Futurama: Volume 6 (Blu-ray Review)

Formerly one of my favorite animated series and one of the more fun ways to experience clever and outrageous sci-fi humor, Futurama returns to Blu-ray once again with a batch of 13 episodes under the title of “Volume 6”.  This Emmy Award winning season offers another collection of fun adventures, featuring all of characters people managed to love enough to resurrect from previous cancellation.  Add to that some stunning animation which is well suited for Blu-ray, a lot of laughs that make this whole half of a season quite enjoyable (which includes the audio commentaries for every episode), and a few more additional extras, and this is a 2-Disc set that’s quite worth it.


For those unfamiliar, Futurama is the brainchild of Matt Groening (of The Simpsons) and David X. Cohen.  The series set in the 31st century, providing for plenty of science fiction related sights, gags, and satire.  It follows the adventures of the Planet Express delivery crew, which includes clueless Fry, who was cryogenically frozen back in 1999, only to awaken in the year 3000; cycloptic captain Leela, alcoholic and crass robot Bender, the ridiculous Dr. Zoidberg, and the incredibly old Professor Farnsworth, among others, and Scruffy.  Lots of fun and mayhem tends to ensue as the delivery crew sets out on generally dangerous delivery missions.

As far as the show is concerned, I have loosely held onto the idea that The Simpsons decline from classic television into merely good/sometimes better television occurred around the same time that Futurama first debuted.  Given that the writing staff and energy seemed to be more focused on a completely new environment, set of characters, and type of humor; opposed to a 10th, 11th, 12th season of The Simpsons.  During these initial seasons, despite being given the runaround by Fox, I was really enjoying some incredibly clever episodes that managed to provide a lot of geek-friendly humor, while still remaining an accessible enough for all audiences to enjoy.  It was of course sad to see it be canceled, but then these feelings turned to mass excitement when news broke about Comedy Central making a deal to bring back the series.

Initially, the series did return in a series of full length features, which were divided into four episodes each upon airing on television.  Then the “real” new season kicked off (technically season 6), which managed to provide some hit or miss episodes, but a few thank rank among the best.  Now there is this set of Volume 2 episodes, which is the back half of that same “real” season, which aired a few months apart from the first half.  What is interesting about this batch of episodes is how, while I don’t necessarily see them as a letdown, I do see these episodes as having less greatness about them, compared to the initial seasons.  Bringing it back full circle with my regard for The Simpsons, I kind of think that the energy that was once involved with Futurama has somewhat dissipated, which makes most of these episodes lean towards the merely good side, as opposed to being better.  I still certainly enjoy the show and hold it higher than most animated shows and I of course still do worship at the altar that is Hypnotoad.

Here are the 13 Episodes:

1. The Silence of the Clamps – After testifying against the Robot Mafia, Bender goes into hiding in the witness relocation program.
2. Mobius Dick – Leela becomes obsessed with hunting down a mysterious four-dimensional space whale.
3. Law & Oracle – Fry quits his job and becomes a police officer assigned to the Future Crimes Division.
4. Benderama – Bender gains the ability to self-replicate, threatening to overrun Earth with vast swarms of copies of himself.
5. The Tip of the Zoidberg – The crew uncovers a dark secret concerning a covert mission undertaken by the Professor and Dr. Zoidberg many years earlier.
6. Ghosts in the Machines – When Bender dies, his disembodied software begins haunting the Planet Express building.
7. Neutopia – The crew members encounter a bizarre alien with the power to change their sexual characteristics.
8. Yo Leela Leela – Leela becomes a Hollywood big shot after creating a hit children’s television series.
9. Fry Am the Egg Man – Fry nurtures an alien egg that hatches into a horrific monster.
10. All the President’s Heads – The crew members alter history when they travel back in time to the American Revolution
11. Cold Warriors – Fry’s sneezing reintroduces the common cold to the world of the future, with devastating consequences.
12. Overclockwise – Bender evolves into a godlike being after vastly increasing his processing power.
13. ReincarnationFuturama is reconceived in three alternate animation styles:  classic black-and-white, old-school videogame, and Japanese anime.

