Sunday, January 22, 2012

Futurama Volume 6 now on Blu-ray and DVD

     Now out on Blu-ray and DVD from FOX is Futurama Volume 6. The sixth volume contains the second half of season six, the batch of episodes that aired this past summer. Concerning the blu-ray edition, there are two discs with thirteen episodes, as well as some special features. The episodes are in production order, which is not the order in which they aired. For instance, the two episodes that originally kicked off the summer run are numbers 7 and 4 in this set. For Futurama fans, this latest release is needed to complete the collection.

     When Comedy Central ordered new episodes of the canceled animated series Futurama, many rejoiced. The sixth season, the first original one on cable, was twenty-six episodes long, split over two years. Volume 6 contains the second batch of thirteen. But it is far from the capstone on the series that resists death. Next year, Comedy Central will present another batch of thirteen installments, followed by the second half of "season seven" sometime in 2013. So there's plenty of life left in this series.

     The quality of Futurama to be found in Volume 6 lives up to the standard set by the show. Bender (John DiMaggio), certainly a fan favorite character, gets lot to do. In "The Silence of the Clamps," he is forced to enter a witness relocation program as he flees from the Robot Mafia. "Benderama" provides Bender will the ability to replicate himself in ever smaller copies, which eventually threatens to destroy Earth. After Bender's death in "Ghost in the Machine," his spirit haunts the Planet Express crew. "Overclockwise" sees Bender evolve into a god with very high processing power, looking down on the mere mortals he used to reluctantly call "friends."

     But, of course, there are other characters besides Bender, and Futurama Volume 6 should satisfy them as well. "Mobius Dick" is a wonderful parody of Moby Dick, with Leela (Katey Sagal) on the hunt for an elusive white space whale who can travel into a fourth dimension, while "Yo Leela Leela" casts the one-eyed beauty as the star of a children's series. "The Tip of the Zoidberg" delves into the Professor (Billy West) and Zoidberg's (also West) past, giving some background info that fans never knew before. "All the President's Heads" sends the Planet Express crew back to the American Revolution. "Cold Warriors" has Fry (also West) reintroducing the extinct common cold to mankind. And "Reincarnation" is particularly memorable, as the characters are shown in three different animation styles.

     This set has a handful of extras. Most importantly, all thirteen episodes have audio commentary available to them. Roughly fifteen minutes of deleted scenes are included, split between the two discs, some of which are fully animated, and some not quite finished.

     Three featurettes give more depth to the series. "Professor Farnsworth's Science of a Scene" takes a look at how the giant Bender inside-head set was created for "Overclockwise." But rather than get too technical or dry, much time is spent speaking with those involved in the show, who give an overview of their process, as well as share some musings on the show at large. Similarly, "Reincarnation Explained!" features Peter Avanzino, the director of the episode "Reincarnation," discussing the various animation styles featured, but also the impact of Futurama on him, and his take on animation in general. Funniest is "Futurama F.A.Q. (Frequently Axed Questions)," where those involved in the show answer fan questions, usually humorously. It's not clear if these are actual questions sent in by fans, but the short is very entertaining, though a little sparse on real responses.

     Overall, Futurama Volume 6 is a good buy, with some great content to hold fans over until season seven premieres this summer. Buy your copy today.

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