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HTF REVIEW: "F U T U R A M A" Volume One (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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F U T U R A M A
--- Volume One ---





Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year: 1999
Rated: NR
Film Length: 300 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English and Spanish





Ahem....can I get a drumroll and some fanfare?!



Ladies and gentlemen, the folks at 30th Century
Fox bring you the newest and most innovative cartoon
since The Simpsons....



What the hell is Futurama you say?!
(Music comes to screeching halt!)
Well, don't feel bad for not knowing, because up
until this past week when Fox sent me the Volume One
Boxed Set
, I never even heard of the show.
But you know what? After sampling just a few of
the episodes contained on this 3-DVD set, I have
found myself oddly attached to the series.

Here's the scoop on the show...

Futurama is a futuristic comedy straight from
the warped mind of Matt Groening, creator of The
Simpsons
. Set in the year 3000, the series
follows Fry (voiced by Billy West), a 25-year-old New
York pizza delivery boy whose life is going nowhere.
When he is accidentally cryogenically frozen on New
Year's Eve 1999 and awakens an entire millennium later
on New Year's Eve 2999, he has a chance to make a fresh start.



The future in which he finds himself is full of
airborne freeways, rocket ships, talking heads in
jars, dangerously addictive soft drinks and Stop 'n'
Drop suicide booths, which allow customers to choose
their mode of death, from 'quick and painless' to 'slow
and horrible'. Fry, fortunately, soon meets up with
Bender (voiced by John DiMaggio), a totally corrupt,
hard-drinking, cigar-smoking, pornography-reading
robot, and Leela (voiced by Katey Sagal), a beautiful,
one-eyed alien martial arts expert, to help him make
sense of this new environment.

Four seasons and 57 shows later, the Fox broadcasting
network abruptly cancelled the show, causing a stir
of controversy amongst its fanbase who claim that
despite the show's good ratings, FOX never gave the
proper support the show deserved. Many complain
that the show was placed in a risky time slot where
it was constantly being pre-empted. From the many
fan sites I visited today, I couldn't help but notice
the outcry of despair over the show's cancellation.



Even I'm a little disappointed that the show has
been cancelled. I just started watching this show
today and I'm already hooked! Futurama is
a show filled with clever writing, amazing animation
and great "sight gags." It has all the energy that
The Simpsons boasted in its earliest seasons.
Perhaps the best thing going for this series is the
show's premise that gives the writers and animators
freedom to develop wild characters and worlds. Set
a show thousands of years in the future and you
suddenly have limitless boundaries to play with. It
is this sort of freedom that makes Futurama so
damn entertaining!



The 3-DVD Season One boxed set Futurama
is an entertaining package within itself. Arriving
in an oversized animated cardboard case with transparent
window, the innards slide out to reveal a cardboard
sleeve animated with the sights of a wildly futuristic
metropolis.



What I love most about the design of this DVD set
is the fact that each of the 3 enclosed DVDs are
housed in their own individual plastic casings with
vividly drawn characters across their front covers.
On the back of each case you'll find a brief
description of each show (minus airdate or credits)
as well as Bonus Features that are available
on that disc.

I am certain that I forgot to mention that this
set features the first 13 episodes from March through
November, 1999. These episodes make up the show's
entire First Season and part of the Second Season.

I began my day watching the following three episodes
in order to get an overview on the quality of this
set....


Episode One: Space Pilot 3000
This is where it all begins. The year is 1999,
and pizza delivery boy Fry is about to celebrate
another miserable New Year's Eve. Upon making a
delivery to a Cryogenics lab he accidently stumbles
into a tube, freezing his body for 1000 years. Now
finding himself in the year 3000, he meets his new
friends, Leela, the one-eyed alien, and Bender the
robot.


Episode Two: The series has landed
Fry has always dreamed of going to the moon, but
once he arrives, is disappointed that it has
been turned into one big cheap amusement park.
Nevertheless, Fry shows Leela how to appreciate
the celestial body. Meanwhile, Bender finds a
little robot romance with a farmer's daughters,
which puts the whole crew in jeopardy.


Episode Nine: Hell is other robots
After a Beastie Boys Heads concert at Madison Cube
Garden, Bender goes on a bender and gets hooked on
power surges. His life begins a downward spiral until
he finds salvation at the Temple of Robotology.
Having found religion, his polite behavior becomes
so irritating to his friends that they begin to tempt
him with his old vices. When he finally succumbs and
returns to his old ways, he is banished to Robot Hell
where, in a musical extravaganza, he faces the Robot
Devil and endures tortures unimaginable to man.


How is the transfer?


This is one of the most vividly animated TV series
I have ever watched, and none of its vividness is
lost in this DVD presentation. Images are bright
and highly detailed with blacks that are and solid
with good contrast. The big flaw that I see here
is problems with quick-moving animation that cause
a trailing shimmering effect. I have seen this
problem on other TV animations such as South Park.
While it's not a horrible problem, I would be doing
a huge disservice to fans if I didn't point it out.
Fortunately, the pristine transfer makes up for its flaw.

