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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Satire > Children > TV > The Simpsons – The Fourteenth Season (2002 – 2003/Fox Blu-ray) + Futurama – Volume 6 (Fox Blu-ray)

The Simpsons – The Fourteenth Season (2002 – 2003/Fox Blu-ray) + Futurama – Volume 6 (Fox Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B/A-     Sound: B+/A-     Extras: B     Episodes: B/A-

 

 

My feelings for The Simpsons have changed over the years.  Growing up I believed it was the ultimate animates series and nothing could ever top it and as the years went on it seemed that was true.  That was until the arrival of Futurama and Family Guy; then my tastes quickly changed.  I still love The Simpsons and it holds a special place in my heart as it was the first; I can recite some of the most classic moments to this day, but its time has come and gone.  Futurama (by the same minds that brought us The Simpsons) honed in on the best aspects of The Simpsons and distilled it to the ultimate animated comedy; at the same time the futuristic edge not giving it the ‘human’ restraints its predecessor had.

 

By Season 14 The Simpsons had begun to show its age, but was still great.  The 14th Season is a mixed bag of hilarity and ‘meh’ (a phrase the series coined).  This season was right in the heart of The Simpsons starting to over do the guest star cameos; even a hoard of musicians like Mick Jagger showing his wrinkled face at Rock N’ Roll camp.  The Simpsons as of recently have taken a step back from the ‘guest star’ spots and focused on content again, but I can’t say looking back at this entire season it was all too great or classic to me.  The Simpsons is like background noise at this point on TV; you know it is there, but have kind of tuned it out.  Sometimes the noise is annoying and other times it is a Mozart masterpiece; but always there lingering in the background, showing no signs of slowing down.

 

As previously mentioned Season 14 is far from bad, but doesn’t hold all too many notable moments; with the exception of the 300th episode, which is a ground breaking moment for a series…until you realize this season was nearly a decade ago.

 

Now to the better, more inspiring series…Futurama.

 

Brought back from the dead by fans who weren’t ready to let this gem go, Futurama has returned with more power than ever.  The series continues to have BRILLIANT and hilarious storylines; and with the original voice cast there, it is all the better.

 

The episodes (made exclusively to air on Comedy Central) are as follows:

 

  1. Silence of the Clamps (Bender hides from the Mafia)
  2. Mobius Dick (Leela hunts a 4th Dimension wale)
  3. Law and Oracle (Fry joins the future crimes division)
  4. Benderama (Bender learns to self replicate)
  5. The Tip of the Zoidberg (The Prof and Zoidberg have a secret past together)
  6. Ghost in the Machines (Bender haunts Planet Express)
  7. Neutopia (The crew encounters an alien that can change their sexual characteristics)
  8. Yo Leela Leela (Leela is a Hollywood star when her kids’ show hits big)
  9. Fry Am the Egg Man (Fry becomes an Egg mama…too bad it is a monster)
  10. All the President’s Heads (Altering history with the presidents’ heads)
  11. Cold Warriors (The common cold returns to the future via Fry, with bad consequences)
  12. Overclockwise (Bender evolves into a God-like being)
  13. Reincarnation (Futurama in 3 different animation styles; black & white, 8 Bit, Anime)

 

The technical features on these two sets are very different.  The Simpsons Season 14 on Blu-ray is a nice upgrade from previous releases with more vibrant colors and slightly crisper imagery, but on the whole it is still not a High Definition presentation and instead is merely a quality upconversion.  The show did not get upgraded to HD until years after this season aired so it is no surprise the problems this release would be plagued with.  With that said the creators have managed to fix the shadowy issues of Season 13 along with the high levels of grit.  The sound is also a clear upgrade, no weird hissing noises here as the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio projects the dialogue nicely and utilizes the surrounds.  Futurama is clearly the winner here on Blu-ray as the 13 new episodes in full HD 1080p burst off the screen with life and color.  The crisp, clean, clear images are stunning works of art; truly admirable.  The sound on Futurama also presents nicely in its 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track.  The series manages to take TV animation to the next level as the surrounds are fully utilized in all episodes and the more action packed moments have space ships flying around the viewer’s room.

 

The extras include:

 

The Simpsons: Season 14

  • A Haunting Invite From Matt Groening
  • Audio Commentaries on every episode with Executive Producers Al Jean and Mike Scully, joined by Writers, Actors, and Directors
  • It’s Only Rock N’ Roll: The 300th Episode Featurette
  • In the Beginning (all Tree House of Horror Openings, through Season 13)
  • The Halloween Classics (memorable Tree House of Horror moments)
  • Two bonus Tree House of Horror Episodes (V & VI)
  • Sketch Gallery I & II
  • The 300th Episode “Barting Over”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Animation Showcase “Moe Baby Blues”
  • Foolish Earthlings (Kang and Krodos moments)

 

Futurama: Volume 6

  • Full Length Audio Commentaries on All 13 Episodes
  • Professor Farnsworth’s “Science of the Scene”
  • Reincarnation Explained! With Director Peter Avanzino
  • Futurama FAQ (Frequently Axed Questions)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Exclusive Extras Available via BD-Live

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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