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Following in the steps of FAMILY GUY, FUTURAMA is another animated phoenix that has been reborn out of the ashes of its cancellation, thanks to its undeniable popularity in syndication and lucrative home video sales. Because of its undeserved cancellation, I’ve come to regard FUTURAMA as the red haired stepchild of the Fox Network, as Fox continues to dote on creator Matt Groening’s other series, THE SIMPSONS, which is presently in its twenty-second season on the air. Unlike FAMILY GUY, however, Comedy Central is responsible for the rebirth of FUTURAMA and not Fox. Personally, I have always found FUTURAMA to be a huge laugh inducer, with its sharply drawn character either uttering something incredibly witty, or something brilliantly moronic. Ever ready to have my funny bone tickled, I am glad that FUTURAMA is getting its second go round on Comedy Central and hope the cable network keeps ordering new episodes for years to come.

For those unfamiliar with FUTURAMA, it tells the continuing adventures of 20th century pizza delivery boy Philip J. Fry, who was cryogenically frozen for a thousand years and living out his life as a delivery boy of the future for a company called Planet Express owned by a distant relative- Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth. Planet Express employees also include Turanga Leela, the one-eyed captain of the Planet Express Ship, and Fry’s long time love interest. Bender Bending Rodríguez is Fry’s foul mouthed, lying, kleptomaniac, borderline sociopath robotic best friend and designated ship's cook. Dr. John A. Zoidberg (my favorite character) is Planet Express’s incompetent crustacean staff physician, who lacks a basic understanding of human anatomy. Amy Wong is a long-term intern at Planet Express who sponges off her wealthy parents, while Hermes Conrad is the office paper pusher and bureaucrat, with an eye for saving the company money. The vocal talent behind FUTURAMA features Billy West, Katey Sagal, John Di Maggio, Tress MacNeille, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr and Lauren Tom.

FUTURAMA: VOLUME 5 ($40) comes to Blu-ray in a two-disc set that features the following thirteen episodes: Rebirth, In-A-Gadda-Da-Leela, Attack Of The Killer App!, Proposition Infinity, The Duh-Vinci Code, Lethal Inspection, The Late Philip J. Fry, That Darn Katz!, A Clockwork Origin, The Prisoner Of Benda, Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences, The Mutants Are Revolting and The Futurama Holiday Spectacular.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made all thirteen episodes that comprise FUTURAMA: VOLUME 5 available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentations are super and certain to ticked fans. For this type of 2D animation, the image appears incredibly sharp, with every character and every background appearing crisply defined. Colors are deeply saturated and pretty much leap off the screen. Blacks and whites are pure. Contrast is excellent. Not produced on film, all the episodes that comprise FUTURAMA: VOLUME 5 are free from the grain and print flaws.

All of the episodes that comprise FUTURAMA: VOLUME 5 are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. More or less the episodes offer sitcom sound, with modest embellishments. Occasional directional effects come into play, but much of what we hear is front and center. There is occasional use of the surround channels for an active sound effect, its mostly ambience and fill occupying the rears. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered and the actors' voices maintain a natural timbre. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some supplements. Starting things off are running Audio Commentaries for all thirteen episodes participants include executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, producer Claudia Katz, plus voice actors Billy West & John DiMaggio. Featurettes and other programs include: Behind The Fungus: Makin A Hit Song (five minutes), The Adventures Of Delivery-Boy Man (7 minutes), Bend It Like Bender (three minutes), Live Table Read (thirty five minutes) and Previously On Futurama (one minute). A collection of Deleted Scenes closes out the standard supplements. FUTURAMA: VOLUME 5 is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

As I stated above, I am glad that FUTURAMA is getting its second go round on Comedy Central and hope the cable network keeps ordering new episodes for years to come. The Blu-ray presentations of the episodes contained in FUTURAMA: VOLUME 5 are really terrific. Highly recommended.


Futurama: Volume 5 [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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