Futurama: Volume One

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Phillip Fry (voiced by Billy West) is a twenty-five year old pizza delivery dude in New York, whose life has amounted to little. As the world parties just before the year 2000 arrives, Fry winds up frozen in a cryogenics lab, where he remains for the next thousand years. When he wakes up, it is the year 3000 and while everything & everyone he knows are gone, he has the chance to start over and live a more constructive lifestyle. He quickly meets Leela (voiced by Katey Segal), a tough one-eyed female alien, as well as the neurotic robot Bender (voiced by John Di Maggio), who has all the emotional flaws of a human. Fry even meets his descendant Hubert Farnsworth, an old man with immense genius, but his mind is getting senile in its advanced years. As he already has some skills as a delivery worker, Fry gets hired at Planet Express Delivery Service, which is also owned by Farnsworth. Fry is joined by Leela and Bender at work, which means the trio encounters all kinds of sticky situations together. As they venture into space to deliver packages, they’ll run into danger, adventure, and even romance, not to mention an eclectic assortment of coworkers, clients, and other freaks. With a second chance at life, will Fry make the most of his fresh start, or will he still be a slacker, even after a thousand years of sleep?

This series has been plagued by moves, delays, and preemption, but now fans can rejoice, as Futurama has landed on DVD. This series was created by Matt Groening of The Simpsons fame, so expect the same kind of offbeat, often dark, and always hilarious style, though it is juiced here by about ten times. The Simpsons has become known as a treasure trove of pop culture references and endless visual gags, but Futurama raises the stakes and then some. In this series, you’d have to watch each episode frame-by-frame to catch every last subtle, yet still humorous visual touch, not to mention the plethora of movie, television, and book references. The same kind of animation is seen here as in The Simpsons, but this is a more complex world, given that it is the future and that allows for some cool touches. Its like in The Flintstones, where new prehistoric devices, events, and such were shown all the time, as Futurama is always showing us oddball futuristic goodies, in addition to the usual sharp wit and visual splendor. I loved this show when it debuted and revisiting the episodes now, I think I am even more taken with the material. Just as with The Simpsons, replay value is immense with these episodes, so I think Futurama will be a smash on DVD. As such, this thirteen episode collection is highly, highly recommended.

As usual, Fox has done its television product right and given us all thirteen episodes from the show’s debut season. This three disc collection is housed in those very cool mini-cases, like A&E used on Shackleton, so it takes up minimal space and I find these cases to be better than digipacks, to be sure. All three of the slim cases are housed in a slick, sturdy case and that is then slid inside of a windowed slipcase. So you can see some images through a window on each side, which adds some visual style to the presentation. I know some folks don’t care about how the discs are packaged, but I love it when studios get creative and Fox has done so here, with a great package for Futurama. In addition to the cool packaging work, Fox has served up this first season with a terrific assortment of added value materials. So you can watch high quality versions of the episodes, enjoy a number of supplements, then just stand back and admire the way the set looks on the shelf. Well, maybe not the last one, but given the amount of work that Fox has put into this collection, its not a reach to think some folks will be in pure Futurama heaven.

Video: How does it look?

The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. As expected, these episodes look awesome and I couldn’t find much to complain about. The image is pristine, so there’s no problems with print quality, since digital techniques are used by the show’s production staff. The colors are vivid and rich at all times, with intense reds and gorgeous blues, but the hues never become oversaturated. I can’t imagine colors being much more vibrant than this, as these hues are incredible and look excellent in this presentation. No problems with contrast either, as black levels are razor sharp and always in perfect balance. This is a splendid treatment that yields no real flaws, so I am scoring this one with our highest mark.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is great too, as the included 2.0 surround options provide an active, futuristic experience. As the show has tons of high tech kind of sounds, the audio has some good potential and that comes across well here. You won’t be dazzled by an immersive soundtrack, but there’s some depth to the audio here, with frequent use of the surrounds. Not a constant barrage, mind you, but a solid amount that enhances the viewing experience. The music has some life too, so it sounds terrific and adds even more punch to the mix. The main focus is on dialogue however, with clear and crisp vocals throughout. This release also includes French and Spanish language tracks, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As we saw on The Simpsons releases, each episode here has been given an audio commentary track. The folks involved alternate between episodes, but you’ll hear from creator Matt Groening, assorted animation team members, some of the voice talent, and other people involved on the production side of Futurama. These sessions are fun to listen to, as a perfect blend of humor and insight is found in each one. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll probably have a blast with these tracks and in truth, I could see myself going back and revisiting these sessions, they’re simply that much fun. The pilot episode has been given special attention here, as you can browse animatics, the script, and even some storyboards. This set also includes some conceptual artwork, deleted scenes on select episodes, and a promotional featurette.

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