Matt Groening Futurama: Vol Three

Matt Groening's cancelled creation had unlimited possibilities for storylines and in the third season the gifted writers were beginning to explore Futurama's full potential. With the first two seasons spent trying to convince fans of the Simpsons to embrace these abnormal characters, the third season found the series in a fantastic groove of incredible creativity without the fear of alienating viewers, as Futurama was now making episodes for its cult following even as it succumbed to its inevitable fate. This third instalment offers some brilliant episodes, such as when Bender is to spend eternity floating through space and accidentally lands the role of God to a village of people growing on his robot body, or when Fry internally develops super-intelligent worms from eating a dodgy truck stop sandwich. But it's the episodes that deal with the 20th century that are some of the best of the series, such as when Fry accidentally becomes his own grandfather while sleeping with his grandmother in 1947 Roswell, New Mexico. This time travelling episode was one that Groening promised himself he'd never make, as he claims in his commentary that he hoped they'd never be reduced to the "travelling back in time" cliché. Another present-day setting features the best episode of the collection, where Fry must return to old New York to locate his lucky seven-leaf clover from his house; it's a scene that depicts an eerie site of the World Trade Centre towers in ruins. Futurama's greatest assets — being incredibly clever and nerdish — were also its major faults, for its humour flew over most viewers' heads. Developer David X. Cohen's explanation of how the animators incorrectly depicted how light would shine through a prism is proof that all those involved were complete sci-fi nerds, but the majority of the commentary is hilarious, as Billy West and John DiMaggio frequently break into character, and the incredible Tress MacNeille makes an audio appearance on the final episode of the season. Other goodies include a segment on how you can draw Fry or Leela, but it is presented in gallery still form rather than as a featurette, which would have been more entertaining. The deleted scenes are in full force, as almost all of the 22 episodes contain cutting room material. The DVD packs just as much punch as the past two volumes but there are still no documentaries, although the real treats may be saved for the final volume of yet another amazing animated series that's finding new life on digital video. Plus: storyboards, character art and animatics. (Fox)