REVIEW: THE BIG BANG THEORY – SEASON 10

CAST

Johnny Galecki (Rings)
Jim Parsons (The Muppets)
Kaley Cuoco (8 Simple Rules)
Simon Helberg (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog)
Kunal Nayyar (Trolls)
Mayim Bialik (Blossom)
Melissa Rauch (Batman and Harley Quinn)
Kevin Sussman (Ugly Betty)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Laurie Metcalf (3rd Rock From the Sun)
Keith Carradine (The Duellists)
Judd Hirsch (Independance Day)
Katey Sagal (Futurama)
Christine Baranski (Cruel Intentions)
Jack McBrayer (30 rock)
Dean Norris (breaking Bad)
Josh Zuckerman (Significant Mother)
Brian George (Ghost World)
Brian Posehn (New Girl)
Maria Canals-Barrera (Camp Rock)
Stephen Hawking (The Theory of Everything)
Christopher Lloyd (Piranha)
Vernee Watson (Antwone Fisher)
Laura Spencer (Bones)
Kate Micucci (The Lego Batman Movie)
Alessandra Torresani (Caprica)
Katie LeClerc (Switched ar Birth)
Joel Murray (Two and a Half Men)
April Bowlby (How I Met Your Mother)
Michelle Arthur (Lost)
Brian Thomas Smith (The Wedding Party)
Riki Lindhome (Fun Size)

The Big Bang theory is a great show! This season does not disappoint. The laughs continue and the story continues to evolve. There are a few surprises this season that I didn’t see coming. The characters are relatable and worth watching. I’m happy this show was renewed for 2 additional seasons.THIS SEASON INCLUDES

10.1) The Conjugal Conjecture

The gang prepares for Leonard and Penny’s second wedding ceremony. Sheldon and Leonard fear that Mary slept with Alfred the previous night, though they swear nothing happened. They do, however, plan to visit each other, irritating Beverly. Penny’s family arrives. Her mother worries that her son’s recent jail stint will cause Leonard’s family to think of them as white trash. The ceremony goes well, with Leonard and Penny declaring their love for each other, Beverly and Alfred grateful they at least made Leonard together during their relationship, and Sheldon declaring his love for the couple. Howard is contacted by Colonel Richard Williams of the Air Force Research Laboratory, who scares both him and Raj. Howard eventually agrees to meet him, but the colonel refuses to give the reason for his interest.

10.2) The Military Miniaturization

Leonard and Howard worry the military might try to take over the guidance system project for weaponry, but Sheldon does not. They make him promise not to talk during the meeting with Colonel Williams. The Colonel is impressed with Howard as the main brain behind the project, making Sheldon squirm. The military wants a smaller version made, perhaps in four months. Sheldon, no longer able to contain himself, promises to have it in two. Though the others are angry about such a tight deadline, they all have fun with their new lab’s retinal scanner. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical company employees have found out Bernadette is pregnant, infuriating her as they might take her off the next big medical project. Penny admits she was the one who let this slip. Bernadette forgives her because she intends to threaten her boss with a lawsuit if she is taken off the project.

10.3) The Dependence Transcendence

Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard are exhausted from trying to meet the Air Force’s deadline that Sheldon set into motion. In a dream, The Flash persuades Sheldon to take an energy drink. After it wears off, Sheldon is convinced he is addicted, further annoying the other two. Sheldon breaks down and admits he cannot figure out the math and isn’t as smart as he thought. The others comfort him. Facing Colonel Williams, they admit that they need at least two years, which is easily accepted as the military is used to contractors not meeting deadlines. Amy takes Penny to a party thrown by Bert the geologist, but they discover they are the only ones there. Bert shocks them by saying Amy is the most popular scientist at Caltech, and he falls in love with Penny. Raj tries to help Bernadette get the nursery ready, but she doesn’t enjoy it. She admits her lack of excitement makes her fear she cannot be maternal. Raj calls his OB-GYN father, who tells Bernadette that, while she may not like babies in general, she can still love her own child.

