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Futurama: Volume 7(TV) (2012)
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 7 and the Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray release, see Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on January 15, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Billy West, Katey Sagal, Phil LaMarr, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche
» See full cast & crew
Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray Review
Production season "7A" blasts off.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, January 15, 2013
Futurama is one of the rarest beasts in the TV world—a series that was cancelled, then resurrected on a new network, and is still good in its new iteration. (I've got my fingers crossed for Arrested Development on Netflix.) There will always be fans who prefer the initial 1999- 2003 run on Fox, but since the show came back in 2008 on Comedy Central—with four straight-to-DVD films, a sixth season, and now a seventh that premiered last summer—showrunners Matt Groening and David X. Cohen have stayed true to the Futurama formula of smart satire, clever pop-culture allusions, and generous homage to the science fiction greats. 20th Century Fox has gathered together the first half of season 7—let's call it season "7A," because they do—into a 13-episode collection that's full of laughs. Let me jostle your memory with a quick synopsis of each episode:
The Bots and the Bees: Professor Farnsworth surprises the Planet Express crew with a new sentient soda machine, Bev—stocked with Fry's favorite, Slurm Loco, a toxic sludge that turns him green—but Bender knocks her up and becomes baby-daddy to his own mini-me. Ridiculous father/son bonding and a custody dispute follow. Highlight? Bender trying—and failing—to teach his son how to "bend."
A Farewell to Arms: Futurama parodies the whole Mayan end-of-the-world fiasco when the Planet Express gang discovers a doomsday calendar under Central Park. Spooked by predictions of an imminent world-destroying solar flare, they set off for Mars in an ancient Mayan spacecraft/pyramid—powered by snakes!—only to learn that the Red Planet is the actual planet specified in the prophecy. Highlight? Fry and Leela accidentally ripping one another's arms off, hence the title.
Decision 3012: Leela becomes a The War Room-style campaign manager for presidential candidate Chris Z. Travers—who's running against the incumbent disembodied head of Richard Nixon—but Bender has doubts about Travers' "Earth Certificate," speculating that the politician was born elsewhere in the solar system. Highlight? Either Nixon's "Soylent Majority" or the episode's time travel shenanigans.
A Thief of Baghdad: Bender becomes a feared and renowned paparazzo and becomes obsessed with snapping an unobscured shot of actor Langton Cobb, who's never seen without a paper bag over his head. There's a reason he wears the bag, of course, and it's not what you'd expect. Let's just say it involves a race of quantum lichen people, an out-of-control ego, and stolen life force—although that doesn't really clarify anything, does it? Highlight? The local aquarium's "Jurassic Tank," which featuring a T-rex hopelessly trying to tread water.
Zapp Dingbat: When Leela's mutant parents divorce, her mother starts a romance with blowhard Zapp Brannigan, while her father finally realizes his dream of surfing his way around the world—or through its sewers, anyway. Highlight? Zapp suggesting that Leela can call him "Daddy."
The Butterjunk Effect: Amy and Leela become champions at an arena sport called Butterfly Derby—think roller derby and kite fighting and butterflies all rolled into one—but when they get addicted to "nectar," it throws their hormones out of whack. Highlight? The Amy/Leela/Fry attempted threesome, naturally.
The Six Million Dollar Mon: Hermes audits Planet Express and realizes he'll need to fire himself unless he becomes more powerful than becomes more powerful than the machines that can replace him. He gets a series of ridiculous robotic implants, and Zoidberg takes Hermes' swapped out human parts to make a ventriloquist dummy. Highlight? The look on Hermes' wife's face when she realizes that he's gotten everything upgraded. That, or Zoidberg's "Monster Mash" homage.
Fun on a Bun: When Bender decides to make woolly mammoth sausage at a surprisingly tame Oktoberfest, the gang mistakenly believes that Frye has been ground up into mince meat. While Leela gets her memories of him removed Eternal Sunshine-style, the intrepid delivery boy leads a tribe of trapped-in-ice neanderthals in a revolt. Highlight? Look out for the clever Flintstones reference.
