Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on January 3rd, 2011
Futurama was the brainchild of Simpson veterans Matt Groening and David X Cohen. With the growing popularity of their iconic cartoon, it was no surprise that Fox would tap the team to bring another show to the network. When Futurama premiered in 1999, it was a combination of The Jetsons and The Simpsons. That would be ironic for those of us who think the Simpsons theme is a direct knock off of The Jetsons. It was 1000 years in the future, and the joke was that no matter how much things changed, they hadn’t really changed at all. The space-age series would use many of the writing and art team from The Simpsons. That meant the character designs, at least the humans, would look exactly like the people in the other show. The writing would include that same subtle wit that implanted tons of references for the adults who were watching. The show never seemed to click with the kids, but it was not really meant to. The subject matter was considerably more adult in nature, and there really weren’t any cuddly characters. All of this likely led to Fox’s decision to cancel the show after four years. It wasn’t a quick and painless demise, either. The show suffered through months of purgatory. It was on, then off again. The final episodes were moved around and often rescheduled. In the end it was an uphill battle, and Futurama lost.
But the cancellation was not to be permanent. The show found new legs on cable and finally with a handful of home video movies. Interest was once again high, and Futurama was back from the grave. Now the episodes can also continue on home video. Here you’ll find a collection of 13 episodes on 2 discs.
In the series Fry (West) is a pizza delivery guy when he is accidentally frozen in suspended animation. When he awakens it’s 1000 years later. The galaxy is made up of robots, aliens, and humans. He finds that personalities from his own time have survived to the future, as heads in jars. Nixon is once again president and up to his old tricks. You never knew which 20th or 21st century celebrity you’ll find in a jar in this future. Calling upon his delivery skills, Fry joins the crew of a Planet Express spaceship run by a distant nephew relative of his. The crew is made up of the one-eyed beauty, Leela (Segal), on whom Fry has a crush. She is the ship’s captain. The ship’s robot, Bender (DiMaggio) is not the role model that Robby once was. He gambles, steals, and is on a mission to destroy all human-based life. But he’ll complete his mission all in good fun. The science officer is professor Farnsworth (West), a somewhat senile old goat, who was Fry’s nephew. The crew encounters many strange species and situations on their quest to deliver packages across the cosmos.
The episodes are presented in a full-frame format. That’s the only real disappointment here. This is obviously the point where the show made the HD transition. The picture quality itself doesn’t change a lot. The whole thing looks about as good as it could. Colors are bright and cheerful. Detail is something you won’t believe possible in cartoons in standard DVD. This will blow you away even if you’ve seen them on HD television. I would have liked to see the shows on three discs instead of two, but there is no serious compression artifact, just lower bit rate than I was hoping for.
You get a pretty fair Dolby Digital 5.1 audio presentation. I wasn’t quite as impressed with the sound as the video, but this is still some sweet stuff. You get plenty of whirling and buzzing ambient sounds, and again the space scenes are where it all comes together best. Of course, dialog is the big cheese here, and it’s perfectly placed and crystal clear at all times.
I do not like the cardboard case. It does not hold the discs securely once it’s out of the slip box. It might look good, but it will not be a good place to store your discs for the long haul.
Behind The Fungus – Making A Hit Song: (4:59) Join Billy West in the studio for the recording of Shut-Up And Love Me.
The Adventures Of Delivery-Boy Man: (7:13) A Motion Comic.
Bend It Like Bender: (2:47) Music video.
The Prisoner Of Benda – Live Table Read: (35:08)
It’s very good to see the guys and gals of Futurama alive and thriving once again. The episodes are not coming at a very fast pace, but we’re lucky they’re still coming at all. It’s important to support the series, and you can do just that by picking up this set. “Show you’re likin’ it.”