DVDs in Review #75: Futurama: The Complete Second Season

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

First Season review is located here.
"Morbo will now introduce tonight's candidates... PUNY HUMAN NUMBER ONE, PUNY HUMAN NUMBER TWO, and Morbo's good friend, Richard Nixon.

The second season of the sci-fi comedy cartoon Futurama first aired in 1999 and contains a total of nineteen episodes. Just like any good television piece, there is a marked improvement in quality between the first and second seasons. The greater quantity of episodes hasn't resulted in a reduction in quality, instead many of the episodes are funnier and more memorable than the first.

The season opens with I Second That Emotion - a jealous Bender has an empathy chip installed in his bonce after he flushes Nibbler down into the sewers. Driven by Leela's emotions he is compelled to go after the critter and joined by Fry and Leela they encounter an entire civilisation underneath New New York, a civilisation plagued by a beast known only as El Chupanibre. It's the first appearance of the sewer mutants and a great episode to open with. In Brannigan, Begin Again - everyone's favourite Captain Kirk knock-off blunders by blowing up the new DOOP headquarters during the ribbon cutting ceremony and is thrown out of his job. Hired by the Professor he proceeds to lead a mutiny against Leela, and then continues to wage his war against the neutral forces of neutral in his own kamikaze style.

The next two episodes remain amongst my favourite, the first of them A Head in the Polls might possibly be my all time favourite episode. It expands on the hilarious Richard Nixon "cameo" from the pilot episode by having him running for the post of Earth's president, aided by the charisma of Bender's butt (and body). It's up to the crew of Planet Express to stop him - do they manage it? Well do the words "NIXON'S BACK!" followed by a rampage towards the White House answer that question? Xmas Story features John Goodman in his one appearance as the awesome Robot Santa (John DeMaggio takes over in later episodes, but I also do a mean Robot Santa impression if anyone needs one) and the first disc is closed out with Why Must I be a Crustacean in Love? The first episode focused mostly around one of my favourite characters, Dr. Zoidberg. Oddly though, this is not one of my favourite episodes - it has good moments, but for the most part it just doesn't click with me.

The second disc contains the awesome The Lesser of Two Evils, which introduces Flexo, Bender's goatee wearing double; the always enjoyable Put Your Head on my Shoulders - Fry on rare form as a complete buffoon here (and less irritating than A Fishfull of Dollars for sure); Raging Bender, A Bicyclops Built For Two (both good episodes, especially the Virtual Internet scenes from Bicyclops) and A Clone of My Own, another episode I adore - mostly because of Cubert, a child genius who promptly points out every single illogical flaw he can find.

The third disc has the somewhat Hermes centric episode How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back, another episode with an awesome musical number (the first one was Hell is Other Robots); The Deep South - which is an episode I can take or leave, but also has some brilliant gags - especially the ones involving Zoidberg's house; Bender Gets Made brings us the brilliant robot mafia; Mother's Day expands on everyone's favourite Mom when she decides to have all the robots on the planet conquer Earth for her and The Problem With Popplers (named after that Star Trek episode), which introduces the first of the Freewaterfall family and then promptly kills him off.

The last disc contains Anthology of Interest I, which is rather like the Simpson's Treehouse of Horrors, it contains three standalone stories created by the "What If" machine. They're not cannon, but they are immense fun. In one story Bender is a giant robot (spoofing the Iron Giant and Godzilla at the same time), in the second we see what life would be like if Leela was more decisive (short version, she'd kill a lot of people) and in the last one we find out what would happen if Fry hadn't been frozen and sent to the Future (short version; he spends an eternity playing D&D with Deep Blue, Al "I'm a twelfth level vice-president" Gore, Gary Gygax and Nichelle Nichols (Cursed to an eternity with nerds). While all these episodes are non-canon they are immense fun and it's amazing so much gets packed into each story.

The other three episodes on the final disc are the Starship Troopers homage War Is the H-Word (Daffodil, Daffodil, Daffodil!), The Honking with it's brilliant were-cars and The Cryonic Woman, where Fry is reunited with his ex-girlfriend Michelle (who broke up with him in the pilot episode if you recall that far back).

It's just a great season filled with gags, enjoyable stories and a lot of good future-fashioned fun!

Packaging-wise the set is just pure physical poetry, again you have the slightly transparent plastic outer sheath which combines with original artwork to create a great set of scenes. There's a little bit of an odd moment on the one side (which you can see in the picture above), I'm not sure why Fry is suffocating when he has two air tubes. There are again two versions of this set, the older fat version using normal DVD cases and the newer slim-line version. Once again I (sadly) have the fat versions.

Each of the four DVDs has original art, 30th Century Fox logos and a spine which combines to make a conga line containing Leela, Bender, Zoidberg and Fry. As always Futurama packaging puts other sets to shame with it's extravagance, detail and sheer entertainment value.

The menus on the old versions have slightly rough loops, but it's a vast improvement over the first season and the are animated - there's just a faint fade before the sound loops and no jarring on the animation recycling. There is still no "Play All" button (on my version at least), that doesn't make an appearance until season three.

The commentary remains as excellent as ever, as do all of the sub-menus. You can just feel how much effort and care went into the production of these sets, it's not just a case of slap on some pictures and roll it out.

If you enjoyed the first season, you'll love the second one - and this set is the best way to express that love. Say it with commercialism! It's the only way they'll know you mean it, because remember - love is quantified by the amount of money spent on it.

Disc One:
Animatic for "Why Must I be a Crustacean in Love?"
Deleted Scenes for all five episodes
Commentary - Excellent commentary
Easter Egg - Nibbler's Eyeball on I Second That Emotion

Disc Two:
Storyboards for "A Bicyclops Built for Two"
Deleted Scenes for all five episodes
Commentary, James Commentary
Easter Egg - Select the Tiara on The Lesser of Two Evils menu and Gem on A Bicyclops Built for Two

Disc Three:
(I especially like the opening menu animation for this disc)
Deleted Scenes for The Deep South, Bender Gets Made and The Problem with Popplers
Easter Eggs - The floppy disc on "How Hermes..." menu,

Disc Four:
Still Gallery/Concept Art
Alien Alphabet
International Clips
Alien Advertisments
Deleted Scene from The Honking and The Cryonic Woman
Futurama DVD Season 1 Trailer
Easter Egg - Select the remote showing Bender at the bottom of War is the H-Word's menu and Monday Monkey on The Cryonic Woman

All of the Easter Eggs show various members of the Futurama production crew as teenagers. Dork alert!


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