11.4) The Cohabitation Experimentation

After a plumbing problem makes Amy’s apartment uninhabitable for five weeks, Leonard and Penny suggest Amy move into Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. After Amy proposes their cohabitation as an experiment, Sheldon agrees to move with her into Penny’s apartment, thrilling Leonard and Penny. Amy’s first night in Sheldon’s bed is rough and she doesn’t get much sleep due to Sheldon’s tossing and turning. The next morning, they fight over scientific integrity, working themselves up until Amy suggests they head for Penny’s apartment to make out. After an ultrasound, Howard and Bernadette are angry that Raj knows the sex of their baby when they had elected not to find out. They have a bad night debating whether to call Raj about it.

10.5) The Hot Tub Contamination

Amy and Sheldon storm into Leonard and Penny’s apartment arguing about Sheldon requiring a bathroom schedule. To help him cool off, Penny takes Sheldon to an ice cream parlor, where he tries to hunt for a different romantic partner. Sheldon confesses he once walked in on his father with another woman, which is why he always knocks three times when entering a room now, and it makes him worry that he’ll hurt Amy one day. Penny convinces him to give the relationship a chance. Leonard coaches Amy on how to live with Sheldon. Returning, Sheldon agrees to compromise, so he does away with the bathroom schedule and agrees to share a toothbrush holder, a big step for Sheldon. After a cancelled weekend away, Howard and Bernadette find Raj and Stuart secretly coming into their house and using the hot tub. They listen in as Raj reveals he is now single, but finally kick them out when Stuart says he isn’t wearing a bathing suit.10.6) The Fetal Kick Catalyst

Sheldon throws a brunch to surprise Amy, who wanted to invite guests over; Stuart, Bert from the geology lab, and a Romanian neighbor from downstairs attend. Stuart is insulted when he learns that the brunch was a test run before inviting others over; Sheldon apologizes and they get drunk, complimenting each other and annoying Amy. Penny gets invited to a Van Nuys Comic-Con event to sign autographs since she starred in two Serial Apeist movies; she is humiliated by fans deriding her poor acting ability but loving her topless shower scene. Leonard ends up holding court describing how he married such an attractive woman. Howard finally feels the baby kick. He and Raj go shopping, buying a crib and a minivan, but Howard injures his back and they drive to the ER.10.7) The Veracity Elasticity

Sheldon finds out via Bernadette and Howard that Amy’s apartment was repaired two weeks ago and that Amy lied about it to keep living with him. Sheldon forgives her and wants to keep living with her, but is torn about where he really belongs. He chooses to live with Amy. Meanwhile, Penny has been secretly moving Leonard’s collectibles into storage. He confronts her, but he agrees to let her decorate their bedroom to make her feel at home, putting his stuff into Sheldon’s old room.

10.8) The Brain Bowl Incubation

Amy uses skin cells from her and Sheldon to produce some primitive neurons through transdifferentiation. This inspires Sheldon to want to have a child with Amy, though she is not enthusiastic about his plan to have a child immediately. Sheldon launches a plan to seduce his girlfriend. Raj becomes attracted to Issabella, a cleaning woman at his lab, and fixes her dinner. She is insulted when she discovers that Raj told his friends that she was a fellow astronomer, but agrees to another date.

10.9) The Geology Elevation

Sheldon learns that Bert has won a MacArthur Fellowship prize for his work on endolithic organisms and has to deal with his professional jealousy. The rest of the group discuss their own internal jealousies. Professor Hawking calls Sheldon and explains that even he gets jealous. In order to make peace, Sheldon goes with Bert to a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Meanwhile, Howard finds a remote-controlled miniature Stephen Hawking he once built and, while everyone (except Kripke) thinks it is offensive, Hawking would actually like the idea.

10.10) The Property Division Collision

After Sheldon and Amy take the ugly portrait of Penny and Amy to Leonard and Penny’s apartment, the guys start to divide up their belongings. When Sheldon tries to take everything, a dispute over the official apartment flag starts a war between Sheldon and Leonard. Sheldon rents out his old room to an old man, Theodore (Christopher Lloyd), who helps them to realize that Sheldon moving out is affecting both of them deeply, leading Sheldon to acquiesce regarding the flag. Stuart brings Howard and Bernadette a gift and ends up moving back in because he was evicted from his apartment. Stuart helps them with baby things to justify his moving in, starting a war with Raj who claims he was first in line to help them. Finally, Bernadette goes into labor and everyone heads to the hospital for the arrival of the baby.

