FUTURAMA: VOLUME 7
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
“Futurama” has definitely grown on me. I never watched it on FOX, but once it came to Comedy Central, I gave it a chance in the DVD reviews. This was actually a good thing for me because it forced me to sit down and watch an entire season rather than sampling and episode or two before giving up, like a normal viewer would do.
For the longest time, “The Simpson” was the only thing I really enjoyed from the Matt Groeningverse. I never liked those “Life in Hell” books, and I gave up on “Futurama” in the early stages without even making it through a complete episode.
Now, the series is past its seventh season (with numbering parameters thrown off from network-jumping and choppy home video releases). At the very least, you can count the seventh volume of the show on DVD and Blu-ray.
Things have settled down after the show’s resurrection from Fox to Comedy Central. The writers, who were almost too topical on the onset, have found a groove. They still aren’t afraid to touch on politics and thematic issues, but it’s not driven by the issue-of-the-moment the way “South Park” is. (This process, for the record, works for “South Park” because they have such a short production schedule. In the early days of Comedy Central “Futurama,” the show’s topical themes fell off the news page by the time the show was developed.)
You don’t see any major changes shaking things up in “Futurama” any more. The characters are in a groove, and there’s no reason to rock the boat. Of course, that doesn’t stop the writers from putting the characters into wild scenarios that would change the very nature of the show (including the potential destruction of Earth, the death of Fry, the mutilation of Hermes and Bender having a baby). However, in true “Futurama” fashion, enough high-concept storytelling is available to put everything back to “normal” before the final credits roll.
This season sees some political angles, including a riff on the Presidential race as well as long-standing social issues, like the oppression of Native Americans. Like “Futurama” past, these issues are dealt with sarcastically and with plenty of humor. Honestly, you can’t get too upset at this show. It would be like tangling with “Family Guy” in an abortion debate.
Like recent seasons, the animation continues to look great, and the widescreen production on both DVD and Blu-ray is excellent. There’s less need for strictly hand-drawn elements like “The Simpsons,” considering the show is a riff on science fiction.
Special elements from this season I most enjoyed include a found-object stop-motion beginning and the season finale “Naturama,” which is an off-shoot episode putting the cast in a nature documentary.
Special features include full-length audio commentaries on all 13 episodes, plus a bonus commentary on “A Farewell to Arms.” There’s also a slate of deleted scenes, infinite screen loops, an alternate ending for “Zapp Dingbat,” a featurette on the series composer Christopher Tyng and “Futurama Karaoke” in which you can sing along with the characters.