and I had thought of the reduced writing staff when I made my initial post. Still, though, with heavy-hitters like Ken Keeler and Patric Verrone and DXC on-board, it boggles my mind that the writing in the new run was so uneven.

I know so much of the show was room-written, but there was enough quality consistency in Keeler and Cohen's old-run output (if not Verrone's...though his only real stinker was "That's Lobstertainment!", and even that gets a lot of unnecessary flak (and don't talk to me about "A Leela of Her Own": that episode is good, goddamn it!)) that I'd like to believe at least some of that magic came from them, as individual writers. Maybe not, though, 'cause Keeler's new-run episodes are almost all disappointing-to-terrible and DXC is responsible for the abomination that is "Free Will Hunting."

Yeah, I've listened to every commentary track (except for the last production season, which I still sadly don't own on DVD yet). Neither Katey Segal nor Dave Herman were ever featured. Tress MacNeille was only included a couple times -- maybe only once.

If memory serves, Tress is definitely on the commentary for "Future Stock" (where she recites, in her normal speaking voice, the line "Jam a bastard in it, you crap"; it is delightful) and maybe also "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" and "The 30% Iron Chef"? She's on the same commentaries Jeff Westbrook's on, and those latter two episodes were written by him and I think he serves as Aaron Ehasz's stand-in for the FS commentary. Yes, I have listened to the commentaries for the first four seasons 5 to 10 times each.
UnrealLegend

Space Pope
****
« Reply #122 on: 11-02-2017 08:11 »


This. I know it's "cool" or whatever that the movies and new run were in HD, and there have been plenty of interviews with DXC and Matt Groening where they've basically said this was a show that was always meant to be in HD--but I strongly, strongly disagree.

This is almost entirely my own silly, partly-nostalgia-fueled aesthetic preferences talking, but I liked the somewhat clunkier (maybe "thicker" would be a better word?) line-work and the darker color palette of the original run. Whether this look of the show was an actual artistic choice or just the result of technological limitations is irrelevant: old Futurama looked like Futurama to me, which is to say it looked different from other shows of the time (not just The Simpsons, but also pre-cancellation Family Guy and any number of other shows from the early 2000s). There was a visual sensibility I could point to and appreciate as unique to this particular show.

Sorry but.. this makes no sense to me. At worst, the crisper (crispier?) detail makes minor imperfections more noticeable but anything beyond that has gotta be nostalgia talking. I do kind of get how somebody might prefer a "vintage" look in certain scenarios but I only really like that for sentimental purposes. And if it's consistency that's the problem, even in the original 72 some episodes "looked" weirdly different from each other (namely season one. For some reason the colour pallet seems kind of washed-out).

And furthermore, if they released the movies and CC episodes in low-res, shitty-aspect-ratio form, it'd be hilariously outdated on arrival, and nobody would've taken it seriously.
Scrappylive

Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #123 on: 11-02-2017 10:56 »
« Last Edit on: 11-02-2017 11:05 »

I agree with Gorky's sentiments. The older episodes visually seem warmer and, in a way, more relaxed or subdued in a way that I can't quite put my finger on.


crisper (crispier?)

CRISPR


If memory serves, Tress is definitely on the commentary for "Future Stock" (where she recites, in her normal speaking voice, the line "Jam a bastard in it, you crap"; it is delightful)

Ohh, yes! Thank you for reminding me of the "Jam a bastard in it, you crap" commentary recital. I had completely forgotten about it. It was marvelous. The only instance of her being in a commentary that I remembered off the top of my head was her talking about some of her voice acting roles including doing some voices for car alerts. The others asked her for a sample and she said, "Door. Ajar."

Back when I was a mere lurker who was contemplating creating an account in PEEL, I wanted to create a Tress Macneille Appreciation Thread. However, I quickly wised up to the PEEL etiquette (especially of the time) and did not create a thread specifically for that. I think her voice work and talent is above par and doesn't get enough appreciation. Considering this you would think I would have remembered more of Tress' role in the commentaries. :/

Man, I need to watch this show (and its commentaries) again. I miss it.
cyber_turnip

Urban Legend
***
« Reply #124 on: 11-02-2017 15:32 »

Why don't you guys just watch the HD episodes in standard definition?

