"The big brain am winning again! I am the greetest! Hahahaha! And now, I will leave Earth for no raisin!"
While I enjoy the first two seasons of Futurama greatly, I feel it's the third season where the show really begins to take off and hit it's stride. The second season contains a few of my favourite episodes, but the third season is absolutely rife with them, I'd call it infested with goodness, but then I'd have nowhere to go when describing the fourth season.
The third season not only provides laughs a plenty but also builds on previous story lines and some of the foreshadowing which occurred in the first two seasons. Of particular note is one piece of foreshadowing which actually occurred back in the pilot episode of the show and I'll write about it when we get to the relevant episode. It's touches like this; along with an evolving state of characters, great gags and a genuine feeling of chronology which makes Futurama something rather special in the world of cartoons. Many other cartoons lack that sense of reality, so to speak.
Amazon Women in the Mood is the first episode of the season and a prime example of how the show builds on previous moments, providing growth for unexpected characters - in this case Amy and Kiff, who if you recall, were thrown together back on the Titanic in season one by Amy's parents. It seemed like a throwaway gag at the time, but in this episode it's brought forward and allows us to learn more about the poor, rundown sidekick to Zapp Brannigan (additionally giving us more Zapp at the same time). Parastites Lost has Fry becoming infected with intelligent intestinal worms which actually set about improving their host. We get to experience what Fry would be like if he'd just been born smarter and stronger. Leela falls for this new and improved Fry, but in a genuine feeling moment Fry decides to see if it's him or the what the worms have made him she loves. The answer isn't the one he wanted to hear, but it gives the viewer a fun swashbuckling version of Inner Space to watch.
A Tale of Two Santas brings back everyone's favourite homicidal robotic Santa, this time voiced by John DeMaggio instead of John Goodman, you wouldn't even be able to tell the difference. Luck of the Fryish is an unexpected story which mixes two time lines, telling the story of Philip J. Fry (3000) and Philip J Fry (2000). The end of the episode is one of the most touching moments in the show and it's a joyous surprise to experience. The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz brings things back with just good old fashioned Bender style fun and a horde of murderous penguins to boot - Waak, waak waak! Finally the first disc is closed out with the return of Flexo in Bendless Love, another Bender-centric story with probably my favourite Bender expression. His eyes when Angeline tells him "I'll always care for you too." always does it for me.
The second disc starts with the episode which starts to pay off that brief "easter egg" in the pilot episode. In The Day the Earth Stood Stupid it turns out that Nibbler is not a mindless eating/pooping machine, but a hyper intelligent being stationed to help Fry save the Earth from the Flying Brains. Now I'm rather ambivalent where Nibbler is concerned, but I do love this episode so I'm willing to overlook the more irritating aspects of the character. That's Lobstertainment! is generally considered to be the weakest Futurama episode and I concur on that front, I often skip it when watching this season.
Fortunately the other episodes on this disc more than make up for that snooze-fest The Cyber House Rules gives us a two eyed Leela and Bender as a father - an exceptionally negligent and irresponsible father. Where the Buggalo Roam returns us to Mars and expands further on the Kiff/Amy relationship (plus more Zapp and some pseudo-cowboy action!), Insane in the Mainframe introduces the brilliant Roberto in a storyline which ends up with Fry being incarcerated in an asylum for insane robots and finally The Route of all Evil has Cubert (who I just love) and loads of "Paperboy" homages.
Disc three starts with Bendin' in the Wind, which is nothing short of a non-stop Beck and Bender lovefest, Beck's music is just fantastic (this episode actually introduced me to it, I now have most of his albums). Time Keeps on Slipping continues to build on the Fry/Leela dynamic and also introduces the amazing Harlem Globe Trotters. I Dated A Robot features Lucy Liu along with a return to the Internet (I love the Internet in Futurama, there needs to be more of it). A Leela of Her Own is another one of those episodes I'm not to bothered with, but I put this down to a lack of baseball in the UK, and finally we have A Pharaoh to Remember - "Remember me! Remember me!"
The last disc is probably the best of the four discs, it has Anthology of Interest II - which again has three great non-cannon stories, in this case they are "what if Bender was human", "what if life was more like video games" and "Futurama Wizard of Oz". I could watch Anthology of Interest episodes all day if they'd make more of them. Roswell that Ends Well is a superb episode with some wonderful time travel hi jinks, Godfellas has Bender playing god and then meeting something which might be God. Future Stock is a fun romp and spoof of the more, um, "special" quantities of the 1980s and The 50% Iron Chef rounds out the season nicely with Bender and Elzar in a cook-off.
There's no doubt that this is an amazing season, I'm still unsure if it's the best - I'll probably make the final decision once I go over the fourth season later this week. But for now it's enough to say that it's an improvement over the already excellent second season, which is what you want - in an ideal world each season is better than the ones which came before it.
The cover for this set is probably the best one yet, this time the windows set into the plastic dust cover function as helmets for the cast (though why Bender needs a helmet is a question not worth answering, perhaps it's so he can smoke in space.) and the scene inside references many of the events from the show. Each individual DVD case also has original artwork - by now you know the drill, nothing held back for these sets. Again you can get the sets with standard sized DVD cases (older version) and the thin slimline-DVDs in the newer edition.
Deleted Scenes for all six episodes
5 Deleted Scenes
3 Deleted Scenes
Alternate Animatics Commentary for Roswell That Ends Well
How to Draw Characters galleries
3 Deleted Scenes
9 3D Models from Rough Draft sequences (these are great)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Danish, Finnish, French, Norwegian, Swedish, English HOH