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Into the Futurama with Louie

Two TV shows that avoided the axe

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With all of the TV shows that are canceled every year--sometimes they're even garroted mid-season--a sigh of relief and a cheer follow news of a particularly brilliant show's survival.

New seasons of both Louie (on FX) and Futurama (on Comedy Central) will air on Thursday, June 23. Huzzah!

Futurama is an animated series about a group of misfits that run an interplanetary delivery service in the 31st century. It was on the air from 1999-2003 and then returned in 2008, something that seldom happens in television outside of remakes.

Its success is due in part to creator Matt Groening's character development. His humans, aliens and mutants--though two-dimensional--are deeper, funnier and more engaging than many a sitcom star. And Futurama's time (the future) and setting (the universe) allow for endless plotlines and a host of characters from an acerbic robot to a cyclopean ship's captain.

Then there's Louie, which is created, produced, edited and directed by stand-up comedian Louis C.K. It is attractive for the opposite reason--it's visceral, which makes it as discomfiting as it is funny.

C.K. is a working comic in his 40s, recently divorced, raising two kids--so is the title character of the show. The show includes cut-ins of C.K. doing standup, but more than even his comedy, the show feels like a voyeuristic peek into C.K.'s real world as he goes about his daily life--grocery shopping, dating, working out, taking his daughters to school, masturbating--while dealing with the paralyzing effects of loneliness and fear. It is both a drama and a comedy, often painfully at the same time.

Futurama and Louie are safe for the immediate future--Futurama is renewed for two years, Louie for one. It's good that both have found an audience and it just goes to show that sometimes smart people do turn on the television.

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