With beautiful animation, irreverent humor and a sci-fi setting,
“Futurama” — created by “The
Simpsons” mastermind Matt Groening — seemed poised to
become the next FOX hit. After five low-key seasons buried at an
unfriendly time slot, however, the show finally succumbed to the
lack of faith shown by the network. Cartoon Network has helped to
spur a revival of this animated gem, but the release of the DVD
sets truly enables fans to relive the craziness of the Planet
Express team.

Beth Dykstra
There have been lunch buffets at strip clubs all along? (Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Set in the 30th century, “Futurama’s” cast of
misfits includes a dimwitted 20th-century pizza delivery boy, a
foul-mouthed robot and a strong willed one-eyed alien, Leela.
Groening created a unique universe with “Futurama,”
which is exemplified by the characters. In season three, Fry,
Bender, Leela and company were fully fleshed out, and the plots
were able to explore new facets of their lives.

Bender and the rest of the cast are truly original creations.
Constantly chomping on cigars, guzzling beer and threatening to
sell out his friends, Bender became the breakout character in the
series for obvious reasons. Season three acknowledged his growing
popularity and began to enhance his role in the individual
episodes.

The sarcastic tone taken in the first two seasons remains,
creating constant comedic banter and witty asides referencing
current pop culture. In fact, the futuristic setting actually helps
to poke fun at the 20th and 21st centuries because of the extremes
to which ideas can be shown and explored through future technology
and events. Nevertheless, the harsh and mean-spirited nature of
many of the barbs — specifically the ones from
everyone’s favorite bending robot — separates
“Futurama” from its “Simpsons” roots.

Animated shows often suffer when transferred to DVD, but the
digital and computerized effects employed in “Futurama”
prevent this problem from occurring. Standard TV stereo sound
suffices, but fails to impress like the picture quality.

As is standard in the previous “Futurama” sets,
there are commentary tracks for every single episode. Few series
offer more than a single commentary per disc, yet all of the key
players — writers, producers and cast — contribute
here. Additionally, there are a couple of deleted scenes per
episode, animated stills and even animatics and storyboards.

“Futurama: Volume Three” succeeds on nearly every
level. Even Fry wouldn’t be dumb enough not to enjoy this DVD
set.

 

Show: 4 out of 5 stars

Picture/Sound: 3 out of 5 stars

Features: 4 out of 5 stars

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