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FOX

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Blast off your inhibitions as The Simpsons creator Matt Groening brings you another far-out collection of Futurama™ fun! In addition to a full payload of outrageous extras not shown on TV, Volume Six delivers 13 mind-Bendering new episodes that involve time travel, self-replication, covert missions, alien eggs, and more robot roughhousing than you can shake a girder at. It’s a scream ... the good kind!

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 286 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/20/11

Bonus:
• Audio Commentaries for All 13 Episodes
• Deleted Scenes
• “Professor Farnsworth’s Science of a Scene” Featurette
• “Reincarnation Explained!” Featurette
• “Futurama FAQ (Frequently Axed Questions)” Featurette


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Futurama: Volume 6 [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 20, 2011)

Like Family Guy, Futurama got canceled by Fox but eventually made a return to the small screen. Futurama first had success via four generally good direct-to-video movies, and then it burst back with new half-hour episodes on Comedy Central.

Those started in June 2010 and did well enough to ensure another batch of 13 episodes. That follow-up season aired in the summer of 2011, and we get those 13 programs in this two-disc set. I’ll look at the shows in the order presented here – this appears to follow production order, not airdate. The plot synopses come straight from the Blu-ray’s menus.

The Silence of the Clamps (aired July 14, 2011): “After testifying against the Robot Mafia, Bender goes into hiding in the witness relocation program.”

Episodes that prominently feature bit characters often can flop, but this one – with its emphasis on Mafia bot Clamps – works well. A lot of that stems from all the humor that comes from Bender, Clamps and other robot roles; the series usually uses them in a clever way, and that continues here. This is a fun start to the season – it’s hard to beat Moon Hillbilly “Bender”!

Mobius Dick (aired August 4, 2011): “Leela becomes obsessed with hunting down a mysterious four-dimensional space whale.”

Some episodes work better as stories than as comedies, and “Dick” falls into that category. The plot – with its discussion of the Professor’s original crew – becomes pretty interesting. However, it’s not especially funny; it has a few laughs but doesn’t seem as funny as the average Futurama show.

Law and Oracle (aired July 7, 2011): “Fry quits his job and becomes a police officer assigned to the Future Crimes Division.”

“Oracle” often comes across a repository for parodies of various movies. From Police Academy to Avatar to Minority Report, the show occasionally feels more like an excuse to poke fun at different flicks and less a story. Still, the spoofs have their moments and they keep things lively.

Benderama (aired June 23, 2011): “Bender gains the ability to self-replicate, threatening to overrun Earth with vast swarms of copies of himself.”

It’s hard to top Bender-focused episodes, and the multitude of Benders creates a good degree of mirth. That said, I wish it’d done more with its concept and made its mini-Benders differ from the original more than they do. Still, it’s a better than average program.

The Tip of the Zoidberg (aired August 18, 2011): “The crew uncovers a dark secret concerning a covert mission undertaken by the Professor and Dr. Zoidberg many years earlier.”

Just as Bender episodes tend to be among the series’ best, Zoidberg shows usually seem less than stellar. “Tip” works reasonably well, however, mostly due to the comedy spawned by the doctor’s awful attempts to cure his coworkers. The flashback to show why the Professor is so loyal to Zoidberg is fairly entertaining as well, even though it feels a little too similar to the story about the first crew in “Mobius Dick”.

Ghost in the Machines (aired June 30, 2011): “When Bender dies, his disembodied software begins haunting the Planet Express building.”

Running another Bender episode so soon after “Benderama” seems like it might risk overkill, but our favorite robot is amusing enough to keep us interested. We get Dan Castellaneta back in his delightful turn as the Robot Devil, and the hijinks that come from Bender’s ghostly actions deliver solid comedy. Expect a pretty terrific show here.

Neutopia (aired June 23, 2011): “The crew members encounter a bizarre alien with the power to change their sexual characteristics.”

While this one starts slowly, it picks up once it gets to the alien planet and turns into a battle of the sexes. No, gags about how women and men differ aren’t exactly original, the show finds a number of clever ways to explore that territory. That means it gets better as it goes and delivers good amusement.

Yo Leela Leela (aired July 21, 2011): “Leela becomes a Hollywood big shot after creating a hit children’s television series.”

Kiddie TV offers a pretty easy target, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be exploited for amusement. This one looks at the genre in a clever, amusing manner from start to finish and ends up as one of this year’s better episodes. It also gives Leela a better spotlight than usual, especially when we see the true inspiration behind her TV show.

Fry Am the Egg Man (aired August 11, 2011): “Fry nurtures an alien egg that hatches into a horrific monster.”

“Horrific monster”? The egg hatched my ex-girlfriend? Ha ha – eep.

Lousy jokes aside, “Egg Man” leaves lousy jokes aside. It takes pretty obvious inspiration from Alien but uses his connection to Fry – and that character’s refusal to accept reality – as a solid basis for comedy. Though not quite as good as “Yo Leela”, it’s another strong show.

All the President’s Heads (aired July 28, 2011): “The crew members alter history when they travel back in time to the American Revolution.”

An episode about presidential heads – and no Nixon? Boo on that! Despite the absence of Tricky Dick, the show’s pretty much a winner. It offers a clever method of time travel and enough gags to make it fun.

Cold Warriors (aired August 25, 2011): “Fry’s sneezing introduces the common cold to the world of the future, with devastating results.”

The best parts of “Warriors” take us back to the 1980s and let us see a younger Fry. Those deliver an amusing take on the era and are interesting from a character POV. The rest of the episode also has a good mix of comedy and action; it’s not one of the year’s best shows – and I could live without the sappy ending – but it’s still pretty positive.

Overclockwise (aired September 1, 2011): “Bender evolves into a godlike being after vastly increasing his processing power.”

As usual, Bender episodes work well, and this is another good one. It gets a bit goopy as it goes, but the parts in which Bender evolves deliver solid comedy. Despite the lackluster third act, the show has enough mirth to make it likable.

Reincarnation (aired September 8, 2011): “Futurama is reconceived in three alternate animation styles: classic black and white, old-school video game and Japanese anime.”

I think this episode’s producers spent most of their time with the wacky genre choices and didn’t devote enough attention to stories and gags. What these pieces boast in novelty they lack in writing. In theory they’re fun, but they’re simply not especially funny, though the anime segment fares the best.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main