The Dolby Digital audio track is adequate for
this presentation, though it comes across sounding
rather flat. While dialogue is strong in the center
channel, it does bleed across the fronts. The rears
do a nice job of splitting up the show's music
soundtrack, as well providing many effect noises.
I wouldn't, however, come close to saying that the
audio is an enveloping experience as it sounds more
choppy than fluid.


Special Features




As is usually the case, Fox Home Video has designed
their menus with an abundance of easy-to-manage options
including (gasp!) Scene Selections with motion
menus. If that's not cool enough, roll your remote
selection over any particular option to see the
ENGLISH menu choice turn into an ALIEN command.

It's a bit hard to pin down all the extras that
are contained in this Volume One set, as
they are scattered across all three discs.

I can begin by telling you that there are 8
deleted scenes for various episodes. The
scenes I watched were fairly good quality, and since
never finished, are presented without final music.




On Disc One you'll find animatics
for Space Pilot 3000 that give you a general
preliminary version of what the initial episode
drawings looked like. Also included is the entire
Script and Storyboard for the pilot
episode. Cool!



An included Featurette on Disc Three
begins with creator Matt Groenig who describes his
desire to bring the family values of The Simpsons
to science fiction. From here, the featurette kind
of takes us through the process of creating the show
from table readings with the actors, to various
rewrites and on through to storyboard and computer
animation processes.
(length: approx. 5 minutes)



A still gallery provides a few dozen early
animated still (and moving video) designs from
artists Matt Groenig, Bill Morrison, David Cooper,
and Mili Smythe. Use your remote to leisurely browse
through them.

Lastly, I'll mention that each episode contains their
own individual commentary.


Final Thoughts


As a long-time fan of The Simpsons, you
would have to expect that I immediately fell in
love with Futurama, an entirely new comedy
universe, unrestrained by any laws of history,
physics or conventionality.

Another winning TV boxed set from the folks at
Fox Home Video! You can bet I'll be in line to
buy the next volume.


Release Date: March 25, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality
 

Lowell_B

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 3, 2001
Messages
286
Thanks for the review Ron. The set sounds like a winner.

I'll probably end up picking this one up eventually. :emoji_thumbsup:

Lowell
 

Tom_Bechet

Second Unit
Joined
May 20, 2002
Messages
283
Ron, I'm glad you liked it.
Let that be a lesson top all of you. If you like the simpsons and not sure about buying this one. Don't worry go ahead and you'll love it.
I'm not on my 4th viewing of the season2 boxset. And I can't get enough of that wonderful futuramastuff :D


PS This post and poster is in no way paid by 20th century Fox
 

AndrewA

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
May 2, 2000
Messages
58
I'm glad Fox treated this DVD set better. Can't wait for season three and the "body bags and ball sacks".

Am looking much more forward to the release of all the seasons of this than the Simpsons...thanks for taking the time and reviewing this set, Ron.
 

Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 4, 1999
Messages
11,267
To be more accurate, they have around 20 unaired episodes still in the can, so the show will go close to 7 seasons anyway.

Let us all thank the NFL, whose inability to tell time murdered Futurama
 

Hank_P

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Messages
324
Thanks for taking the time to review this. I'll definitely be picking this one up and really glad you enjoyed it as much as us other followers.
 

Craig S

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Great review, Ron. I can't say I'm surprised that you got hooked on this one. I'm looking forward to reliving the adventures of Fry, Leela, the Professor, Zoidberg, Hermes, Amy, Zap, Kif, and of course, Bender B. Rodriguez!
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Definitely picking this one up. Matt Groenig brought the consistency and complexity of the Simpson of days past to this series, even less grounded in reality but more consistant in character development. I was picking this up no matter what... this is just icing on the cake.
 

Scott Sherman

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Mar 1, 2002
Messages
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Nice review Ron. Thanks for taking the time to review this based on forum interest. I look forward to getting this in my grubby little hands and freeing up a bit of space on my Tivo.
 

Steve_Knutzen

Screenwriter
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Feb 17, 2002
Messages
1,315
Great to hear to you liked the show Ron. I wasn't a fan of Futurama from the start but over the years it has become one of my favorite shows. Looking forward to getting this. Lately I can't get enough Futurama. :D
 

EdR

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 29, 2002
Messages
432
Is there a funnier character on TV (or formerly on TV) than Bender? Well, maybe Homer Simpson, but Bender is right up there. The cast of characters in Futurama is so good, and much like the Simpson's it's often the side-stories and supporting characters that steal the show.

I can't wait to get this DVD set, though it's small consolation for Fox's abysmal treatment of the series.
 

Jeff Jacobson

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
2,115
A still gallery provides a few dozen early
animated still (and moving video) designs from
artists Matt Groenig, Bill Morrison, David Cooper,
Kif Kroker and Mili Smythe.
Kif Kroker is actually a character on the show. (As far as I know, he was not named after any of the Futurama artists.)
 

TonyD

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i named my dog bender.

and by pure coincidence the street i live on is bender dr.

it's true.

i HIGHLY RECOMMEND this show and dvd set.
just in case ron doesn't add that to the thread title.
 

Kenneth Cummings

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
852
Oh yeah, not only we get a great review by Ron, but this excellent dvd for one of my favorite shows. Nice to have this and still watch reruns on Cartoon Network. :D
 

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