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Futurama DVD: Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection DVD Review

FOX Home Entertainment (2005)

Release Date: May 30th 2005 (UK)
August 23 2005 (US)
Format: 4 x 3 Fullscreen
Audio: English (Surround 2.0)
Subtitles: English for the hearing impaired
Available in: R2 (Europe)
R1 soon (US)
Listprice: £12.99
Buy Online: $10 at amazon.com
£9.74 at amazon.co.uk


After a year and a half of no new Futurama DVDs on the store shelves, Bender and crew are back in this collection of classic Futurama episodes. Well, in the UK, that is. Fans in the US will have to wait 'til late August 2005 before they can buy, hug and caress it.

Opening the case - depicted on the right - reveals a single DVD containing four of the most acclaimed Futurama episodes hand-picked by the show's creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen. And each of the four production seasons is represented.

Though the show's creators were in command of picking the episodes, FOX felt that they had to have some input after all and altered the original title "Monster Robot Maniac Fun Explosion" which was given to us by David X.

After putting the DVD in the player and being treated to a lengthy "Do not copy this! You wouldn't copy cars, would you?" (or something like that) intro video, a vocal remix of the Futurama theme accompanies a (still) menu screen. Be on the lookout for an easter egg here. Impatient people can just highlight the following lines:

Go to "Play with intros ON" and hit down to bring up Al Gore's head in a jar and see a photo of the complete Al Gore doing his guest lines for "Anthology of Interest I".

Somewhat hard to spot on the red car at the bottom is the main DVD intro in which Matt and David, voice artists Billy 'Fry' West and John 'Bender' DiMaggio, supervising director Rich Moore and producer Claudia Katz have a few words to say. Besides that, each episode features an individual short intro of about 45 seconds. On to the episodes!

 

In "Hell is Other Robots", Bender develops a bad case of electricity addiction and afterwards joins the cult of Robotology where the old saying "10 sin 20 GOTO hell" is still enforced. The animatic and a full length commentary track are also included for this episode. An animatic is a first rough version of an episode with limited animation and sound which is used early on in the episode production process. In this one, David X. fills in for some of the Beastie Boys' guest voices. Additional footage that didn't make it into the final cut is still intact here.

The 3-in-1 season 2 episode "Anthology of Interest I" has the crew pose what-if questions to the professor's all-knowing What-If machine. Bender wonders what life would be like if he was 500ft tall, Leela wants to know what would happen if she was a tiny bit more impulsive and Fry gets an answer to his longstanding question of what if he had never fallen into the cryo chamber. The last segment shows that even such well-known guests as D&D inventor Gary Gygax, Lt. Nichelle 'Uhura' Nichols and Cambridge professor Stephen Hawking don't have to take over a story line from the writers if the latter are as capable as in Futurama's case. And that's not including former US Vice President Al Gore who just won a Webby lifetime achievement award for his involvement in the invention of one of the internets.

Season three's "Roswell that Ends Well" tells the story of the Planet Express ship travelling back in time where Fry gets the chance to meddle with his own past and his own grandma. This episode managed to outbox episodes of The Simpsons, King of the Hill and South Park to win the Emmy jury's nod for the 2002 award for animated programming of less than one hour of length. It also won director Rich Moore an Annie Award in the "Outstanding Directing in an Animated Television Production" category.

Last but definitely not least, "The Sting" sees Fry getting gored by a giant space bee while stealing honey from a space hive. The Sting remains a fan favourite among the emotionally-inclined as it delves into the relationship between Leela and Fry. The non-emotionally-inclined still get the goring and a fun musical number called "Bee happy". While Sting didn't actually win anything, it was nominated for three highly regarded awards. One Emmy, one Annie and the "Writing in Animation" award of the Writers Guild of America.


In conclusion, the Futurama Monster Maniac Fun Collection packs some of the best Futurama episodes - all rated 90% and higher by CGEF's readers - onto a single disc. For hard-core fans, the new commentary and animatic for "Hell is Other Robots" makes it worth the purchase, though they would likely have appreciated three more commentaries on the other episodes. Casual fans who don't want or can't afford to buy the full season DVD box sets will find a good solution in this DVD. The high quality of the chosen episodes makes it a perfect gift for people new to the show, although they will likely need to see the pilot episode, too. So make sure to take that one along on all evangelizing trips.


-- [-mArc-] & edel, June 5th 2005

The Futurama Monster Robot Maniac Fun Collection DVD is currently available online for $10 at amazon.com (30% off) and for £9.74 at amazon.co.uk (25% off). For other DVDs, check amazon.com's Futurama DVD listing.



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