Futurama DVD: Season 1 Review
FOX Home Entertainment (2002)
|Release Date:||Jan 28th 2002 (UK)|
Nov 27th 2002 (AU)
Mar 25th 2003 (US)
|Video:||4 x 3 Fullscreen|
|Regions:||1 (US); 2 (EU); 4 (AU)|
|List price:||£39.99 (UK)|
|Buy Online:||£19.99 amazon.co.uk|
Over one year ago, Futurama Season 1 was released on DVD and VHS around Europe. In November 2002, the Australian Futurama DVD release followed. On March 25th 2003 - 5 months after Europeans were enjoying their Season 2 DVDs - the American fans finally get their fix, too. Are they worth their money? Read on!
The different DVD versions caused some confusion regarding packaging, included languages and subtitles which you can take from the following table:
|America||English, Spanish, French||English, Spanish|
|Australia||English, French, Italian||Dutch, French, Italian, English (hearing impaired)|
|Germany||German, English, Spanish||English, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German|
|UK||English||Dutch, English (+ hearing impaired), French, Italian|
While the European Futurama DVD sets come in a nicely designed cardboard package with a half-transparent plastic slide-on cover holding three individual plastic DVD cases, the US region 1 DVDs have way thinner transparent individual cases. If you place the three cases next to each other, you get a panorama picture. Pictures below are taken from the German DVDs.
The actual disc design is original (Lrrr with an "Omicron Persei 8 or bust!" sign, for one) but the printing is a bit jagged. On the backside of the cases there is one screen shot and a summary for each episode included on the disc. This replaces the small episode guide booklet you might have gotten used to from the Simpsons DVDs.
Inserting a DVD, you get to endure the usual lawyer talk which after a while turns into a busy New New York backdrop with the DVD menu. Frankly, the street noises in the background get quite annoying after a while. But you're not meant to stay with them for long anyway... Each episode has an individual menu screen, some of which have a hidden easter egg. Weirdly enough, you need to select an episode before you can get to the special features and language settings.
Spanning three DVDs are the first 13 episodes produced for Futurama. CGEF visitors gave Futurama's season 1 episodes a stellar 90.5% average rating with none lower than 84%, which is currently unmatched by other seasons. Don't get confused with FOX only airing 9 episodes in season 1: They simply stopped early to have some up their sleeves for season 2. DVD by DVD, these are:
[1ACV01] Space Pilot 3000
[1ACV02] The Series Has Landed
[1ACV03] I, Roommate
[1ACV04] Love's Labour's Lost In Space
[1ACV05] Fear of a Bot Planet
[1ACV06] A Fishful of Dollars
[1ACV07] My Three Suns
[1ACV08] A Big Piece of Garbage
[1ACV09] Hell Is Other Robots
[1ACV10] A Flight To Remember
[1ACV11] Mars University
[1ACV12] When Aliens Attack
[1ACV13] Fry & the Slurm Factory
At 22 minutes apiece, you'll have to plan for nearly 5 hours of watching. But don't you think you're done just then. The most outstanding of the special features will have you busy for just as long: Each and every episode has an alternative sound track with audio commentaries by Futurama creator Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen and changing character voices - including Billy West and John DiMaggio - plus others. They talk about the creation process of the episodes and DVDs and give insight into the show and its background. Sometimes they are just being funny, though. Nothing wrong with that. Also, you get 8 deleted scenes from 6 of the episodes.The first Futurama DVD has two more gems to offer. You get to see a full-length crude animation called "Animatics" of the Futurama pilot. These are produced from the story boards before they ship to Korea for coloring, fine lining and drawing intermediate frames. Even more interesting to myself was the inclusion of both the Space Pilot 3000 story board and David Cohen's script, which features many direction comments scribbled at the side. Disc 2 has a trailed for the DVDs (as you already have bought them by now, that doesn't really make sense...), but it's targeted at the European audience and thusly not included on the American release. With a "Featurette" showing some chest hair (Matt's at that), and a a still image gallery of early concept designs, the last DVD can shine quite some regarding special features.
The video quality of all episodes is really great, which is no wonder as Futurama is produced digitally in the first place. You won't find any squiggly lines or faded colors in this one. No compression artifacts to be seen anywhere either. Only downside to this is that the picture is actually so clear that you can sometimes see distinct color fields in fades from one color to the next. But then again, you shouldn't be sitting as close to the TV as I was.
Audio quality is a mixed bag. Although it sounds great with an actual orchestra for background music, the Futurama DVDs were not enhanced to 5.1 surround. But some effects are panned to their respective left/right position, making things some more lively.
To summarize, the first Futurama DVD set has really great main content (the episodes) with neat and informative commentaries and deleted scenes, but also some glitches in the menu design and sound format. Are they worth their money? Yup! Buy it!
The Futurama Season 1 DVD set is currently available online at amazon.co.uk for £19.99 (50% off), amazon.de for €39.99 and at amazon.com for $27.99 (30% off).
-- [-mArc-], March 21st 2003
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