Personally, I always found Futurama to be visually stunning. I think the use of colour was wonderful in the HD era and, whilst it definitely feels more digital than analogue when comparing the HD era to the SD era, I don't see it as a problem.

As for writing, they always make a big thing about how episode writing credits are meaningless on shows like this and how they're the products of the writers' room - a real group effort that can't really be attributed to any one specific person despite a need to dole out individual writing credits. That felt true of the original run. That doesn't feel nearly as true of the Comedy Central years. Ken Keeler episodes feel like Ken Keeler episodes. Eric Rogers episodes feel like Eric Rogers episodes. David X. Cohen episodes feel like David X. Cohen episodes. I'm sure the writers' room still worked to polish the individual scripts up as much as possible, but they feel much more like the work of one particular voice and, as a result, they're much more hit and miss.
I still love much of the newer run. I'll never quite understand what accounts for the dip in quality between seasons 6 and 7 because, from what I can gather, they were produced under more or less the same circumstances... perhaps 6 benefited from a glut of ideas that had been forming over the years spent off the air and they were out of steam by the time 7 began?
Gorky

Space Pope
****
« Reply #125 on: 11-02-2017 16:37 »

I've not yet decided if this is the hill I want to die on, but I guess I can elaborate a bit on my initial post.

First off, I think some of my bias here comes from a general mistrust of the impact of automation and technology on animation as an art form. I have a clear, loud-'n'-proud prejudice for traditional, cel-based animation--and, yes, I know that's not what Futurama ever was--and feel far less connected to the CG stuff currently put out by Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, and other animation studios. I like seeing the hand behind the art, and appreciate that sense that someone sat at a drawing table and painstakingly put together this beautiful, magical moving picture show; I have a fondness for the dirt and grit you sometimes see in certain frames of, say, a classic-era episode of The Simpsons.

The sleekness of contemporary animation strikes me as a soullnessness--or, to be a bit less dramatic, a lack of true artistic sensibility. New and shiny things look great because they are new and shiny, but that newness and shininess so easily distract viewers from the fact that the animation itself--the character designs, the way those characters move, the use of color--is bland, generic, lifeless. My fear is that, at least in TV animation, technical competence has replaced actual artistry.  The easier animation is to produce, with the aid of computers and the like, the lazier animators get.

(This is probably true of any art form. The convenience of Microsoft Word has made me a lazier writer. If I had to use a typewriter--or, heaven forbid, draft things out by hand--I would likely take greater care and be more fully engaged with my craft. It's not a perfect 1:1 relationship between writing and the visual arts, but I don't think I'm entirely wrong in extrapolating from the former to the latter.)

As for Futurama itself:

And if it's consistency that's the problem, even in the original 72 some episodes "looked" weirdly different from each other (namely season one. For some reason the colour pallet seems kind of washed-out).

This is fair. I would say season two is when the show really hit its stride in terms of its overall look, from character design to color palette to quality of the animation itself. But whereas I can write off the relative "crappiness" of season one as the crew getting their bearings, and the marked improvement through seasons two, three, and four as artistic evolution, I cannot grant the same leniency to the new run.

My reasons here are multiple, but the main one is this: the look of the new run is horribly, horribly all-over-the-place. The character designs in certain episodes--especially in 6A, but really throughout the entire new run--are so off-model it pulls me right out of things (I recall "The Mutants Are Revolting" being a particularly heinous offender on this front). Those small little physical gestures and facial reactions from the characters I mentioned before--completely gone.

Perhaps I was wrong to blame my distaste for the visual style of the new run on the move to HD, but I will definitely still contend that the new run is not nearly as visually engaging or appealing to me as the old run. It just feels less careful to me, you know? Some of this is budgetary, sure, and some of it can be chalked up to new animators and inexperienced directors, but whatever the cause I do not enjoy it.
winna

Avatar Czar
DOOP Ubersecretary
**
« Reply #126 on: 11-02-2017 16:46 »
« Last Edit on: 11-02-2017 18:57 »

Okay.

