REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 31

Untitled

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and John Mulaney in The Simpsons (1989)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Kevin Michael Richardson (Family Guy)
Maggie Roswell (All-New Dennis the Menace)
Michael Rapaport (Deep Blue Sea)
Joe Mantegna (The Godfather – Part III)
Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
Bob Odenkirk (Better, Call Saul)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll)
Asia Kate Dillon (John Wick 3)
Grey Griffin (invincible)
Glenn Close (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Jon Lovitz (Happiness)
Chrissy Teigen (Hotel Transylvania 3)
John Legend (La La Land)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Taran Killam (12 Years A Slave)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Dana Gould (Mystery Men)
Werner Herzog (Jack Reacher)
Kevin Smith (Clerks)
Chelsea Peretti (Game Night)
Joey King (The Act)
Camila Mendes (Riverdale)
Madelaine Petsch (Polaroid)
Lili Reinhart (Hustlers)
Patrick Wilson (Aquaman)
Lilly Singh (Bad Moms)
Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)

Julie Kavner and Dan Castellaneta in The Simpsons (1989)It’s hilarious comedy, funny, and one of my all time favorite T.V shows .. The series is a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture, society, television, and many aspects of the human condition. Modern Simpsons episodes are often both overstuffed and under-imagined, resulting in two indifferent, inadequately realized stories. Even though the show has dropped in creativity and in the joke department, it’s still worthy.Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Dan Castellaneta in The Simpsons (1989)

SEASON 31 HIGHLIGHTS ARE…

Nancy Cartwright and Dan Castellaneta in The Simpsons (1989)

The Winter of Our Monetized Content

Homer and Bart become viral video stars. Meanwhile, Lisa takes a stand against Springfield Elementary’s new detention policy.

The Simpsons (1989)

Go Big or Go Homer

Homer is demoted to supervising interns and encourages an idolizing protégé to start up a new business, only for them to run into trouble with the local mafia.

The Simpsons (1989)

The Fat Blue Line

A shamed Chief Wiggum must find the real mastermind behind a pickpocketing ring in Springfield to save both an innocent man and his career.

The Simpsons (1989)

Treehouse of Horror XXX

This year’s trio of terror includes a Stranger Things parody where Milhouse goes missing, Homer dying (again) and his spirit trying out new bodies, and Selma finally finding her perfect mate: an alien living in The Springfield Power Plant.

The Simpsons (1989)

Livin la Pura Vida

Marge becomes obsessed with getting the perfect vacation photo when the Simpson family are finally invited on the Van Houten’s annual trip to Costa Rica, while Lisa becomes worried they can’t afford it and Homer befriends Patty’s new girlfriend, Evelyn.

Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and Yeardley Smith in The Simpsons (1989)

Thanksgiving of Horror

A Thanksgiving take on Treehouse of Horror looking at the past, present and future of the holiday. Turkeys are slaughtered by pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving, Homer purchases an A.I. based on Marge that resents the real one, and an already dangerous space mission escaping a doomed earth becomes worse when Bart’s attempts to replicate cranberry sauce turn it into a sentient monster.

The Simpsons (1989)

Todd, Todd, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Todd blames God for his mother’s death and rejects his faith, so Ned sends him to live with the Simpsons, hoping they can scare him into believing in God again.
Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and Yeardley Smith in The Simpsons (1989)

Bobby, It’s Cold Outside

Sideshow Bob gets the role of Santa Claus at Santa’s Village amusement park. Meanwhile, someone is stealing all the Christmas packages off people’s front porches.
The Simpsons (1989)

Hail to the Teeth

Homer and Marge attend Artie Ziff’s wedding and become quite uncomfortable when they realize that his bride-to-be is a clone of Marge.
The Simpsons (1989)

The Miseducation of Lisa Simpson

The sea captain finds treasure for which he’s been searching for 40 years, but City Hall claims it since it was in city limits. Marge convinces the townspeople to use the windfall to build a STEM school. Homer crusades against automation.
The Simpsons (1989)

Bart the Bad Guy

Bart uses spoilers for a superhero movie he saw to get what he wants, but two movie executives will stop at nothing to keep his knowledge secret.
The Simpsons (1989)

Screenless

Marge implements a limit on screen time for the whole family, only to realize she’s the one addicted to screens.
Julie Kavner and Dan Castellaneta in The Simpsons (1989)

Highway to Well

Homer and Marge become weed dealers at competing businesses.
The Simpsons (1989)

Warrin’ Priests (Part 1)

Reverend Lovejoy investigates the mysterious past of a new priest who’s come to town and shaken things up at church.
Yeardley Smith in The Simpsons (1989)

Warrin’ Priests (Part 2)

In Michigan, Reverend Lovejoy learns the true reason why Bode came to Springfield and the congregation must decide whether to banish their new priest.
Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and Yeardley Smith in The Simpsons (1989)

The Hateful Eight-Year-Olds

Lisa joins a group of rich girls when she makes a friend who loves horses; Homer takes Marge on a romantic cruise.
The Simpsons (1989)

The Way of the Dog

The Simpsons explore the tragic past of Santa’s Little Helper when he bites Marge.

