Futurama appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. All prior Futurama releases looked great, and the series continued to shine in HD.
I never witnessed any concerns with sharpness. The programs always came across as crisp and distinctive, with strong detail found even in the widest shots. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and source flaws failed to materialize. The shows also lacked any kinds of obvious artifacts.
With its wide variety of exotic locations and situations, Futurama boasted a varied palette, and the colors always looked tremendous. The Blu-ray made the hues seem vivid and dynamic, with impressive clarity. Blacks were deep and sense, while shadows showed nice delineation. This was a simply spectacular-looking set of programs.
I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Futurama, which I thought was a bit more active than it prior years. That might’ve been my ears playing tricks on me, but these shows seemed to use the soundfield better than in the past. Music displayed the usual good stereo presence, and effects broadened around the room in an active manner. This was especially noticeable during the larger set pieces, but the shows also featured a nice sense of environment. All the material combined together to form a quality soundscape.
In addition, audio quality always pleased. Music was bright and full, while speech sounded natural and concise. Effects offered good heft and clarity; no distortion or other concerns occurred. Though the sound was never as impressive as the visuals, the audio was good enough for a “B+”.
We find a positive set of extras here. All 13 episodes include audio commentaries. For these, executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen and actor Billy West chat on all of them. In addition, we hear from co-executive producers Michael Rowe (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), Josh Weinstein (1, 2, 3, 8, 9), Patric M. Verrone (4, 6, 10, 12), and Eric Horsted (7, 8, 9, 10, 12), executive producer Ken Keeler (10, 11, 12, 13), producers Claudia Katz (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) and Lee Supercinski (2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13), supervising director Peter Avanzino (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13), writer Eric Rogers (1), directors Frank Marino (1, 8), Steven Sandoval (3), Crystal Chesney-Thompson (4, 11), Raymie Muzquiz (5), Ray Claffey (6), Edmund Fong (7), and Dwayne Carey-Hill (9), and actors Maurice LaMarche (1, 9), Tress MacNeille (3), John Di Maggio (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13), Phil LaMarr (6, 7), and Dawnn Lewis (7, 8).
These commentaries follow the template set in prior volumes. Cohen acts as the most prominent participant, mainly because he likes to explain references and scientific theories. The actors play a pretty active role as well and lend a party vibe to the proceedings.
That’s what makes the Futurama chats different from those for The Simpsons. The latter tend to be more informative but they’re less fun, and the actors are usually subdued. With these, the performers whoop it up and throw plenty of voices and silly bits to keep things lively.
Because of that, the Futurama commentaries risk becoming annoying, but they rarely if ever get there. It’s fun to hear the actors get loose, and Cohen makes sure there’s still enough “on-topic” material to keep the tracks from going out of control. Like I mentioned, you won’t learn as much here as you will during The Simpsons, but you’ll probably enjoy yourself more.
Both discs include collections of Deleted Scenes. Disc One’s run a total of six minutes, 30 seconds, while Disc Two’s go for eight minutes, 26 seconds. They mix final animation with story reels; the latter show storyboards accompanied by audio.
We get deleted scenes for 10 of the 13 shows: “Mobius Dick” (three scenes), “Law and Oracle” (one scene), “Benderama” (three scenes), “Tip of the Zoidberg” (two scenes), “Neutopia” (two scenes),“Yo Leela Leela” (three scenes), “Fry Am the Eggman” (two scenes), “Cold Warriors” (two scenes), “Overclockwise” (five scenes), and “Reincarnation” (one scene). The majority of these provide small additions; they’re quick but often fun. The only significant segment shows an “Alternate Ending” for “Yo Leela Leela” that gives an expanded finish for various characters; it’s not a great sequence but it’s an interesting variation.
The remaining extras show up on Disc Two. Professor Farnsworth’s Science of a Scene goes for 17 minutes, 11 seconds as it looks at the creation of one sequence from “Overclockwise”. We get comments from Supercinski, Cohen, Groening, Katz, Muzquiz, Avanzino, editors Samuel Williams, Paul D. Calder and Chris Vallance, assistant director Aldin Baroza, re-recording mixer Peter Cole, and timer Patrick Gleeson. Essentially this gives us a nutshell look at how the whole episodes are created, as it follows the scene from writing through acting through animation and finishing. With West’s narration as Dr. Farnsworth, this is a fun show that delivers a rich take on the various areas of production.
Reincarnation Explained! lasts six minutes, 47 seconds and includes comments from Peter Avanzino. He discusses various aspects of the unusual animation created for the “Reincarnation” program. Like “Science”, this piece covers the different elements in a brisk, interesting manner.
Finally, we locate Futurama FAQ (Frequently Axed Questions). It runs 11 minutes, 27 seconds and throws in notes from Groening, Cohen, Verrone, Rogers, Horstad, Weinstein, Supercinski, Rowe, and co-executive producer Dan Vebber. It looks at topics like the series’ origins, favorite alien races, thoughts about Hypnotoad and Hedonismbot, the show’s use of Nixon, and other areas. The “FAQ” tends to be fairly silly, so don’t expect to learn a lot of valuable information about the series. However, it’s entertaining and lets the participants look at some more off-beat areas.
While it’ll always live in the shadows of The Simpsons, Futurama deserves plenty of attention on its own. Actually, Futurama probably delivers more high-quality episodes these days than its big brother, and Volume 6 continues the trend. Of course, some episodes fare better than others, but we get a good collection of shows here. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals as well as solid audio and a decent selection of supplements. Futurama fans will be happy with this fine release.