Futurama: Volume 6 Blu-ray delivers stunning video and great audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
You asked for more...and the Planet Express crew delivered! Welcome back to FUTURAMA, the light-years-ahead-of-its-time animated series from The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Join Fry, Bender, Leela and the rest of the gang for 13 hilarious new episodes that tackle some of the most controversial subjects in the galaxy...including evolution, mind exchange, feline intelligence and robosexual marriage. Hey, it could happen!
For more about Futurama: Volume 6 and the Futurama: Volume 6 Blu-ray release, see Futurama: Volume 6 Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on December 22, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
For most of its run, Matt Groening's animated sci-fi sitcom Futurama hasn't been given a fair shake. It's home network, Fox—notorious for
mistreating critical darlings and cult favorites like Arrested Development and The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr.—needlessly
tinkered with the show's timeslot, inexplicably aired episodes out of order or bumped them back due to scheduling conflicts, and then unjustly axed the
show after four seasons. It came back, though—by "popular harassment"—first in the form of four straight-to-DVD movies, which were later split up
into a makeshift fifth season, and then as a proper 26-episode production run, which aired between 2010 and 2011. The first thirteen of these
episodes were released on Blu-ray last December as Futurama: Volume 5, and now fans have a chance to pick up Volume 6, which
contains the remaining thirteen episodes—gorgeously presented in high definition—along with audio commentaries for each, deleted scenes, a "making
of"-style production documentary, a Q&A session, and more.
Futurama gets a rap as being merely a sci-fi version of The Simpsons, and while it's true that the two shows have much in common
—a similar art style, and a shared propensity for irreverent social satire and off-the-wall non sequiturs—they're definitely two separate entities. If
The Simpsons is a parody of American family life, Futurama is Matt Groening and co-producer David X. Cohen's skewering of
workplace culture and the dystopian qualities of big business, with a special affinity for self-referential gags and "nerd" humor. It's the kind of show
you imagine software developers and scientists enjoying between long bouts of coding or protein synthesis analysis—that is, entertainment for those
likely to appreciate a good mathematical pun or quantum physics reference. Of course, it's not quite as highbrow as I'm making it sound—the show
can be just as juvenile as Family Guy at times—but the show's backbone is definitely an appreciation of all things techy and geek-
Take, for instance, the sheer number of nerd-friendly references in any given episode. "Möbius Dick," in which sexy, one-eyed sewer-mutant Leela
(Katey Sagal) travels through the Bermuda Tetrahedron to kill a four-dimensional "space whale," features not only allusions to both the möbius strip
and Moby Dick, but also nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the TV show
Lost, along with appearances by the spaceship from Boston's album covers and a cameo by the Fourth Doctor from Doctor Who.
And that's just a partial list. In "Overclockwise"—where cigar-chomping, booze-swilling robot Bender (John DiMaggio) gains godlike powers after
increasing his processing speed—you'll spot the Sentinels from the Matrix movies and numerous video game-related spoofs, including an "X-
Cube 360" and a motion-controlled first-person-shooter called "World of World War II 3." While overclocked, Bender speed-reads through a veritable
library of cleverly titled books, including: Anti-Gravity's Rainbow, The Oxford English Pictionary, The Mathketball Diaries, and
Ayn Rand McNally Atlas Shrugged. This show knows its audience.
Overall, Volume Six—which might be called season 6B—is a decent batch of episodes. The most hardcore fans will always claim the
first four seasons were the show's best—they're probably not wrong—but the series, in its recent rebirth, has settled into a comfortable routine and
is at least reliably entertaining, if rarely groundbreaking. The best way I can think to describe the show is predictably unpredictable. You
never know what to expect from one moment to the next—it could be a Star Trek sound effect, an esoteric in-joke referencing a previous
episode, or a jab at some current pop culture figure—but you know something crazy is about to happen. Sometimes I wish the writers
would actually slow down the jokes a bit and focus more on the characters, especially the relationship between Leela and her off-and-on pizza
delivery boy boyfriend, Philip J. Fry (Billy West), which is only inconsistently dealt with in Volume 6. For me, at least, the show is good in
small doses—one or two episodes while having dinner, say—but the non-stop pace can get tiring during a marathon viewing session.
I might be in the minority on this, but I tend to like Futurama best when the writers diverge from the usual formula to give fans a crazy,
"non-canonical" episode, like the Volume 5 closer, "The Futurama Holiday Spectacular." Gimmicky, sure, but these specials are always a lot
of fun. The Volume 6 finale, "Reincarnation," is no exception, and it's one of the wildest new episodes yet. The premise here is that each of
the three sections of the episode is animated in a different style. The first act, "Colorama," is done like a 1930s Max Fleisher or Walter Lantz cartoon
—with characters that bounce up and down—and the joke here is that the story is about Fry discovering a new color, which we can't see, of course,
because the image is in black and white. The second act, "Future Challenge 3000" is presented in pixilated, old-school video game form—Bender's
catchphrase is changed to "Bite my 8-bit metal ass"—and the third act is convincingly drawn like a Japanese anime from the 1970s. Once again, this
show knows exactly who its fans are.