10.11) The Birthday Synchronicity

The impending birth of Bernadette and Howard’s baby coincides with Amy’s birthday, which interferes with Sheldon and Amy’s annual sex date. Raj accidentally reveals the baby is a girl and is kicked out of the Wolowitz house. When the time comes for the baby to be delivered, everyone waits in the lobby of the hospital. The friends all reminisce about how much has changed in ten years, though Raj feels he has done the least, which further upsets him. Halley Wolowitz is born and Raj is honored to be her godfather. The baby’s cry sounds like her grandmother, Debbie Wolowitz. After going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Amy and Sheldon finally have their annual birthday coital festivities.

10.12) The Holiday Summation

After the Christmas holiday, Sheldon and Amy tell Leonard and Penny about their visit to his mother Mary, who upset Sheldon by confessing she never thought he would find a partner. Sheldon reacted by acting anti-socially and getting his ear pierced. Also, Leonard and Penny had a series of mishaps chopping down a Christmas tree and bringing it home, while Bernadette and Howard have been struggling to cope with a constantly screaming baby.

10.13) The Romance Recalibration

Penny feels Leonard is not putting enough effort into their relationship now that they are married. Leonard thinks that he is the only one putting in any effort at all. Angrily, Penny takes Amy with her to a spa weekend in lieu of Leonard. Sheldon and Leonard soon follow, solving the problem by having Sheldon create a Relationship Agreement for Leonard and Penny just like Sheldon and Amy’s. Meanwhile, Howard and Raj create a path in the baby’s room to the crib without causing the floorboards to squeak, thus disturbing baby Halley, with an overly complicated solution.

10.14) The Emotion Detection Automation

Sheldon wants to understand others’ emotions better and gets an experimental machine from MIT that reads other people for him. It reveals Leonard is angry about Penny inviting her ex-drug dealing brother to stay with them while he applies for a job at her pharmaceutical company. Sheldon is upset the machine works so well, as he feels he cannot understand others himself, but Amy comforts him, proud of his progress. Leonard and Penny apologize for blaming their fight on him, while Penny still intends to blame Leonard to her family as the reason why Randall cannot stay with them. Meanwhile, Raj calls together several of his ex-girlfriends to find out why he’s still single. Emily Sweeney, Lucy, Claire, and Emily the deaf woman leave him feeling down, since they all found better relationships after they dumped him. Howard promises that, if things don’t work out with Bernadette, he’ll become Raj’s partner in thirty years.10.15) The Locomotion Reverberation

Sheldon, Leonard, and Howard are nearly finished with their guidance system for the military, but Sheldon thinks it could be even smaller. To distract him, Leonard gifts him a trip to be a train conductor in Nevada. The trip greatly excites Sheldon, becoming all he thinks about. After seeing Sheldon’s theory, Colonel Williams orders his smaller version to be made instead, so Leonard and Howard try and get him to come back, with Howard promising to teach him the mechanics of trains in exchange for his help. Meanwhile, Penny and Amy take Bernadette out to get her mind off motherhood duties, but the new baby has made Penny and Amy sad over the slow progress in their own relationships. Raj and Stuart babysit Halley while having a few minor mishaps.

10.16) The Allowance Evaporation

Sheldon and Amy are out on a date when Bert the geologist is stood up. He says he admires them other than their only having sex once a year. Amy is angry Sheldon told everyone at the university. Sheldon apologizes, now understanding the need for privacy, and also informs Amy of one of his private secrets: that he got his driver’s license two years ago, but lets her chauffeur him to feel important. Meanwhile, Raj’s father has stopped trying to find him a wife since Raj still relies on him to pay for everything. Raj’s friends make him realize he is spoiled. Raj decides to stop taking the money to prove everyone wrong, though his father is very happy.

10.17) The Comic-Con Conundrum

Raj appoints Sheldon as his financial manager and is told he cannot afford to go to San Diego Comic-Con this year. Raj tries selling his collectibles and working for Stuart to make extra money. Howard does a bunch of chores so Bernadette will let him leave for five days. Penny says she wants to go with the guys to make Leonard happy, but they both think she’ll be miserable, leading to tension until Sheldon and Amy reveal the truth. Howard and Bernadette try to pay Raj for babysitting Halley, but he rejects the money along with his chance to go. Leonard decides to stay home to be with Penny and Howard does the same for his family. Sheldon still plans on going, confounding Amy with his attempts to have her join him.

