GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!
FUTURAMA RETURNS IN “FUTURAMA: BENDER’S BIG SCORE”
It’s a balmy evening in Hollywood at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome and the voices and creators of arguably television’s best sci-fi cartoon ever (yes, I’ll pit it against The Jetsons any time) walk the red-carpet to the premiere of Futurama: Bender’s Big Score. David Herman (Nudar), Maurice LaMarche (Morbo, DonBot & Clamps), Lauren Tom (Amy Wong), Katey Sagal (Leela), Phil LaMarr (Hermes), Tress MacNeille (Linda), Billy West (Phillip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth & Zoidberg), John DiMaggio (Bender & Robot Santa) as well as creators David X. Cohen & Matt Groening all stop to have their pictures taken by insistent cameramen and talk to hordes of interviewers. Bender himself – in all his robotic glory – also walks the red carpet and posed with his creators and cast mates.
However, things weren’t all red carpets and glamour-heavy at last Thursday’s screening of Bender’s Big Score. The show definitely didn’t start without hiccups. (we had two false starts due to audio dropout), but once it got going, the audience was on board immediately. The movie – newly released on DVD from Fox – begins with the Planet Express crew being told they were shut down by the “Box Network” two years previously. But Dr. Farnsworth gets a call informing him that the morons who canceled them were subsequently fired and beaten-up, which resulted in the crew going “back on the air.” They soon get assigned to make a delivery to a nude beach planet, though, and they’re back in business.
But don’t get your hopes up too high for a full frontal shot of Leela or Amy – the plot here involves three nudist aliens, who scam the Planet Express crew out of their money and company before scamming President Nixon out of the entire planet. It gets a lot more involved when the secret to time travel is found on Fry’s butt (where else?), when Bender time travels to steal priceless artifacts and Leela, to Fry’s dismay, falls in love with a bald-headed, goateed hospital assistant, Lars.
Bender’s Big Score is mostly an extended episode of the series, now in 16×9 widescreen. The time-traveling/flashback plots get a little zig-zaggy and drag their feet a bit in getting to the point, but the film’s resolution were very satisfying, nonetheless. The best example of hardcore fans appreciation during the screening (and hardcore fans will definitely be the ones eating up this DVD release) occurrs when Fry’s beloved dog Seymour appears on screen sitting out in front of Panucci’s Pizza – this inspired a resounding “Awwww” from the audience (this is a reference to the Jurassic Bark episode of the original series, likely the most emotionally resonant episode).
And if you have a favorite character that you hope shows up then you will likely be happy with Bender’s Big Score, although Zapp Brannigan is sorely underused and personally I would’ve loved to see use of one of my favorite Futurama inventions: The brain slugs. However, the comedy here has not softened or slowed from the original series in the least – there are enough inside jokes, plot and laughs to satisfy the hardcore fan as well as the occasional viewer or newcomer, so that I can highly recommend it – Good news, indeed.
The DVD includes 5.1 Dolby Surround and Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Extras include commentary with Matt Groenig, David X. Cohen, Billy West, John DiMaggio, Phil LaMarr, producer Claudia Katz, director Dwayne Carey-Hill and writer Ken Keeler, a live comic book reading with the cast, deleted storyboard scenes, an animated promo for An Inconvenient Truth, a surprisingly interesting math lecture, a full 22-minute episode of the cartoon in a cartoon “Everybody Loves Hypnotoad” and much more.