Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 4, 2005)
To date we’ve gotten a handful of Simpsons compilation DVDs, and these make some sense. Since it’s taking forever for the full season sets to hit the shelves, these offer fans a chance to get a few episodes on DVD that might otherwise not be available for years. I’m not wild about them, but at least they enjoy some appeal to me.
On the other hand, now we get a Futurama compilation entitled Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection. This includes four episodes that have no actual theme I can discern. We get one from each of the series’ four seasons – that’s the only connection. Since every Futurama show already appears on DVD, the serious fans will have these programs via the prior releases.
Will Robot be worthwhile for more casual partisans? Read on and see! Most of the synopses come from an excellent site called “Can't Get Enough Futurama“ (http://www.gotfuturama.com) - thanks to them for their permission to use the recaps.
Hell Is Other Robots (aired May 18, 1999 - Volume 1): “Bender puts his sinful lifestyle behind him when he joins the Temple of Robotology. But after returning to his old ways, he is banished to Robot Hell where, in a musical extravaganza, he faces the Robot Devil and endures tortures unimaginable to men.”
Sometimes when shows present a character who acts in an unusual manner, it’s a sign of desperation. However, here it works pretty well as Bender briefly cleans up his act. The program doesn’t dwell on those elements, and it provides plenty of other good bits. The highlight comes from a very clever musical number that steals the show. “Robots” stands as one of the series' better shows.
Anthology of Interest I (aired 5/21/00 - Volume 2): "When Professor Farnsworth invents a "what if" machine, each member of the gang poses a question to this new machine to receive video-simulated answer. What if Bender was 500 feet tall, Leela was more impulsive and Fry never woke up in Y3K? In three separate stories, Bender, Leela and Fry each find out what would happen if their lives were different, and Vice President Al Gore, physicist Stephen Hawking and actress Nichelle Nichols join forces to help Fry."
The Simpsons have the Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” series to develop fantasy premises, and “Anthology” feels like a rip-off of that premise. The gags are hit and miss, with most of them falling in the latter category. The show offers a few funny scenes, but “Anthology” fails to live up to expectations. At least Al Gore establishes that he could pursue a career as a voiceover artist; his performance here seems surprisingly impressive.
Roswell That Ends Well (first aired 12/09/01 - Volume 3): "An accident causes a supernova that sends the crew back in time to 1947, where they land in Roswell, Area 51. Fry and Bender's head have to go in for a rescue mission to free Dr Zoidberg and Bender's body from an army base where Fry's grandfather Enos works."
“Roswell” features a very Back to the Future
take on things, but it manages to become more than just a simple spoof of that flick. Probably the best elements come from the interrogation and examination of Zoidberg, which offers some very funny moments. It’s not a stellar episode, but it’s a good one.
The Sting (aired June 1, 2003 - Volume 4): "After arriving at an asteroid field in deep space, Fry, Leela and Bender attempt to collect honey produced by vicious space bees. Leela decides to take a baby queen bee that kills Fry! After Fry's funeral, guilt ridden Leela has a romantic dream that causes her to believe that Fry is still alive. As Leela's bizarre dreams continue to develop, she sinks into a much stranger sleep."
“Sting” proves amusing, particularly in its first act with the bees. We get a fun Alien allusion plus a lot of other clever elements in this fine – and surprisingly moving - episode. It's another strong show.
I can’t criticize these four programs too strongly. Even the weakest has some nice material. Because of that, it makes a good compilation, even if it’s unnecessary for anyone who owns the full season sets.