For a long time I have put off purchasing Futurama Season 1 on DVD, simply because it’s quite expensive (30-40 Euros). Yesterday, I fially borrowed it from a co-worker, and watched two of the three DVDs the same evening. Enough to give a quick review of it.
The DVDs contain some extras (Deleted scenes, animations, scripts and audiocomments so far). The animations and scripts are nothing special. The deleted scenes are nice to have, and some are quite neat, but overall they are decidedly less funny than the average Futurama joke.
The audio commentary is decent, but not as good as on the Simpsons Season 1 DVD set. They do have some of the speakers of characters along for ther ride (Billy West and John DiMaggio), but overall they seem to have much less to say about Futurama than they did about The Simpsons. Still, there is some very interesting information in these commentaries.
The picture quality of the DVDs is of course wonderful. Having only watched the MPEGs that were recorded off of a TV, I can appreciate this difference. Especially the fast scenes or scenes with a lot of detail (like the intro) look much nicer on DVD.One thing that I do not like about the DVDs is that the language seection menu seems to be slightly broken – at least with my Apple DVD player. I can’t seem to easily select the Audio Commentary with the mouse, and have to resort to cursor keys. Very odd problem. It kinda works, but it’s annoying. Speaking of the menues, I would have really expected them to make an animated main menu – look for the Ghostbusters 1 DVD for a great example.
One piece of Trivia I want to give away. It does look like Bender was supposed to sing “If I had a Hammer” in the 2nd Episode (“The Series Has Landed”), but they couldn’t get the rights to the song. What do you mean, rights? I could have sworn there was a satire clause in copyright law, but okay, whatever. However, I am really wondering what Bender would have done with that Hammer. I can see it now. “If I had a hammer, a hammer in the morning, I would smash your head in/laugh about your friends mourning”. Too evil? Nah, it’s Bender, mon!
So, what do I think of the DVDs? Well, they’re okay. I still think 40 Euro is too expensive. 25 Euro for the set sounds about right. Based on what I have seen so far, it’s much better than some DVDs I have (“Sneakers” was a joke in terms of extras, as was “Lost Boys”), but not as good as the Simpsons 1st Season set – which, afterall, was made by the same people. I really think the audio commentary and weak menues are a letdown. If you are a fan, or if you are a German who only watched the German version of Futurama, you should buy or borrow these DVDs and give them a try (watch them in English! Don’t watch them in German! German Futurama dubs are pure crap). 6 out of 10 points. I’ll update if the last DVD changes my mind.
_Update October 4th, 2002:_ I watched the last DVD in the set, and it did not change my mind. The Featurette on it was nice, and gave some interesting glances at the software and design process, but it was way too short to be more than of passing interest. So my review stands as-is.