10.18) The Escape Hatch Identification

Raj can no longer afford his apartment, so Leonard and Penny temporarily give him Sheldon’s old room. This makes Sheldon uncomfortable and he calls Beverly to have her analyze why. She claims he views his old room as an escape hatch should things go wrong with Amy and that Leonard and Penny need a roommate to distract themselves from their own relationship problems. The group’s fighting leads to Raj leaving and scaring Howard, Bernadette, and Stuart in the middle of the night. The couples are able to work through their issues and Raj is invited back to stay with Leonard and Penny.

10.19) The Collaboration Fluctuation

Sheldon and Amy attempt to analyze the Copenhagen interpretation using the neurobiology of decision-making. Professionally collaborating for the first time, they try to be nice for the sake of their relationship, but their work is of poor quality. They find that insulting each other makes them more creative, so they compile a list of topics on which insults are allowed. Meanwhile, Penny and Raj bond over girly things, causing Leonard to feel left out. Howard and Bernadette suggest that he talk to them, but Raj and Penny talk over Leonard about his feelings.

10.20) The Recollection Dissipation

Sheldon pushes himself to work on the guidance system with Howard and Leonard and his project with Amy on the same day. He catches a cold and wakes up the next day, half-naked and with no memory of what he did after he took cold medicine. His notebook of classified information on the military project is gone. Tracking his phone, they realize Sheldon went to a Western-themed bar. He gets the notebook back, but learns he told everyone there about the project after making them pinky swear to secrecy. Meanwhile, Bernadette feels guilty about returning to work so soon and leaving Halley. Howard thinks she is mad at him, but makes her feel better by saying that they can change their choices if they want and Halley won’t remember this anyway. Amy performs Soft Kitty for Sheldon in different languages using an autoharp.

10.21) The Separation Agitation

Bert the geologist interrupts the latest “Fun with Flags” episode to tell everyone he has a girlfriend now, a personal trainer named Rebecca. He brings her to meet the gang, but it becomes clear that she is only with Bert for his grant money. They convince him to dump her. However, he misses her, calling “Fun With Flags” again to say that he got her back by purchasing her a jet ski. Meanwhile, Howard, Bernadette, and Stuart are all upset about leaving Halley at the university’s daycare. Howard and Stuart take her out the first day to go to an aquarium.

10.22) The Cognition Regeneration

Sheldon loses his edge at online gaming and tries several new tasks to keep his mind sharp: baking with Raj, juggling with Howard, and riding a unicycle. Amy says maybe he should just focus on living well, though Sheldon wants to try stilts. Penny runs into her ex-boyfriend Zack, who offers her a job at his menu company. Penny likes the idea and Leonard reluctantly supports her. However, Zack says she cannot have the job as his fiance thinks it is a stupid idea for him to work with an ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, Howard is tired of Bernadette making fun of his magic tricks and finds her old ventriloquist dummy, though she uses it to scare Howard.

10.23) The Gyroscopic Collapse

Leonard, Howard and Sheldon finish their gyroscope for the Air Force, only to have it confiscated by the military for classified reasons. The loss of the project causes Howard to become clingy with Bernadette, though he reminds her she’s behaved in a similar manner after setbacks at her own job. Raj plans to move out of Leonard and Penny’s apartment, and into a room above Bert’s garage. Amy is offered a summer position as a guest researcher at Princeton. Though Sheldon initially takes the news badly, he ultimately agrees she should accept the offer.

10.24) The Long Distance Dissonance

With Amy away, Sheldon’s old admirer Dr. Ramona Nowitzki begins to hang around him at Caltech and later his home. The rest of the gang become convinced she is pursuing Sheldon, alarming Amy. They do their best to keep her away from him, even following her to her car after dinner as a group. Sheldon doesn’t believe Ramona is romantically interested in him, but when he asks her about it, she kisses him. Sheldon immediately departs and flies to New Jersey, proposing to Amy the second she answers the door.With an exciting cliffhanger ending that wets the appetites for season 11. The show continues to be a juggernaut of comedy with many more adventures to come.

