Judge David Johnson was happy to go on an animation bender with Bender.
Our reviews of Futurama: Volume One (published April 28th, 2003), Futurama: Volume Two (published August 4th, 2004), Futurama: Volume Three (published August 10th, 2004), Futurama: Volume Four (published October 13th, 2004), Futurama: Bender's Big Score (published December 7th, 2007), Futurama: Bender's Game (published December 4th, 2008), Futurama: Bender's Game (Blu-Ray) (published November 4th, 2008), Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs (published June 18th, 2008), and Futurama: Volume Six (Blu-ray) (published January 1st, 2012) are also available.
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"
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"
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"
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"
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"
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.
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.
Not guilty! Jerk!
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Scales of Justice
• Filmmaker Introductions to Episodes
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