Interview - Graham, Mar 2005

Kenneth: I'm here with a man who needs no introduction, FM:TLZ's very own Graham. He's been webmastering this site for the past few years religiously, with the highest update count of all of us here. Graham, thanks for letting me do this.

Graham: I expect the cheque next week. Make sure it's made out to Graham, and make the writing legible this time. Oh, wait, that can wait. Yeah, it's my honour, I'm speechless, that's why I'm typing.

Kenneth: Hehehe. First of all, how did you get into the show?

Graham: I asked Matt Groening for a part, but he said it was a cartoon. I said I'd even be Nibbler, but he said no. Hence my Nibbler hatred. Anyway, I was a big Simpsons fan, so it was natural that I'd wonder what Matt Groening's latest wheeze was. Anyway, I do have a small interest in sci-fi, so that just got my interest more. I saw the show in 1999 - Space Pilot 3000 - and sort of got hooked from there.

* Graham wonders if Ken is now asleep. Get some coffee in you, Mr I've-Just-Woken-Up. :P

Kenneth: LOL

Kenneth: Onto the next question then, how did you work your way into webmastering?

Graham: I sort of blundered into it. Actually, myself, Scotty and Max Hodges came up with an idea to produce a site dedicated to Dr Zoidberg (OK, we were young...ish, and didn't know what we were up to, but I'm digressing), so we got working on that. In the meantime, Leandro made it known that he was interested in recruiting some idiots to help him with The Leela Zone, so Scotty and myself joined, being utter gullible morons. Oh, did Leo laugh at us. Anyway, he gave us free-licence to do our bit for the site, and it went on from there. Also, Say Argh!, that Zoidberg site I mentioned above, had its own life for a short while. Crazy times, I suppose. (Talk about Leandro... he's IMing me right now...) Oh, getting back to the beginning of this story, we all got to know each other and come up with this devious scheme due to knowing each other on the IRC channel #futuramachat, so blame the owner of that. ;)

Graham: Shut up, Leo, I'm trying to sell our site to the world...

Kenneth: What do you think makes FM:TLZ such a unique entity in the Futurama online world?

Graham: I think that Leandro is really to blame for that. He recruited some silly people in his time, and encouraged the crazy atmosphere. OK, we've had webmasters come and go, but they've all added some stupidity during their stay. I just think that all our webmasters are dedicated to the show and happy to just let their imaginations fly off the handle occasionally.

Graham: Leandro, will you stop contacting me about your new love for The Corrs...

Kenneth: How about while I interview you, you interview Leo too. Two for the price of one!

Graham: lol

Graham: I'm too lazy for that... maybe next time. Oh, wait, what next time. You're not rich enough to pay for me twice.

Kenneth: LOL. Speaking of webmasters coming and going, you've recently decided to take a back seat as it were, hence the recent recruitment of Allen Tanner. Care to tell the readers why?

Graham: Because I'm getting sick of Futurama and want to set up a South Park and Family Guy site. Oh, wait... oops. Well, after being doing this for over four years, I wanted to take a long breather and let some other mug take over. I'm sure that Allen will amply fill in for me, that I'm sure of. Well, even if he's not ready yet, we'll just give him some LSD to improve his mind for this site. Being sober isn't a good state to be in when updating. ;)

Kenneth: Hehehe

Graham: BTW, everyone, Kenneth really does love South Park and Family Guy... it's just an in-joke.

Kenneth: Don't listen to him! He's crazy!

Graham: He thinks Cartman is cool

Graham: Don't listen to him, he hasn't woken up yet.

Kenneth: Don't make me withdraw that cheque!

Graham: Bah... Money, evil mistress.

Kenneth: Pizza Hut, McDonalds or Subway?

Graham: The pubs next door.

Kenneth: Hehehe, fair enough.

Graham: Pub food can be good, too.

Graham: But the drink is better.

Kenneth: Beer or lager then?

Graham: Beer.

Kenneth: Excellent choice.

Graham: Yeah... don't mind if I do.

Kenneth: Moving on, we took a little flak last year when we renamed ourselves to become more Futurama-related overall than just a Leela site. Any regrets, or do you think the choice did nothing but good things?

