Futurama appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these Blu-ray Discs. The visuals looked excellent.
From start to finish, sharpness seemed immaculate. The episodes displayed terrific clarity and accuracy, without any signs of softness. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and the shows lacked haloes. Print flaws also failed to mar the programs.
With a variety of exotic settings, Futuama delivered a broad range of colors. These consistently looked peppy and bright, with good clarity and reproduction. Blacks seemed dark and deep, while shadows came across as smooth and clear. Everything here looked great.
Though not as strong, the series’ DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio seemed good. The soundscapes didn’t dazzle but they added some zoom and involvement along the way. Ships moved around the room well and various action scenes contributed reasonable involvement. This ended up as a package with generally lively and involving soundfields.
Audio quality always satisfied. Music was full and dynamic, while speech seemed concise and natural, without edginess or other concerns. Effects came across as accurate and full; they showed clean highs and warm lows. I felt the material deserved a “B+”.
Fans who’ve seen prior Futurama sets will know what to expect from V8’s extras, and all 13 episodes include audio commentaries. For these, executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, supervising director Peter Avanzino, producer Claudia Katz and actor Billy West chat on all of them. Producer Lee Supercinski also appears on all except “Inhuman Torch”.
In addition, we hear from co-executive producers Patric M. Varrone (1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13), Dan Vebber (5) and Josh Weinstein (2, 3, 6), directors Stephen Sandoval (1, 7), Raymie Muzquiz (2, 8). Lance Kramer (3, 9), Edmund Fong (4, 10), Frank Marino (5, 11), Crystal Chesney-Thompson (6, 12), writers Eric Rogers (2, 4), Eric Horsted (12) and Lew Morton (11, 13) and actors Lauren Tom (2, 3, 4, 11, 12, 13), John DiMaggio (1, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13), Phil LaMarr (1, 5), Maurice LaMarche (7, 8, 13), and Tress MacNeille (9, 10, 12). We also get a “Bonus Animator Commentary” for “Game of Tones”. It features Avanzino, Fong, Katz, Kramer, assistant director Darin McGowan, and background designers Jeff Mertz and Alen Esmaelian.
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 ensures that they remain entertaining even if they occasionally lack great informational value. The commentaries crank along at a nice pace and keep us with them. We get a reasonable amount of info about the episodes in these enjoyable tracks.
As for the “Bonus Animator Commentary”, it seems less fun than the others – inevitably, I suspect – but it still delivers some useful material. It digs into technical topics in a positive way and becomes a worthwhile listen.
Disc Two includes a collection of Deleted Scenes with a total of 16 minutes, six seconds. Most show animatics, but final animation appears for a few. We get deleted scenes for 11 of the 13 shows: “Forty Percent Leadbelly” (two scenes), “T: The Terrestrial” (one), “Fly and Leela’s Big Fling” (two), “Inhuman Torch” (one), “Saturday Morning Fun Pit” (two), “Calculon 2.0) (one), “Assie Come Home” (three), “Leela and the Genestalk” (two), “Game of Tones” (four), “Stench and Stenchability” (four) and “Meanwhile” (three).
As usual, the clips tend to add to existing scenes, so you’re not going to find much truly unique content here. “Meanwhile” throws out some interesting alternate concepts, though, and a few other unusual developments accompany the shows. In any case, they usually seem pretty entertaining, so they’re worth a look.
Two featurettes finish the set. Futurama University goes for 24 minutes, 27 seconds and offers notes from Katz, Avanzino, character designers Karapet Keroglyan, Shannon O’Connor, director of computer graphics Scott Vanzo, color supervisor Samantha Harrison, color keys Tim Brock and Bari Kumar, digital BG painter Alex Chao, lead 3D artist Eric Whited, and 3D animators Don Kim and B. Shimbe Shim.
The three segments of “University” examine character design, color and 3D modeling. It looks over these subjects with good detail, especially when it looks at the development of specific episode components. “University” delivers a nice overview.
Finally, Inside Futurama: The Writers’ Room of Tomorrow lasts 13 minutes, 25 seconds and comes hosted by Patric Varrone. He takes us on a tour of the room and shows us details about the location in which the series got written; Cohen shows up along the way as well. While not as informative as “University”, it offers some useful material.
It remains to be seen if Futurama will return, but if this “Volume 8” set marks its conclusion, the series goes out in a satisfying manner. While inconsistent, the episodes amuse most of the time and we get a few truly great programs along the way. The Blu-rays offers excellent visuals along with very good audio and some useful bonus materials. This becomes an enjoyable collection of programs.