The Wednesday Playlist: Futurama's Final Season, Cleveland Goes Live
"We need less adventures, not more adventures." We the longtime fans of Futurama would disagree with Cyclopean Leela's assessment as the delightfully berserk outer-space toon begins its final run on Comedy Central (Wednesday, 10/9), which revived the show long after Fox dropped it.
Seven seasons into its roller-coaster history, which includes several straight-to-DVD movies during the extended hiatus, Futurama is still firing on all creative thrusters, especially in the second of two back-to-back episodes, in which Leela and the hapless, hopelessly smitten Fry desperately seek privacy during an exotic romantic getaway while the rest of the gang heads to Simian 7, a true Planet of the Apes (where humans are forbidden), triggering more monkey puns than you can shake a shtick at. Even if the idea of a "Blue Ass Group" doesn't bring a smile, it's hard not to be impressed by a gag involving a primate version of a zoo that somehow becomes a satirical send-up of reality TV. Should Futurama manage to find yet another home once the Comedy Central era wraps on Sept. 4, we'll follow it anywhere, even to infinity and beyond.
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LIVE WIRES: Betty White has come full circle — from her pioneering start in the earliest days of live TV, through decades of game shows and sitcoms (filmed in front of a live audience), and now her current gig, TV Land's long-running Hot in Cleveland, goes live for the first time (10/9c). Seasoned ham William Shatner and Shirley Jones are among the guest-stars as Cleveland's summer season kicks off with Elka (White) and Mamie (Georgia Engel) wrangling with local mobsters as their illegal business venture causes farcical blowback. Considering how terrific White was during her Emmy-winning Saturday Night Live hosting duties back in 2010, we figure the rest of the cast will have their work cut out just keeping up with her.
30 MINUTES: Don't know about a ticking clock, but there will likely be plenty of ironic looks and droll asides as E!'s enduring pop-culture send-up The Soup spins off a satirical "news"-magazine, The Soup Investigates (10:30/9:30c). Borrowing from The Daily Show's style of mock reportage, segments will include such hot topics as "The Journey of a Rose" — a Bachelor's rose — from greenhouse to mansion, and using the Storage Wars phenom as an excuse to peek inside Tia Tequila's storage unit, which isn't likely to be pretty. Joel McHale hosts, as you'd expect.
TOO MANY COOKS: Will the bakers rise to the occasion when CBS' The American Baking Competition (8/7c) tries its hand at bread making? This is judge Paul Hollywood's specialty, so he's expected to be even tougher than usual. (Although I bet front-running scene-stealer Francine will make him laugh regardless. I hope the Food Network is keeping an eye on her.) ... Judges may not come tougher than those on Fox's MasterChef (8/7c), especially with Joe's mom Lidia Bastianich showing up to help judge pasta dishes in the elimination round. Later, in one of the least necessary crossovers imaginable, the chef-testants split into teams to make lunch on the set for the Glee cast.
THE WEDNESDAY GUIDE: In the busy realm of light summer drama, TNT inflicts an inexplicable third season of Franklin & Bash on us, with back-to-back episodes no less (9/8c), but at least has the good sense to add Heather Locklear to the mix, as the boys' feisty new boss. ... On USA Network's more agreeable Necessary Roughness (10/9c), John Stamos continues to settle in as sports agent Connor McClane, tasked with revamping T.K.'s image in hopes of landing an endorsement deal. ... From the rerun archive: With Emmy buzz afoot during this open-ballot period, there's a reason so many of us are pulling for The Middle's brilliant Eden Sher to be recognized as Poor Sue Heck. In a repeat from March (8/7c), part of the arc involving Sue's long quest to earn a driver's license, we learn there's an excellent reason why she now wants to officially change her middle name. It's also Sue. Sue Sue Heck! So so funny.
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