Series Created by Matt Groening
Starring the Voices of Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche
- All nineteen second season episodes
- Running audio commentary on all episodes
- Deleted scenes
- Concept art gallery
- Storyboards for “A Bicyclops Built For Two”
- Alien alphabet
- International clips
- Alien advertisements
- Animatics for “Why Must I Be a Crustacean In Love?”
Released by: Fox Home Video.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Own it.
Because Matt Groening’s the man who created this cartoon, viewers can expect silly plots, fast and furious jokes, and a little social satire snuck in under the radar. Everything from presidential politics to social stereotypes to those damn hippies is fair game to be ridiculed by the clever writing. And since this is the second season, the show expands on some of the minor characters. So we get episodes such as hard-shelled and medically inept Dr. Zoidberg (also West) trying to expel his male jelly and Professor Farnsworth (yup, West, too) having to seduce his old (and I mean old) girlfriend, the tyrannical robot maker Mom, to save the world from robot revolution. And of course we get more Captain Zapp Brannigan (three guesses), Terror of the Space Ways and the best send-up of Shatner’s Captain Kirk since the original Star Trek.
And since it is a cartoon about the future, there is an extra heavy dose of sci-fi geekiness added in. While I and, I’m sure, many readers here enjoy the obscure cultural references, some of the jokes do go over the head. For example, Bender’s Dating Service advertises as “Discreet and Discrete.” Now how many people without a Math or Computer Science degree would get that joke? A minor quibble amidst the clever writing, skillful animation, and impressive voicework. Looking through the credits, it amazed me how only a few voice actors can do so many voices so well without getting confused. As pointed out above, friend of Needcoffee Billy West does the voices for those credits we gave him plus President Richard Nixon’s head. I dare anyone watching these shows to say that those voices sound like they came from the same person.
I have to admit, I’m impressed with the cast and crew of Futurama giving commentary on every single episode. Now who’s commenting changes from show to show, but you usually get Groening, West, DiMaggio, directors, producers, and visual effects animators. As usual with group commentaries, the assemblage present tends to ramble and goof off each other as much as give details into the making of the series and the episode being shown. But with these guys even their meandering ramblings are smart, funny and worth your time. The camaraderie between the talent and the production staff is easy to hear and unusual for a television show.
The DVDs include many deleted scenes (funny for a change instead of most deleted scenes you’ll find on DVD) and even an animatic for one of the episodes and storyboards for another so you can see how the animation looks in process. You also get some smaller tidbits, including a guide to the alien alphabet on the show, some of the alien advertisements, and international clips. All in all, it’s a great box set of a great series, so buy it already.