 

 

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 – VOLUME 5 (SEASON 5 – 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)

Billy West in Futurama (1999)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Frank Welker (Transformers)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Chris Elliott (How I Met Your Mother)
David Herman (Angel)
Craig Ferguson (Web Therapy)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Al Gore (30 Rock)
Dawnn Lewis (Izombie)
Coolio (Daredevil)

Futurama (1999)It wasn’t the first Fox series to be canceled too early (and it certainly won’t be the last), but the initial demise of Matt Groening’s Futurama proved to be slow and steady. Not in quality, of course: this tale of a man frozen for a millennium only got funnier as the series progressed, though network support dwindled during its first 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) reinforced the show’s rabid fanbase.Futurama (1999)As creations like Fox’s own Family Guy would prove, strong DVD sales make executives take notice. Groening approached the studio in 2006 with a proposal to create a new direct-to-DVD Futurama adventure, paving the way for rumors about a proper weekly revival for the series. Negotiations led to the announcement of four direct-to-DVD movies, which would eventually be divided into sixteen episodes airing on the Comedy Central network. These resulting movies (Bender’s Big Score, The Beast With A Billion Backs, Bender’s Game and Into the Wild Green Yonder), unfortunately, weren’t all well-received by fans and new viewers, leading some to believe that Futurama had lost its rhythm. In many ways, it had: 90-minute movies were simply too big of a canvas for Futurama’s typical 24-minute template, and the results were often a little bloated and inconsistent.Futurama (1999)Luckily, Into the Wild Green Yonder wasn’t Futurama’s last hurrah. Since its release on DVD, 26 brand new episodes were ordered by Comedy Central…and that’s where Futurama: Volume Five comes in. Included with this package are 13 of these “third chance” episodes, with the remaining 13 on Volume 6..From top to bottom, this is a solid collection of episodes…especially considering that Futurama was still getting its 30-minute groove back. This series has always managed to pack tons of plot into each episode…and, for the most part, these smaller adventures seem to be the perfect length. There’s probably no better example of this than episode #7, “The Late Philip J. Fry”: this instant classic weaves a multi-billion year love story with ease, and it’s among the finest Futurama adventures ever told.

Futurama (1999)Other easy highlights include “Rebirth” (the much-anticipated return episode, filled with plenty of meta-jokes and shocking twists), “Lethal Inspection” (featuring the unlikely yet somehow perfect combination of Hermes and Bender, who faces his own mortality), “The Prisoner of Benda” (the entire crew swaps minds with one another, more or less) and “Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences” (a tale of mid-life despondence, starring everyone’s favorite first couple from Omicron Persei 8), just to name a few.Futurama (1999)what is here is top-notch entertainment that any fan of Futurama should enjoy thoroughly…and anyone that says it’s lost a step is kidding themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: FUTURAMA: INTO THE WILD GREEN YONDER

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)
David Herman (Angel)
Dawnn Lewis (Dreamgirls)
Snoop Dogg (Scary Movie 5)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Penn & Teller (Sabrina: TTW)

