Simpsorama, Sky 1, review: The inherent thrill of crossovers has diminished slightly

For fans of Futurama, the real sci-fi magic wasn’t in the time-travel but in seeing old friends return from oblivion

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“A show out of ideas teams up with a show out of episodes.” That was the official tagline used to promote the Futurama/Simpsons crossover episode, "Simpsorama" (Sun Sky1), and it pretty neatly sums up the low expectations with which animators and viewers alike approached this long-awaited TV event.

Crossovers do have an inherent thrill. Seeing characters from two favourite shows interact within the same fictional universe is always fun. But this thrill has diminished slightly in the age of the internet mash-up, and that’s not the animators’ fault. Now anyone with the right editing software can engineer a snog between Doctor Who and Sherlock or bring Spock back from the dead. Plus “Simpsorama” arrives only a few months after the disappointing “The Simpsons Guy” crossover, which has been accused by some fans of dragging the venerated Simpsons down to Family Guy’s more puerile level.

At least there were no tonal bumps to smooth over in this Groening/Groening collaboration. When Futurama’s Bender travelled back in time, Terminator-style, to kill Homer and save New York from his Gremlin-like descendants, he seemed to fit right in. “What’s the robot equivalent of a bromance?” asked Homer as the two palled around at a bowling alley drinking Duff. “Romance,” replied Bender. For fans of Futurama, which was finally (probably) cancelled last year, the real sci-fi magic wasn’t in the time-travel, but in seeing old friends return from oblivion.

The writers were not above playing on this sentiment. In one scene we saw Fry’s dog Seymour still waiting mournfully for his master outside Panucci’s Pizza, where Fry worked back before he was cryogenically frozen. As a reference to one of Futurama’s most moving storylines, it felt rather glib. Especially since there was no explanation of how this New York pizza joint had been transposed many miles away to Springfield. Still, even a manipulative and mediocre outing for The Simpsons beats the vast majority of family sitcoms (animated or otherwise) on television. That’s 25 years,  26 seasons and still going strongish.