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Futurama Series Finale

After a deal with the Robot Devil, the Planet Express heads to Hell and back—and then off into TV history

*Futurama Series Finale
*Voices by Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio
*Written by Ken Keller
*Directed by Bret Haaland
*Fox
*Premieres Sunday, Aug. 10, at 7 p.m. ET/PT

By Kathie Huddleston

A fter four years of constant preemptions on Fox due to its terrible timeslot on early Sundays, Futurama finally says goodbye to network television. The fitting series finale, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings," takes Fry (voiced by West) to Hell and back all for the love of Leela (voiced by Sagal).

Our Pick: A

Fry has begun taking lessons to learn to play the Holophonor, a musical instrument that combines sound with a holographic images to tell a story. Upset that he hasn't done anything special in his life, he convinces Bender (voiced by DiMaggio) that learning to play the Holophonor is important to him. Bender reluctantly agrees to go to Fry's recital, but when Fry fails to play the instrument well due to his "stupid fingers," he feels he'll never be able to win Leela's heart.

Bender decides to take action and convinces Fry that he must go to Robot Hell and make a deal with the Robot Devil (Dan Castellaneta). Fry agrees to take a chance on the Wheel of Robots, to exchange his hands with the hands of a robot he almost definitely, probably doesn't know. Unfortunately for the Robot Devil, things backfire and he's the chosen one. He exchanges his hands for Fry's.

Thrilled, Fry discovers he can make beautiful music and play the Holophonor like a master. Suddenly he's playing Hovercar-negie Hall, selling Fry's Greatest Holophonor Hits and, more importantly, touching Leela's heart. Hedonismbot also finds himself touched by Fry's music and commissions him to write an opera. Fry agrees as long as the opera can be about Leela.

Unhappy about ending up with Fry's hands, the Devil Robot hatches a plan to get his robot hands back. With the devilishly evil plan in place, will Fry finish is opera, will the devil get his due and will Leela and Fry finally make beautiful music together?

A fitting end for a wonderfully creative series

Through its run, Futurama didn't get the respect and attention it deserved. No doubt about it. It's easy to complain about how it got overshadowed by Matt Groening's other series, The Simpsons, or about the tough schedule this soon-to-be classic animated series had to face year after year. However, in the end, Futurama produced four seasons of consistently outstanding television. That fine run comes to a close with "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings," a superbly funny ending to the series.

While this episode isn't a "big" finale and it doesn't appear that it was conceived as the final episode, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" does end the series in an upbeat way that addresses nicely Fry and Leela's romantic options. Along the way there are very funny guest bot appearances by the Robot Devil and Hedonismbot.

Like the best of Futurama, this episode begins with a simple problem and flies off into strange and wonderful directions, all the while keeping a pulse on the emotions of the characters. "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" is inventive and funny with all the major characters getting a chance to chime in. Executive producer David X. Cohen and his creative team insure this sweet tale hits all the right notes.

As always, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio and the amazing Billy West (voicing Fry, Prof. Farsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and many others) are the heart and soul of the characters, and this episode calls on their vocal talents a little more deeply than usual.

While no new episodes will be produced of Futurama, the Cartoon Network will continue to air reruns of all four seasons at 11 p.m. ET Sundays through Thursdays as part of the "Adult Swim" and the second season will be released on DVD shortly.

Futurama joins Farscape and Firefly on this year's list of outstanding shows canceled before their time. The adventures of Fry, Leela, Bender and the rest of the Futurama gang will live on in my heart and mind, which is fortunately a place over which no network has cancellation power. — Kathie

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Also in this issue: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season DVD and Eternal Blood (Sangre Eterna)




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