Phil LaMarr and Billy West in Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)The Planet Express crew visits Amy’s parents, Leo and Inez, who are destroying the “old” Mars Vegas and constructing a more extravagant one. A group of eco-feminists (calling themselves “eco-feministas”) led by Frida Waterfall protest the destruction of the environment, leading to an accident that leaves Frida’s necklace lodged inside Fry’s brain. The destruction upsets Leela, but Leo has bribed Professor Farnsworth to rubber stamp the project as environmentally friendly.Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Billy West in Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)Leela saves a Martian muck leech, the last of its species, from the site.In New Mars Vegas, Fry starts to go mad when he cannot stop hearing the thoughts of everyone around him. He meets Hutch, a transient who advises Fry to wear a tin foil hat to keep others’ thoughts out of his head. Hutch warns Fry never to reveal his powers and to beware the “Dark Ones”. While golfing with the crew, Leo reveals plans to build the universe’s largest miniature golf course, destroying 12% of the Milky Way in the process. Farnsworth and the crew survey the site and discover an asteroid in a violet dwarf star system teeming with primordial life. Despite this, Farnsworth approves Leo’s project. Disgusted, Leela joins the eco-feminists, who begin sabotaging the project.Hutch introduces Fry to the “Legion of Mad Fellows”, a secret society of tin-foil-hat-wearing telepaths led by the Number 9 man.Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, and Billy West in Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)No. 9 tells Fry a story of two species that worked together to survive, until one broke the cycle and caused an “evolutionary arms race”, both species evolving to defeat the other. One became the extinct “Encyclopods” who evolved to preserve the DNA of endangered species so they could be restored should they become extinct. The other became the “Dark Ones”, who want to destroy all life. Fry learns that the violet dwarf is the only surviving egg of the Encyclopods. Due to a resurgence in the life-giving force “Chi”, the Encyclopod will soon be reborn. As Fry is immune to the Dark Ones’ psionic powers he alone can save it from Leo Wong’s plans to turn it into a golf course, and from the Dark Ones, who have evolved to the point that no one knows what they look like. To end the sabotage, Leo enlists Zapp Brannigan and Kif Kroker, who in turn hire Bender to track down the eco-feministas.Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)Fry infiltrates Leo’s empire as a security guard. Amy is angered by her father’s sexist jokes and joins Leela, while Bender bugs Fry’s phone in case he communicates with Leela. Fry runs into Frida and has her take a message of support to Leela, but an unseen Dark One murders Frida. Farnsworth prepares to close Planet Express; with their delivery team missing they cannot continue. Leo Wong hires them to put up a fence around the construction site. Farnsworth cancels the closing and goes with Zoidberg and Hermes to do the job. They are captured by the eco-feminists, who commandeer the Planet Express ship. When the eco-feministas suspect Fry of murdering Frida, Fry and Leela arrange a rendezvous. They are ambushed by the Nimbus, which was tipped off by Bender. The eco-feministas are sent to prison.Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio, and Billy West in Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)At a Legion meeting, No. 9 explains that Fry must stop the implosion of the violet dwarf and thwart the Dark One who is sure to be present. Though no one knows the Dark One’s form, its mind cannot be read, allowing Fry to identify it. No. 9 gives Fry the Omega Device, which can temporarily disable the Dark One at close range. Bender frees the eco-feministas from prison in order to uphold his record for most crimes committed at once. Hermes, Zoidberg, Scruffy, and a repentant Farnsworth rescue them. At the ceremony, Fry cannot locate an unreadable mind; he concludes that he himself (having an unreadable mind) must be the Dark One. The eco-feministas disrupt the ceremony, but Fry convinces Leela to let him proceed.Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)Fry activates the Omega Device, which creates a small dome around the two that appears to have no effect. Leela’s leech falls to the ground and reveals itself as the final Dark One. The violet dwarf system forms a giant sperm and flies into the star, creating an Encyclopod embryo which quickly matures, taking the form of a giant manta ray-like creature. The Dark One kills Hutch, whose dying act is to pull Frida’s necklace out of Fry’s forehead, causing Fry to lose his telepathy. The Encyclopod kills the Dark One. No. 9 convinces the Encyclopod to preserve the Dark One’s DNA, but Zoidberg eats the remains before it can. The Encyclopod preserves Hutch’s DNA before leaving.Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)Zapp attempts to apprehend the escaped prisoners, but the crew of the Planet Express ship and the Eco-feminists escape along with Kif. Fry and Leela profess their love for each other as the Nimbus chases the Planet Express ship toward a wormhole, which the Professor warns could take them trillions of light years away. Everyone agrees to go for it. Fry and Leela kiss as the ship enters the wormhole.Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009)Futurama fans will love this film very much. Into the Wild Green Yonder is a brilliant animation film, which may not be at the same level of the series, but which deserves a very enthusiastic recommendation.

REVIEW: FUTURAMA: BENDER’S GAME

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)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
David Herman (Angel)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Frank Welker (transformers)
George Takei (Star Trek)

 

