'Futurama' Producer David X. Cohen Talks Holiday Special

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Futurama's Producers with a future, Matt Groening (Center) and David X. Cohen (Right).
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Futurama's Producers with a future, Matt Groening (Center) and David X. Cohen (Right).

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David X. Cohen enjoys mixing it up for the holiday season.

"We've got it all in my house," the "Futurama" co-producer laughs. "We try to do a little bit of everything. We try to take the best of everything and enjoy it. That's the only plan. I have a 4-year-old daughter who's come to realize what getting all those gifts is about. I would say right now we're trying our best to keep that under control but still get the vicarious thrills of giving to her."

In a way, this and such all-time holiday features as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "The Simpsons'" Treehouse of Horror series go a long way toward explaining the sci-fi cartoon's latest endeavor: its first holiday special.

"If one of your favorite films is 'Nightmare Before Christmas,' wait until you see the 'Futurama Holiday Spectacular,'" Cohen promises. "This special's a little different than our usual episodes. Like those 'Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes, we have three mini-stories instead of one full episode. We talk about how 1,000 years in the future they have their own various ways of celebrating. We'll learn a little bit more about Xmas, which features Santa Bot. We'll also learn about Robonica, which was the holiday Bender created to get off of work. We'll also learn more about Kwanzaa, which by the year 3000 AD now has its own rich tradition and history."

[Video: Watch a clip from 'The Futurama Holiday Spectacular' featuring Santa Bot]

Santa Bot isn't the only one returning for some yuletide merriment and mayhem. The special also sees the return of two of Cohen's favorite guest stars, Coolio and Al Gore.

"Coolio is the laid-back, rapping holiday icon Kwanzaa Bot, except that his knowledge of Kwanzaa is kind of limited," says Cohen. "For example, his memory of just how many days in Kwanzaa is a mystery, even to him. Al Gore is back for his fourth appearance, which is a 'Futurama' record. When you add that Coolio is back for his third, those two are becoming kind of regular 'Futurama' cast members. Of course, everyone else is there, from Billy West and Katey Sagal to Maurice LaMarche and Phil LaMarr.

"We are calling it our sci-fi, pro-environmental musical. It would have to be pro-environment with Al Gore around. I mean, he has to make his green gentle warnings of things to come. Otherwise, I think we did a pretty good job, even the musical numbers, written by our resident musical genius Christopher King."

And as a special treat, Comedy Central will be returning with 13 new "Futurama" episodes next year.

"For our next 13 episodes we have kept things somewhat consistent," says Cohen. "We will be doing another three-part episode next year. Basically, the consistency is we will do each kind of mini-season with 12 regular episodes with a three-part ender. Next year's will actually be called 'Futurama Reincarnation.' We will have the series reincarnated in three different styles. There will be a black-and-white Fleischer style, a kind of low-res video game style, and then an anime action style.

"We are thinking about doing another one of those too, but this one is pretty much killing the guys at our production studio, Rough Draft. I mean, we came over to tell them, 'Well, we are not only going to do it in a completely different style from what you expect for 'Futurama', but three different styles.' It really strained a lot of their resources. In one way, they were very enthusiastic about it. They loved that there was a lot of creative room for the animators. On the other hand, it was like handing them a death notice. Luckily we have an incredible director in Peter Avanzino. So it looks like it's going to end up an animation tour de force."

As for more "Futurama" holiday spectaculars?

"Good question," Cohen says. "I don't know, but call me if we get continued. I would say that if it does happen, we'll pretty much make it a regular event. It still seems pretty funny talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving."

"The Futurama Holiday Special" airs Sunday at 10pm ET on Comedy Central.

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