Free Will Hunting: Bender enrolls—and drops out of—college, joins a street gang, falls afoul of the robot mafia, and learns a lesson about decision-making and free will, ultimately joining the "Order of the Binary Singularity." Highlight? An impressive M.C. Escher-like sequence with gears and stairs.
Near-Death Wish: In this sci-fi spoof, Fry goes to visit Farnsworth's parents on the "Near Death Star" retirement home, only to find them arrayed like the "batteries" in The Matrix. He enters their virtual world—a V.R. old folk's home—and endeavors to free them from their captivity. Highlight? Bender's quote: "That's one crazy uncircumsized old man."
Viva Mars Vegas: Futurama takes on Ocean's Eleven and Diamonds are Forever when the crew jets off to Mars Vegas, and Zoidberg gambles indiscriminately, losings hundreds of billions of dollars. The episode's third act is a classic casino heist. Highlight? Learning that Zoidberg can spray ink when cornered.
31st Century Fox: The crew gets new uniforms when their old ones are destroyed by Mothra, and Bender opts for a fox hunting outfit. He joins a posh country club, but gets up-in-arms when he realizes the fox they're hunting is a robot. The plot references "The Most Dangerous Game," with Patrick Stewart voicing the Master of the Hunt, who's determined to kill Bender. Highlight? Bender covering himself with catnip and being attacked by feral cats.
Naturama: A parody of nature documentaries, this three-part episode tells the story of the salmon life cycle, the breeding habits of Galapagos turtles, and the male hierarchy of the elephant seal, all with animalized Futurama characters. Highlight? Fry's quote: "Is it weird if I talk about his crazy turtle penis?"
Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like Volume 5 and Volume 6, Futurama: Volume 7 is practically faultless on Blu-ray, where each episode has been given a 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation that's lightyears ahead of standard definition DVD. If you have the previous sets, you know what to expect—a crisp, vibrant picture that's almost entirely free of noticeable compression or imaging issues. Aside from a few lone instances of aliasing, there are really no other quirks to report—no banding, macroblocking, noise, etc. While the 2D animation here isn't terribly complex—it's about on par with latter-day seasons of The Simpsons—high definition certainly suits the material. Outlines are dense and defined, with no fuzziness, and the show's candy- colored palette is vivid without becoming gaudy. The occasional CGI shots look great too. Sure, there are streaming options and iTunes rentals/purchases, but if you want to see the show at its best, it doesn't get any better than this.
Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Likewise, the only way you can watch Futurama: Volume 6 in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is with this Blu-ray set. Not that it matters too much. The lossless tracks afford a slight edge in clarity over the Dolby Digital of the DVDs, but the show's sound design isn't so dynamic or involving that you'd really notice a difference. As with The Simpsons, cross-channel effects and ambience are used occasionally to fill out the mix—a given considering all of the series' interstellar action—but the focus here is on clear and balanced dialogue. In that respect, the show's audio certainly succeeds. The voice acting is clean and elevated, the rapid-fire jokes arrive easily understood, and there's no muffling or softness. The theme music, incidental songs, and musical numbers sound fantastic too. (Check out the special features for a look inside composer Christopher Tyng's studio.) The disc includes optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles.
Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Futurama: Volume 7 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I really enjoyed this batch of episodes, and can only hope Fox has enough sense to keep the show on the air until Groening and Cohen feel like calling it quits. With season "7A," you get plenty of laughs, lots of wacko adventures from the Planet Express crew, and many, many semi-obscure references to science fiction and pop-culture in general. It's the classic Futurama formula, and it's still working well. Pick up the 2-disc Blu-ray set and you'll also get deleted scenes, a featurette about composer Christopher Tyng, two looping screensavers, karaoke sing-a-long tracks, and audio commentaries for every episode. Recommended!
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