There are some standouts in this batch.  Some of the later episodes in particular manage to be funny, clever, and work at providing some of the emotional elements that made the initial seasons memorable in more ways than just being hilarious.  It is just unfortunate that some of the episodes don’t quite come together to feel as memorable or as fulfilling as they could.  With that said, I still appreciate a lot of the very clever gags (a reason why I love the commentaries on all these seasons as well), along with the moments that truly do manage to be hilarious.  It also helps that the animation is top notch.  Futurama is a show that was built to look great in widescreen in its inception, so it’s great to see this show really take advantage of its setting and look as good and as creative as possible.

Overall, Futurama is a show I still care about.  It is still funny and clever, with characters that I really enjoy seeing.  It may have lost some of its freshness and really ingenious setups and edge over the years since its absence and subsequent return, but this volume does have some standout episodes and I can only hope that as the series goes on, a more level amount of scripting can push this show back into constantly amazing territory.  As it stands though, the Robot Devil couldn’t stop me from watching the show.


As I have pointed out earlier, Futurama was a show that was well suited for the high definition format well before it became a norm.  This Blu-ray set certainly does the show justice and makes it look fantastic in homes, even more son then when it airs on television.  The 1080p AVC encode brings out all of the great visuals and colors that this show has to offer.  The way the show blends traditional animation with 3D elements is also great to see on Blu-ray as it again emphasizes how much effort is put into making this show look great, in addition to wanting to just be a funny television program.


The sound quality on this Blu-ray set is just as rewarding as the visuals in a sense.  While dialogue heavy, the sci-fi/space environment provides for a lot of great sound effect moments and the use of score and various soundtrack choices is always welcome.  The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks, again, do great justice to the show and make me quite happy to be able to listen to and view the episodes on Blu-ray.

Special Features: 

I am tempted to go higher on this score, because I love the audio commentaries, but the lack of more features is notable, as is the “eco-friendly” packaging of the set within cardboard cases, though I do like the artwork.

Features Include:

Full-Length Audio Commentary on All Episodes – Always the highlight for me, with these sets.  Every commentary has some of the writers/producers and cast members and they have a great time together, talking about the show, pointing out some of the obscure gags, and making a lot of jokes.

Professor Farnsworth’s “Science of a Scene” – A humorous guide to all that goes into the making of one episode of Futurama.

Reincarnation Explained! With Director Peter Avanzino – A featurette that goes into the different animation styles used in the season finale.

Futurama F.A.Q. (Frequently Axed Questions) – Two writers answer fan questions.

Deleted Scenes – A few cut sequences.

Exclusive Extras Available via BD-LIVE

Final Thoughts: 

Anyone that has been a fan of Futurama in the past may or may not still be a huge fan of the series, but I believe can at least appreciate that it is still on.  As much as I may have used to love the series, where as I am more just happy to see that it exists now, I still enjoy watching it very much.  It certainly looks and sounds great, which is a benefit that serves the Blu-ray well and I still really do enjoy listening to the commentaries.  Hopefully the upcoming season will find everyone back with even surer footing as to how to nail the series tone and bring it back to consistently awesome levels.


2 Responses to “Futurama: Volume 6 (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Matt Goodman

    I love this show. Joe DiMaggio (voice of Bender) was in the hotel room right next to me at comic-con. I agree it isn’t as good as the old ones, but it’s 1000x better than the new Simpsons.

  2. bdfan

    I believe a similar thing happened with Family Guy. When the show came back, it didn’t have the same atmosphere as its original run, but it was still funny and entertaining. The newer Family Guy episodes feel less special and more processed than the early ones (prior to 2003). Although I haven’t seen this Futurama volume, I can imagine the same thing has happened here. But that doesn’t make it bad at all, just less special than before.

    Of course the best solution would be for the studio to make episodes in the same way they used to. But even though the newer ones are more lackluster, I still prefer to watch new episodes over old ones.

    Overall, I think Futurama is funny, but Family Guy is one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. Futurama, however, gives us more likable characters, a more solid storyline, and a cooler and more immersive setting than Family Guy and that’s what makes it special. When I watch Futurama, though, I can’t help but feel I’m watching the same type of humor as the Simpsons (which I dislike).

    Nonetheless, I will still buy this volume!