Futurama DVD: Season 2 Review
FOX Home Entertainment (2002)
|Release Date:||Nov 11th 2002 (UK)|
May 13th 2003 (AU)
Aug 12th 2003 (US)
|Format:||4 x 3 Fullscreen|
|Regions:||1 (US); 2 (EU); 4 (AU)|
|Buy Online:|| £29 at amazon.co.uk|
€30 at amazon.de
$38 at amazon.com
Finally. A parcel from Spain. After having to wait some time due to stores being sold out, Lucas from Madrid managed to send me the Futurama Season 2 DVD set for reviewing purposes on Can't Get Enough Futurama. Though by the time you read this, the small release schedule advantage Spain and France got should be nullified. So, no calling Lucas! Amazon in the US, UK or in Germany will be your friends for ordering and importing them. When deciding which country to buy from, you might want to consider the differences in languages and subtitles provided:
||English, Spanish, French
||English, French, Italian
||French, Italian, English
||German, English, Spanish
||English, Spanish, German
||English, French, Italian
On to the discs! No, wait. First the package. Unlike the Futurama Season 1 DVDs, the new Spanish DVD set doesn't come with a half transparent slide-off cover (the German one does though) but has a way more stable carton and a small nicely designed plastic case for each of the four DVDs. What a luxury compared to the paper boxes of the Simpsons DVDs! And of course, each of the four boxes has its own design themed around the Planet Express crew and several side characters. The artist responsible for the design later on contacted me and said he actually used this very site to help with the character referencing. If you place the boxes in a row, they interconnect like seen below! Click the boxes to zoom in.
And now ... inserting the first Futurama DVD into my player, I see a lot of mumbo jumbo from the FOXy legal department. It's the usual stuff, but I'm slowly getting unsure whether I'm legally entitled to actually view the episodes. Luckily - after some while - the multiple page warnings disappear and make way for the first positive surprise: The DVD menus are just great to watch! It's not the static kind with a pretty repetitive 10 seconds sound sample, but unique, never seen before 30 seconds of Futurama animation on each disc! The scene selection is based on a nice looking Head Museum shot and the special feature selection uses an original Bender-Vision look.
As the Futurama DVD sets are released in production seasons rather than air time seasons, the 4 discs include a grand total of 19 episodes, starting with I second that Emotion which originally aired on November 21st 1999 and ending in the December 3rd 2000 episode The Cryonic Woman. While these two episodes are a bit unlucky regarding their popularity, they by no means represent the lot! Season 2 of Futurama got an overall approval rate of 85% among the many CGEF visitors and it's not for no reason that many first-hour Futurama fans still regard season 2 as the best. Real classics are the first Xmas Story in which SantaBot comes to town to see who was naughty, the randy Zoidberg episode Why Must I Be A Crustacean in Love?, Fry in underwater love in The Deep South, evergreen The Problem with Popplers, my long time favorite episode Anthology of Interest I with 3 mini-stories and the ball kickin' War Is The H-Word. In other words: Futurama surely displays animation comedy at its best on this DVD set!
On to the goodies! Spread over all four DVDs, there is lots of additional stuff to find. The first DVD hosts 5 episodes, a never seen before deleted scene for each of them and an Animatic for Why Must I Be A Crustacean In Love?. Animatics are early production versions in raw black/white with little animation. "Meh, sounds like crap"? No, it isn't. The fun thing is that it includes movement directions and shows how the episodes were put together. Once a Futurama Animatic is approved, it is sent over to Korea where busy little hands fill in the missing animation and color.
The second DVD again has 5 Futurama episodes and a deleted scene for each of them. In addition, you'll find the storyboard for A Bicyclops Built For Two, which gives even more insight to the production of Futurama. Page by page there are crude key frames with little notes by the writers and directors at the side.
DVD three is a bit meek on the extra side with 5 episodes and 3 deleted scenes, but DVD 4 makes up for it: You get the remaining 4 episodes, deleted scenes for half of them, a huge still picture gallery with conceptual art of lots of characters and the Futurama staff, a short clip from I second that Emotion in 4 foreign languages, the Futurama DVD: Season 1 - Trailer, an Alien Alphabet chart for when you aren't able to reach the Codec of CGEF (sadly, only the first alien language, and only the letters) and to top it, 4 Sponsor Clips (Arachno Spores, Glagnar's Human Rinds, Molten Boron and the never aired Soylent Chow).
Sounds great, huh? But the best thing is still to come! Each and every of the 19 Season 2 episodes on these DVDs have an additional,
selectable audio track which (besides the actual episodes of course) emerges as the real gem of the set. On that track, Matt Groening, the directors, the writers and the Futurama voices take their turns in commenting on what's seen on the screen, how they came up with the ideas and what was planned to be there at first. This amounts to the rare phenomenon of being both fun (especially Bender's voice Jon DiMaggio) and informative. If you want to know more about the Futurama universe than there is available on screen, you must not miss these commentaries! Also, keep your eyes open for easter eggs in the menus. I don't want to spoil too much so I'll only present one with David X Cohen in it.
On the technical side, we get a bit of a mixed feeling:
The sound is only stereo because that's how it was recorded when the episodes were produced. Of course, it still sounds great as Futurama is one of the very few TV animation shows that employs a real orchestra to do the background music which gives the show an especially rich sound scenery.
As for the visuals: Everything dandy, no complaints about the video quality at all. Being sampled digitally to begin with, Futurama kicks the Simpsons' collective, animated asses when it boils down to this (and in all other regards, too, of course).
My Conclusion: For a price that low there just is no way any Futurama fan can get away without buying the Season 2 set.
The third DVD set is still some better in regards to the extras, but that shouldn't hinder anyone from getting season 2 first. That is, if you didn't already get it from Europe about a year ago.
But for quickly forgotten and forgiven glitches (stereo sound, FOX legal stuff at start), the Futurama Season 2 DVD set is just great and absolutely worth its money. Buy it!
-- [-mArc-], Nov 7th 2002, updated Aug 7th 2003
The Futurama Season 2 set is currently available online from amazon.com at 25% off ($38), amazon.co.uk at 27% off (£33) and for €30 (45% off) at amazon.de.