Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

The second of four direct-to-DVD Futurama movies was released yesterday and I'm starting to feel like they shouldn't have embarked on this project. Don't get me wrong, the movies are okay, but the TV series was far superior in quality. "The Beast with a Billion Backs" picked up where "Bender's Big Score" left off but seemed to ignore most of the character development from the first movie. It was actually pretty baffling. I did set my expectation considerably lower for this movie and found myself enjoying this effort more than the last but at the same time felt that it still lacked that certain something that made me love Futurama when it was still on television. Maybe it's nostalgia but Futurama just seemed like it was consistently better than this. There are two more movies in the works and I will give them a chance, but I'm really starting to think that Futurama just isn't fit for the feature-length treatment. The grass really is always greener I guess. Back in the days when it was on TV, I always wanted more Futurama. Now I find that the two movies are mediocre at best. Time will tell, but I don't have my hopes set too high for.

Notable extras on this DVD include the usual commentary with several of the producers and voice actors as well as the "Lost Episode" of Futurama created for the 2003 video game.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Our friend Scott got hold of an advanced copy of the pilot of the new J.J. Abrams show "Fringe" this week and we watched it the other night. It was interesting and definitely has potential but like with most television pilots, it's really hard to say. For example, after seeing the pilot for "Frasier" I thought, "This show won't be around for very long."

I don't intend to spoil any of the show, but I thought that I would discuss my reactions.

"Fringe" is the story of FBI Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) investigating a strange case of terrorism and, in the process, stumbles into what could be a vast conspiracy. The acting is about average for television and the pacing of the show is good. It is much more like "Alias" than "LOST" in that the main protagonist is a female federal agent and that the show will likely have an overarching storyline while each episode will contain a stand alone story.

In the pilot, Agent Dunham elicits the help of "retired" university professor Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble) and his super intelligent but troubled son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to crack the case. Many of the things Dr. Bishop studied involved typical-for-TV paranormal things. I generally find the portrayal of pseudo-science on television and in movies boring as most characters accept long debunked theories as fact. Therefore, my favorite character in "Fringe" is Peter Bishop who, at least in the pilot, is very skeptical of his father's research and all things pseudo-scientific. I am all for escapism but it is nice to see a balance between fiction and fact. I will be very disappointed if that character trait and perspective is dropped in future episodes. No discussion of "Fringe" would be complete without mentioning Phillip Broyles played cryptically by Lance Reddick of "The Wire" and "LOST." Not unlike Matthew Abaddon on "LOST," there is a lot that we have to learn about Agent Broyles.

I am looking forward to seeing more of this show which I believe will be premiering in August on Fox. Fans of "Alias" will probably appreciate "Fringe" as long as it breaks new ground in the J.J Abrams universe.