Case Number 07424


Fox // 1999 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 22nd, 2005

The Charge

Interplanetary pandemonium!

Opening Statement

That other great animated Matt Groening show gets some compilation love in this four-show selection of Futurama episodes...and it's all about the 'bots this time. Sorta.

Facts of the Case

Futurama is an animated scifi comedy set in New York City in the year 3000. Fry (voiced by Billy West) is a hapless pizza delivery boy who was frozen in 1999 and thawed out 1,000 years later. He hooks up with an interstellar delivery company, where his newfound friends include the sexy, one-eyed Leela (voiced by Katey Sagal) and Bender (voiced by John DiMaggio), a bastard of a robot. Hilarity unfolds.

Sure, the words "Monster Robot" are in the title of this collection, but that's not really the thread binding these episodes together. This collection features four favorites from executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. On the disc:

* "Hell Is Other Robots"
* "Anthology of Interest I"
* "Roswell That Ends Well"
* "The Sting"

The Evidence

Futurama is a great show that largely flew under the radar. It did secure a devoted fan following but never made the popular impact of its sister show, The Simpsons. Now, with the intense popularity of television on DVD, Futurama has been given some new exposure. This set sports a fine arrangement of episodes and would represent a good trial balloon for people unsure about making a larger investment in more Futurama swag.

* "Hell is Other Robots"
Bender gets hooked on electricity, and Fry and the gang worry that he's on a downward spiral toward self-destruction. But before he completely bottoms out, Bender finds religion with a robot church and a new theology that threatens eternal damnation in robot hell for screwing up. Bender, Fry, and Leela soon find out, much to their chagrin, the literal meaning of that term.

Final readout: Not one of my favorites. Bender gets a lot of screen time and that's always welcome, but besides some amusing bits with Robot Satan, this episode isn't flush with hilarity. Grade: B

* "Anthology of Interest I"
Professor Farnsworth (also voiced by West) has invented a "What-If?" machine, which shows the user alternate realities. In this assemblage of three tales, we see what a 500-foot Bender would do to an unsuspecting civilization, how Leela would handle impulsiveness (with deadly consequences), and the fate of the universe if Fry had never been deep-frozen and thawed out in the year 3,000.

Final readout: The Futurama equivalent of a Treehouse of Horror episode from The Simpsons, this mini-collection is very good. From the Bender segment -- with some clever Iron Giant nods -- to Leela's violent outbursts to a special guest-voice-littered final installment with Fry (including a profoundly wooden appearance by Al Gore), it's a solid episode. Grade: A-

* "Roswell That Ends Well"
The gang find themselves mysteriously dumped in New Mexico, circa 1946, and searching for a microwave to get back to their own time. While Farnsworth, Leela, and Bender look for an appliance that has yet to be invented, Fry gets into some serious space-time continuum hijinks when he accidentally kills his grandfather.

Final readout: The best episode of the set, packed with inside jokes and jabs at Back to the Future. Toss in some hilariously offensive Oedipal craziness, and you've got an ideal Futurama reference disc. Grade: A+

* "The Sting"
A dangerous mission ends with Fry and Leela on the business end of space bee stinger. But when Leela finds herself next to a dead, impaled Fry, she is consumed by guilt and later by visions of a resurrected Fry (fresh out of his Spock-like galactic coffin).

Final readout: Sadly, this set fails to end on a high note. This is a unique episode packed with red herrings, but, again, light on the actual humor. It's experimental Futurama and it doesn't float my boat. Grade: C+

Episodes are presented in their original fullscreen aspect ratio, and they look good. The series sports some serious eye candy in the animation department, and the transfer does it justice. An aggressive Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix sound great (giving juice to the show's infectious theme).

I was surprised by the extra content. Usually, television episode cross-sections like these come in bare-bones packages, but Fox has added some lively commentary from Groening, Cohen, and other members of the cast and crew, plus a full-length animatic for "Hell Is Other Robots." Not bad.

Closing Statement

Don't expect too many monster robots in this Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection, but it's still a good taste of a great show.

The Verdict

Not guilty! Jerk!

Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 85
Acting: 85
Story: 85
Judgment: 85

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

* None

Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Filmmaker Introductions to Episodes
* Full-Length Animatic with Commentary

* IMDb