Graham: I have no regrets whatsoever. That'll teach Leela to cheat on me. I mean... oh, wait... errr... I'll have to rewrite that. No, I still feel that we did do the right thing. The show has been cancelled, so it made sense to broaden our appeal when the fan base would be shrinking. We were, in effect, a general site, but we still got emails asking if we accepted non-Leela stuff. Anyway, to stop the confusion and set things straight, we changed our name to Futurama Madhouse. I firmly believe that the site's success is due to our webmasters' and contributors' work rather than any character that we might have fronted. TLZ had its time while the show was running, but we had to move on once that had changed. We caused a few toys being thrown out of prams, but I still think that the move was the right one.

Kenneth: Do you think the online community has survived well since the cancellation?

Graham: Actually, I tend to think it's been better than I thought it would. Our visitor numbers have sort of increased since then, but that could just be due to the lack of sites now, and we're "benefitting" from that. It has gone down, that's for sure, but there is still a dedicated community out there.

Kenneth: No hope for the show's return though?

Graham: No, I tend to think that that would be very unlikely. I suppose the only chance would be a massive sale of the DVDs and do a Family Guy, but I doubt that'll happen. Futurama's animation is far more expensive than Family Guy's, so I think that, and other factors, tend to go against a renewal. Anyway, and this might be controversial, but so what, I do prefer that the show got cancelled early than let it drag on like The Simpsons has (I shudder to think what would happen if Futurama had been allowed to sink to that level). I think that the show probably had three or four more seasons for it to go before it needed to be wound up, so it was killed off too early by Fox, a company who didn't deserve the show in the first place. Still, Sebastian said it best when he quoted the words on our message board: "Live fast, die young."

BTW, during the break, you'll find our message board on sale in the foyer. Please feel free to visit it. ;)

Graham: BTW, people, that reply took very long, so don't be surprised if Kenneth has gone off to do an errand or two... or fallen asleep.

Kenneth: I'm awake, I'm awake.

Graham: I smell a bot.

Kenneth: Invalid response

Graham: Still using Windows?

Kenneth: Yep.

Kenneth: Not even XP either

Graham: Good, good... no XP, no cry.

Kenneth: You've got to have read more fanfics and seen more fanart than most people. How often does art or stories strike you as really good stuff?

Graham: How to offend as many people as possible... unintentionally, of course.

Well, I've seen some great artwork in my time. The Voices and FemJesse stand out, although I'd like to give The Drainpipe a mention, because he also had some original stuff. The most important thing for art, IMO, is originality. Suffice it to say, I'm not really a fan of scan art. I'd rather a badly drawn work, but with some original idea, than a copy. As for stories, I'm probably not as keen on stories as I am with the artwork, but I do appreciate them. The best stories have been from yourself (go on, slap yourself on the back with modesty ;) ), as well as from Kryten and Lilith. I'm not a great fan of the romantic stuff (although, to be honest, I did appreciate them more a few years ago), but some of the stories are quite fine.

Kenneth: And you never really got into either yourself. Never interested?

Graham: Probably not confident enough to show any crap I'd come up with. Yeah, it's so easy to criticise those who are brave enough to show off their talents, even if lacking. I have been asked to write some fiction work, and have helped people in doing so, but I have to admit that I wimp out on the publishing one department.

Kenneth: Any highs or lows, or simply interesting stories, you want to tell about your time at FM:TLZ?

Graham: Highs: Getting to 1,000,000 visitors; recruiting and losing and recruiting and losing and recruiting and losing Scotty; getting C&Ds from Fox (they're so understanding).

Lows: Recruiting and losing and recruiting and losing and recruiting and losing Scotty; not getting a C&D from Fox for some time (they've gone after a new mistress... bastards!).

Stories? Hmm... well, umm... when Leandro recruited me back in January 2001, it was only due to Scotty's convincing him that I could do the job that got me in. So, if I've upset anyone during the running of the site, you can go to Scotland and beat him to a pulp. But, other than that silly story, I'm sort of out of ideas. I need coffee. BRB. (Not that you'll notice any time delay.)

Kenneth: What type of Futurama episodes are your favourites? Do you like comedy, dramatic or emotional, or a mixture of differing elements all in one?

Graham: Mixture of the three would be best. I tend to prefer comedic ones, but would rather they have a varied quality to them.

Kenneth: Any examples of your favourite(s) in particular?