Futurama: Bender's Game (2008)Ignoring Professor Farnsworth’s orders to conserve fuel due to a rise in dark matter prices, Leela borrows the Planet Express Ship to enter a demolition derby after being insulted by rednecks. They win it, however the ship is wrecked, but due to botched laser eye surgery, the Professor only notices that the fuel has been used. As punishment, Leela is fitted with a shock collar to teach her anger management. Meanwhile, Bender finds Cubert and Dwight playing Dungeons & Dragons with their friends, but he cannot join in since, as a robot, he has no imagination.Futurama: Bender's Game (2008)After several tries at imagining things, Bender manages to imagine himself as a medieval knight named “Titanius Anglesmith, fancy man of Cornwood” and enters the game. Unfortunately, he soon gets lost in his fantasy and goes on a rampage, resulting in his commitment to the Hal Institute for Criminally Insane Robots.The crew learns that Mom, who controls the world’s only Dark Matter mine, is restricting the supply in order to drive up profits. The Professor reveals to the crew that while working for her many years ago, he stumbled on a way to turn dark matter from a useless curiosity into starship fuel.Futurama: Bender's Game (2008)The process created two energy crystals, with Mom keeping one for herself and Farnsworth hiding the other, “anti-backwards” crystal. If the two crystals are brought together, they will render all dark matter useless. Farnsworth has forgotten where he hid his crystal, but it is being used as a 12-sided die in the kids’ D&D game. Mom determines its location and sends her sons Walt, Larry and Igner to retrieve it, by saying that they are owl exterminators, but Farnsworth foils their attempt by sending an angry owl at them, messing up their plan since they do not know how to exterminate owls. Farnsworth, Fry, and Leela fly to Mom’s mine with the crystal in order to neutralize the dark matter.Reaching Mom’s mine, the trio discovers the heart of the operation: thousands of captive Nibblonians, including Nibbler, being force fed chickens in order to collect their excreted dark matter.Igner spots them, having earlier overheard Mom telling his brothers a secret about him, and helps them reach Mom’s office. Farnsworth tries to bring his and Mom’s crystals together, but swallows his in order to keep it out of Mom’s hands. In the robot asylum, Bender is diagnosed with insanity and is due for a “Robotomy” in order to remove his imagination processor. The closeness of the two dark matter crystals triggers a resonance in all dark matter—including a stockpile Bender has stored within his body—and catapults all the characters into Cornwood, the realm Bender imagines himself to be from. The other members of the Planet Express crew (Hermes, Zoidberg, and Amy) are transported as well.“Frydo” (Fry) and “Leegola” (Leela, now a centaur) emerge first and encounter Titanius (Bender); no one in Cornwood has any memory of their real-world lives, except for Fry and Leela.2608191260_03c85fbcc7The three are attacked by “Waltazar” (Walt), “Larius” (Larry) and “Ignus” (Igner), who are trying to recover the anti-backwards crystal. While fighting them off, Frydo drops the crystal, which rolls like a die and magically banishes the sons from the area to the Swamp Hag’s swamp. Frydo and company meet the wizard “Greyfarn” (Farnsworth), who explains that in this world, the anti-backwards crystal is known as the Die of Power. The evil snake-haired sorceress “Momon” (Mom) molded a set of powerful dice, but lost this one and has been trying to locate it so she can tap its immense potential. The only way to stop Momon is to enter her lair at the Geysers of Gygax and throw the Die into the lake of molten plastic from which it was formed, destroying it.2608186956_0d99d40244As the group sets out, the intersex, pacifist centaur “Hermaphrodite” (Hermes) bars their passage, since the centaurs are opposed to the violence that Frydo and company intend to do. However, (s)he is easily pushed aside by Leela, who leads everyone to the Cave of Hopelessness. As they approach, “Gynecaladriel” (Amy): Queen of the Water Nymphos joins their quest and seduces the guard, enabling them to enter the Cave. Inside the Cave, a horde of “Morcs” (orcs) attacks followed by a gigantic lobster creature (Zoidberg) which Leegola brutally cuts to pieces in a rage, and the wormlike Tunneling Horror which Frydo defeats using the Die. As Frydo becomes obsessed with the Die, Leegola renounces violence after realizing Zoidberg was not the tunnelling horror, and flees to take refuge among the centaurs. That night, Frydo makes a botched attempt to murder the other members of the party; when foiled, he flees with the die.futurama-benders-game-castThe remaining travelers journey to Wipe Castle to raise an army against Momon, only to find that Roberto, its insane king, has already sent his men on a pointless suicide mission. The heroes defend the kingdom alone as Waltazar and Larius lay siege to it, until Leegola regains her violent nature and rallies the centaurs to help her friends. Frydo makes his way into Momon’s lair, aided by Zoidberg’s still-living head; Frydo cannot bring himself to destroy the Die, so Zoidberg bites him to force him to drop it. Momon becomes a dragon and goes after the Die, but when it stops rolling, it turns Frydo into a dragon as well. The rest of the party arrives, along with Ignus, who reveals a secret Momon told his brothers: he is Greyfarn’s son.MV5BOTExZGRmNzItMTBlNi00NWViLWI2YWItODRkODVmZTliNmFlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTI3MDk3MzQ@._V1_Overwhelmed by this revelation, Greyfarn falls on the Zoidberg creature (who had claimed the Die), allowing Momon to seize the Die. Cornwood collapses in on itself, hurling the characters back into the real world. With the crystal back in the Professor’s stomach, Mom once again orders Walt and Larry to retrieve it. Before his moment of discomfort, the Professor requests a hug from Igner. Mom complies, saying someone should hug him as she never has. As the Professor had theorized, Igner had swallowed Mom’s crystal in defiance and the hug brings the crystals in the two men’s stomachs close enough to render all dark matter useless, breaking Mom’s stranglehold on the fuel supply. As a temporary propulsion source, the crew harnesses dozens of Nibblonians to pull their ship home, which they call “Nibbler Power”.x1080Maybe its the more linear and less “crazy” storyline that does the trick, maybe the deeper character development than in earlier installments, “Benders Game” should definitely satisfy fans and newcomers alike