Here's a list of the episodes, along with the description that's provided inside the cardboard case:
The Silence of the Clamps: After testifying against the Robot Mafia, Bender goes into hiding in the witness relocation program.
Möbius Dick: Leela becomes obsessed with hunting down a mysterious four-dimensional space whale.
Law and Oracle: Fry quits his job and becomes a police officer assigned to the Future Crimes Division.
Benderama: Bender gains the ability to self-replicate, threatening to overrun Earth with vast swarms of copies of himself.
The Tip of the Zoidberg: The crew uncovers a dark secret concerning a covert mission undertaken by the Professor and Dr. Zoidberg
many years earlier.
Ghost in the Machines: When Bender dies, his disembodied software begins haunting the Planet Express building.
Neutopia: The crew members encounter a bizarre alien with the power to change their sexual characteristics.
Yo Leela Leela: Leela becomes a Hollywood big shot after creating a hit children's television series.
Fry Am the Egg Man: Fry nurtures an alien egg that hatches into a horrific monster.
All the Presidents' Heads: The crew members alter history when they travel back in time to the American Revolution.
Cold Warriors: Fry's sneezing reintroduces the common cold to the world of the future, with devastating consequences.
Overclockwise: Bender evolves into a godlike being after vastly increasing his processing power.
Reincarnation:Futurama is conceived in three alternate animation styles: classic black and white, old-school videogame, and
Since Futurama: Volume 6 was part of the same production season as Volume 5, it should come as no surprise that this set is, in terms
of picture quality, practically identical to last year's. And that's a very, very good thing. Like The Simpsons or Family Guy,
Futurama may not have the most complex animation, but the show looks absolutely fantastic on Blu-ray, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded
presentation that's tighter, more colorful, and less prone to compression problems than its DVD counterpart. In fact, aside from a few mild jaggies on
what should otherwise be smooth straight lines, you'd be hard pressed to find any real problems here. Split between digital 2D animation and the
occasional CGI shot, the show's visual palette is rich and eye-poppingly vibrant, with deep and distinct black outlines, and no evidence of color bleed,
blotchy hues, banding, or other encode issues. Really, what more do you need to know? I've basically just reiterated what I said last year, but there's
really nothing to add or detract. This is a nearly faultless presentation.
Likewise, Futurama: Volume 6's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks are similar to last year's in clarity and punch. Like most animated
television programs, the emphasis is on crisp, balanced vocals, with occasional whiz-bang sound effects, but very little in the way of ambience or
immersion. And that's fine. You'll hear laser blasts, explosions, and sundry other cross-channel sounds, but the emphasis here is justifiably on making
the jokes come through cleanly and clearly. To that end, this mix is a total success. The dialogue is nicely prioritized, the theme song and incidental
music sound great, and it all comes together with no hisses, drop-outs, balancing issues, or other audio hiccups. The disc includes optional English SDH,
Spanish, and French subtitles.
Audio Commentaries: Just like last year's set, each and every episode is accompanied by a commentary track featuring executive
producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, along with a rotating cast of animators and writers. As you'd expect from this crew, the tracks are usually
both funny and informative.
Deleted Scenes (1080p, 6:30, 8:26): Each disc in the set features a selection of short sequences that had to be cut for time.
Professor Farnsworth's "Science of a Scene" (1080p, 17:11): Professor Farnsworth guides us through the year-long production process of
bringing a single episode of the show to TV. Features interviews with the writers, voice actors, and animators.
Reincarnation Explained! (1080p, 6:47): Director Peter Avanzino talks about creating the three different styles of animation used in the
Futurama F.A.Q. (1080p, 11:27): Or, "Frequently Axed Questions." Two of the show's writers field a few questions from fans.
"Remember," says Bender in the introduction, "there are no stupid questions, only stupid fans."
BD-Live Exclusive - "The Bots and the Bees" (720p, 1:55): A short piece showing some early animatics from the episode.
This batch of Futurama episodes isn't quite as good as Volume 5—there are fewer stand-out episodes, and one or two duds—
but fans of the series will definitely want to pick up this 2-disc set, which features gorgeous picture quality and lots of extras, including thirteen audio
commentaries. As far as I'm concerned, it's worth it for the brilliant season finale alone. Recommended.
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Futurama: Volume 6 on Blu-ray this December. The latest installment follows the Planet Express crew through various misadventures, from a trip back in time that alters the American Revolution to a space battle ...