Graham: Yeah, Parasites Lost and Time Keeps on Slippin' are my favourite two eps. I tend not to like overdone romantic stuff, those gushing with sugar and stuff, where nothing goes wrong, preferring some reality mixed in. So, to see the Fry/Leela romance get so far but get pulled away was quite interesting and cruel. You need a bit of that romantic cruelty, because otherwise you'll only have one-dimensional stories where Fry and Leela are always kissing and cuddling... and that'd make most retch. That's not to say that they shouldn't ever get together, but that needs to be the last episode if ever it were to be shown. Anyway, those two eps also had great funny moments and scenes. Anyway, you can't go wrong with Ethan Bubblegum Tate. ;)

Graham: Best secondary character ever

Kenneth: Got a worst episode at the other end of the scale?

Graham: Yeah, definitely. I have to say that Bendin' in the Wind was one episode that disgraced the others. Well, OK, that's overblowing it, because I have to say, before I qualify what I say, that this episode was still far better than all the recent Simpsons episodes, but the episode really didn't do Futurama justice. One thing that I've come to hate about The Simpsons is the celebrity worshipping; pandering to the image of mediocrity. OK, even in classical episodes of The Simpsons, there were celebrity entrances to the show, but at least they were written in well with effort rather than just plonked in like some cheesy advertisement ad break. Anyway, I just thought that Bendin' in the Wind really just was Futurama's own fawning attempt to be like The Simpsons' own craven attempts to be celebrity driven. OK, maybe it wasn't as bad as done by that other show, but I tend to feel that the step in that direction really needs to be frowned upon. Still, despite that episode, and maybe I Dated a Robot, which wasn't terribly done, Futurama hasn't really sunk as low as the Springfield crowd. Then again, it can be done well, with the episode Where No Fan Has Gone Before, which I do admit was a good use of "celebrity". Maybe I'm talking rubbish... maybe I'm bending in the wind. ;)

Kenneth: Fair enough. You spoke of Ethan "Bubblegum" Tate being your favourite secondary character. Got a favourite primary one?

Graham: Professor Farnsworth. I just love his senile dementia creating all these wacky inventions. I mean, a smelloscope... come on! He just is such a funny character, in a very nerdy way.

Graham: Anyway, he reminds me of a younger version of myself... ;)

Kenneth: Not much younger through, right? ;)

Graham: hehe

Graham: well, I remember the Romans... they knew how to build roads.

Graham: Mind you, back in those days, a smelloscope would have been a deadly punishment

Kenneth: Hehehe

Kenneth: Got any favourite shows other than Futurama, or did intelligent TV seem to die when it was cancelled like it did for me?

Graham: Do you mean in animated form or just in general?

Graham: Animated, I imagine.

Kenneth: Anything.

Graham: Well, I do like a British show called Monkey Dust, although that's slowly beginning to get stale. It's quite bleak and very cynical, but does make its point. It's nothing like Futurama, and would make South Park look tame, but it's not really meant to be juvenile for the sake of it, so it really shouldn't be compared to South Park, which I find "shocking" for the sake of shocking... not that I think it's that much of a shock, myself. As for non-animated, I do like shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Arrested Development a lot. As for older shows: Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show (that had celebrities, but it was done really well using them), Cheers, Blackadder, Father Ted, and many, many more, which you can buy on this DVD set. Remember, you won't get this at the shops, because they're not stupid enough to stock it, but if you ring this number, we'll get your credit card details and charge you thrice.

Graham: Oh, and anything by Chris Morris deserves praise.

Kenneth: Any sports or hobbies?

Graham: Love football (soccer)... don't play it. Well, used to at school, but I was crap. No real hobbies, except for wasting my time on a computer.

Kenneth: And what are your thoughts about your country's PM?

Graham: Want the long or short version?

Graham: Short version is advised.

Kenneth: Your choice.

Kenneth: Okay, short then.

Kenneth: This is an interview, not a novel after all.

Graham: Yeah, true... but we could have a betting game here to find out who can type the most before falling off to sleep.

Graham: Anyway... answers, answers.

Graham: Well, when the Labour Party came to power in 1997, they came in after 18 years of a Tory government that had changed society by quite some measure for the worse (destruction of services, housing, trade unions, etc). Now, I remember the days when the Labour Party was saying to all those dissatisfied with the Tories in power that once they get in, they'll change stuff back again, so don't get too angry, blah, blah, blah. Once they got in, they didn't just do nothing, they carried on the same Thatcherite crap as before (for two years, they carried out the Tories' economic policies as a matter of protocol, when the economy and people expected some actual change). So, we now have a prime minister who models himself after Margaret Thatcher, except without balls. Now Tony Blair, a Labour leader, is butt-kissing George Bush, a rabid Republican (the Tories in the UK would be to the left of most Republicans... so careful when you say the word "liberal" ;) ). OK, there's meant to be this "special relationship", but this is taking it a bit too far. Tony Blair is really your car salesman of the political world: all smiles up front, crossing fingers behind his back.

