In its third, post-revival season, “Futurama” has finally found its footing again. While the previous seasons of the series have tried to play catchup with the near-decade of pop culture the series missed while it was off the air (or going direct-to-DVD), 2013’s batch of episodes have settled back into the groove of observational and sci-fi humor with one of the best voice casts currently working on TV.
So surprise, the show is as whip-smart as ever, although it lacks some of the heart of previous seasons. The only major Fry and Leela story this season is “Fun On A Bun” whose ending is telegraphed early on. Instead, the series pushes further outward into science fiction tropes with a pair of Bender-centric episodes this season dealing with free will “Free Will Hunting,” and the rights of sentient beings “31st Century Fox” (including “The Bots and the Bees,” Bender is at the center of three episodes this season). I guess my complaint is that this season’s humor is less character-based than it is idea and plot-based, which allows the writer to riff on a host of heady subjects, but doesn’t provide nearly as many quotable or memorable moments this time out.
Special features and presentation
Every episode in the set includes commentary from the creators and cast, with producer David X. Cohen and series creator Matt Groening rotating in and out among some of the actors and writers. If you like raucous chats about the physics of butterfly suits, the animation process, and political history, then you should really give it a listen–if only to hear Maurice Lamarche rattle through any of the half-dozen or so voices he’s responsible for each episode.
Series composer Christopher Tyng gets the spotlight in “Tyng’s Big Score” (8:00), where he talks about his music-making origins and working on the show; “Too Good For TV” (06:56 on disc 1, 06:35 on disc 2) collects deleted and alternates scenes from the season, some with full animation, others in animatic form; “Möbius Trip” (?) are a pair of looping screen savers (would have been nice if these were downloadable); the “Zapp Dingbat” episode gets an alternate ending; finally “Futurama Karaoke” presents 5 singalong songs from seasons past (“Welcome to Robot Hell” is right up there at the top) with the option to play the songs with or without vocals.