REVIEW: FUTURAMA – VOLUME 8 (SEASON 6 – PART 2)

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Sagal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

Futurama (1999)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
David Herman (Angel)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Robert Wagner (Austin Powers0
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Burt Ward (Batman 60s)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)

Futurama (1999)It wasn’t the first network or cable series to be canceled too early (and it certainly won’t be the last), but the multiple demises of Matt Groening’s Futurama proved to be slow and steady. Not in quality, at first: this tale of a man frozen for a millennium only got funnier as the series progressed during its initial run, though network support dwindled during its initial four-year lifespan. As the Simpsons machine rolled on, Futurama’s timeslot was shuffled around; for a time, the series directly followed Groening’s most famous creation, but the pairing didn’t last long. Futurama was eventually cancelled for the first time in August of 2003, though subsequent DVD releases (broken into four “volumes”, due to its erratic broadcast schedule) only strengthened the show’s rabid following. New fans flocked in, albeit late to the party. Even so, Futurama was on life support and the idea of new episodes seemed more unlikely with each passing year.Futurama (1999)Eventually, strong home video sales led to a series of four direct-to-DVD movies during 2007-09 (Bender’s Big Score, The Beast With A Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder), which were subsequently broken into episode-sized chunks that aired during 2008-09 as Futurama’s de facto fifth season. Though undoubtedly of lesser overall quality than the earlier 30-minute episodes, most fans were simply tickled to have the series back in any format. Futurama lurched forward on Comedy Central from 2010-2013 with two full seasons’ worth of episodes…though, like the movies, most fans couldn’t help but notice a modest dip in quality. Nevertheless, Futurama remained popular on home video as Volumes 5-7 saw the light of day; unfortunately, this eighth volume of episodes (essentially, the second half of Season 7) will be the  last, as Comedy Central cancelled the show.Futurama (1999)So is late-period Futurama any good? Well, usually. Though I’ve no doubt that most fans have stuck with the series through thick and thin, I’ve only caught passing glimpses of Futurama during the “Comedy Central Era”. This was essentially my first run-through of a partial season since 2010’s Volume 5, which incidentally kicked off the series’ second chance at life. It’s a solid run overall: while there are several clunkers on this 13-episode collection, a number of bright spots made me remember why I fell for Futurama in the first place. The characters are lots of fun and the series has plenty of heart when it needs to, even if the sentiment or romance often feels more convenient than earned.Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Billy West in Futurama (1999)These 13 episodes aren’t consistently awesome but plenty of standouts are on board. “T: The Terrestrial” sees Fry stranded on Omicron Perseii 8 after the Planet Express crew leaves with their cargo, where he’s taken in by a boy but longs to return home. “Calculon 2.0” stars everyone’s favorite soap acting robot as he reluctantly begins life in a new body. “Assie Come Home”  finds Bender on an epic quest to locate his shiny metal posterior. “Game of Tones” follows the Planet Express crew back to 1999 in a musically-charged adventure. “Stench and Stenchibility”  is a nice little diversion starring Zoidberg as he falls in love with an anosmic flower vendor. Finally, the kinda-sorta-maybe series finale “Meanwhile” shows us the ups and downs of ten-second time travel…and Fry and Leela’s wedding, too.Futurama (1999)Volume 8 manages to build a little bit of momentum during the final few episodes, but there are a few nagging roadblocks along the way. “2-D Blacktop” is a nice little wink at Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop but doesn’t spark much interest beyond its offbeat premise. “Saturday Morning Fun Pit”, an “Anthology of Interest”-style outing that parodies a few toons from the last several decades, suffers the same fate: it feels late to the party and never quite hits the mark (and if your target audience doesn’t enjoy it, who else will?). Other episodes are decidedly hit-or-miss, but the bulk of this baker’s dozen remains watchable and, in most cases, pretty damn entertaining. All told, Volume 8 isn’t a bad send-off for the little show that could…and, depending who you ask, actually did on several occasions.Futurama (1999)Is Futurama finally gone for good? Probably not…but just the same, the majority of these “final” episodes ensure that the series’ second (or is it third?) life doesn’t end on a low note. A handful of these even manage to approach the heights of Futurama’s early years, especially gems like “The Inhuman Torch”, “Calculon 2.0”, “Game of Tones” and “Meanwhile”. Fox’s two-disc package basically maintains the high level of quality set by earlier volumes, pairing an excellent A/V presentation with a nice little collection of entertaining bonus features. Whether you’ve drifted from Futurama in recent years or stuck with it every step of the way, Volume 8 is worth a look. Firmly Recommended.

REVIEW: FUTURAMA – VOLUME 7 (SEASON 6 – PART 1)

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Sagal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

Futurama (1999)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
David Herman (Angel)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks II)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Jill Talley (Sky High)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Estelle Harris (Seinfeld)
Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: Picard)
Frank Welker (Transformers)

