Stuck in an unfortunate time slot that resulted in it being interrupted by football quite often, "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening's "Futurama" took some time to get going, but the show's best seasons provided some classically funny and wildly inspired plots for the memorable characters. The show focuses on Philip J. Fry, a pizza delivery boy in the year 1999 who finds himself on what he thinks is a prank delivery. An accident happens and Fry finds himself frozen in time for 1000 years, waking up in 2999.
Despite the initial horror, sadness and terror, Fry eventually comes around to the idea of living in the future, complete with the assistance of his butt-kicking alien love interest, the one-eyed Leela ("Married...With Children"'s Katey Segal). He also befriends Bender Unit 22 (Chicago Hope's John DiMaggio), a crude, hard-drinking robot who continually schemes and talks his way out of the trouble he creates.
Bender is one of his co-workers at the local intergalactic delivery service. There's also Professor Hubert Farnsworth, Hermes Conrad and lobster doctor Zoidberg. Although the character wasn't there from the beginning (I don't think), there's also Zapp Brannigan, an intergalactic space jockey whose arrogance positions himself as a hero above all others, and Brannigan's shy, smarter alien assistant, Kif.
The fourth season of "Futurama" includes some of the best moments of the series, including two episodes on the first disc - one where Kif suddenly finds himself impregnated by someone the group least suspected, and the other where Bender, Leela and Fry get the chance to become super heroes. "The Why Of Fry" is an interesting time-travel episode where Fry finds the real cause of his trip to the future; "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", which has Fry and friends joining the cast of the original "Star Trek" on an adventure; "Bend Her" has Bender faking being a female robot to get into the robot olympics.
18 episodes on four discs: Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch, Leela's Homeworld, Love and Rocket, Less Than Hero, A Taste of Freedom, Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV, Jurassic Bark, Crimes of the Hot, Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles, The Why of Fry, Where No Fan Has Gone Before, The Sting, Bend Her, Obsoletely Fabulous, The Farnsworth Parabox, Three Hundred Big Boys, Spanish Fry, The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings.
VIDEO: "Futurama" is presented here in 1.33:1 full-frame, the show's original aspect ratio. Like the prior sets I've seen for the series, there's really not a whole lot to say about these presentations, either. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, with the animation appearing crisp and well-defined. No edge enhancement or any other considerable faults are visible. The show's bright, vivid color palette appeared well-saturated and vibrant.
SOUND: "Futurama" is presented here in Dolby 2.0. The show's audio remains crisp and easily understood throughout, with no distortion or other concerns in regards to the dialogue, music or sound effects.
EXTRAS: Audio commentaries for every episode are included with creator Matt Groening and other members of the cast and crew. "Jurassic Bark" includes a bonus commentary from the writers. There are also deleted scenes for all episodes aside from "Jurassic Bark", storyboards for "Kif Gets Knocked Up A Notch", an international clip from "Love and Rocket", an animatic for "Obsoletely Fabulous", a "How to Draw Characters" featutrette, a still gallery, character pencil tests and 3-D models.
Final Thoughts: The fourth season of "Futurama" is the highlight of the series, with several episodes that achieve brilliance. Fox's DVD edition provides very good audio/video, along with a solid helping of supplements. Recommended.