Futurama: Season 1
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DVD Special Features:
Episodes--Space Pilot 3000; The Series Has Landed; I, Roommate; Love's Labour's Lost in Space
Special Features--Commentary for each episode; Animatics for "Space Pilot 3000"; Deleted scenes from "The Series Has Landed" (2) and "Love's Labour's Lost in Space" (1); Script and storyboard for "Space Pilot 3000"
Episodes--Fear of a Bot Planet; A Fishful of Dollars; My Three Suns; A Big Piece of Garbage; Hell is Other Robots.
Special Features--Commentary for each episode; Trailer for Futurama Season One; Deleted scenes from "My Three Suns" (1) and "Hell is Other Robots" (1)
Episodes--A Flight to Remember; Mars University; When Aliens Attack; Fry & The Slurm Factory.
Special Features--Commentary for each episode; Special featurette; Deleted scene from "When Aliens Attack"; Interactive gallery of stills/concept art--this gallery consists of 44 still images, four of which have buttons to select video segments
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Sound: 2.0 Surround
Set in the year 3000, Futurama is the acme of sci-fi animated sitcom from Simpsons creator Matt Groening. While not as universally popular as The Simpsons, Futurama is equally hip and hilarious, thanks to its zippy lateral-thinking contemporary pop cultural references, celebrity appearances (Pamela Anderson and Leonard Nimoy are among a number of guest stars to appear as disembodied heads in jars) and Bender, a distinctly Homer Simpson-esque robot. Part of Futurama's charm is that with decades of sci-fi junk behind us we've effectively been living with the distant future for years and can now have fun with it. Hence, the series stylishly jumbles motifs ranging from Lost in Space-style kitsch to the grim dystopia of Blade Runner. It also bridges the gap between the impossible dreams of your average science fiction fan and the slobbish reality of their comic reading, TV-gawping existence. Groening himself distinguishes his two series thus: "The Simpsons is fictional. Futurama is real."
The opening series (premiered in 1999) sees nerdy pizza delivery boy Fry transferred to the 31st century in a cryogenic mishap. There, he meets the beautiful, one-eyed Leela (voiced by Married with Children's Katey Sagal) and the incorrigible alcoholic robot Bender. The three of them join Fry's great (x30) nephew Professor Farmsworth and work in his intergalactic delivery service. Hyper-real yet strangely recognisable situations ensue--Fry discovers he is a billionaire thanks to 1,000 years accrued interest, Leela must fend off the attentions of Captain Kirk-like Lothario Zapp Brannigan, and Fry accidentally drinks the ruler of a strange planet of liquid beings. --David Stubbs
On the DVD: As with the earlier Fox release of The Simpsons, Season 1 this otherwise excellent three-disc set is let down by clunky menu navigation. There are way too many copyright warnings, no "Play All" facility, and you have to click back and forth to begin each new episode or find the additional features. By way of compensation, the menus look great and there's a goodly selection of extras on each disc. The entertaining commentaries are by Matt Groening and various members of his creative team, including producer David X Cohen and John DiMaggio (the voice of Bender) and Billy West (Fry). There are a handful of deleted scenes for certain episodes, plus the script and storyboard for the very first episode and an interactive stills gallery. The 4:3 picture is pin-sharp as is the Dolby 2.0Surround.--Mark Walker
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The first series introduces the main characters. My favourite of them all is Bender. He's a robot with an attitude problem, he drinks, smokes, and is obsessed with petty theft. My favourite episode is when he gets sent to robot hell, because there's a musical number in it. I also like Leela, a humanoid with one eye. Rather than treat the women in the show as cliched romantic interests for other characters, they are seen to pursue their own love lives like normal people. Sometimes with disastrous effects.
The themes of the episodes are absolutely bizarre. From an ancient tin of anchovies, to slurm the soft drink, to a planet of human hating robots who have no idea what humans are like anymore. There's nothing typical or guessable about it. There's even an episode about a space ship named the Titanic, and this was well before Doctor Who did it, by the way. I loved the episode where Fry finally gets to go to the moon, probably mirroring the excitement of all the viewers, but the rest of the characters see it just as an old amusement park.
