A boring DVD can almost make your favorite TV show seem soulless. In the current world of commentary, behind-the-scenes and extras for the sake of extras, a disc with a simple rundown of episodes is a true disappointment. It's a delight, then, to say Futurama Volume Six is one of the best show DVDs I've ever had to the pleasure of reviewing, or heck, just viewing.
Representing the second half of the resurgent season airing on Comedy Central, this disc has thirteen episodes and a Planet Express load of special features. Every episode includes a commentary, chapter selections and language options, and the bonus feauturettes offer an impressive amount of background information for a show that has been around for a decade. I think that should sufficiently cover the "should I buy this DVD?" aspect of the review.
Now the meat: the episodes. This crop probably isn't as good as the first half of the comeback season, but even bad episodes of Futurama are pretty decent. It's kind of tough to deliver two Emmy-winning episodes in one season.
I can't say I was always a fan of the show, particularly early when FOX was shoving it down America's throat, but it has grown into a favorite over the years and this collection is a perfect encapsulation of the range of the series and creators behind. Futurama can go from topical to specific moment to moment, episode to episode, and never manages to truly lose its trademark snark and sarcasm.
No comedy animation show pulls at the heartstrings better, and these two discs have a heavy dose of episodes that sway more toward drama than the typical half-hour cartoon. "The Tip of the Zoidberg," a history of the friendship between the lobster doctor and Dr. Farnsworth, is the most notable of these type of episodes. Offerings like "Ghost in the Machines," "Fry Am the Egg Man," and "Overclockwise" manage to explore the emotion side of human/mutant relationships, parenthood and the humanity of robots. Sometimes, I feel like the attempts at poignancy pull away from the humor, but not enough to complain.
As with any show, as it grows and matures there are opportunities for the writers to explore untapped ideas or focus on secondary characters. One of the most notable episodes in the collection is "The Silence of the Clamps," which focuses on the titular Clamps, a underdog fan-favorite who might have an episode count of two outside of this season. Another noteworthy episode that had me laughing my ass off is "Neutopia," which basically covers every gender joke in less than a half hour. Of course, as the mythology of any show expands, especially a proudly science-fiction one, there are going to be a few questions once in awhile about the mechanics of the world. For whatever reason, the writers felt like they needed to address how the celebrity jarred heads are kept alive, and, naturally, that spins into the mandatory per-volume time-travel episode "All the President's Heads."
The show fought its way back into primetime, and is proving that it is still viable in providing quality animation entertainment. The show itself simply looks amazing, better than ever, and in the special features you can truly see the whole thing is well-crafted and loved by every hand that touches it. It comes through, in this volume and in the baker dozen's worth of episodes itself. If you like the show there is no reason to fill out your shelf with the latest volume. Hypnotoad demands it.
Jamil Scalese is just like you — an avid comics fan and lover of sequential art. Residing in Pittsburgh, PA, he is an unapologetic Deadpool fan, lover of the Food Network and proud member of Steelers Nation.