Futurama - Season1

Starring: Billy West, John Di Maggio, Katey Sagal, Lauren Tom, Phil LaMarr 
Producer: Matt Groening 
Director: Peter Avanzino; Susie Dietter 
Region: 2

DVD Special Features:

Disc 1:
Episodes--Space Pilot 3000; The Series Has Landed; I, Roommate; Love's Labor's Lost in Space
Special Features--Commentary for each episode; Animatics for "Space Pilot 3000"; Deleted scenes from "The Series Has Landed" (2) and "Love's Labor's Lost in Space" (1); Script and storyboard for "Space Pilot 3000"

Disc 2:
Episodes--Fear of a Bot Planet; A Fishful of Dollars; My Three Suns; A Big Piece of Garbage; Hell is Other Robots.
Special Features--Commentary for each episode; Trailer for Futurama Season One; Deleted scenes from "My Three Suns" (1) and "Hell is Other Robots" (1)

Disc 3:
Episodes--A Flight to Remember; Mars University; When Aliens Attack; Fry & The Slurm Factory.
Special Features--Commentary for each episode; Special featurette; Deleted scene from "When Aliens Attack"; Interactive gallery of stills/concept art--this gallery consists of 44 still images, four of which have buttons to select video segments

Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Sound: 2.0 Surround



There is indeed a God! After dropping several hints my wife surprised me on my recent birthday with . . . Futurama Complete Season One on DVD!

So what is Futurama then? you ask. Been in suspended animation for the past thousand years or so?! Well, actually that is the plot of Futurama, a prime time animated TV show about a pizza delivery boy who is accidentally put into cryogenic suspension and reawakened in the Year 3000. It was created by Matt Groening whose main claim to fame and fortune (those T-shirt sales went through the roof in the early 1990s) of The Simpsons. A lot of talent involved in The Simpsons also contributed to Futurama and the net effect is the same: Futurama is a hilariously funny goofball satire.

Before you think low-brow comedy, it some unexpected flashes of intelligence such as visual references to George Melies' 1906 flick Trip to the Moon and paintings by Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. Science fiction fans will also have a field day spotting all the genre conventions that are being sent up - everything from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century to Star Trek. Oh, and there's low-brow humor too . . .

At its heart Futurama is as anarchistic and offbeat as a Monty Python sketch. If you love The Simpsons and South Park, then it's probably a given you'd like Futurama. It is perfect for the DVD format since it is so packed with fast background visual gags that you'd find yourself often using the Pause button on your DVD remote.

The animation is as basic as that of The Simpsons, but not as crude as that of South Park. There are some scenes that are 3-D computer generated and these scenes look quite excellent on DVD. The image look crisp and sharp, unlike some bits of the recent Simpsons Seasons One and Two DVD box sets. If you have viewed more recent Simpsons episodes on DVD such as the Region 2 Simpsons - Backstage Pass DVD then you'll have an idea of just how crisp and clear the sound and image can be.

THE DISCS: Futurama Season One is a miracle to behold on DVD - much much better than these very same episodes I taped from TV when they originally aired. Menus are basic and rather similar to those of The Simpsons. This box set consists of three discs in standard DVD jewel cases and a cardboard box. Some reviewers complained that the packaging here aren't as elaborate or fancy as those of The Simpsons, but I prefer it like this to be honest: while impressive, the Simpsons box sets packaging (made largely of carton) will become worn with time and use. Especially if you view them as often as I do.

The extras are a bit disappointing. All the episodes have rather informative and entertaining audio commentaries featuring major talent involved (all of them feature Matt Groening himself unless I'm mistaken - I've only listened to about half of the audio commentary tracks). There is a sprinkling of small featurettes, trailers, storyboards, deleted scenes and the like but they seem rather thinly spread to be honest.

WORTH IT? To be honest I bought my DVD player to view The Simpsons box sets and some Woody Allen movies. I've found that it is practically the only stuff I can truly rewatch endlessly (how many times can one watch The Abyss - Special Edition? Or even classics such as Blade Runner or Star Wars?). Futurama comes a close second to The Simpsons though  . . .

RECOMMENDATION: Unless you are sure that your wife and family plot behind your back, I'd reach deep into my pockets. One cannot buy the discs separate which is unfortunate since it would have been easier on one's bank account to purchase them over a period of time instead of all at once. Still, buy these discs today if you know what's good for you!

NOTE: Unfortunately Futurama was cancelled about halfway through its fourth season earlier this year (2002). Hyped massively upon its first screening in 1999 I suppose the show never performed as well as Fox hoped back then. It however says something depressing about humanity when a show this excellent is cancelled while something as horrendously dismally crap as Walker - Texas Ranger seems to run forever. At least we still have The Simpsons and now this box set, the first step towards the entire series appearing on DVD. I for one can't wait . . .



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