Futurama (1999)After premature cancellation, fan campaigns, comic books, DTV movies, and will-they-or-won’t-they-return tension, it feels safe to say that “Futurama” is really and truly back, locked in for one more and likely for at least a couple additional seasons on the show’s new home, Comedy Central. With the show’s on-again, off-again nature taken into account and a whole season of potential “settling” over, it’s natural to wonder how this seventh volume of Matt Groening’s little-star-cruiser-that-could stacks up in terms of freshness. The answer: pretty well.Futurama (1999)The Blu-Ray release and actual season orders of “Futurama” have never aligned, but this one kicks off with a strong episode, “The Bots and the Bees,” in which Bender (John DiMaggio) accidentally fathers a child with the new Planet Express soda machine (guest star Wanda Sykes). The best episodes in the set, including this one, do a good job of juggling the show’s growing cast of characters and their personality quirks, from main characters Fry (Billy West), Leela (Katey Sagal), and Professor Farnsworth (also West), down to minor characters like Scruffy the Janitor (Dave Herman) and the recurring human / robot cop partners (West and DiMaggio). The jokes are consistently sharp, the animation keeps pace, and the episode even tugs at the heartstrings a little at the end.Futurama (1999)On the other hand, any great “Futurama” episode has to incorporate some sort of clever science fiction idea, and this is perhaps the area where these episodes fall a little short. “Decision 3012,” for instance, has a great science-fiction idea in it, but it isn’t introduced until the episode is almost over, making it feel like an afterthought rather than a driving force. Same for “The Thief of Baghead,” which offers up an interesting alien character and very few options for the characters to deal with it, only to chicken out a little with an overly jokey ending. It’s not that these episodes are bad — they’re definitely on the better end of the spectrum — but they get close enough to really special that it’s a little sad that they fall short. The best “science” episode is probably “The Six Million Dollar Mon,” in which Hermes (Phil LaMarr) decides robotic upgrades are the key to self-improvement.Futurama (1999)Most of the episodes in the set earn a solid “B.” Two episodes make good use of Amy Wong (Lauren Tom): “The Butterjunk Effect,” about Leela and Amy joining the violent Butterfly Derby, and “Viva Mars Vegas,” in which mafia robots take over the Wong Family’s Martian casino. Most “Futurama” episodes tend to have a slightly more “serious” A-plot and a goofy B-plot, but both of these episodes are fun because the A-plots are the goofy ones (addiction to Nectar and butterfly pheromones, and an Ocean’s Eleven-style heist where Zoidberg’s stomach is the key). “Zapp Dingbat” is also a strong episode, which finds Leela’s parents file for divorce, and the egotastic pilot Zapp Brannigan falls for her, which gives Sagal an opportunity to carry an episode.Futurama (1999)The flipside of “good goofy” is “too goofy,” and there are some episodes later in the set that end up more the latter than the former. “31st Century Fox” goes really broad with a story in which Bender becomes a dignified game hunter, which has some very funny one-liners and non-sequiturs, but meanders for awhile getting there. “Fun on a Bun” is also half unsuccessful, where Fry is believed to have been ground into Bender’s Oktoberfest sausage, but he’s really fallen into a crevasse and discovered a society of Neanderthals. The Eternal Sunshine riff in the Leela half of the episode is surprisingly moving at times, but Fry’s story flops. The set also saves the weirdest for last: “Naturama” is one of the series’ most bizarre episodes, a nature documentary anthology in which the characters are reimagined as fish, turtles, and seals, complete with Morgan Freeman-like narration. It’s admirably and satisfyingly unique, although as the last episode, it makes for a very strange sign-off, to say the least.Futurama (1999)This is a perfectly solid collection of “Futurama” episodes that I imagine fans will be happy to own. On the part of the show, a strong lineup of shows, and on the part of the Blu-Ray, great A/V presentation and great commentaries, plus some other odds and ends for added value.

REVIEW: FUTURAMA – VOLUME 6 (SEASON 5 – PART 2)

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Sagal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

Futurama (1999)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
David Herman (Angel)
Patton Oswalt (Caprica)
Dan Castellaneta (The SImpsons)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Stephen Hawking (The Big Bang Theory)

Futurama (1999)It never fails – You give a television network pure gold, and they’ll beat it and roll it around in the mud before you ever had a chance to realize what was happening to it. Instead of looking at the quality of any given program, network executives would rather comb feverishly through their charts, graphs and reams of statistical data, and in pondering how much blood they might be able to draw from stone, will begin an all too familiar slippery slope- Time slots are shuffled, episodes are carelessly aired out of order or not at all, time slots are shuffled again and, well, then the inevitable happens: The show gets canceled.

Futurama (1999)I’d like to think that in 2003, Fox executives were scratching their heads, wondering how they facilitated a brilliant show like Futurama to slip in the ratings, but it’s more likely that they sparked up cigars while congratulating each other on what was sure to be their next surefire (and cheap to produce) hit – Paradise Hotel. Now, I apologize if my outlook on the inner-workings of Fox comes off as a little sour, but is this really so far from the truth? Haven’t we all been burned by this sort of thing before? How many times have we yelled from our couch, “(Insert recently canned show here) got canceled but they decided to keep this?!?!?!” Fortunately though, many shows have found life after cancelation thanks to impressive home video sales, and as most of you already know, Futurama is one of those success stories.Futurama (1999)Comedy Central ordered a new season after four direct-to-video ‘movies’ were released and met with generally favorable reviews, but Fox, being the financial backer for production, blew a lot of smoke in the middle of an intense salary dispute and threatened to move forward with an entirely different voice cast, even going as far as posting an open casting call. Fortunately the dispute was resolved and the show was allowed to go on without any major changes. Although many jumped at the chance to pal around with the Planet Express crew again, I remained skeptical.Futurama (1999)I expressed some minor concerns in my Volume 5 Blu-ray review, most notable of all being my fear that the show would have resurfaced feeling like a brand new entity, a Futurama 2. If you will. For example, I’m sure many of you would agree that there was something different about Family Guy when it returned to television. When the first two episodes of Futurama’s sixth season aired back-to-back on Comedy Central however, that fear had been alleviated. Matt Groening has always insisted on having complete creative control over Futurama, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the show didn’t miss a beat and felt like it had never been canceled at all. Despite the show’s faithful return however, there were still a couple of concerns rattling some chains at the skeptical epicenter of my brain.

