DVDs in Review #78 - Futurama: The Complete Fourth Season

Category: , , , By Rev/Views

(Previous seasons can be found here: One, Two & Three)
It's time to close out the Futurama season DVD reviews with the fourth and possibly best season of the show. This four disc set contains the final eighteen episodes of the original run and has the vast bulk of my favourite episodes in it.

The first episode of the season echoes the first episode of the previous season, developing Kif and Amy's burgeoning relationship further in Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch (BAM!). Naturally it's quite a Kif-centric episode; but also features the rest of the cast, Zapp Brannigan and the "holo-shed" of The Nimbus (BP-1729). In Leela's Homeworld the story builds from a brief Easter egg moment in the second season (I Second That Emotion), which revealed to the sharp eyed viewer two individuals which looked a lot like Leela. In a rather touching and emotional episode Leela herself discovers the truth behind her abandonment and identity of her parents. In Love and Rocket Sigorney Weaver plays "Planet Express Ship" as Bender and her/it embark on a relationship which ends in a truly Bender like style. Less Than Hero has Fry and Leela becoming superheroes after they discover a miracle cream which has the side-effect of giving superpowers to humans. Suffice to say this episode is so good that it's a real question why Matt Groening hasn't created a superhero cartoon. And finally A Taste of Freedom explores what freedom really means and gives us plenty of Zoidberg moments (good Zoidberg moments as opposed to the boring ones in That's Lobstertainment last season).

The second disc starts with Bender Should Not Be Allowed on TV, which is either an excellent parody of the media or a damning statement against the attitudes of the viewers. Perhaps both. Jurassic Bark is another tear-jerker in the style of Luck of the Fryish, this time dealing with Fry's best friend from the past - a dog named Seymour. In Crimes of the Hot the issue of global warming is touched on and given the Futurama treatment and Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles allows Leela to explore her relationship with her parents more when the entire crew are accidentally youth-asized. Finally the second disc ends with the return of Nibbler and the Flying Brain-Spawn. As I said while reviewing season three, I don't care much for Nibbler, but I adore this story and the way it finally closes out that Easter egg from the pilot episode.

Disc three begins with great gusto in an unashamed tribute to Star Trek titled Where No Fan Has Gone Before. Almost the entire original cast of Star Trek are brought back together for this show, including Nichelle Nicholes and Leonard Nimoy who both previously appeared on the show. Only Bones and Scotty are absent from this. In The Sting Leela is horrified when a relatively simple (but dangerous) task results in Fry's demise. Fun Trivia: The only Futurama cast member to have never "died" in the show (including the non-canon stories from the Anthologies) is Leela. In Bend Her everyone's favourite bending unit (second favourite if you're a Flexo fan) swaps genders in order to cheat at the Olympics and in Obsoletely Fabulous Bender is re programed to work with the new robot 1-X - with disastrous results.

The final disc contains just four episodes, but I feel these four are amongst the greatest. The Farnsworth Parabox has the Professor accidentally creating a box containing an alternative universe (there used to be just the two, the other lot had cowboy hats). Three Hundred Big Boys is my all time favourite Futurama episode (along with A Head in the Polls) and has Nixon issuing a tax refund to everyone on the planet, it's a wonderful episode with a story for every single Planet Express character and it climaxes in a moment I'd call sublime. Spanish Fry brings back Lrrr and Ndnd when Fry's nose is poached and The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings closes out the entire run with the return of Dan Castellaneta as the Robot Devil and an entire Opera show. The episode ends on a sweet moment which was written because they weren't sure they were going to be renewed at the time. They weren't, and for a long time it functioned as the end of the show - and it was a great ending.

The set itself is as sharp and well designed as the previous ones. It again comes in two sizes (old one being thicker) and has a plastic dust cover which contains windows, this time the style is different to the previous "looking at the back image) used. Instead when you take the cover (depicting the three principle cast members) off the box itself has "x-ray" versions of them underneath.

Each and every DVD case has unique artwork (as before) and the menus on the discs are smoother than ever. The "Play All" button is present on all root menus, just like the third season - which I always approve of, I like the Play All option. Basically the standard set in the previous seasons is maintained here, making owning a copy of Futurama Season Four and enjoyable experience for visual, audio and tactile senses, heck all it would have to do is taste and smell nice and all five senses would be delighted at once.

Make no mistake, this is the best season of the show, but if you're a fan of Futurama you'll already know that and I'm just wasting my words. For everyone else; get it, watch it, love it.

Disc One:
Three Deleted Scenes

Disc Two:
Gallery Images
Five Deleted Scenes

Disc Three:
Four Deleted Scenes

Disc Four:
Audio Commentary
Four Deleted Scenes
Easter Eggs
11 3D Models from Rough Draft
Stills Gallery
Four Trailers
Nine Pencil Test Segments


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