TITLE: FUTURAMA - VOLUME 5
DVD Release Date: December 21, 2010 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Video)
MSRP: $29.98 (DVD)/$39.99 (Blu-ray)
Packaging: Cardboard sleeve
Number of Discs: 2 (Double Layer)
Number of Episodes: 13
Running Time: 538 minutes
Audio: English: Dolby 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Special Features: Commentaries on all episodes, “The Adventures of Delivery-Boy Man” comic book, “Bend it Like Bender” music video, “Behind the Fungus: Makin’ a Hit Song,” Previously on Futurama, “The Prisoner of Benda” Live Table Read, Deleted Scenes
It’s back! After a 7-year hiatus and a handful of direct-to-DVD films, Futurama returns with a vengeance. The show originally had a five-season run on Fox before being cancelled in 2003. It was revived for four direct-to-DVD movies beginning in 2007, and finally in 2010, all new episodes premiered on Comedy Central. Being a fan from the Fox days, I can confidently say the show hasn’t missed a beat. It’s every bit as funny and irreverent as the original run.
For those unfamiliar with the series, here is the basic set up. Fry (Billy West) was a pizza delivery boy in the year 1999. Just as the millennium was about to change, he accidentally cryogenically froze himself while delivering a pizza to a lab. He then awoke in the year 2099 and ended up working for his future relative Professor Hubert Farnsworth’s delivery company Planet Express (Billy West) along with co-workers Leela (Katey Sagal) who is a mutant Cyclops and the object of Fry’s affections, robot Bender (John DiMaggio) who is a foul-mouthed heavy drinker who likes to steal, and Dr. Zoidberg (Billy West) a lobster-like alien who claims to know medical knowledge about humans.
This review will cover the DVD release, since that is what we got for review.
Each episode follows some zany delivery the crew must complete or some other wacky futuristic situation that oddly parallels events going on in the present. As I mentioned earlier, this batch of 13 shows, despite such a long hiatus, doesn’t miss a beat and has the same feel and hilarity as the original run.
Some of the great episodes this season: in “Rebirth,” the season premiere, the Professor is charged with the task of resurrecting the crew after a horrific spaceship crash with comic results. “Proposition Infinity” features Bender and Amy falling in love... and leading a campaign to legalize “robosexual” marriage. In “Lethal Inspection,” Bender travels to Mexico to find the factory inspector who gave him a passing grade despite a fatal flaw. In “The Prisoner of Benda,” the gang experiments with the Professor’s mind switching machine... but can they manage to get the right minds back in the right bodies? And in “The Futurama Holiday Spectacular,” The Planet Express crew learns the meanings of Xmas, Kwanzaa and Robanukah in three short vignettes.
Attack of the Killer App (21:38)
Proposition Infinity (21:37)
The Duh-Vinci Code (21:37)
Lethal Inspection (21:38)
The Late Philip J. Fry (21:37)
That Darn Katz! (21:39)
A Clockwork Origin (21:39)
The Prisoner of Benda (21:39)
Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences (21:39)
The Mutants Are Revolting (21:42)
The Futurama Holiday Spectacular (21:39)
The packaging for this set is simply terrible. It comes off as very cheap and the discs are in danger of damage. The set comes with an outer cardboard sleeve with the Futurama logo and a picture of Bender smoking a cigar with an overall red and gray color scheme. The rear cover is similarly designed. An inner 3-panel cardboard insert slides out revealing the discs. The first panel features a list of the episodes and which disc they are on, and the other two panels have slits which very loosely hold the discs. The discs are not secured at all and can easily fall out or become scratched by the cardboard itself. The cardboard is also very thin and can become damaged quite easily. Disc artwork features the show logo and Volume 5 along with some futuristic artwork.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The main menu on each disc is quite nice. We’re treated to footage from the episodes in the background, with a choice of “Episodes,” “Set Up,” and “Extras.” Clicking on “Episodes” lets you choose an episode or Play All. Once you choose an episode, you are then taken to another menu where you can play the episode with or without commentary, look at a list of chapters (there are four per episode between each act) or go to the Extras menu. The extras menu provides a list of the bonus features that are included on that particular disc.
Video and Audio Quality:
Considering this is an animated show from 2010, the audio and video quality is very good. Unfortunately, the studio was unable to provide me with a Blu-ray copy of this set. These 13 episodes were produced in high definition and aired that way on Comedy Central. I can comment that the quality was amazing on Comedy Central HD, so I can imagine the Blu-ray discs look the same.
Audio is in 5.1 surround sound and you can tell it. Sound effects and music come clearly through the rear speakers. It’s easy to imagine that you’re right in the 31st century among the Planet Express crew while viewing this set. Audio is only available in English, but there are English, Spanish, and French Subtitles, along with English closed captions.
The set is jam-packed with special features. First is commentary on every single episode from cast and crew members. This is always fun to listen to. The commentaries provide unique behind the scenes information for the episodes, and it’s just fun to hear the people talk about their work.
On disc one: “Behind the Fungus: Makin’ a Hit Song” (4:59) is a bit tiresome documentary about a song Billy West recorded for the episode “Proposition Infinity.” I tried to watch a few minutes of it but couldn’t really make it through it. “Previously on Futurama” (1:22) is a collection of the recap bits from the direct-to-DVD movies when they were broken down into multiple parts for airing on Comedy Central. It’s a bit odd to watch these not connected to the episodes they were originally with, but I guess it’s nice that they included them.
Also on disc one is a wealth of deleted scenes (10:20) from each episode. It’s understandable that not every scene can make it into the episodes for time reason, but the deleted scenes are for the most part very funny and add to the episode experiences.
On disc 2: “The Adventures of Delivery-Boy Man” (7:13) is a fun video comic book created by Fry (extended from the episode “Lrreconcilable Ndndifferences”). It’s also available with commentary. “Bend it Like Bender” is a hilarious music video starring Bender. (2:41)
And finally, “The Prisoner of Benda” Live Table Read (35:08) features animatic rough animations as the cast sits down and reads the script for the episode aloud for the first time. Table reads are always fun for the behind-the-scenes fan to see how an episode develops from its early stages into the full episode that it eventually becomes.
It’s really great that Futurama is back and this is a well put-together set that I could recommend for any fan of the show. I wish I had been able to comment on the fact that the show is now in high definition, but it looks good on DVD as well. The episodes, as I mentioned before, are just as good and just as funny as the original run and I hope every Futurama fan goes out and buys this set. The only problem is the horrible packaging which can easily damage the discs. We’re finally back to the Planet Express!
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 5/5
Special Features: 4/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
-- Reviewed by Greg Brobeck on 02/11/11
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