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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > TV > Futurama - Volume Four

Futurama: Volume Four


Picture: B†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: A-†††† Episodes Overall: A



Given the fact that The Simpsons has been around almost as long as the FOX network has been around, youíd think the executives at FOX would give creator Matt Groening the royal treatment.If that man has an idea for a show, you better damn well listen.So, in the late 1990s, Groening had the idea for a futuristic sci-fi show about a pizza delivery boy who is accidentally frozen cryogenically only to awaken 1000 years later.The rest practically writes itself.When the show premiered, it was an instant hit.But then something happened.Something weird and bizarre.Something no one would have ever expected:Ratings slipped.The audience disappeared.How could something as inexplicable as this happen?It was a Groening cartoon after all!No way, this is not happening.But it was.And why?Simple:the executives at FOX didnít give Groening the royal treatment.They gave Futurama the 7:00 pm Sunday night timeslot, which spelled instant doom.And since FOX is so damn committed to football and baseball, the show was constantly being pre-empted because itís a given that those games always run long and into the 7:00 pm timeslot.No problem for Pacific coasters, but Atlantic coasters would be screwed.So, instead of showing the series at all, no one got to watch it.And the rest was history.No one knew when the show would air, so no one could watch it.And when it was scheduled to air, itíd be pre-empted anyway.Given all the time changes and scheduling conflicts, itís amazing the show even lasted five seasons, short as they were.But now, finally, the last installment of episodes of Futurama is out.And what great episodes they are.No one can say that this show didnít go out in a bang and one last hurrah.


So, if you arenít familiar with the show, hereís the skinny.As mentioned earlier, the main idea is about a pizza delivery boy named Philip J. Fry who is accidentally frozen cryogenically only to awaken 1000 years later.Upon his awakening, he quickly befriends a cyclops named Leela and a robot named Bender.They track down Fryís great-great-great-great-great-great nephew, Professor Farnsworth, and are soon in his employ for his delivery service, Planet Express.The series follows them, their other friends, and the zany and crazy adventures they partake in.


Volume Four comprises of the final 18 episodes, mostly from season five with a few from Season Four.All the episodes are fantastic and hilarious.They were sharp and witty, and the humor was always consistent.Several famous guest stars lent their voices to these episodes including Al Gore, Bob Odenkirk, Roseanne, Dan Castellaneta, and nearly the entire cast of the original Star Trek series.The set comes in a 4-disc box set containing four ultra-thin Amaray cases.The menus are awesome as they contain original artwork, animation, and voice work not seen in the episodes before.It was nice to see great work and effort put into the menus.Also, each disc contains a ďplay allĒ feature or you can view each episode individually.Itís also nice that each episode can be played by chapters.


The video is presented in its original full-screen broadcast ratio of 1.33:1 (or full screen to you non-techies out there) and the quality is amazing and near perfect.The reason it isnít 100% perfect is because of the very, very, very minor occurrence of interlacing errors that occur on some episodes.However, the colors are rich, vibrant, and very solid.There are no hints of color bleed, fading, or haloing.All black lines are solid with no breaks.It really helped for these episodes to be produced digitally, which prevented any degradation in picture quality.The combination of cell animation and computer 3D animation is stellar, giving the show its unique look.


The audio is presented in a multitude of variations.You can choose between English or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo Surround, as well as have the option to use English, Spanish, or French subtitles.The audio is clear and free of any distortion or noise.The audio here is as it was when originally presented on TV, utilizing mainly the center dialogue speaker.It occasionally uses the front and rear speakers for directional sound effects.Itís especially used well during the opening theme song and during space sequences with the Planet Express ship, particularly when itís in a space fight.


Oh, there are extras aplenty on this DVD set.First up, following the tradition of the previous volumes, each episode contains an audio commentary from the episodeís producers, writer, director, and voice actors.For the most part, the commentaries are quite hilarious, and only occasionally are there moments of silence.Unfortunately, it seems like there are too many people in these commentaries because eventually you get confused as to who is talking.Not all episodes have insightful commentary, as they go off on tangents, but for the most part, there is really good info given about the particular episode.As would be expected with so many people in the room for the commentary, some people donít say enough while some people donít stop talking, so thatís a bit of a drag.


Also included on every episode, expect for one, are deleted scenes.They are short and usually are just one-liners that are easy to see why they were removed and nothing is lost from the episode from their removal.Itís still nice, though, for true fans of the show to see what could have been.Other extras include an animatic for Obsoletely Fabulous, various 3D models from building and vehicle designs in the show, ďHow to DrawĒ tutorials for Bender and Professor Farnsworth, a still photo gallery, character pencil test segments, storyboards for the entire episode of Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch, and an international audio clip from Love and Rocket with the option to hear the scene in English, Portuguese, German, or Castilian Spanish.The funny part about that last extra is that in the clip, the Planet Express ship is voiced by Sigourney Weaver in the English clip, but all foreign clips of the Planet Express ship are portrayed by deep, male voices.Itís only funny to mention because the whole story of that episode is that the Planet Express ship falls in love with Bender.


As Bender Bending Rodriguez said in Where No Fan Has Gone Before (in regards to Star Trek), ďAnother science-fiction show cancelled before its time.ĒHis words could not ring any truer to Futurama itself.However, the final episode The Devilís Hands Are Idle Playthings gives fans hope in its opening promotional message of ďSee You On Some Other Network.ĒThough no new episodes are in production, fans are able to catch reruns of the show on Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim lineup.The show probably wonít have the kind of resurgence that will put it back in production, as it did with Family Guy due to high ratings on Adult Swim and DVD sales, but there has been a rumor floating around that there could be a Futurama movie.Hereís hoping that happens.



-†† Antonio Lopez


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