Edit:  Yeah, sure.  I have opinions on animation, but didn't consider I had any input to add.  What you said, I suspect, has a significant level of truth to it.  There were well animated things in the newer seasons that I liked.  The eyePhone episode wouldn't have been very pragmatic to pull off using traditional techniques (whether you like that episode or not for other reasons), and I really enjoyed the Late Phillip J. Fry from multiple artistic perspectives, not to say that that list is an exhaustive indictment and comparison.

The newer seasons, HD era I guess, felt a bit more wacky than the original run, much in the same way that Simpsons went around season 10 or whatevs.  A lot of that is the writing, but it also extends to the animation as more wacky elements get presented.  I can't elucidate upon what those wacky elements are, not into words anyways, just a more general feeling.  The only realistic grounding factor in the new seasons (vs old) seemed to be the new solidarity and consistency of Fry/Leela relationship, and I thought the gut judgement to make that a thing once and for all was rather bold and mature, even refreshing to a degree.  That's even considering I may not be a strict fan of that relationship.

It is what it is though, and I'm not particularly interested in shooting a gift horse in the mouth.
Those were all of the words I thought when I typed Okay anyways.  I just thought Okay sounded more elegant than typing all of that out.
Gorky

Space Pope
****
« Reply #127 on: 11-02-2017 17:13 »

Thanks for humoring me, winna--and, more importantly, for creating a post-buffer so that I would not have a double-post to respond to this stuff from cyber_turnip:

As for writing, they always make a big thing about how episode writing credits are meaningless on shows like this and how they're the products of the writers' room - a real group effort that can't really be attributed to any one specific person despite a need to dole out individual writing credits. That felt true of the original run.

Really? I feel like I could point to particular things in Ken Keeler's style that are consistent across every episode--or nearly every episode--for which he is the credited writer. Ditto DXC: "Xmas Story" and "The Why of Fry" seem very much of a piece to me, in terms of theme (loneliness, isolation) and approach (a Big Bad Villain who forces the characters to make some important, selfless choice).

I don't want to overstate this, of course, but it seems fair to say that every writer has a unique artistic sensibility--whether that gets amplified, muted, or otherwise obscured by the writers' room itself is, I suppose, open for debate. But I feel comfortable saying that, based on the quality of the episodes for which he is the credited writer, Ken Keeler is my favorite writer of the old run. I find every episode that has his name on it to be of above-average to downright-brilliant quality, and I don't think this is just a coincidence.

That doesn't feel nearly as true of the Comedy Central years. Ken Keeler episodes feel like Ken Keeler episodes. Eric Rogers episodes feel like Eric Rogers episodes. David X. Cohen episodes feel like David X. Cohen episodes. I'm sure the writers' room still worked to polish the individual scripts up as much as possible, but they feel much more like the work of one particular voice and, as a result, they're much more hit and miss.

This is interesting to me, though I'm not sure I agree. At the very least, a Ken Keeler episode from the old run feels different to me from a Ken Keeler episode from the new run. The only one of his new-run episodes I'd describe as Classically Keeler-ish is "The Prisoner of Benda," though "Forty Percent Leadbelly" also has distinctly Keeler-ish shades.

Are you saying that, taken together, every episode penned by, say, Eric Rogers feels of a piece? Or just that "The Silence of the Clamps" feels different from an episode by another writer--for example, Eric Horsted's "Stench and Stenchibility"--but also feels different from "Zapp Dingbat" and "Fry and Leela's Big Fling"? Does every episode feel like it comes from some unique writerly perspective, or do groups of episodes written by the same writer feel like they come from the same perspective as each other but from a different perspective than all the episodes credited to another writer?
Jezzem

Urban Legend
***
« Reply #128 on: 11-03-2017 15:46 »

Although I think the HD era has some really nice-looking art and animation, I kind of agree with Gorky re: the colour scheme of the original run. I noticed during this recent watch of mine that, in addition to being very nicely drawn, season 4 episodes in particular seem to have quite a beautiful warm colour palette which is different to that in all the subsequent episodes. But, ya know, the original run and the HD run were both coloured with computers so I don't know if it's necessarily a "digital vs analogue" thing.
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