Posts Tagged ‘tv series’

Psst! Fox! DC Comics! Warners! Make ‘Batman’ on DVD happen.

July 21, 2009

So last summer, to commemorate the theatrical release of The Dark Knight, I did a ten-part review series called Batmania, in which I reviewed every Batman movie, in addition to some Batman-related spinoffs. I’m not going to lie—it was fun.

The first film I reviewed, Batman: The Movie, kinda’ baffled me. I knew of the campy TV series from the 60’s, but had grown up mostly with the dark Tim Burton-esque Batman (which, compared to The Dark Knight, looks a little campy itself). But recently I watched a documentary called Holy Batmania!, which explained the cultural climate surrounding the TV show. I finally got it–Batman was campy on purpose, because in the mid-60’s, anything superhero-related was considered poison. To produce a live-action show based on a comic book, the producers felt they had to be tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing, knowing that being ludicrous was the only way to get people to watch.

So now that I understand the context better, I want the series on DVD.

But there’s a problem. The original Batman TV series is like the one thing Warner Bros., DC Comics’ sister company, doesn’t have the distribution rights to. The show was produced at 20th Century Fox, but the rights to the characters still lies with DC. It’s kinda’ complex, and you can read a better explanation of it at TVShowsOnDVD.com.

Hell froze over a couple of years ago when Disney began releasing The Muppet Show on DVD, something I thought would NEVER happen. Could Fox, Warners and DC play nice (you kinda’ did it before, with the whole Watchmen lawsuit last year) and get a significant piece of Batman and television history out on DVD before my bones turn to dust? Does anybody have any new information?

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DVD Review: ‘Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs’

July 3, 2008

Futurama is the brainchild of Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. The series premiered on Fox in 1999, was treated like a red-headed stepchild and then was canceled after four seasons. Cartoon Network started airing reruns in 2003, and, like Family Guy, gained a cult following. Futurama has been revived as a series of direct-to-DVD movies. These movies are broken up into four episodes each which air on Comedy Central.

The series takes place in the year 31st Century. Fry (voiced by Billy West) is a pizza delivery guy from the year 2000 who is accidentally frozen and thawed out 1000 years later. His best friend is a surly robot named Bender (Joe DiMaggio) and his on-again/off-again girlfriend is Leela (Katey Sagal), who is a she-cyclops. Other characters include Dr. Zoidberg (West), a part-man, part-crustacean; Professor Farnsworth (West), Fry’s only distant relative; Amy Wong (Lauren Tom), a slutty heiress from Mars; and Hermes (Phil LaMarr), a Jamaican bureaucrat. They all work at Planet Express, a delivery company run by Farnsworth. Every week the Planet Express crew got into all sorts of zany (read: crude and/or corny) mix-em-ups.

While the characters have that trademark Matt Groening look, Futurama is no Simpsons. It’s funny in a nonsensical, goofy way, whereas The Simpsons relies more on wit and character development. (The characters in Futurama aren’t any less developed; they’re just all pretty shallow.) The humor is more dark and ribald. It also lacks the moral core that has redeems The Simpsons.

With The Beast With a Billion Backs, Fry, Bender, Leela and the rest are in fine form…if you like Futurama.

Futurama

What’s it about? There’s a tear in space leading to another universe, and when Fry receives the bad news that his current girlfriend Colleen (Brittany Murphy) is in a semi- polyamorous with four other guys, he sneaks aboard a fighter spaceship and hurls himself into the other universe. What he finds there is a planet-sized blob with a billion tentacles with romantic intentions.

There are other subplots: Bender joins a secret league of robots led by his favorite actor-robot, Calculon; and Amy marries longtime boyfriend Kiff, only to become a widow shortly after.

What’s good about it? If you’re a fan of the series and get the humor, you’ll love this. There’s a certain genius to the way the writers can make the stupidest gag evoke a laugh. Stephen Hawking makes a hilarious cameo that is just brilliant.

What’s bad about it? If you don’t get the humor, you won’t appreciate Futurama. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, don’t start with The Beast With a Billion Backs. This is strictly fanboy material, rewarding its loyal viewers with a movie that bypasses any back story. It’s also far more crude than The Simpsons, so if you’re easily offended, you’ll want to pass.

Perfect for: Fans of the series.