Futurama: Volume Three
Good news, everyone, the third DVD volume of Futurama is just as funny as ever--irreverent, boundlessly inventive, warmhearted, and chock-full of in-jokes, sight gags, and fleeting references to all manner of pop-culture icons and obscure genre classics. In fact, if the show has a problem, it's that it's all so lovingly crafted that scarcely a frame goes by without something both funny and clever going on: when a horse wins a race by a quantum fraction, Prof. Farnsworth fulminates, "You changed the result by observing it!" Recurring minor characters (Elzar the chef, the robot mafia, the mutants in the sewers) pop up unexpectedly throughout, providing another wink to dedicated fans; like Red Dwarf, this is a show that loves the genre it sets out to spoof. Shame, then, that the show has had a troubled broadcast history and never quite found the mainstream appeal of its stablemate The Simpsons.
Fry and the Planet Express team find themselves stranded on a planet of unfeasibly large women ("Amazon Women in the Mood"), standing in for psychotic Robo-Santa ("A Tale of Two Santas", with John Goodman reprising his evil robot), and variously falling in love with each other and sundry other humans, aliens, man-bots, fem-bots, virtual reality constructs, and even the Planet Express ship itself.
Futurama, Vol. 3 comprises 22 episodes on four discs. As with previous DVD sets, the animated menus are a treat, and there's a selection of bonus features including deleted scenes, storyboards, commentaries on every episode, animatics, "How to draw" tips, and more. Sheer heaven. --Mark Walker