For one, I knew that Comedy Central’s tendency to only air half a season at a time was going to bite us in the ass bigtime. Don’t get me wrong – Airing thirteen episodes over the course of just as many weeks is far more preferable than Fox’s model of making us wait weeks on end just to get three or four new episodes. Futurama (1999)Silence of the Clamps, is surprisingly made up of ‘been there, done that’ material, a real surprise considering how Futuramatypically pulls strength from its unpredictability. Bender yet again finds himself in cahoots with someone the Don Bot is extremely fond (and protective) of, and spends another 22 minutes or so running from the robot mafia. In The Tip of the Zoidberg,Professor Farnsworth reveals why he keeps the medically incompetent crab employed at Planet Express, and although this would have been a great opportunity to add a dimension to Zoidberg we’ve never seen before, the episode ultimately fails at being able to do so. Instead, we’re given some hokum about the Professor carrying a disease that can strike at any moment, which (of course) only Zoidberg knows how to cure. Another episode that rolled listlessly into dullsville was Fry Am the Egg Man, which tackles the ‘controversial too many years ago to count’ issue of fast food. But, perhaps the most frustrating thing of all now that the sixth season in its entirety has wrapped, is the fact that very little time has been spent developing the relationship between Fry and Leela.Futurama (1999)This set contains some of the best episodes I’ve seen in a while. The highlights for me begin with Mobius Dick, which follows Leela on an obsessive quest to avenge a long lost Planet Express crew by destroying a fourth dimensional white whale in space. Although the story is intriguing enough in and of itself, there are plenty of pop culture references sprinkled throughout that we really have to look for, which has always been a core aspect of the show. There was something about seeing the Event Horizon floating in a spaceship graveyard that put big smile on my face.Next, Law and Oracle proves to be a showcase for the writers. Fry joins the police force and gets a promotion that lands him in a Minority Report inspired future crimes unit gig. It was an unpredictable venture from beginning to end and stands as a beacon of light in this ‘hit or miss’ batch of episodes, as it shows us that the creative team hasn’t lost their touch, but again, were probably just getting burned out near the end of the season. My two favorites overall have to be the episodes that close out the season though – Overclockwise features a Bender that’s been overclocked by Cubert, which causes a peculiar side effect that eventually allows Bender to transform into an omnipotent being. Last but not least, there’s Reanimation. This episode breaks out of the typical Futurama mold and tells three short stories, each in a different style of animation – Old time black and white, a low-resolution video game complete with crappy Super Nintendo-esque music and sound effects, and (but of course) anime. Each of these stories are very clever in their own way as they utilize the animation style as part of the joke. I won’t spoil the surprise as to how though, I’ll leave that for you to discover.Futurama (1999)So really, for all the reasons the writers have given us in the second half of season 5 to wonder if the show was finally losing its edge, they’ve also provided just as many reasons tolet us know that they still possess the intellect and charm to keep Futurama going strong.

 

REVIEW: FUTURAMA: THE BEAST WITH A BILLION BACKS

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Segal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stephen Hawking (The Big Bang Theory)
Brittany Murphy (Just Married)
David Herman (Angel)