It might seem like a pointless thing to mention about a cartoon, but I also really like the music in this series as well. It really creates an atmosphere.
Special features include commentaries for all the episodes, gallery stills and deleted scenes.
A great box set!
I'll talk about the Futurama Season 1 DVD set in just a moment; but first, for anyone who's not familiar with this show, let me fill you in. Futurama is about a 25-year old pizza delivery guy named Fry, who at the crack of New Year's Day 2000 manages to get himself cryogenically frozen. He wakes up on New Year's Eve 2999 and discovers that the world has changed drastically. There are hover cars, suicide booths, an endless number of robots, and a New New York that's been built above the decaying ruins of Old New York.
Also making up the main cast is Leela, an attractive, straight-laced, kung fu-kicking space pilot whose only drawback is that she's an alien with only one eye; and Bender who, in a nutshell, is a robot version of Homer Simpson. He's lazy, he drinks heavily (although in this show alcohol is good for robots), and he's something of a pickpocket. Together they work at Planet Express, a delivery company owned by Professor Farnsworth, along with a few other employees.
So the Season 1 DVD set has 13 episodes, starting with "Space Pilot 3000" on disc 1 which sets up the whole far-distant-future angle. What will impress first time viewers is how many visual and verbal jokes have been crammed into each episode, especially this one. When Fry discovers that he's in the future and that he'll never see his parents or co-workers ever again, and follows up that thought with a loud "YAHOO!!!", you know you're gonna be in for a comical treat. Futurama isn't afraid to show a little attitude either. Examples of this are the mere mention of suicide booths, and Bender's first line in the show which is actually his catchphrase "Bite my shiny metal..." ...what do you mean I can't say it here on Amazon? ... (sighs) Whatever.
The episodes on disc 1 are very good, although the pace of them does feel a little bit slow. However when we get to disc 2, the quality really starts to pick up. By now the characters are settled into their personalities, and the writers have really let loose with the jokes. The pick of the disc 2 episodes is "Hell Is Other Robots." It makes fun of religion, robot style; has a really catchy song called "Robot Hell"; and features the Robot Devil, voiced by Mr.Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta.
Disc 3 has by far the best selection of episodes in my opinion. My favourite episode is "Mars University" due to its University setting, and its mixture of comical and heartfelt scenes with the monkey, Gunter. Not only that, but it also features my favourite line from the whole season. When Gunter throws his hat away and does a runner, Professor Farnsworth shouts "Why? Why?! Why didn't I break his legs?!!" Oh...so...funny.
There are a couple of minor negatives with this DVD set. The menu layouts are rather basic, and just don't have the same style and polish as most of The Simpsons DVDs. Also you have to weave in and out through the menus in order to get to the extras (which include the storyboard from the first episode and an interactive stills gallery), which can be a tiring experience for anyone who loves their extras.
But don't let this put you off buying Futurama Season 1. The stories are farfetched but still well told; the animation is crisp and beautiful; and you'll be endeared to the characters in no time. You'll especially love the lobster-like alien, Dr.Zoidberg. He looks ugly; he sounds funny; and his eating habits are questionable to say the least. Final score from the 90's Guy = 5-Stars. Now go and buy this DVD set. Now!
Space pilot 3000: fry gets frozen and ends up in 31/12/2999
The series has landed: the crew go to the moon.
I,roommate: fry and bender share a room.
Love labours lost in space: while the crew are on a mission, a man falls in love with leela.
Fear of a bot planet: the crew have to go to a planet where robots kill humans.
A fishful of dollars: fry becomes a billionaire and bids a hell lot of money on anchovies.
My three suns: fry drinks a bottle of water and becomes a king.
Hell is other robots: bender tries to be good.
A flight to remember: the crew go on titanic.
Mars university: fry goes to college.
Fry and the slurm factory: fry wins a tour of the slurm factory.
When aliens attack: when a episode of single female lawyer is interrupted, the aliens demand to see it.
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