Season three sees Futurama cooking on gas. This is THE SIMPSONS on some mind-altering substance. For the uninitiated (and if you have never watched the series before – watch seasons 1 and 2 first…duhhh!) pizza delivery boy Fry has awoken from cryogenic suspension and finds himself in the year 3000. Here he teams up with the girl of his dreams, one-eyed space captain Leela, the hard-drinking, wallet-lifting robot Bender (he bends things for a living), the frankly barmy Professor Farnsworth and an assorted bunch of ge…ks and aliens who tag along for the ride.
The reason Futurama is an acquired taste is because, as its creators intended, it uses every opportunity to parody and poke fun at the conventions of practically every science-fiction show and film ever made. By season three the writers are in full flow and watching these episodes is an exhausting experience because they are so packed with visual gags and brilliant one-liners. By the time you’ve realized the significance of the hypno frog you’ve missed a dozen other quips and in-jokes.
These episodes are Futurama at its best; you have to wonder for the sanity of the genius who came up with ‘I Dated a Robot’ which ends with the city under siege by an army of Lucy Lui’s downloaded from the internet. Or ‘The Day the World Turned Stupid’ where space brains turn the entire population of the Earth into mindless vegetables (actually, I think that one’s based on a true story), ‘Amazon Women in the Mood’ featuring the amazing Captain Brannigan and the dangers of death by snoo-snoo and ‘That’s Lobstertainment’ which focuses on my personal favourite character, Dr. Zoidberg. Then there’s ‘A Tale of Two Santas’ where the world is endangered by the machine-gun toting insane Santa robot, the penguin antics of ‘The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz’ and…well, I could go on. Much like it’s predecessor The Simpsons, Futurama really hit it’s stride in the third season and never looked back.
Futurama is presented in it’s original 1.33:1 fullscreen presentation. The colors are very bright and vivid and the image is exceptionally sharp. The black level is well set. There are no noticeable artifacts or graininess. Congrats to Fox for an excellent transfer.
Unfortunately, the audio falls behind the video in that it is presented in the original Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. The dialogue is crisp and clear and the music is reproduced faithfully through the right and left speakers but unfortunately there is no 5.1 mix. With a show like this with lots of space travel, laser sound effects and Bender’s burping there is plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the Dolby Digital technology. Oh well…
As with the other box sets from Fox – these episodes are accompanied by hilarious commentary tracks that inform and entertain. Well actually they don’t inform a heck of a lot but the trivial discussion is quite funny. Each disc contains several deleted scenes, adding up to a total of about 15 minutes of unaired material. A gallery shows images of new characters and another one has 9 animated 3D models with audio commentary explaining their creation and functions. The animatics (a rough draft version of the episode) is from ‘Anthology of Interest II’ this time. This gives a nice look at how episodes come together. “Parasites Lost” comes with a comic-like and annotated pre-animation storyboard. Another extra explains how to draw Leela and Fry in multiple steps and from different angles.
If you are a Futurama fan, pick this up. Fox continues it’s run with excellent box sets and shows no evidence of letting up.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Matt Groening on every episode
- Deleted scenes
- Easter eggs