Maurice LaMarche and John DiMaggio in Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)A month after the universe was ripped open in Futurama: Bender’s Big Score, people decide to go on with their lives. Amy and Kif get married. Fry starts dating a girl named Colleen, but breaks up with her when he discovers she has many more boyfriends. At a scientific conference, Professor Farnsworth proposes an expedition to investigate the anomaly after beating his rival, Wernstrom, in a game of Deathball (a gigantic version of Labyrinth). When Bender explores the anomaly, his touch causes it to emit a shock wave that sends him and the ship flying.Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)Farnsworth and Wernstrom discover that only living beings can pass through the anomaly; electrical objects such as robots are either repelled or destroyed. The two plan to initiate another expedition but are rejected in favor of a military assault on the anomaly led by Zapp Brannigan.Meanwhile, both Fry and Bender begin to feel lonely. Fry sneaks aboard Zapp’s ship’s lint cabinet just before the ship takes off so that he can find solace on the other side of the anomaly. Bender attempts suicide, only to be approached by the League of Robots, a secret society of robots who like to blather about and tease humans, led by his hero Calculon.Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)Bender becomes a very prestigious member due to his perceived hatred of humans, although Calculon suspects that Bender is deceiving them.Fry enters the anomaly while Kif is killed during Zapp’s unsuccessful plan of attack. On the other side of the anomaly, Fry comes across a colossal, one-eyed, tentacled creature, which begins forcing its appendages through the anomaly. The tentacles attack everyone in the universe, and nothing can stop them since they are made of electro-matter that can only be harmed by other electro-matter. Fry returns to Earth with a tentacle attached to the back of his neck and tells everyone to “love the tentacle.” The tentacles attach themselves to nearly everyone, causing their victims to fall in love with it.Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)With the monster’s influence spreading, Fry becomes the pope of a new religion established to worship the tentacles. Bender, meanwhile, believes that the League of Robots should uphold a strict anti-humans policy. However, when he assists his friends in eluding the tentacles by hiding them in another member’s leg, he is caught red-handed by the other members. When Calculon calls his bluff about hating humans, he challenges Calculon to a duel in which he cheats.Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)This confrontation results in the loss of Calculon’s arm and severe damage to much of the city, including the League’s own headquarters. Calculon is outraged by Bender’s behavior and resigns from the League, making Bender its new leader. Leela ends up the last person in the universe unattached to a tentacle, after Zapp and Amy are taken over after Zapp seduces Amy. She examines a tentacle fragment and discovers that they are actually reproductive organs, revealing this to everyone at a universal religious gathering. The creature, named “Yivo”, admits that mating with everyone in the universe was its original intention but explains that it is now truly in love with them. As a sign of good faith, Yivo resurrects Kif, who is displeased to learn that Zapp lured the lonely Amy into sleeping with him.Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)Yivo asks to begin the relationship anew and removes its tentacles from everyone.Yivo takes everyone in the universe out on a date at the same time, which goes extremely well. However, the universe’s leaders feel that Yivo has made no commitment and sends a delegation to break up with it. Before they can do so, Yivo proposes marriage and they accept. Bender becomes fed up with being neglected by Fry and makes a deal with the Robot Devil for an army of robots to take over the world and rebuild his human-hating reputation, which happens in exchange for Bender’s first-born son, whom Bender kicks into a pit of lava after a heartwarming reunion. Before Bender can attack, humanity leaves Earth willingly to live on Yivo, along with the other civilizations of the universe, moving onto Yivo’s body via golden escalators.Brittany Murphy and David Cross in Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)This leaves Bender lonely once more and stagnates the robot population, who are built to serve humans. As the robots inherit Earth, everyone else promises never to make contact with other universes. Fry, however, cannot help writing a letter to Bender, which is sent without Yivo knowing. Yivo’s body appears like a classic vision of Heaven, with Angels really being harmless birds. Leela does not trust Yivo’s motives at first, but when she sees that everyone is happy, she succumbs to her own loneliness and accepts Yivo. Bender receives Fry’s letter, which is made out of electro-matter, and decides to set out and “rescue” his friend from his relationship with Yivo.David Cross in Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs (2008)He and his army harpoon Yivo from the other side of the tear in space-time and tow it into their own universe where they are able to attack it. Fry convinces Bender to spare Yivo, but Yivo discovers that the robots’ weapons are lined with the electro-matter from Fry’s letter, allowing them to harm it. Since Fry broke his promise to never make contact with other universes, Yivo breaks up with the universe and makes everyone leave. While everyone else leaves aboard Bender’s ship, Yivo finds consolation with Colleen, and they begin a relationship as they head back to the other universe together and close the anomaly, as Yivo cannot stay in the Universe due to the fact it would suffocate. Everyone laments that they will never know happiness or love with Yivo again.Fry decides to find love elsewhere and tries to ask Leela out, but she rejects him since he had already stopped trying once he met Colleen; Kif and Amy’s relationship is strained due to Amy’s affair with Zapp; and Farnsworth and Wernstrom go back to being archrivals. Bender breaks up his friends’ quarrel and assures them that what they experienced was not love, as love is a jealous, hard-to-get emotion that does not share itself with the world. Bender shares his own love with Fry and Leela by giving them a big hug, which actually strangles them.Overall The Beast of a Billion Backs is an odd experience worthwhile to just about any Futurama fan. With all said and done Futurama at its worst (which this certainly is not) is still brilliant, indeed the series greatest enemy proves time and time again to be its former self.

REVIEW: FUTURAMA – SEASON 4

 

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Segal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

Futurama (1999)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
David Herman (Angel)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
William Shatner (Star Trek)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Walter Koening (Star Trek)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Jonathan Frakes (STar Trek: TNG)
Al Gore (30 Rock)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Roseanne Barr (Roseanne)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)

