REVIEW: HARLEY QUINN – SEASON 2

Harley Quinn (2019)

Starring

Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory)
Lake Bell (The Secret Life of Pets)
Alan Tudyk (Doom Patrol)
Jason Alexander (Shallow Hal)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Tony Hale (Chuck)
J. B. Smoove (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Wayne Knight and Kaley Cuoco in New Gotham (2020)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Jim Rash (Sky High)
Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys)
Matt Oberg (Sisters)
Sanaa Lathan (The Cleveland Show)
Rachel Dratch (Click)
Tom Hollander (Gosford Park)
Andy Daly (Semi-Pro)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Vanessa Marshall (Final Space)
James Adomian (Storks)
Brad Morris (Cougar Town)
George Lopez (The Smurfs 2)
Briana Cuoco (The Lydia Bennet!!)
Michael Ironside (Highlamnder II)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)
Will Sasso (Mom)
Justina Machado (Scoob!)
Scott Porter (Speed Race)
James Wolk (Watchmen TV)

Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in Riddle U (2020)While the first season only wrapped up a short while ago, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn is back for more, and it couldn’t be a better time for it to return. The animated series has stolen fans’ hearts with its all-star cast, hilarious approach to the DC canon, and adult-oriented approach to humor and violence. Season Two  absolutely keeps up its momentum in the episodes, while also evolving things forward in a necessary way. Kaley Cuoco and Alan Tudyk in All the Best Inmates Have Daddy Issues (2020)The premiere picks up a few weeks after The Joker’s (Alan Tudyk) apocalyptic attack on Gotham City, as Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) navigates the aftermath as only she can. Without getting into spoilers (which, if I’m being honest, would sound ludicrous out of context anyway), the episode gradually expands the rogues that are causing trouble in Gotham — a movement that gives Harley a new vendetta without feeling forced.Kaley Cuoco and Lake Bell in There's No Place to Go But Down (2020)Part of what’s made modern-day Harley Quinn so effective — from the comics to the recent blockbuster Birds of Prey movie — has been her approach to and subversion of feminist issues. Season One of Harley put that at the forefront, as she tried to prove her worth and agency among the male villains of her life. While there’s only one episode to go off of, Season Two seems to tackle that misogyny from a slightly different angle, one that will hopefully be incredibly satisfying to watch unfold.Kaley Cuoco in Inner (Para) Demons (2020)Of course, one of the standouts of the series is the rapport between Harley and her “crew,” something that remains the beating heart of the Season Two premiere. Cuoco is somehow even more energetic as Harley, and there’s a sense that she’s legitimately comfortable bringing the character to life. Each of the supporting cast members — from Lake Bell’s Poison Ivy to Jason Alexander’s Sy Borgman — are as great as ever and get their own moments of hilarity within the episode.Kaley Cuoco in Bachelorette (2020)The other villains of the series are as pitch-perfect as ever, between James Adomian’s scene-stealing Bane and Jim Rash’s delightfully-obnoxious take on The Riddler. Spider-Man 2 alum Alfred Molina joins the roster as Mr. Freeze, but manages to weave himself into the ensemble as if he’s always been there. Plus, the Season Two premiere rectifies one of the first season’s few flaws, which was that there wasn’t nearly enough of Andy Daly, who voices Two-Face and a handful of other characters in the episode.The Runaway Bridesmaid (2020)Harley Quinn’s sophomore is a  genuine hit — it somehow manages to outdo its stellar first batch of episodes. The cast and crew are clearly having fun bringing this new adventure of Harley’s to life.

REVIEW: LEGO DC COMICS SUPER HEROES: THE FLASH

CAST (VOICES)

Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Troy Baker (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Eric Bauza (Nerdland)
Grey DeLisle (Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen)
Tom Kenny (The Powerpuff Girls)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Vanessa Marshall (Batman: Bad Blood)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Jason Spisak (Jla Adventures)
James Arnold Taylor (Justice League: The New Frontier)
Audrey Wasilewski (Terminal Error)

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash (2018)The morning sun shines on the jewel of the Metropolis skyline, The Daily Planet building. But when The Joker decides this building needs a renovation, it’s time to sound the Trouble Alert because all bricks are about to break loose! The Justice League leaps into action but as the battle is brewing against The Joker something goes haywire with The Flash’s powers causing him to get caught in a repeating time loop and even stranger is the yellow clad Reverse Flash taunting him at every turn! It will take all of Flash’s speed, a little magic and the helping hands and paws of the Justice League’s new recruits The Atom, Krypto the Super Dog and Ace the Bat Hound to break the cycle and save Metropolis!legodcsuperheroestheflash600_size3Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: The Flash (2018) is a film that not alot of viewers will relate and it makes sense i guess but as a long life DC Fan and Lego Fan this film was a blast for me. With lot’s of cameos from heroes and villains of the DC universe like Joker, Killer Croc, Penguin, Cheetah, Trickster, Krypto, Bat Hound and even Aquaman. The jokes are clever and super funny and the plot as a whole although we have seen it all before it was interesting and smart too. Casual viewers won’t love this movie but fans of Lego and DC and those who know what to expect will have a hell of a blast. LEGO-Flash-3

REVIEW: LEGO JUSTICE LEAGUE: COSMIC CLASH

CAST (VOICES)
Troy Baker (Iron Man Anime)
Nolan North  (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Grey Griffin (Batman vs Robin)
Kari Wahlgren (Justice League vs Teen Titans)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Yuri Lowenthal (Legion of Super Heroes)
James Arnold Taylor (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Jessica DiCicco (Gravity Falls)
Andy Milder (Seven Pounds)
Jason Spisak (Piranha 3D)
cosmicclash2
 This is awesome!!! I have been a DC and Batman animated series for well over 2 decades, and I can honestly say I loved this movie. My kids were cracking up every few seconds. This just made the movie better for me, as it was a movie the whole family could enjoy. The characters are more child friendly and the including Batman’s costume design. They are using the blue cape and cowl instead of the black. However the best thing they did is that they keep the characters true to their core. cosmicclash3The characters. Superman is the most powerful character, but also the best liked they play up his good manners and naivety, (which is the opposite of how he is in the current New 52 comics); this is the way I remembered Superman growing up. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) is always jumping into battle head first simply to prove how fearless he is. Long-time fans will appreciate the continuity touch of him and Batman’s personality clash. Wonder Woman is the team protector and diplomat till you make her angry then the warrior Amazon comes out. Cyborg is inventor but still looking for acceptance from the teams big guns. Flash is portrayed as hyperactive and impatient, all the things that come with super speed, in the Lego universe he does not seem to be able to turn his posers off. I would love for the next move to focus more in him. Super girl has all of Superman’s powers but is a teenage worse a super powered teenage cheerleader. Batman is the main character in this story. Yes they do make him more kid friendly but they keep his dark, intensity, brooding, suspicious and workaholic personality that make him a bit of an outsider even to his friends in the justice League.
cosmicclash6After blasting the 3 most powerful members of the Justice League to different point in time shrinking the Earth and cataloguing it should be a breeze for the supercomputer that is Brainiac, right the only one left are the junior members and the Batman who does not even have any powers. This is great movie with lots of colourful characters and special attacks and moves for the youngsters, and then it has enough of a story and engagement and continuity to keep older/mature fans happy as well including appearances from “Elseworld” versions of characters. All in all a great movie for all fans of Lego or DC.
cosmicclash1

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.