Like the ramshackle delivery capabilities of the group employed at Planet Express, the show 'Futurama' has always been something that you couldn't count on. Not because the show isn't any good, but because through its lifetime it's been canceled, revived, and then wallowed in TV limbo. But while it's around we should enjoy it.
By now the show has settled into a nice groove, playing off of itself more and more. Inside jokes are commonplace now. The episodes in this volume are best enjoyed if you're already a fan of the series. At times 'Futurama' can seem like it's relying too much on inside jokes to get by. The later seasons do have that problem, somewhat. Although, with that said, 'Futurama' is one of the easier shows to jump in at any point since there are a ton of pop culture references that should resonate with anyone.
This season of episodes is a laugh-worthy bunch. 'Futurama' has always been a more laid back kind of show. It doesn't really try to push the envelope or shock-and-awe people with "edginess." Instead it goes for relaxed laughs and guffaws. That's what I've always liked about it. It's the kind of show you can watch back-to-back-to-back without realizing that you've watched three or four hours' worth of episodes.
In the seventh volume of the show we get to experience everything from what Bender is like as a father to a near brush with the end of the world. As always the crew from Planet Express joke their way through each situation.
Bender fathering a tiny robot in "The Bots and the Bees," is a great episode. Not only because of the educational video designed to explain how robots copulate, but also because we get to see that rare emotional side of Bender. Most of the episodes aren't that introspective though. Don't worry, we get our fill of clueless Fry along the way.
Much like the finale in volume six, the last episode here, "Naturama," is a departure from the main storylines. Instead of following Bender's shenanigans or Fry's self-inflicted stupidity and longing for Leela, we get to see the crew reimagined as animals in a nature show. Aping 'Planet Earth,' we get three vignettes showing the cast reimagined as elephant seals, salmon, and tortoises. The animals retain the characteristics of the original characters, but Groening and crew do a great job inserting all kinds of animal-related humor that is made all the funnier if you ever watch those kind of nature documentaries. Watching Bender as an elephant seal, guarding his harem while a few weaker beta-males, Fry and Kif, observe with jealousy.
It's always great to get more 'Futurama.' Hopefully, it stays on the air. It's hard knowing exactly what will happen from one year to the next with this series. It's consistently funny. While some jokes may fall flat and other pop culture references seem dated as soon as they're explored (the whole episode based around the controversy of Obama's birth certificate comes to mind) the writing crew still manages to work their comedic magic.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Volume seven comes in the same type of flimsy cardboard packaging that volume six was released with. The outer cardboard slipcase feels like it could tear or fall apart at any moment. Inside there's a tri-fold envelope that houses the discs in weak disc slots. The discs easily come loose and will fall out if you ever turn it upside down. There's also an episode list inside. Something that is sorely needed in this set is a leaflet that gives us the information on the set's special features, specifically those participating in the audio commentaries for each episode. There are 13 episodes in this season, spread across two discs. The discs are 50GB each. It's coded for Region A use.
'Futurama' is one of the best looking cartoons in high-def. This is due to the simple, yet colorful animation and the smoothly rendered 3D animation being blended together seamlessly. The colors in this show are absolutely wonderful. They pop off the screen with a vibrant enthusiasm.
The 3D rendering looks fantastic on Blu-ray. When broadcast on television it's easy to see artifacts, like jaggies, forming around edges of the animation. On Blu-ray, no such artifacts exist. Instead we're given a precise and clean animation free from any defects. Gradient shading is void of any sort of awful banding, which is a big plus.
With bold colors and detailed animation, this volume of 'Futurama' will surely be eye-candy on your television screen.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is another bright spot on this release. We're treated to a wide array of sounds here. Rear channels are full of all sorts of ambient sound. Whether it's the yelling from an oncoming army of Neanderthals or the screaming from looters as the end of the world nears, the rear channels do a great job sucking you in.
LFE is a constant source of entertainment also. The firing of blasters on the Planet Express spaceship add a nice heft to the soundfield. Dialogue is always clear and directionality does a great job whenever characters are speaking out of frame.
I was impressed by the way volume six handled itself in the audio department, and this rivals that presentation. Fans will surely be happy with the way it turned out.
I really hope Fox goes back and releases the older seasons of 'Futurama' on Blu-ray, but if it's anything like the way they've treated 'The Simpsons,' that could be a long time coming. Still, these later seasons are funny enough and they look great in HD. The packaging is woefully underdeveloped though. This will be a must-own for hardcore fans of the series. For anyone else it's recommended.