Futurama is one of the funniest, smartest, most bitingly satirical TV shows around, and I say that with a degree of sighing regret because, with the release of this Volume 4 set, the marvelous ride has come to an end—and far too soon. Filled to brimming with not only eye candy but mind candy, Futurama is definitely a thinking man’s comedy, and for that reason, it’s no wonder Fox had trouble deciding what the hell to do with it. This is a show that requires you to pay attention to its details. Its humor is more often in the minutiae than in the big picture. It’s constantly throwing ripe movie and TV references, accurate yet absurd science trivia, and colorful social commentary in your face, so fast that you can barely keep up, so consistently that it’s one of those rare shows that requires second and third viewings. The brilliance and beauty of Futurama is that it is positively infused with its rib-poking sci-fi geek attitude, from top to bottom, making it one of the more pure TV half-hours I can remember.By now, you know the sordid story behind Fox’s dwindling of support for the decidedly odd Futurama. You know how Fox executives, who apparently just didn’t “get” the show, gradually turned their collective back on Matt Groening’s second TV brainchild, running it only haphazardly and dropping promotions. Surely you know that the show appeared to air for five increasingly sporadic seasons, but that, in fact, Fox simply left the show to die after four seasons worth of episodes were in the can and ran fresh episodes whenever the mood struck them to do so. To be fair, Futurama with its elaborate mix of traditional hand-drawn animation and CGI, was an expensive endeavor. You can understand a profit-motivated studio’s decision to go with something cheaper and less inspired and original—something like, for example, Family Guy. But there’s a certain moment when you have to step back and look at the situation from a global view: The derivative Family Guy is achieving a renaissance of sorts, finding its mediocre way back on the air, whereas Futurama is already relegated to cult status among thinkers. How often will the whims of moneymen, over time, ultimately determine the tastes of the viewership? Can our karma afford such a dumbing down of entertainment? I speak half in jest, but in my opinion, Futurama didn’t deserve its too-quick demise.Futurama (1999)The ultimate irony—or perhaps a form of apology—is the fact that Fox has only now (now that the show is dead) lavished the proper attention on this first-rate show in the form of gorgeous and elaborate DVD season sets. Season 4—at least when considered in its production order, and not in Fox’s careless air-date order—provides a fitting, even emotionally resonant conclusion to a show that grew from geeky lark to wild, confidently hilarious entertainment.Futurama (1999)I doubt you’re new to the show, but if you are, I recommend gathering the first three seasons and watching in production order before you get to this set. That way, you can really appreciate the comic evolution of this unique series. Futurama is about the continuing adventures of Philip J. Fry (Billy West), a 20th-century pizza-deliveryboy blasted into the future, who has found himself suddenly inhabiting a strange Earth filled with weird aliens and robots, an insane media, and any fancifully technological marvel that suits any given episode’s plot. Fry has become part of a bizarre star-hopping troupe of characters that include cyclopean hottie Turanga Leela (Katey Sagal), the blissfully malevolent robot Bender (John DiMaggio), the Grandpa Simpson-inspired Professor Farnsworth (also West), the squid-like Dr. Zoidberg (also West), the Jamaican bureaucrat Hermes (Phil LaMarr), and the Asian human Amy Wong (Lauren Tom). The strength of the cast lies in its leads—Fry, Leela, Bender, and, to a lesser extent, Professor Farnsworth. All are impeccably drawn, distinct personalities, and their humor extends from their characterizations. The minor characters don’t fare quite as well. Indeed, when you compare Futurama’s ensemble with that of The Simpsons, Futurama can’t help but suffer. However, the increasingly no-holds-barred nature of the humor can’t be denied—it’s such an insane, fast-moving barrage of parody and sharp wit that you’ll barely notice any flaws amidst copious laughter. Futurama is a potent, absurd, cartoony sociological commentary about our own present-day world.Futurama (1999)Of the 18 episodes of season 4 I found only a few to be clunkers. The gender-bending Bend Her just didn’t seem have that typical Futurama sharpness of wit. I’ve never been a huge Zoidberg fan, so his big episode, A Taste of Freedom, felt flat. Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch, which also focuses on one of the show’s minor characters, comes across as an equally minor effort. But taken overall, Futurama: Volume 4 is an immensely satisfying amalgam of trippy ideas, loving sci-fi parody, and surprisingly character-driven humor. Considering the show’s steadily brilliant escalation in goofiness, and its refusal to bow to anything in the realm of formulaic, we fans are left feeling a great emptiness when we reach the end of that last show, when Fry finally has Leela’s undivided attention in that abandoned theater. We’re left considering what could have been, had Fox shown a little more faith in one of the more remarkable products it’s ever hefted onto the air.I will rewatch many of these episodes quite often. After exploring this box set, I’m left with the lingering memories of the hilariously ridiculous super-identities of Leela, Fry, and Bender in Less Than Hero; the unexpectedly touching conclusion of Jurassic Bark; the effects of a Planet Express team growing younger in Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles; the wonderfully in-on-the-joke Star Trek cast in Where No Fan Has Gone Before; the fun mind trickery of The Farnsworth Parabox; and—perhaps most of all—the final touching moments of The Devil’s Hands Are Idle Playthings. 

REVIEW: FUTURAMA – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Segal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

Futurama (1999)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
David Herman (Angel)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Pamela Anderson (Baywatch)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)

Futurama (1999)From Matt Groening, the creator of America’s number one family in The Simpsons comes his second attempt at a prime-time animated comedy show with Futurama. Sadly Futurama has never been too popular with its backer ‘Fox’ because of the more adult approach of the show (much like the similarly themed Family Guy which as we speak has just been axed). This is an area that has also caused problems with its UK broadcasts, most of which have been censored so it can fit into a specific timeslot. Despite these irritations Futurama has garnered a strong fan base to rival that of The Simpsons which due to an all too obvious drop in quality of recent seasons is no longer seen as the number one animated television show amongst fans, fortunately Futurama is a strong contender to take that crown.Katey Sagal in Futurama (1999)As you will discover in the pilot episode the basic premise is that of a Pizza delivery guy, Fry, who is accidentally cryogenically frozen on New Years Eve 1999, only to be unfrozen 1000 years later, New Years Eve 2999. Fry is whom you might refer to as a simple guy and as such the fact that all of his loved ones are long dead does not bother him too much, instead he embraces this new time period with open arms and a somewhat childish glee as he gets to see and do everything we can only dream of in current times. Of course a television show with just one character is no good so Fry soon meets his companions for the series; Bender is a robot (programmed to bend girders) whose strange tendencies include alcoholism and the desire to ‘kill all humans’, Professor Farnsworth is actually Fry’s nephew (despite the fact he is over 100 years old) and runs a Planet Express Delivery Service to fund his scientific research, while Leela is a one-eyed Alien babe, the only one of her kind on earth who finds some solace in the fact that Fry to is alone in this time period.

Katey Sagal and Billy West in Futurama (1999)ach of the 13 episodes that make up Season One consists of our characters various adventures, most of which are quite ‘out of this world’ but all of which are solid entertainment thanks to the imagination of the writers and the consistently hilarious dialogue and characterisation. The latter of these is brought to life via the impressive voice cast that is primarily made up of just three talented individuals, Billy West (as Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Doctor Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan and more!), John DiMaggio (as Bender and other characters) and Katey Sagal (as Leela).Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Lauren Tom, and Billy West in Futurama (1999)Much like The Simpsons another strong point of the show is the always well realised secondary characters, most of whom by the second and third seasons actually become strong enough characters to carry an entire show, but for this season the likes of fellow Planet Express crew members Amy, Dr. Zoidberg and Hermes offer sound backing to the primary casts antics while Zapp Brannigan, the decorated space captain of the time who has a penchant for velour uniforms and Captain Kirk mannerisms offers up some outrageously laugh out loud moments thanks to the sharp dialogue and outstanding voice acting from Billy West!John DiMaggio and Billy West in Futurama (1999)Futurama quite literally has layer upon layer of jokes and in much the same way as The Simpsons did back in its prime offers constant viewing pleasure no matter how many times you have seen an episode thanks to the sheer attention to detail and various gags on offer. From the huge array of film spoofs (that include Titanic and The Odd Couple) to the fantastic technology spoofs and ‘geek’ jokes (Bender runs on a 6502 CPU – a joke that certainly had me in fits of laughter!) we also cannot forget the various guest stars and the unique method in which they can appear as themselves (remember, Futurama is set 1000years in the future!) while the obligatory ‘Fox Network’ jokes are also present!Futurama (1999)