Kenneth: Coffee or Tea?

Graham: Coffee.

Graham: Although I'm drinking tea right now.

Graham: Dear readers, this is the moment were we're struggling to come up with something to ask. Bear with us, this wait won't be too long. You've all done well sticking with this. Really, you have.

Graham: You've been a great audience.

Graham: BTW, Mystery Science Theartre 3000 is great to watch after a few beers.

Graham: Star Wars is overrated. Bambi's mother deserved it, the harlot. Mickey Mouse loves Donald Duck.

Kenneth: Hehehe. I like it even when sober, so I'd agree.

Graham: Yeah, you're right. Just sitting there making up your own lines of bad programmes is a good past time.

Graham: What's in my tea? ;)

Kenneth: Hey! I ask the questions here, bub!

Kenneth: But I'm guessing lemon since you're British

Graham: Awww... you always get the best jobs. No, it's just ordinary tea, actually. Milk with half a sugar.

Kenneth: Only half? Pfft! Might as well have no sugar...

Graham: Well, it beats it being cocaine or some other substance. Mind you, if I suffered from ADD, then maybe that half would be enough for a fix or two. ;) I just like the slight sweet taste.

Graham: BTW, kids, don't do drugs.

Kenneth: Hehehe.

Kenneth: How about that Turanga Pages, huh? Any comments on that?

Graham: Sorry, refresh me about it? Is it that porno site?

Kenneth: Yep

Graham: I mean, I prefer my women real. ;)

Graham: Heh... now we've lost some of our audience.

Kenneth: Hehehe

Kenneth: What was the last movie you saw, and how would you grade it out of 10?

Graham: Actually, that site does have a purpose. I'm not against a site like that existing, because it caters for a market, but I don't feel that Futurama Madhouse should follow that lead. Different horses for different courses.

Graham: Last movie was Bad Lieutenant just a few moments ago on TV. It's not a bad film, but Keitel has been in better, which I'd give 7 out of 10. If you mean in the cinema, then the last would have been Lord of the Rings, which I liked, but not to the extent that maybe yourself would of. I'd give it 6 out of 10. I tend to be harsh with my marking, so that's not a bad mark. Don't kill me.

Kenneth: Return of the King I assume?

Graham: No, first one, Fellowship.

Kenneth: Ah.

Kenneth: If you had a time machine and could go back in time to kill one person from the past, who would it be?

Graham: The bloke who did that Frog mobile ringtone advert. Seriously, that bloke is worse than Hitler.

Kenneth: Hehehe.

Kenneth: If you could take one alien from another sci-fi medium and insert them into Futurama, what alien would it be?

Kenneth: Just for a cameo appearance that is.

Graham: Being evil, that alien life form in The Thing. ;)

Graham: Cull some of the clutter. ;)

Kenneth: There are robot criminals, nutcases, bums and cripples. What useless robot would you have liked to see in the show that wasn't?

Graham: Firstly, that Hedonism Bot was a great useless character. Kudos Futurama writers. :D But, my addition would be Mannequin Bot. Their job would be to stand as still as possible to model clothes. They can do anything, like walk, bend, fornicate, but rather than do that, they just have to stand behind shop windows doing nothing. It's such a wasteful world...

Kenneth: Hehehe, sounds cool. And, yes, Hedonismbot was an excellent character.

Kenneth: Well, I think that about wraps it up. Any final comments to the readers we still have?

Graham: Yeah, go forth and multiply. Be excellent to each other. The early bird gets the worm. Better two birds in the hand rather than a ferret down your trousers. Oh, and keep watching Futurama, even if you've seen the episode a hundred times. Oh, and read the comics. Don't cry for me, Argentina. Adios. Bye. Get off my lawn...

Kenneth: Cool, thanks for doing this.

Graham: No problemo. Hope it was OK.

Kenneth: That's for the readers to decide.

Graham: Bastards... all of them.

Graham: off the record ;)

Kenneth: You'd be lucky... that's going in :P

Graham: cool

Kenneth: And your cheque and pancakes will arrive in the mail

Graham: Mmmm... syruppy envelopes.

Graham: at least the stamp will stick

Kenneth: Indeed.