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Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio
Writing Credits:

Fasten your space belts for another blast to the future with Futurama, the irresistibly irreverent brainchild of "The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening. Join Fry, Bender, Leela and the gang for more of the funniest animated adventures on the planet ... and beyond!

Rated NR

Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 8/23/2005

• Introductions
• Animatic for “Hell is Other Robots”


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Futurama: Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 4, 2005)

To date we’ve gotten a handful of Simpsons compilation DVDs, and these make some sense. Since it’s taking forever for the full season sets to hit the shelves, these offer fans a chance to get a few episodes on DVD that might otherwise not be available for years. I’m not wild about them, but at least they enjoy some appeal to me.

On the other hand, now we get a Futurama compilation entitled Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection. This includes four episodes that have no actual theme I can discern. We get one from each of the series’ four seasons – that’s the only connection. Since every Futurama show already appears on DVD, the serious fans will have these programs via the prior releases.

Will Robot be worthwhile for more casual partisans? Read on and see! Most of the synopses come from an excellent site called “Can't Get Enough Futurama“ (http://www.gotfuturama.com) - thanks to them for their permission to use the recaps.

Hell Is Other Robots (aired May 18, 1999 - Volume 1): “Bender puts his sinful lifestyle behind him when he joins the Temple of Robotology. But after returning 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 men.”

Sometimes when shows present a character who acts in an unusual manner, it’s a sign of desperation. However, here it works pretty well as Bender briefly cleans up his act. The program doesn’t dwell on those elements, and it provides plenty of other good bits. The highlight comes from a very clever musical number that steals the show. “Robots” stands as one of the series' better shows.

Anthology of Interest I (aired 5/21/00 - Volume 2): "When Professor Farnsworth invents a "what if" machine, each member of the gang poses a question to this new machine to receive video-simulated answer. What if Bender was 500 feet tall, Leela was more impulsive and Fry never woke up in Y3K? In three separate stories, Bender, Leela and Fry each find out what would happen if their lives were different, and Vice President Al Gore, physicist Stephen Hawking and actress Nichelle Nichols join forces to help Fry."

The Simpsons have the Halloween “Treehouse of Horror” series to develop fantasy premises, and “Anthology” feels like a rip-off of that premise. The gags are hit and miss, with most of them falling in the latter category. The show offers a few funny scenes, but “Anthology” fails to live up to expectations. At least Al Gore establishes that he could pursue a career as a voiceover artist; his performance here seems surprisingly impressive.

Roswell That Ends Well (first aired 12/09/01 - Volume 3): "An accident causes a supernova that sends the crew back in time to 1947, where they land in Roswell, Area 51. Fry and Bender's head have to go in for a rescue mission to free Dr Zoidberg and Bender's body from an army base where Fry's grandfather Enos works."

“Roswell” features a very Back to the Future take on things, but it manages to become more than just a simple spoof of that flick. Probably the best elements come from the interrogation and examination of Zoidberg, which offers some very funny moments. It’s not a stellar episode, but it’s a good one.

The Sting (aired June 1, 2003 - Volume 4): "After arriving at an asteroid field in deep space, Fry, Leela and Bender attempt to collect honey produced by vicious space bees. Leela decides to take a baby queen bee that kills Fry! After Fry's funeral, guilt ridden Leela has a romantic dream that causes her to believe that Fry is still alive. As Leela's bizarre dreams continue to develop, she sinks into a much stranger sleep."

“Sting” proves amusing, particularly in its first act with the bees. We get a fun Alien allusion plus a lot of other clever elements in this fine – and surprisingly moving - episode. It's another strong show.

I can’t criticize these four programs too strongly. Even the weakest has some nice material. Because of that, it makes a good compilation, even if it’s unnecessary for anyone who owns the full season sets.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Futurama: Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. These episodes appeared to come from the same masters as the prior DVDs, and they offered similarly strong visuals.

The programs consistently demonstrated solid sharpness. Occasionally, some shots looked a little soft, but those examples were infrequent. The majority of the scenes seemed nicely detailed and well defined. Only slight examples of jagged edges and moiré effects appeared, and I noticed no issues connected to edge enhancement. No source defects showed up, as the programs consistently looked clean and fresh.

Futurama used a palette that was quite varied and dynamic. The hues came across smoothly, and they always looked rich and full. At times the colors became quite gorgeous, and the DVDs always replicated them well. Blacks seemed tight and deep, and the few low-light shots were appropriately dense but not overly thick. Futurama demonstrated very high quality material and earned an “A-“.

The Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Futurama didn’t come across as terribly active, but it did the job. The front speakers offered the vast majority of the information. They showed good stereo imaging and meshed together quite well. A lot of good directional speech and effects popped up, and these made the front spectrum pretty worthwhile.

Surround usage seemed mediocre. I heard some general ambience from the rears, but they didn’t go much beyond that. They gave us some moderate environmental audio but not much else.

I found the audio quality to seem pretty positive. Dialogue demonstrated nicely concise and crisp tones, and I heard no problems connected to intelligibility or edginess. The score came across as full and dynamic, as all the music was bright and rich. Effects seemed fairly accurate and natural. The track exhibited good bass response as a whole, as the mix seemed pretty deep and warm. Overall, Futurama presented some satisfying but unexceptional audio.

Only a few minor extras pop up for this collection. We get a Disc Introduction from series creator Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen, Rough Draft Animation Studios producer Claudia Katz, director Rich Moore, and actors Billy West and John DMiaggio. This 100-second snippet gives us an amusingly bombastic lead-in to the set. In addition, each episode comes with its own introduction. These range from 41 seconds to 57 seconds and include various members of the crew heard in the Disc Introduction with the exception of Katz. West and DiMaggio do a few character voices as well. Like the Disc Introduction, these are fun but not anything remarkable.

The disc’s most significant supplement comes from an animatic for “Hell is Other Robots”. It lasts 26 minutes and shows a roughly animated version of the program; for audio, it comes mainly with just dialogue, as only a little music and effects appear. It’s a cool way to check out an early version of “Robots”, especially since we get to see some differences between this conception and the final product.

We can watch the animatic with or without commentary from Groening, Cohen, Katz, Moore, DiMaggio and West. They discuss differences between the animatic and the final product, animation issues, voice acting, and general production topics. They manage to make this mostly unique to this commentary, as they don’t repeat much from the track that accompanies the final version of “Robots” on the Volume One set. It’s a good chat.

Futurama: Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection doesn’t present any discernible theme for its four episodes, though all of them are reasonably good. Even the worst has fine moments, so you’ll find a lot of entertainment here. Picture quality is stellar, and audio seems perfectly fine. Not many extras appear, but the animatic and its accompanying commentary are very worthwhile. The supplements aren’t substantial enough for me to recommend this to the fans who already own the four episodes via the prior DVD sets. However, those who don’t have the other packages and just want a taste of Futurama should be happy with this nice release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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