 

 

Another part of Futurama’s success comes from the sheer beauty of each episode as we are treated to a quality of 2D animation that is rarely seen outside a Cinema Screen while the addition of seamlessly integrated 3D Animation is just the icing on the cake of what is, in Television terms, a visual tour de force. When these stunning visuals are combined with the quality of writing and voice-acting already present you are left with something special that not only offers a great first time viewing experience but consistently entertaining repeated sittings – which is what this DVD set is all about!

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS EPISODES – PART 7

simpsons-logo-1

 

 

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Dan Castellaneta (Fantastic Four)
Julie Kavner (Dr. Dolittle 2)
Nancy Cartwright (Rugrats)
Yeardley Smith (Jingle ALl The Way)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Being John Malkovich)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)

The Simpsons (1989)
Bobby: It’s Cold Outside

GUEST STARS

Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

Bobby,_It's_Cold_Outside_promo_7D’oh, ho ho. The Simpsons, season 31, episode 10, “Bobby: It’s Cold Outside,” is a double-stuffed bag for the chimney. It is their annual Christmas episode, and these halls are decked. The episode features evergreen favorite recurring villain Sideshow Bob, who trims his tree with ornaments of bleeding Barts. And it bottoms out with our Springfield’s favorite Grinch.hqdefaultAfter what appears to be another ingenious escape from the revolving door penal system in Springfield, Sideshow Bob winters by the sea, where he tends a lighthouse. I heard the song “I want to marry a lighthouse keeper,” from Clockwork Orange in my head the whole time he is visited by a distant neighbor who is very pleased he is single. Whether it’s his mop of red hair, tall thin frame and big feet, or the idea that anyone who lives in a lighthouse is pretty much a shut-in, Sideshow Bob gets picked to be the local Santa Claus in Springfield’s Santa’s Village, already overcrowded at Christmas. Bart’s history with the men in red is problematic as it is. Even, and maybe especially, when Homer had the lap with the most. Bart is fond of pulling fake beards off mall Santas, so we know there is going to be a reunion. We know it will be fraught with some kind of tension, Sideshow Bob has been singing about stringing up Bart from the very opening, but we’re not guaranteed lethal intent. Damn those method actors, they have to feel it.TheSimpsons_3101_BobbyItsColdOutsideFor this episode, the unlikely duo feels like performing a Christmas miracle, though of course, they’d never call it that. They work side by side saving the Yule season. Bart and Sideshow Bob’s relationship goes far beyond nemeses. That’s the role rakes play in Sideshow Bob’s life. Bob has also been a mentor to Bart, a guardian, close friend, singing partner, co-conspirator and comrade in arms. They’ve each saved the other, or cleared the other of crimes they didn’t commit. Their relationship is complicated. Sideshow Bob’s appearance coincides with a rash of stolen UPS packages. Tis the season. Christmas in Springfield is the usual shopper’s nightmare. They don’t need Black Friday to darken their retail environment. Lenny gets caught in his own booby trapped attempt to catch the thieves, but is able to write the initials in blood, or paint from a paint gun. Springfield’s police round up all the usual suspects, from Selma Bouvier to Scott Bacula, they even pull Sandra Bullock out of her bird box.x720Because it is a holiday episode, everyone in the community makes a quick appearance, from Rainier Luftwaffe Wolfcastle to Krusty the Clown. Even Lisa Simpson almost gets a second line in tonight. Yes, she and Krusty are both brushed off like so many garlands on a tree, when they are obviously close to the main players. At least Marge has little projects she can get caught up in. Maggie gets her own segment, and it is a truly revelatory one. Dreamlike, with more than a touch of nightmare, the one ride at Santa’s Village is a kiddie ride parents don’t fit on. That means the gnomes can have at them as they will. We are not sure whether this is Maggie’s perception of the dangers of gnomes, or if the carneys who put it together are really taking advantage of the lack of parental supervision, but it is genius. The ride’s song, sung so merrily with that “It’s a Small World” buoyancy, sinks into a river of subversive threats and promises of more said doom.simpsons-logo-1The music is festively eclectic on this seasonal choir. Good King Wenceslas continues to make his ominous iciness known, while new chestnut Baby Shark Diddy keeps the family roasted during car rides. The episode must have been written during the winter of discontent with Dean Martin because the closing sequence reclaims “Baby It’s cold Ouside” with such over the top legalistic disclaimers I wish they’d slapped me with a nondisclosure citation. We get some light political gags, like burning the Bill of Rights on the Fox News yule log, along with the Constitution and quite a few books which might have made thoughtful holiday gifts. Of course, the Christmas present crime wave is just another one of Mr. Burns Grinchy indulgences, which is the other holiday miracle. Sideshow Bob, who in another life was Seattle’s favorite radio psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, gets Mr. Burns on the couch. Or is it in his lap, as he’s doing it in a red suit? Either way, their scene is much more touching than creepy even though the lesson at the center of it is a nightmare in itself. You’re a mean one, Mr. Burns, and everybody knows.c7963f31-6097-4352-84d0-700075f1a65b-TheSimpsons_3101_BobbyItsColdOutside_ScCG02AvidColorCorrectedRobert Underdunk Terwilliger Jr., Ph.D., is as much a tradition as The Simpsons’ annual Christmas show, or “Treehouse of Horrors,” although not annual guarantee. Kelsey Grammer may or may not have beaten James Arness’ record for playing one character the longest, but he will forever be Sideshow Bob, unless David Hyde Pierce also guest stars on the episode and things blur. Come to think of it, though, haven’t all the principles on The Simpsons played their characters longer than Arness’ Marshal Matt Dillon character? Maybe it doesn’t count if they’re artistically rendered, or perhaps it stopped counting after the animation began to be drawn by committee. The Sideshow Bob episodes also have quality in common with the “Treehouse” and Christmas episodes. It might be the writing is sharper to match the character. It might be Grammer actually reads the whole script before signing on. It could be simply Sideshow Bob is a great character, in moderation. There’s only room for one Fonzie on The Simpsons and that’s Bart. Served hot, cold or on the rocks, Sideshow Bob is gourmet meal which is actually filling, maybe not to Homer, who goes fishing when all-you-can-eat-shrimp runs out, but to viewers.UntitledThis year’s Simpsons Christmas episode is a full holiday meal with the good pastry place closed. “Bobby: It’s Cold Outside” combines the annual seasonal favorite with the always-anticipated Sideshow Bob appearance and wraps it in a Mr. Burns bow. It has all the elements of a top-tier favorite, but it’s not quite the perfect gift. It’s not that it tries too hard, because it really does work subtle into zany well and consistently. The plot and pacing are perfect, with a lot of extra sight gags thrown in throughout, and it will be one of those episodes Simpsons fans will re-watch happily.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

