ComingSoon Lead TV Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Futurama producer Claudia Katz about the series‘ Hulu revival. Katz discussed working with Matt Groening over the years and working on the MTV comic series The Maxx. New episodes of Futurama premiere on Hulu on Mondays, with Episode 9 premiering today.
“After a brief ten-year hiatus, Futurama has crawled triumphantly from the cryogenic tube, its full original cast and satirical spirit intact,” reads the new season’s synopsis. “The ten all-new episodes of season eleven have something for everyone. New viewers will be able to pick up the series from here, while long-time fans will recognize payoffs to decades-long mysteries – including developments in the epic love story of Fry and Leela, the mysterious contents of Nibbler’s litter box, the secret history of evil Robot Santa, and the whereabouts of Kif and Amy’s tadpoles. Meanwhile there’s a whole new pandemic in town as the crew explores the future of vaccines, bitcoin, cancel culture, and streaming TV.”
Spencer Legacy: You’ve produced Futurama throughout the years — what has the experience of having the show canceled and brought back more than once been like?
Claudia Katz: Our first cancellation was not very official and more closely resembled being “ghosted” by the network. After those first four seasons in continuous production we had such a great crew, it was heartbreaking to suddenly be done. The Comedy Central revival was really exciting and at least we ended on the strength of the very satisfying series finale, “Meanwhile.” I do think the third time may finally be the charm with the Hulu revival. We also have the best partnership we’ve ever had with 20th Television and Hulu. Ultimately, bringing the show back is always a lot more fun than getting canceled.
Similarly, what about working on this newest season has been different than previous iterations?
The move to streaming has given us the gift of flexible runtimes. We can tell funnier and more complex stories and still let the visuals breathe when they need to. Not sure if it’s the 10-year absence, but the episodes in these two new seasons are the biggest in scope we’ve ever produced.
Have you all been close in the time since the last season?
We all keep in touch with each other. I’ve been working closely with Matt on Disenchantment for the past 8-years.
What was it like to reunite with all of these familiar faces on the new Futurama season after years apart?
They say you can’t go home again, but every time we come back to Futurama, it feels like we have, in the best possible way.
Is it challenging to balance the show’s beloved legacy with creating new and modern stories?
Fortunately, the conceit of the show makes it very easy to keep up with times, albeit through our 1000-year comedy lens. We also have such great characters and the benefit of an unlimited universe in which to tell stories.
What is your approach to fanservice?
Part of the Matt Groening-verse is rewarding viewers for paying attention. With Futurama, we always want to reward diehard fans with both overt and hidden references but not alienate anyone who’s new to the show. After all, we want to create new diehard fans!
You also produced The Simpsons Movie and Disenchantment. What is it about yourself and Matt Groening that makes for such a winning combination?
I’m going to have to credit Matt for being most of the “winning combination”, but we both share a real appreciation for storytelling and “craft” and enjoy collaborating with the creative army it takes to make a great animated series. We also enjoy working together, which is always a plus.
The Maxx is a really interesting series. What was your experience with that show like?
The Maxx will always be very special to me. It’s the first project I ever produced at Rough Draft, and there are sequences that are still visually stunning almost 30-years later. The series had a very challenging budget, and we all wore many hats. For me those were Producer, Story Editor, and Video Editor. Gregg Vanzo had a clear vision for the show and how to best adapt the comic book to television with limited resources. In my opinion, it’s probably one of the purest comic to television adaptations ever.