If you’re an avid watcher of the near-antiquated plain ol’ cable television, you’re most likely familiar with the stigma with any show airing on Fox that’s considered good or even moderately decent; it will be canceled. Unfortunately, Futurama was one such victim of their timeslot shenanigans that ultimately end its fate. However, its four seasons continued to fascinate and attract viewers in its long running syndication across various channels, eventually being resurrected direct-to-DVD with four movies thanks to Comedy Central’s backing. And fans weren’t all that pleased. They certainly weren’t terrible, but they just didn’t meet fans’ expectations, until finally it was announced that a new season was on the horizon.
We’re back in business! Planet Express is now delivering “Futurama” Volume 5 to terrestrial locations beginning December 21, 2010 just in time for the holidays! The Simpsons genius, Matt Groening, placed a large order of these shiny discs featuring the animated series truly light-years-ahead-of-its-time! Join my friends Fry, Bender, Leela and the rest of the gang for 13 hilarious new episodes that tackle some of the most controversial subjects in the galaxy…including evolution, mind exchange, feline intelligence and even robosexual marriage. Bender believes it can happen!
Picking up where the movies left off, and with some jabs at Fox itself, Futurama’s return to episodic television was a highly anticipated event. Although, to the dismay of the fans, it was a bit of a rocky start. Despite early rumors that said otherwise, the entire voice cast returned but were noticeably not fully prepared to take on their characters once more, the early episodes suffered slightly from them having to get back into the groove of their characters voices. Fortunately, around halfway through the season, they all managed to find their proper voices and stay consistent throughout the rest of it. The writing had similar problems, in which some of the complaints of the DVD movies were still popping up for the new episodes, but the most common problem was the askew timing. It took them a bit longer than by the halfway point to get back to a feeling of the past seasons’ genius, but it eventually happened.
Despite the struggling consistency, there managed to be several great episodes even through the earliest of the season but the highlight was certainly the latter third. I was feeling a little uncertain about its future with the rocky start, but by the end of the season I was disappointed to have to wait for another. They really managed to recapture their former glory, and here’s hoping the next season will start off from that point. There is at least one thing that never took a hit in quality, though, which was the animation. The DVD movies really took the animation further in several cases as the budget allowed to, but even with a return to a TV show’s budget it managed to always look top quality, and even
Overall, if you’ve been a fan of Futurama and waiting for its triumphant return then it is here at last. As said, it got off to an uncertain start but little golden nuggets of comedic glory manage to get you through even the weakest episodes to the better ones. I Highly Recommend you check this out ASAP.
Fox pushes out this latest volume of Futurama in a…cardboard case. All cardboard. This is a return to their DVD releases of the first two Futurama films. I’m all for environmental friendliness but it’s really kind of a pain on these Futurama sets as the packaging is just so flimsy. The discs barely stay in their place, partly due to the packaging but a lot to do with the overly slick-ness of Blu-ray’s in general; there just isn’t much grip for those slippery coated discs to hold onto. Luckily I only had one of the two discs bouncing around in my set by the time it arrived, although there are numerous dents and crush marks where the cardboard just didn’t hold up during shipping. Hazards of bubble mailers I suppose! Other than that issue the package itself is a nicely done fold-out affair with some really nice art splattered all over it. There’s a small insert advertising Futurama toys and…that’s it, really. Nothing too fancy inside here (aside from the art). Menus are very nicely done as well (as they always are).
Video is an AVC encoded 1080p affair and it is really just flat out gorgeous. I mean the animation of the show isn’t overly fluid or expertly produced (not a knock against the show, it’s just simple animation) but holy crap does pure digital animation look brilliant in 1080p. I mean there’s just so much clarity to pull from—deep, black character lines and tons of colors just pop off the screen. It’s just a lot of eye candy to feast upon and I loved every minute of it…especially after watching these originally in standard definition in letterboxed widescreen. It’s like a whole other show on Blu. Not to mention the audio, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which is also equally as sharp and clear with its myriad of interesting (and disgusting, in the case of the double ended goat thing) sound effects played throughout the season.
Audio Commentaries – on, you guessed it, every episode. Hooray!
Deleted Scenes (10:19, 1080p)
Behind the Scenes: Makin’ a Hit Song (4:58, 1080p)
Previously on Futurama (1:21, 1080p)
The Adventures of Delivery Boy Man (7:14, 1080p), includes optional commentary
Bend it Like Bender (2:42, 1080p)
“The Prisoner of Benda” Live Table Read (35:10, 1080p)
BD-Live – Futurama Season 7 Sneak Peek (2:09, HD)
The extras for the show once again do not disappoint, mainly just because of the thirteen commentaries we get. A fair amount of entertaining deleted scenes are included and a myriad of featurettes are included even if they don’t make a lot of sense at times. But other bonuses like the complete “Adventures of Delivery Boy Man” animated bit is ridiculously entertaining. One of the best extras is the live table read though, as we get plenty of raw responses to jokes and get an idea for what does and doesn’t work.
This is definitely an entertaining and highly engaging set overall and one that I Highly Recommend. And, really, for fans of the show it’s a must own—but that’s a given.
Futurama – Volume 5 is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Season review by Andrew
Blu-ray review by Zach Demeter