Image result for THE SIMPSONS LOGO
CAST
Dan Castellaneta (Fantastic Four)
Julia Kavner (Dr. Dolittle)
Nancy Cartwright (All Grown Up!)
Yeardley Smith (As Good As It gets)
maxresdefault
Marge is in the kitchen and tries to wish the British people a Merry Christmas. However, Bart comes and tells the viewers that they are really in a TV studio, and the kitchen is just a copy. Then Lisa comes, screaming “UK out of Cornwall!” Homer appears dressed as Santa Claus and wishes the viewers his own Christmas message. Finally, the whole family, including Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball II, come to the kitchen and drink a traditional British tea. However, when the camera is off, they all spit it out, including the pets. Bart says it tastes like hurl.
Krampus3
Aired in 2004 on Channel 4 as an alternate to The Queens Speech, I personally would rather watch the Simpsons do a speech each ear than the Queens as this is far more entertaining. sadly they only did this in 2004 and never did another one, it’s viewable on YouTube if you wish to check it out.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS CHRISTMAS EPISODES – PART 6

simpsons-logo-1

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Dan Castellaneta (Fantastic Four)
Julie Kavner (Dr. Dolittle 2)
Nancy Cartwright (Rugrats)
Yeardley Smith (Jingle ALl The Way)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)

The-Simpsons-Season-30-Episode-10-2-c44b

TIS THE 30TH SEASON

GUEST STARS

Jane Lynch (Glee)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

MV5BNzQwNTUzMTgtODQyZC00NDJlLWE3NjMtMTlhYjgyY2VmOTIwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjMxOTcxOTI@._V1_After Thanksgiving dinner, Bart Simpson and Lisa Simpson gives Marge Simpson and Homer Simpson their present list, asking for a smart TV that costs $2,400. When a Black Friday offer is show in TV at the Sprawl-Mart, Marge and Homer make plans for it. Marge camps out at Sprawl-Mart, holding a place in line. Homer fails to relieve her when his scarf is caught in the door, knocking him out. When the store opens, instead of grabbing the TV, she helps Gil Gunderson grab a present for his granddaughter. Gil then sells it for $100 to Reverend Lovejoy. Marge is stressed about preparing for Christmas, so Homer and the kids prepare a vacation for the family at the Kissimmee St. Nick Theme Park and Resort in Florida. In order to take her there, they have to sedate her. They arrive at the resort but it was not what they expected.'Tis_the_30th_Season_promo_3The theme park is even weirder, but they all try and show Marge they are enjoying themselves. In the morning, Bart and Lisa go and complain to the manager, Jeanie. Complaining about the fake appearance on the website, she explains that she cannot compete with the big ones like Disney’s Family Guy World and blows them off. Back at the park, they go to the horrifying Tunnel of Love, the Gator Petting Zoo, and the Hall of Vice Presidents where they express their true feelings about the trip. To get their refund and go back home, Bart takes the heads of the anamatronic Vice-Presidents and leaves them under the covers of Jeanie’s bed, frightening her. After finishing the fuel, they go on foot to town and discover Moe Szyslak has been holding a dinner for the old and needy at his tavern. They join the dinner, along with Grampa Simpson. At the end, Jeanie refunds double the Simpson’s money. They buy the smart TV they wanted and watch Yule Log in HD as the episode ends.TheSimpsons_TisThe30thSeason-FOX-620x375

Not the best Christmas episode for The Simpsons, but still a fun one and another to add to the growing list of Simpsons Christmas episodes to watch for the Holiday season.