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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Futurama: Season One
Futurama: Season One
Fox // Unrated // March 25, 2003
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 22, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Movie:

One of the leads of the animation boom that took place a couple of years back, "Futurama" was the highly anticipated new animated sitcom from "Simpsons" creator Matt Groenig. The sitcom gained a cult following shortly after its debut, even though it sometimes had a difficult time living up to the "Simpsons" comparisons. Even with the fans that the show had accumulated over its three year run, Fox recently cancelled the show, which had often been pre-empted by football in its 7PM (Eastern, at least) time slot.

Although "Simpsons" comparisons were inevitable, "Futurama" certainly remained a very different show, both in terms of look (the show often used computer animation - on one of the commentary tracks, we learn that the 28 second title sequence took four to five weeks to complete) and often, in terms of its slightly more out-there sense of humor. The show focuses on the adventures of Fry, a former Pizza Boy accidentially frozen in time on December 31, 1999. In the pilot episode, Fry falls into a suspended animation machine, waking up a thousand years later. After he realizes where he's gone, he finds out that his new "life assignment" is to - be a delivery boy, which he's none too happy about. Fry escapes from Leela (Katey Sagal), to look for his great (times about 50) nephew Professor Farnsworth. Once he meets Farnsworth and gets things worked out, he and new friends robot Bender and Leela are hired for the intergalactic delivery service.

Although the show's pilot doesn't have much to offer aside from the remarkable passage-of-time sequence, this first season of "Futurama" certainly did have a great deal of positives. The show's voice work is top-notch, especially Billy West as Fry, Segal as Leela and, beyond all else, John Di Maggio as Bender, whose delivery of the sarcastic lines was rarely less than superb. Supporting performances are often terrific, too - especially the Spock/Kirk dynamic of assistant Kif and space captain Zapp Brannigan, who appear in occasional episodes.

Although not entirely consistent, many of the episodes provided some very clever ideas that were successfully presented and often quite funny. In "When Aliens Attack", Fry ruins the transmission of an "Ally McBeal"-ish show called "Single Female Lawyer" in 1999. However, aliens living light-years away have become big fans and when the "technical difficulties" message finally reaches them, they're furious and willing to destroy Earth unless they find out what happened to "the plucky lawyer". There's also the "Titanic" parody "A Flight To Remember" and a particularly funny episode where Fry realizes he's rich due to the interest that's collected in his bank account over 1,000 years. Although "Futurama" occasionally had some "off" episodes, it really clicked wonderfully when it took off with a terrific idea, and it's too bad that the show was cancelled last month.

Episodes: Space Pilot 3000, Episode Two: The Series Has Landed; I, Roommate, Love's Labors Lost in Space, Fear of a Bot Planet, A Fishful of Dollars, My Three Suns, A Big Piece of Garbage, Hell is Other Robots, A Flight To Remember, Mars University, When Aliens Attack, Fry and the Slurm Factory.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Futurama" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio. The presentation looked nothing short of fantastic throughout. The animation was presented with superb clarity and detail, and never did any scene appear noticably soft. The film's eye-popping color palette looked fantastic, with great saturation and no smearing or other faults. As for faults, I didn't really notice any - edge enhancement didn't appear, nor did any pixelation. Jagged edges - a problem on a few DVD releases of animated programming - aren't seen here, either.

SOUND: "Futurama" is presented in Dolby 2.0. The show's soundtrack is somewhat basic, but there are certainly some positives - the sound is rather dynamic, with crisp music and punchy effects, not to mention clear dialogue. Surrounds do reinforce the music and occasionally add some light ambience. A new 5.1 remix of the show's soundtracks would have been nice, but these 2.0 tracks do fine.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: All 13 episodes on the DVD include commentary. The main participants are writer-creator Matt Groening, writer and executive producer David X. Cohen, co-director and supervising director Rich Moore, co-director and supervising director Gregg Vanzo, and John DiMaggio (voice of Bender). The commentary participants change for many of the episodes, and other members of the cast and voice crew come in to participate. These tracks are terrific when the participants are discussing the show; they discuss budgetary and production issues, joke about how some of the episodes turn out and chat about the development of the characters and plots. The only problem with some of the tracks was the fact that there were stretches of silence or moments where the participants seemed to get too caught up in watching that particular episode.

Also: Some brief deleted scenes for some of the season's 13 episodes, a short promotional featurette, some "movie poster" easter eggs, animatic version of the Pilot episode, script and the storyboards for the Pilot and concept art gallery.

Final Thoughts: "Futurama" may have had some mis-steps, but its best episodes - a few of which are offered here - were consistently hilarious. Fans should be thrilled with this set, while those who've never seen the show should give it a try. Fox's DVD set offers excellent audio/video quality, along with plenty of supplements. Highly recommended.

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