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Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs - DVD Review

by Brad Trechak, posted Jun 9th 2008 2:39PM
Futurama: The Beast With A Billion BacksThanks to the extreme generosity of Fox Home Entertainment, TV Squad has scored an advance copy of the latest direct-to-DVD Futurama release titled The Beast With A Billion Backs. Previously, we directed you to another DVD review of the show, but now this one is ours! All ours! MWA HA HA HA!


The second direct-to-DVD release of Futurama is a fun movie with loads of extras that make the purchase worth it. They include outtakes, deleted scenes, commentary tracks, and an extra I particularly enjoyed: a "Lost Episode" made from a Futurama video game (which was a bit like watching a video game demo, but with jokes). The DVD also comes with a preview of the next Futurama DVD release which looks to be a satire of Lord of the Rings. Guest voices include Brittany Murphy as Fry's new girlfriend, David Cross as the planet-sized Yivo and Professor Stephen Hawking as himself.

Spoilers after the jump...The story begins with a tear in space opening right near the Earth. Then they go to a Steamboat Willie tribute using the Futurama characters. This is an homage I've seen on other animated shows but is nonetheless effective with Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's crew behind it.

Fry begins dating a woman named Colleen whom we later learn has her own harem. Fry finds himself unable to share the love and breaks up with Colleen as a result (despite having amorous feelings towards her).

In the rip lives Yivo, a giant alien with many tentacles. We later learn exactly what the tentacles are (if two people having sex is "The Beast With Two Backs," then...you get the idea). The only good news is that he puts the tentacles in the back of the neck rather than any other part of the anatomy.

Fry becomes Yivo's representative on Earth (in the form of a Space-Pope) and preaches the surrender of free will and acceptance of Yivo's tentacular glory. The only beings immune to Yivo's influence (and unable to enter the space tear into Yivo's domain) are the robots, including Bender.

Other sub-plots include the wedding of Kif and Amy and Bender's admission into the super-secret society called the League of Robots. Kif is killed in an attack against Yivo led by Zapp Brannigan and eventually is resurrected by Yivo himself (although not until after Amy has rebound sex with Zapp). On a side note, it was nice to see Zapp and Kif have such a large role in this story after being reduced to cameos in Bender's Big Score.

As with the last DVD movie, there were callbacks to the four seasons of the show, including the space-faring Harlem Globetrotters and the Amazon Women of Pazuzu (whose love of snu-snu makes them perfect for this tale). Robot Satan (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) also makes a cameo leading to a hilarious scene involving Bender's first born ("No backsies!").

If I were to give a theme to this story, it would be relationships. The show has decidedly taken a more adult bent since its return from cancellation. In fact, this DVD is probably as close to an episode of Sex And The City as Futurama can get. All the plotlines were about love and sex and relationships. There was Fry and Colleen, Fry and Leela (to a limited, subtle degree), Kif and Amy, Amy and Zapp, Bender and nobody, and Yivo and everybody (the ultimate polyamorous relationship).

I enjoyed this DVD, but not as much as Bender's Big Score. I suspect it's because I enjoyed the in-jokes of the first movie. However, this one still represents a solid effort by the crew and is likely more accessible to the general public. It may even be the best way currently available to introduce new viewers to Futurama.

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"...Amazon Women of Pazuzu..."

Fail, Brad! The Amazon women hail from the planet Amazonia. Pazuzu is the name of Professor Farnsworth's gargoyle.

July 04 2008 at 2:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was wayy better than Bender's Big Score. Its a nice piece, and plan on watching it again, right after i watch benders big score again so i can see how the two fit together. if you dont like the way futurama is heading, you dont have to watch.

June 15 2008 at 1:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved Bender's Big Score.. but this was a big disappointment. If they're only making 4 movies and this was one of them.. it feels like a waste. It was difficult to get through in one sitting.

June 12 2008 at 8:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm back! And, I'm sad to say, that was a real disappointment. Hopefully it's the weakest one of the four movies, because it did not seem up to either to the benchmark of the series or the first movie.

It wasn't very funny, the plot wasn't very interesting (it sounded great in previews), the subplots went nowhere, and it didn't gel with Bender's Big Score - e.g. it did not continue Fry and Leela's plot (which I wouldn't have minded if, again, it's replacement was funny).

And I love David Cross from Arrested Development, but he was under-used here.

Even the Steamboat Willy spoof, well, okay, but I saw it 10 years ago on The Simpsons and it was better done then.

All in all, I'm sad to give it a six, possibly seven out of 10, whereas Bender's Big Score was a solid eight or nine. The writing was a real letdown for me.

Still, I look forward to Round #3.

June 11 2008 at 5:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't like it nearly as much as Bender's Big Score. It seems to be spiraling down into something we may not even recognize as Futurama anymore. It had a fair amount of pretty good jokes, yes....but the whole thing in general just felt really off to me.

Like I said on my tvgawker.com post about it, the main plot was nearly nonsensical, which is almost typical Futurama, but this was different, it really didn't work for me at all. Some of the subplots could have been interesting, but they were so rushed and hap hazard they just didn't have time to shine at all...

I really hope the next one pulls things back to some good ol' Futurama goodness, but I'm going back to the original series DVDs to clear that movie out of the front of my mind.

June 11 2008 at 12:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just want to take a moment here to enjoy the luxury of having four new episodes to watch! I'm in one of those precious windows where it's there to be seen but I hav'nt seen it yet, and I've not read your review for spoilers either!

Hooray! Off we go to a torrent site!

And yes, I will buy the DVD when it's eventually available, but I'm in the UK and there's no need or point in waiting six months, so I'll choose the logical, sensible option.

June 09 2008 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought it started off a bit, well, bad. Some of the jokes in the first 20 or so minutes weren't just not witty, they were downright stupid. As in they didn't make much sense. Plus Bender s#itting bricks wasn't terribly funny the first time around, on the show, it was less funny the second and third time around in this movie.

But, as the movie went on, it got better. I don't know if the jokes did or it's just that I love the characters so much and it became more about the plot and less about the jokes.

Ironically, this is almost verbatim my review for the last movie. I didn't realize that until after posting somewhere then looking at my previous review. Damn near identical.

Basically it was ok. Not great, but fun to be with great characters again. But some of the jokes were really, really, well, for a few I had a hard time trying to figure out who particularly thought they'd be worth even including.
Still worth watching. Still worth the money. Still Futurama, and still better than most anything else.

June 09 2008 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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