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Good news, everyone: 'Futurama' is back!

By Henry Hanks, CNN
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'Futurama' comes to Comedy Central
  • Seven years after being canceled by Fox, "Futurama" is back -- on Comedy Central
  • Co-creator David X. Cohen: "[Fans] supported us and we want to repay them"
  • Cliffhanger from the end of the direct-to-DVD movies will be resolved
  • Former Vice President Al Gore plays himself for the fourth time

(CNN) -- Call David X. Cohen a nerd all you like, but never call him a geek. To the co-creator of "Futurama," the term "nerd" is a compliment.

"I feel like with 'nerd culture,' [it sounds like] the nerds have triumphed," he said. 'Geek' has a negative connotation. I'd rather be called a nerd. I love being called a nerd."

Back in 2003, this particular nerd couldn't believe it was all over for "Futurama."

"When we were canceled by Fox, we thought that was it," Cohen recalled. "We really didn't have any expectations at the time. It was really emotional because we spent four years locked in a dark room working on the show. I went on with my life and wrote a couple of pilots."

As the years went by, the network Adult Swim (a Time Warner property, along with CNN) started airing reruns of "Futurama" along with "Family Guy."

"Family Guy's" ratings and DVD sales convinced Fox to give it a second chance, and the rest is history. "Futurama's" ratings were similarly high, and once "Family Guy" started putting feature-length episodes on DVD, a light bulb went off in Cohen's head.

" 'Family Guy' blazed the trail with direct-to-DVD movies and got back on the air," he said. "We called Fox and told them every six months that, hey, 'Futurama' is even more fitting for direct-to-DVD."

Finally, in 2007, fans had their "Futurama" back, in not one, but four direct-to-DVD movies. As a result of those sales, Comedy Central is starting a new season of the show on Thursday night.

The first order of business: wrapping up what happened at the end of the last movie, when Fry, Leela, Bender and the rest of the crew were sucked into a wormhole.

"Our first episode is 'Rebirth,' which is metaphorical but a surprisingly literal term -- our crew members are going to suffer some serious physical harm," Cohen explained. "Not for the squeamish, necessarily, but we will see the rebirth process as science has it in the year 3000."

The most exciting new thing about this season of "Futurama," according to Cohen, is that it's, well, new. "I want to reassure our fans that this will be the real classic 'Futurama' back to its original form. They supported us, and we want to repay them."

For fans who are probably wondering what happened between Fry and Leela, last seen kissing before that climactic trip, Cohen said their questions will be answered, all in good time: "We're going to be dealing with the surprising sci-fi consequences of that relationship."

Former Vice President Al Gore will also provide his voice, once again, just in time for the holidays.

"The holiday special's going to focus on the future versions of Christmas, Kwanzaa and 'Robanukah,' which Bender made up to get off of work. Gore will make his record-breaking fourth guest appearance," Cohen said. "We will have the classic pairing of Gore and Coolio, making his third appearance, playing Kwanzaa-bot."

"Futurama" also has a big milestone to celebrate, thanks to that Comedy Central pickup: "We will have our 100th episode with Mark Mothersbaugh and Devo. Leela leads the mutant people who live under the sewers in an uprising against the surface people."

iReporters love Futurama

So what kind of brain power does it take to write a show with so many jokes revolving around nerdy topics?

"My master's degree [in physics and theoretical computer science] puts me in the middle of the pack -- we have had three science PhDs in our writers room, so no one is impressed with my master's degree," Cohen joked.

"We do sneak in a high-level math or physics equation, and we know few people get them, but they are hidden in the background, and we'll reward a few viewers and hopefully make them lifelong 'Futurama' fans."

One example of such nerdy humor will actually come to the forefront in the near future.

"Our tenth episode of the new season is written by Dr. Ken Keeler, and it involves the characters switching minds, and it becomes very complicated due to the nature of this to work our way back to the original body, and requires solving a mathematical problem," Cohen explained. "Ken actually proved a theorem critical to resolving the episode. We're going to present a 'Futurama' theorem."

Cracking jokes and breaking new scientific ground at the same time? Fans of "Futurama," nerdy or otherwise, wouldn't want it any other way.