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: BENDER’S BIG SCORE

 

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)
David Herman (Angel)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Dawnn Lewis (Dreamgirls)
Coolio (Batman and Robin)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Mark Hamill (Batman: TAS)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)

John DiMaggio in Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007)I honestly thought this show was dead and would never come back. I only watch the episodes once a year because I don’t want to wear out my favourite animated show. To hear of the comeback was great. To have to wait quite a while, not so much. Seeing the final product, a real joy and pleasant surprise.Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007)To be sure, they’re a little rusty in places. Some of the lines, especially in the initial third of the film, are questionable and would not have made the final cut under the regime that provided us with the standard series. Hermes, only occasionally an entertaining character, gets too much screen time in a somewhat superfluous side plot featuring his equally unentertaining wife and his irritating enemy Barbados Slim. The villains – the scammer aliens – are disgusting when they should be fearsome. These are the things that lose the film a perfect rating, and are the sorts of niggles I would have expected after such a long hiatus.Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, and Billy West in Futurama: Bender's Big Score (2007)But I marvel at what they did right. It retains much of the trademark dynamic writing, taking in some of the same unbelievable and jaw-dropping spins on science and human/alien relationships and making us laugh when explaining away the continuity errors the writers were aware were needed to create an engrossing story. It makes good use of screen time and never drags it heelsMV5BMzI2NDNkODYtZjZmOC00MmVlLTllMDctY2U5YTcxN2JhZDFiXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTM5NjkxMzM@._V1_Now I’ve covered the good and the bad, it is time to address the ugly – the backlash. Some have moaned that there isn’t enough humour in this feature. To be honest, one of my favourite features of the original series was getting us away from the old cliché which seems to doom a lot of animated shows, namely: Cartoon = Funny. Yes it has several moments of great humour – a nice fifty-fifty of building set pieces and incisive one-liners – but it balances them well with a poignant story which I think they pull off as well as ‘The Devils Hands Are Idle Playthings’ if you consider that they had to pace it out over nearly ninety minutes which is over four times the length of a standard episode.she-ra-s1It’s a tall order for almost any script writer used to cramming in the jokes in thirty minutes or less, but these writers don’t have a lot of trouble with it. Another point of contention with the hardcore fans has been what a few of them have called a hopelessly complicated plot. This makes me laugh because the hardcore brethren praise the show constantly for intelligent post-geek humour then with the same breath criticise this new installment for breaking out of the shows comfort zone to use that same intelligence to create a mind blowing story. They must have been watching a different movie because I stuck with almost every twist and turn with awe, and the few I haven’t resolved yet will – like all great works of art – reveal themselves with further observation.
x1080In closing – to you hardcore fans who say this isn’t a patch on the original episodes, get off your soap box and think yourself lucky there’s anything new at all and secondly, I bet you only grew to love those episodes through repeated viewings so stop being so hard on what is a logical continuation of a great premise!

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.