Futurama: Bender’s Big Score R1 DVD review

Futurama: it's like The Simpsons, in space, but slightly less annoying. It was cancelled, now it's back... Ron reviews a new Futurama movie, and geeks out over the box

Futurama

I’ve noticed a trend as I tear into my present-fresh copy of Futurama: Bender’s Big Score. In a lot of the DVDs I’ve reviewed lately, especially the more upscale editions, the back of the DVD is printed on a removable sheet so that the box itself remains unmarked by plot summaries, technical information, ratings, and all the other crap that most fans already know about. Thus for the anti-fan, there’s information, and for the fan, there’s a pristine, beautiful box.

Bender’s Big Score is a pristine, beautiful box. The slipcover resembles a TV (with plastic viewing screen) and inside is a full-sized holographic Bender. Move him one way, and he’s normal Bender. Move him the other way, and he’s doing one of his signature flame-belches and bugged-out eyes thanks to what looks like a jalapeno martini.

Note to self: try jalapeno martini.

The movie itself is pretty much Futurama, as expected. Very touching, very funny, lots of plot twists and math, and unfortunately, a cliffhanger ending setting up what will hopefully be in the next movie. All your favorite Futurama characters are there, and there’s even an appearance by the Chanukah Zombie. Considering it all centers around Christmas and New Years, it is very holiday appropriate.

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There are a lot of special features as well. Character design sketches, a storyboard explaining the events and various flash backs, forwards, and sideways of the plot, and the usual deleted storyboards provide the expected additions to the DVD. But this is Futurama, things won’t be as you expect them.

The special features on this single disc are pretty spectacular. There’s the commentary, of course, the original first draft of the script, the original 5 minute promotional video from the San Diego Comic-Con, a math lecture (!), a live comic book reading by the Futurama cast, and shockingly, a full 22 minute episode of the year 3007’s favorite show Everybody Loves Hypnotoad.

Of the extras, I think the live comic book reading is the best, as it was actually read live. When there’s a screw up, it stayed in. When someone breaks character, it stayed in. It’s very fun, and it’s impressive to hear Billy West voice so many characters at once.

The math lesson is also surprisingly entertaining, while also informative, as the professor giving the math lesson is a huge Futurama fan, and they liberally use references and clips from the show to spice up what is probably very fascinating for a math major. They explain pi, the Alienese language and how the Slurm billboard was used to decide the entire Alienese language within a matter of hours by math nerds (and a second Alienese language code), and various appearances of the Futurama writers and creators explaining the difficult nerd in-jokes that fly far over the head of my English major head.

It’s a fascinating DVD, and the part I thought I would be least interested in (math, boo!) was actually enthralling. So much of the things I always took for granted in the background of Futurama is explained in this DVD. It’s a show that rewards obsessive viewers like myself, math nerds not like myself, and general geeks, which I should hope we all are.

Movie:

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4 out of 5

Extras:

5 out of 5

Ron Hogan is walkin’ on sunshine now that Futurama is back. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness, and daily at Shaktronics.

Rating:

4 out of 5